19 July 2017

Gratitude Journal Challenge




What touch are you grateful for today?
 
I am grateful for the hugs of my husband and daughter and those of a friend that we hadn’t seen in probably 20 years.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the hugs of loved ones.

David, Suzanne, & Whitney McClendon & Eddie Bledsoe - Taken 17 July 2017


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Guest Post: How To Decide Who Merits Your Money As You Ponder Your Legacy

How To Decide Who Merits Your Money As You Ponder Your Legacy

Not long ago, Jeff Bezos took to Twitter to ask the world for charitable-giving ideas.
The Amazon.com founder sought a charitable strategy that looked at the long term and soon he was inundated with suggestions.

Of course, Bezos has plenty of money to give, but you don’t need to be a billionaire to reach a point in life when you start feeling the charitable urge.

"There comes a time when many of us want to do more than just accumulate money and property," says Patrick Renn (www.patrickrenn.com) a financial professional and author of the best-selling book, Finding Your Money’s Greater Purpose.

"You want to distribute the bounty. You want to enjoy what you worked to acquire, of course, but part of the change in attitude is looking to see how you can do more than just take care of yourself."

But who should your wealth – whether abundant or meager – go to? Should all of it be kept in the family when you die? Should it go to your church? A favorite charity? The college that educated you?

Ultimately, only each individual can answer that question, Renn says. But there are steps that can help you prepare for making that decision. They include:

  • Be aware that circumstances change.

When you die, whatever you accumulated can end up in the hands of family, other beneficiaries, charities – or Uncle Sam. "A lot of people I talk to think they have it all worked out and that the IRS is going to get nothing," Renn says. "But often, when I examine their documents and analyze the numbers, I discover that’s not true. It’s not always because they did a bad job. More than likely, it’s because tax laws changed since they did their calculations, or something about their personal situation changed."

  • Realize that fair doesn’t always mean equal.

People often divide an inheritance into equal shares. If there are three children, for example, then each gets one-third. Renn says people should sometimes reconsider the automatic urge to do that. For example, both children may be hard working, but one might be well off financially while the other is struggling to make ends meet. One sibling might be more adept at handling money, while the other will quickly blow any inheritance.

  • Understand that even small gifts can help
           
Many people think that leaving something to charity is for the very rich only. But Renn says anyone, regardless of net worth, can find something they care about and include that charity, organization or cause as part of their legacy. A financial professional might even be able to help you leverage your resources so that your gift accomplishes more than you would have imagined.

"We can contribute to the greater good with our time, our efforts and our money," Renn says. "In giving financially, we are, in effect, giving all three, since money represents the fruit of our time and effort. When we share our money, we share ourselves."

About Patrick Renn


Patrick Renn, author of Finding Your Money’s Greater Purpose, has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM for more than 35 years and holds a bachelor’s degree from in business administration from Villanova University and an MBA from Loyola College. Renn – who currently lives in Georgia – is the founder of Renn Wealth Management Group Inc.(www.patrickrenn.com), the former president of the Georgia Society of Certified Financial Planners and former president of the Georgia chapter of the International Association for Financial Planning. He is the past president of the Georgia Special Olympics, is the current chair of the Day 1 Endowment and has served on countless other charitable and endowment boards.





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Press Release: STONE SYMBOL by Doriana Richman (and Animal Rescue!)

STONE SYMBOL by Doriana Richman

Stone Symbol is a luxury brand of jewelry and accessories for men and women, designed by Doriana Richman, and inspired by an ancient, spiritual symbol.

Stone Symbol’s meaningful gold, rose gold and sterling silver rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, cuffs and belt buckles allow a person's skin tone to radiate through each unique piece.

The Collection was inspired by an ancient secret symbol, which emerged as a code to those seeking refuge with others of faith. Founder Doriana Richman designs each unique piece of jewelry with a highly polished, antiqued degradation surrounded by history and intrigue.

The overlay of the five significant Greek letters (Jesus, Christ, Son, God and Savior) produce Stone Symbol’s signature shape, recognized as the first symbol of Christianity, Unity and a Spiritual Birth of Humanity.

The Stone Symbol can still be found today, carved in the walls and walkways of the ancient, excavated city of Ephesus – where Doriana draws the inspiration for her entire collection of Unity.


10% of sales are donated to the Beagle Freedom Project, a leader in global animal rescue and advocacy, and the Physicians Committee, which works to finds an alternative to the use of animals in medical education and research.


  
These books are available on Amazon.com. Click images for more information.

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Press Release: Why Love Story And Bridges Of Madison County Are The First Two Installments Of A Nonexistent Trilogy By Megan Edwards

Why Love Story And Bridges Of Madison County Are The First Two Installments Of A Nonexistent Trilogy
By Megan Edwards

There’s no way to know what Erich Segal expected when his short novel Love Story was released on Valentine’s Day in 1970. A classics professor at Harvard, he was probably as surprised as anyone when the book rose to the top of best-seller lists. Fast forward to 1992. It’s likely that Robert James Waller was also surprised by the success of his similarly diminutive volume, The Bridges of Madison County. Also a college professor, Waller had no reason to believe that his novel would take the reading public by storm. Both novels have been described as “coming out of the blue.” Why? Because neither author had written or published previous works of romance, and both had produced much that was anything but.

Without planning or collaboration, these two authors also accomplished something else unique. They penned the first two installments of a trilogy that does not exist and remains incomplete. Consider these six reasons why the world may be ready for a third tale of perfect love.

  1. Love Story was released in 1970, when the baby boom generation, like Jennifer and Oliver, was finishing school, getting married, and embarking on careers.

  1. The Bridges of Madison County came out in 1992, when the same readers who were gripped by Love Story were, like Francesca and Robert, now mid-career and raising families.

  1. The two novels captured and reflected the priorities and dreams of the same readers at these two important stages of life.

  1. Short but life-changing love affairs can occur at any point in life. Priorities may change, but the longing for connection never goes away.

  1. A love affair cut short is heartbreaking, but a relationship never tested by time and the tensions of real life retains its perfection in memories that last a lifetime.

  1. It has now been more than twenty years since Bridges was released. Readers who related to Love Story as young adults and Bridges in their forties have now entered a new phase of life. Many are grandparents. They are at the end of their careers or in retirement. It’s time for that third slim volume!

I first noticed the unintentional connection that Love Story and Bridges share about ten years ago. Later, when I began work on the novel that would become Strings: A Love Story, I realized I was touching on themes and including elements that echoed my thoughts about love at different stages of life. In Strings, Ted and Olivia meet at a California prep school in the 1960s. Circumstances conspire to separate them, but they reconnect years later in New York. Despite their love for each other, obligations and priorities again force them to part ways. Their love lives only in their memories until the serendipitous appearance of a legendary violin brings them together a third time.

While Strings is not the third title in the nonexistent trilogy I’ve described above, it is, like Love Story and Bridges, the tale of life-changing love. I’m grateful to Erich Segal and Robert James Waller for inspiring me with their timeless and compelling themes. I like to think that somewhere, another unsuspecting college professor is penning the words that will —out of the blue— become the third installment of a trilogy that doesn’t exist.





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Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.

YES! I was close to all of my grandparents.  My paternal grandparents were not living together, but I don’t know if they were ever divorced or not. I called them “Granny” and “Papa”.  My maternal grandparents were together for 54 years when my grandpa died. I called them “Grandma” and “Grandpa”.  All of my grandparents lived the last half of their lives in Anderson County, South Carolina, the county where I was born and spent the first 39 years of my own life.

I remember that my Papa was a skinny little guy with false teeth. He died the year that I turned 15. He liked to flick his false teeth out at us grand-kids. I thought it was hilarious!

My granny was a feisty little woman. She told it like it was. I was scared of Granny when I was a little girl. As I got older and knew more of her story, I was able to understand who she really was under that tough, gruff exterior. She was really a lovable teddy bear. She was a hurting woman in protection mode. I’ve been there myself.

My grandpa was a wayyyyyyy tall man. When he was a young man, he had either a Model A or a Model T Ford; I can’t remember which. He spent time in a tuberculosis asylum.  When he got to be a older man, he was very concerned about germs, which was understandable as he had cancer.

My grandma was a sweet, gentle soul. She was little like me. I’m a mini-me of her and our daughter Maggie (her namesake) is a mini-me of her, too. Grandma was probably one of the most beautiful women that I know, both inside and out. She stood up for me when others were picking on me. She endured so much over the course of her life that I won't get into here, same as my granny.

2. What's an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?

I was very attached to a blue teddy bear pantsuit that I had. What happened to it? My little sister happened to it.  I had grown out of it and my mama gave it to my little sister.  I wanted to keep it and was very upset about my little sister getting to have it.

3. When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.

I guess I see both because we have a yard full of trees and each one is unique. It is great except when the flowers that I want to grow require full sun.

I see both figuratively, too.  I can see both details AND the bigger picture. I can see potential, where it could go or what it could be.

4. Do you like sour candies? Which of the 'sour' foods listed below would you say is your favorite?

grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats

Have you ever eaten a kumquat? What's your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list?

I do not generally like sour candies or fruity candies of any type.  

I love cherries and buttermilk, too. While I like lemons, I have to severely limit my exposure to them due to citrus fruit allergies of varying intensities. I have never, ever liked grapefruit and that’s okay, because it doesn’t like me either. Any time I have had it, it has made a hasty retreat from my body by the same route in went in. ICK!

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a kumquat or not.

5. July 1st marked the midpoint of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it's going so far.

My year is going by in a chaotic, got-to-get-it-done-right-now pace. Yes, I’m counting that hyphenated thing as one word!

6. Insert your own random thought here.

My random thought for today is an ear-worm that I’ve had for days, since the last time we were in Walmart:

“You don’t know a thing about me.”



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18 July 2017

Guest Post: 6 Things We Need to Stop Saying to Bereaved Parents

6 Things We Need to Stop Saying to Bereaved Parents

Joan Markwell knows the gut-wrenching, hollow feeling left behind when a child is taken too early. It’s a feeling that mothers have experienced recently and throughout the last few years after tragic attacks in Orlando, Manchester, London, San Bernardino, Calif., and Charleston, S.C., just to name a few.

With every new tragedy, vigil, story on the news or anniversary recognizing these events, plenty of mothers like Markwell – who lost her adult child to cancer – feel the sting of the wound that accompanies their loss.

While that wound may have healed, there is still a scar left as a reminder of the pain that still lives on for many grieving family members, including mothers who are surviving with that pain in many different ways.

“When a mother loses a child, the grief dictates her life,” says Markwell, author of the book Softening the Grief. “You don’t see an end to the pain. As the body reacts to the stress you feel, physical pain follows. Sleep is out of the question.”

It’s a grief that only they understand, however, and one that others usually don’t know how to deal with.

“The first time we meet a friend since the death of our child occurred can be frightening,” says Markwell, “It’s not that we don’t want to see them; we just can’t face anyone without tearing up.”

To avoid those awkward situations, Markwell offers up some phrases you should avoid saying to grieving parents and instead offers alternatives:

• “You Are So Strong.” In reality we are exhausted from trying to look strong. Try this instead: “I know it’s hard to be strong right now. I’m here for you to lean on anytime. I have an open heart and time to listen.”

• “Be Glad You Have Other Children.” We may have other children, but they cannot replace the child we’ve lost. Try this instead: “No child is replaceable, but I hope having your surviving children around you helps in easing the pain of your loss.”

• “You’re not the first mother who has lot a child.” Yes, but this is the first time I’ve lost my child. Try this instead: “I know mothers who have lost children and how much they grieved. That has made me aware of what a fight this is for you. You will continue to be in my thoughts.”

• “My child almost died, I know how you feel.” If you said this, you only had a clue about how it might feel to lose a child. Try this instead: “My child had a close brush with death, which was terrifying enough. There can be no comparison to actually losing a child.”

• “Time heals all wounds.” In time the mind covers wounds with scar tissue and pain lessens. But it’s never gone. Try this instead: “I hope in time your pain and grief will soften. Knowing it will take time, I stand beside you for the long haul.”

• “Everything Happens for a Reason.” There is never a good enough reason as to why our children were taken. Try this instead: “It goes beyond reason for any child to be taken from a mother. There was certainly no good reason to lose yours.”

“These awkward but common questions and statements can trigger a world of grief for bereaved mothers,” says Markwell. “When talking to a grieving parent about their lost child, it’s best to take a step back and choose your words carefully.”

About Joan E. Markwell

Joan Markwell is a small business and real estate owner who resides in Lawrenceburg, Ky. She is a former board member of the Lawrenceburg (Ky.) Chamber of Commerce, former board member of the Spencer County (Ky.) Tourism Board and former vice president of the National Association of Women in Construction, Bluegrass Chapter (Lexington, Ky.). Markwell lost her daughter Cindy – who was a mother of two herself – to cancer in 2013. Cindy’s children, Lucas and Samuel, are a big part of Markwell’s life, as is her son, Kris Fields.








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