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Community | 3 Posts
COVID-19 | 7 Posts
Gardening | 1 Posts
Safety | 1 Posts
Tips | 4 Posts
Wellness | 3 Posts
July
29

 

Time keeps ticking away, reminding us that another day has gone by and we are still mostly quarantined to our homes. We've binge-cleaned, exercised, watched TV series, baked all the bread, and boredom is really setting in. So what do we do? Some of us have work to keep us busy, but even that work doesn't fill the void. Where is the fulfillment we used to get when completing a project in the office, and how do we get it back? 

There is something in the nature of each of us that generates joy when we are being generous to others. Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." During this time of COVID-19, there are many ways to help others. 

 

  1. Get connected!

How fortunate we are to live in a time when socializing with a person is just a click away! Take advantage of the wonderful technology at our disposal to communicate with others: 

  • Help lift your spirit, as well as your circle of friends or family by having group phone calls or zoom meetings. 
  • Use social media to get connected to your community. Many neighborhoods and complexes have a community Facebook page. Check to see if yours does.
  • Create an event on social media to help out in your neighborhood or community, such as grocery delivery for those that can't leave their house, or a car parade to celebrate graduating seniors whose graduation ceremonies were canceled. 
  • On your community page, post humorous videos of how you are handling quarantine so your neighbors don't feel so isolated during this period. 

It only takes a few minutes out of your day so grab your phone or computer and connect with someone in your community today!

 

  1. Knock, knock, "Who's there?" "Orange"

As mentioned above, some people in your community need help getting groceries. It could be an elderly person, an immune-compromised friend, or a neighbor who lost their job. During your trip to the grocery store, why not pick up a few extra items for a home-bound neighbor (and deliver to their front door), or to donate to your community food bank? 

If you feel more comfortable donating money, many schools are taking donations to help feed needy families. Contact your child's school teacher to find out how to contribute.  If everyone in your school district contributed $10 each, think how much food that would buy!

 

  1. Eat. Drink. Shop...Local!
  • Order take-out

We have been sheltering at home long enough now that most of us have run out of meal ideas and are ready for a dinner out. This is the perfect time to help local restaurants that may be struggling. It's a win-win for both parties. You don't have to cook and they get to stay open during and hopefully even after COVID-19. 

  • Order local produce 

There are several websites set up to help local farmers deliver produce to your home. One is:  https://localfarmok.com/. Buying from your local farmer ensures your produce will taste better and last longer. Eating fresher, less processed produce can help you to eat and feel better, all while supporting your local food movement. Shopping on-line for a farm near you that will deliver it to your home eliminates the stress of going to the grocery store and trying to figure out which veggies to buy. 

  • Shop local

When you need to shop, try to patronize your local merchants. Their business has likely been hit hard by this virus and they will be appreciate your support during this hard time.

 

  1. Gifts! Gifts! Gifts!

Everyone loves getting gifts, even if it is a little thing: 

  • It could be as simple as a postcard or a funny letter to bring joy to your friends. You could get your sister one of those makeup box delivery for the next month. Sign your cousin up for goofy socks delivered twice a month. 
  • Send an Edible Arrangement or buy lunch for people working at the hospital, fire stations, and police stations.
  • Create a gift basket with essentials like Germ-X and fuzzy socks for someone special. 
  • Get your children involved and have them make art and letters saying how thankful they are for essential workers. 

 

A little something goes a long way. When you give to others, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, it can really make you and someone else feel better!

 

Get inspired to help your community during this time of challenge. Remember, in addition to helping someone else, giving will also bring you joy.



July
29

 

Social distancing can take a toll on our mental wellness. It seems like one minute our lives were normal - going to work, eating dinner in crowded restaurants, and gathering with our friends in each other's homes or public meeting places – and the next, we were asked to stay home, alone

"Understand this is a new and unique situation that will take some adjustment. Cut yourself some slack and realize you will be unproductive and anxious initially, but with mindfulness and creativity, we can adjust to this new normal," says David Stern, M.D. and co-director of the Office of Student Mental Health and Wellness and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. 

For most of us, connecting with friends, family, and coworkers has moved online. While it may take some getting used to, it is comforting to see a familiar friendly face. Choosing which platform to use to get this digital face-to-face can be overwhelming. Below is a list of some of the best programs for digital meetings with links to a tutorial for each. 

Connecting in person is still an option, it just has to be adjusted. By maintaining safe distance, you can still see and talk to your circle of friends and family. Get creative:

  • Do a drive-by visit to see family. Establish a drive-by time; get out and wave, cartwheel or dance…whatever feels right!
  • Deliver a surprise package on someone's front porch. Whether it is a sack of necessities, flowers, or a book or puzzle to help pass the time, your gift is sure to lift spirits.
  • Invite a friend to meet for lunch at a drive-thru restaurant. Park you cars side-by-side with the windows down, and enjoy food and conversation at a safe distance from each other.
  • Invite a neighbor to take a walk or bike ride with you – on the opposite side of the street! 
  • Don't stop your weekly wine night, morning coffee or book club. Just meet now on screen.
  • Have the kids on the block visit using walkie-talkies, just like you did as a child.
  • Form a neighborhood seed swap. Choose a drop-off place where everyone can "take some, leave some" to complete everyone's new gardens.

Sometimes when we feel helpless, helping someone else is the best remedy. Your whole community has been effected by this disruption. Think of ways you can help those around you that may be in need.

  • Add groceries to your local food bank each week
  • Donate Blood at your local blood bank
  • Build a network of neighbors who gather specific items to keep on hand for others in the same area. Each household is designated to store an essential item such as toilet paper, eggs, or flour, keeping it on hand so everyone in the network never goes without.  
  • Help others find the best deals on groceries. Communicate which store is cheaper this week, or has just stocked up on certain items. Let you friends know where they can go on-line for coupons
  • Send cards, notes or joy items to nursing homes

Remember, as we isolate from close human contact, loneliness can be a side effect…but loneliness is avoidable. Stay connected!

Categories: Entertainment, Tips, Health, COVID-19, Wellness



July
29

 

These days, living life looks a lot different than how it did at the beginning of this year. We all want to do our part to keep ourselves, our famlies, and our community safe. But, with all the media hype and rumors going around, it can be hard to figure out what you really need to do (or not do) to stop the spread of COVID-19. Here is a an easy guide with actual facts from the CDC. Follow the link at the bottom to get further information.

  1. Wash your Hands!

Washing your hands is a good practice in general, but during this time, washing your hands is so important to stop the spread of COVID-19. The standard for washing hands is with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Some people get very creative with this 20 seconds and sing portions of classic songs that are 20 seconds long to make sure they wash for the proper amount of time. Some favorites are: "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees (chorus), "Truth Hurts" by Lizzo (chorus), and the classic "Happy Birthday".  If one of those doesn't fit your vibe then there is a website that generates a poster with the song of your choice that last 20 seconds (https://washyourlyrics.com/)! Washing your hands should be done frequently, especially when you cough or sneeze or when you have been in a public place. So, get you grab your favorite tunes and have a happy hand washing party!

  1. Distance makes the Heart grow Fonder.

Staying home as much as possible and avoiding contact with others when you do go out are essential right now. The easiest way to do this is to try to limit your shopping trips to once a week or every two weeks. You can also get things delivered to your home or use curbside pick up. Many local restaurants are even doing curbside or carry out, too. If possible, try to support your community by shopping local! If you do have to go out remember to stay 6 ft. apart from others. If you have a hard time visualizing how far that is just imagine your 6 ft. husband or brother army crawling to sneak a donut out of the kitchen. Also, remember to avoid shaking hands, high fives, and hugs. This one is probably the biggest adjustment to most of our lives, so be kind to yourself and take a deep breath when you are figuring out how to maintain social distance

  1. *Aaachoo*

If you become sick stay home. See if you can have a friend pick up your groceries for you and leave them at your front door. If you are coughing and sneezing use a tissue and then immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands. If you absolutely have to go out, wear a face mask and gloves. Although this doesn't protect you, is does keep your germs from becoming airborne, potentially infecting others. If you are unable to find any to purchase because of the current shortages, you can fashion one out of a bandana, sew one with old t-shirt material or check out Facebook for friends that might be making them in their own homes. 

  1. Clean, Clean, Clean

Sanitation is key to kicking COVID-19 to the curb. Use surface cleaners and disinfectants to clean your house and car frequently, especially the places you use a lot like the kitchen and bathroom. Get some gloves on and go to town on cleaning, just make sure to read the instructions on the container first. If your kids need something to do, you could create the clean my house olympics and give them points every time they do a cleaning task in the house. Turn on your favorite dance music or clean a little every commercial break or between binged episodes and your house will be sanitized in no time!

CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

July
29

 

With the country on lockdown, you may find yourself with idle time on your hands. Some days seem to stretch endlessly before you as you isolate or self-quarantine. You may be at a loss as to what you should do to fill the hours that used to be so full of meetings, deadlines, and productivity. 

This time will pass whether you have used it wisely or not. One way to make the most of it is to learn something new - something that you never had the time to learn before. Some skills may take years to master, but now is your opportunity to take the first steps. Think of your new found knowledge as an investment in your future. These skills might help you not only progress in your career but allow you to jumpstart your way into a whole new chapter in your life.

Five New Skills to Learn During Sheltering In Place

Learn a New Language

Becoming fluent in a new language may take more than our social distancing time, but you don't necessarily need fluency to add value to your life and find that you are more in demand in the workforce. And once the travel ban has been lifted, you can go to the country of your chosen new language and be able to talk to the locals.

You can do a Google search for "How to Learn (add language here)", or view YouTube tutorials on learning a language. Also, check out:

https://www.duolingo.com/referred?user_invite=BDHTZTB5CWWKTKTZ2S2U6CLZDM&inviter_id=563798349

Before you begin, you might check out this good advice on choosing a language, at: https://tim.blog/2007/11/07/how-to-learn-but-not-master-any-language-in-1-hour-plus-a-favor/.

 

Learn Sign Language

Not only is learning a second language good for your brain, it's also a great way to expand your communication skills. This is especially true for American Sign Language, ASL, which according to Healthy Hearing.com is the fifth most-used language in the U.S. Learning ASL may enhance your career and give added benefit to the workplace. Used by educators, first responders, and service providers, mastering this skill could open many new channels for you professionally. 

While you are home, take on-line courses such as: https://www.classcentral.com/search?q=sign+language

But first you might want to read the information at:

https://www.hearinglikeme.com/how-to-learn-sign-language/

Once quarantine is lifted, consider taking a sign language course at a community college near you.

 

Learn How to Build a Website

https://www.udemy.com/course/build-website-scratch/?ranMID=39197&ranEAID=AZ4srzPoHNo&ranSiteID=AZ4srzPoHNo-d4ysDvDLCJhJELOwZw2W2Q&LSNPUBID=AZ4srzPoHNo

For a small fee you can learn web development essentials and gain a thorough understanding of HTML and CSS. With the current spike in demand for web conectivity, this is a great skill to have in your pocket. 

 

Learn CPR

This self-directed, personal learning program is an all-in-one solution that includes everything you will need to complete high-quality training anywhere. You never know when adding this skill to your arsenal could potentially save a life! This video-based program teaches basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes:

https://cpr.heart.org/en/courses/adult-and-child-cpr-anytime-training-kits

 

Get Started on that Novel!

So you have always wanted to write a novel, but never had the time to start. No more excuses! Grab your lap top and get started:

https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-write-a-novel/

 

The best skills to learn durring quaarantine are those that will help you become more hirable as an employee or more self-sufficient as a person once everything returns to normal. There are endless courses available to you on-line. The hard part is choosing which one to start with!

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/500-free-online-courses-from-ivy-league-schools.html

 

July
29

 

During the COVID19 crisis, we have discovered that there is a new normal including standing six feet apart in lines and in public, sanitizing items we have purchased before bringing them into our homes, wearing a mask in public, and not touching our faces, to name just a few. Another new normal is the realization that working remotely is likely here to stay.

New to Working From Home?

Stay safe working from home with these handy tips

"If I can't keep up with my own password, how can a hacker figure it out?"

Passwords are one of the more important security items on home devices. Passwords are a pain, but they probably won't go away. Why can't we just have one password, and why do we keep having to change them? A lot of companies are talking about biometric ways to get around them like fingerprint, retina and facial scans – offered on our phones now, but remote systems still require passwords.

If you use the same password everywhere, you are opening a door for a hacker to get in. Services are breached every day. Hackers go in and grab passwords and email addresses from breached websites and, using automated tools, see if they get a hit that works on other services such as your Amazon or Apple account, or anywhere your credit card information is stored. They can find out where your email lives because that is public information. If they break into that, then it is game over.

Use a password manager and have the passwords completely randomized for every new site you sign up with.

Sites like LastPass -  https://www.lastpass.com/  - has a free plan for husband and wife users to share passwords. 

And, LastPass uses a second authentication method, such as sending a text message to your smart phone, so that even if a hacker got your last password, they wouldn't be able to get past the second authentication step.

If you are leery of storing anything in the cloud, there are password managers that you can store on your computer that encrypt your passwords that can be stored in a locker on your computer.

Don't rely on the default password for your devices to keep you secure. Be sure to update your password on your WiFi router, Alexa, home security camera systems, Ring Video Doorbell system – anything that you have on your home internet system.

 

Think before You Click!

Never reset your password by clicking on a link in an email that was sent to you without you asking for it first. In other words, if you receive an unprovoked email from a random site saying "Please reset your password by clicking on this link" don't do it!

Watch out for emails that you are not expecting. If you receive an email with an attachment or links that you were not expecting do not open the attachment, even if it is from a friend, relative or colleague. Call the sender to confirm that they really sent it. That person was probably just hacked and that is how the hacker got your email address. 

 

Have a Backup Strategy

Use the 3-2-1 backup plan:

  • 3 copies of everything
  • Use 2 different spots
  • One offsite away from the computer

In other words, have the first copy on your computer; the second is on a device you can grab if something happens to your computer, such as a thumb drive; and the third copy is somewhere offsite in case of fire or disaster to your home and computer.

 

Follow Simple Rules for Better Security

  • By having an insecure home network or by reusing passwords for your devices, you give an attacker a way to access your device. 
  • You can put these devices on a different WiFi network from your computer, that way they are segregated from your regular network. 
  • Turn on every security device offered on the website, especially the two step authentication system.
  • Try to keep your business and personal work separated. If your company offers you a laptop and a company email to use while working from home, use them whenever doing company work. Don't use your personal computer or email for conducting your company business. Don't share your company laptop with your family members. Think of it as being like letting your teenaged son drive your company vehicle that you bring home.
  • If your company offers IT Security training, take it! They probably have encrypted system that you should know about. 
  • Don't reveal anything too personal about yourself on social media. Limit details you share about going on a trip or what days you might be going into your company's office that would let an attacker know your whereabouts. 
  • Many systems come with an anti virus protection, but it is a good idea to have an added layer of anti virus protection on top of that. An internet security filter can keep out information that is unfit for business as well as help keep your children safe from visiting something inappropriate online.
  • A breach identification vendor who is familiar with and studies how hackers work – actively looking for any hacker footholds on your computer 

 

Hackers Are Doing Business On The Dark Web  

The dark web is a place where information about us is traded. The information that is gathered from a security breach is posted on the dark web, such as user names, and passwords, as well as viruses that are available and how to use them. It's a scary place. You can check to see if you have been involved in a data breach and if your information might be posted out on the dark web at https://haveibeenpwned.com/.  Subscribers will be notified if their information has been put out on the dark web.

You can hire an IT Professional for remote work guidelines and checklists for general home computer safety. The information in this article was supplied by Brad Otto, owner of P3C. Check out his website at https://www.p3ctech.com/category/tips/

 



July
29

 

What Are You Waiting For?

If you have toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but responsibilities and life events always seemed to get in the way, NOW is your chance to cease the day and start! You may have sound bites in your head telling you, "You have no talent" or, "You are too old to start now" - but nothing is further from the truth. Playing an instrument is a craft that can be learned by almost everyone. According to Charles Cleyn, a musician, marketer and life-long learner, there are approximately 500,000,000 guitar players in the world! If that many people can play a guitar, then so can you.

No More Excuses

If the reason for not pursuing your artistic talents has always been, "I don't have time", you can now scratch that excuse off the list. During this period of sheltering in place, there is plenty of room in each day for music lessons and practice time.  If you procrastinated in the past because there were no teachers nearby, well, say goodbye to that one too. Thanks to the internet, there are endless options for learning to play an instrument. 

Pre-recorded video lessons, Skype lessons, training modules, and online exercises are all examples of the new ways musicians can fine-tune their skill, or learn a new instrument, without even having to walk out their front door. There are a lot of advantages to taking music lessons online, but there are a few disadvantages to be aware of, too.

The benefits of online music lessons far outweigh the drawbacks

There are so many benefits to taking lessons online, and just a few disadvantages:

Benefits:

Convenience – The biggest advantage is that it is ridiculously convenient. You can learn at your own pace, on your own schedule and from the comfort of your home.

More Choices – No worry about finding a teacher in your area. Online lessons mean you can find the perfect teacher for you, even if they live 1,000 miles away. But do try to access a teacher in your community. Supporting local businesses is of major importance during the COVID19 business shutdown. 

Cost Effectiveness – Due to the convenience, flexibility and lower overhead costs to teachers, online music lessons can be lower-priced than traditional, in-house lessons.

Support Opportunities – Online sites offer support tools like community forums, training modules, and digital content. Sharing and connecting with others online is beneficial, and offers you a supportive online community to lean on.

Drawbacks:

Physical Guidance – Beginners often struggle with the physical challenge of how to handle the instrument, how to place their fingers, posture, etc. Not having a person there to demonstrate physically can be a little daunting at first, and requires perseverance.

Motivation – With online lessons the only person holding you accountable is YOU! Be sure you are ready for the commitment.

Now all you need to do is drag your 7th grade band clarinet from beneath your bed, dust off the case, and start your Google search!

July
29

 

If you were in the early stages of selling your home when social distancing began, now is the perfect time to get serious about preparing your home to show. While you are sheltering in place, use this time at home preparing it to show both physically and virtually. If you already have a real estate agent, request a video walk-though for their suggestions prior to showing. Your realtor can be a fresh pair of eyes with no emotional ties to the house or its contents.

According to The Mortgage Reports, Feb. 2019, the most common home improvement items agents recommended to sellers are:

  • Decluttering (95 %) Remove "junk" from rooms, closets, and cupboards. This adds immediate appeal and gives the illusion of more space. We all love our stuff, but let's face it – lookers need to be able to see the "bones" of the house. Homeowners often have too many memories and attachments to belongings that can cloud seeing the whole picture. Begin packing up your personal items including pictures and mementos from vacations. 
  • Entire home cleaning (89 %), and carpet cleaning (78 %). Clean one room a day until the whole house looks clean and inviting. Consider re-caulking your kitchens and bathrooms, too. Bright caulk gives the appearance of cleanliness, which can help to sell your home. Look at your walls and trim. If the colors are outdated, or look dingy, PAINT! New paint can mask home odors while insanely brightening a room.

You should also make repairs or replace items in your home which are broken, worn out, or in obvious need of an update, such as electrical outlet covers, door stops and door handles. A home buyer will look at the "little things" in your home and, if those items are neglected, the buyer will wonder what else is in disrepair.

Five Most Important Rooms to Stage

According to On Stage, the five most effective rooms to stage are:

  • Living Room 

Your living room should be an inviting space, without feeling cluttered or closed in. In a small living room, you need to show that furniture will fit. 

  • Dining Room

Potential buyers need to be able to envision entertaining guests at formal dinner parties, as well as hosting their family Thanksgiving dinners in your dining room. Remove anything that blurs that image such as children's toy box or pet's kennel and feeding bowls.

  • Master Bedroom

The master bedroom needs to offer a relaxing sanctuary to viewers. Neutral paint colors and soft carpet and window coverings add to the calming feeling it should offer. 

  • Home office

With the current trend of working at home, there has never been more demand for a space designated as an office. If you do not have a designated home office, stage a spare bedroom as one.

  • Kitchen 

The kitchen is the heart of your home. Edit what is on your counter tops to allow potential buyers to see the space available. Bring in fruit and greenery to add color for photos and showings. 

View virtual open houses on social media to see how they are prepared. Listen to what your agent tells you because they see all the listings. In this competitive market more homes than not are staged. Remember: Quarantine will soon be lifted. This time will pass whether you have done anything to prepare your home to sell or not. The final goal is to sell your home and sell it quickly. Your home has served you well – now is the time to prepare it to be someone else's home.



July
29

 

 

Is Your Home Ready to Sell?

Getting your home ready to sell already has a huge list of tasks, but on the top of that list is painting. Have you customized all the paint colors in every room? If you are an eclectic paint person, chances of finding another quirky person to love all your choices is like finding a diamond. When wanting to sell your home it is best to choose several like colors in the same family and paint each room that way. You never want to paint the whole house one color, like the 2005 band-aid tan but you DO want to paint in like colors. If you are going with a grey, then stay within the family or tones of that color. If you choose a warm color, then you can also branch out to warm white or beiges. 

Colors that pump up your ROI are essential in not only selling your home, but also getting more bang for your buck!

Colors to Add:

By painting your front door in a charcoal or dark grey or navy blue can possibly attract $1500 more to an offer.

Having a taupe living room allows the space to feel warm, inviting and flexible for would-be buyers to see changes they would like to make. This can raise your potential by $1500.

Blue in any of these rooms also ups the selling power. In the kitchen add classic blue (the 2020 color of the year); bathroom and bedrooms, think periwinkle. You probably do not want to do more than one room blue, but whichever you choose could add another $1000 of value to your home. 

Colors to Avoid

If your living room is blue, you could possibly devalue the price by the same amount of money, as well as, yellow kitchens, dark brown or stucco exteriors, red dining rooms or white bathrooms. 

Colors like orange, purple, black and red are color you want to avoid. People usually do like these colors, but they make it hard to visualize anything else because they are so bold. If a looker can't visualize what they would do in this house they simply will not buy it. 

Use yellow with care. Yellow is a very helpful buying color when done correctly, but incorrectly could look like big bird instead of a sunny morning yellow.

When painting your exterior, plan to use a "Greige" - somewhere in the middle of beige and grey. Not only is it a neutral color, but it adds value to your property.

Minimum is Key

Painting goes a long way and if it's something you can DIY - it will be a huge cost you saved and get in return. 

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