Reinventing Yourself: Who Will You Be Post COVID-19?
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A woman holding her baby while working on a laptop

By Kimberlee Davis, host & founder of The Fiscal Feminist

There is no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the economic and health adjustments we are all scrambling to make, a deluge of new challenges that have yet to be considered still looms around the corner.

As we navigate our way through these rough waters of financial hardships, stress and anxiety, let’s make sure to maintain our sense of control and handle the problems that we are empowered to solve. The best way to do this is by re-evaluating our finances, focusing on our long-term goals, and reflecting inward on our own identity.

From a corporate securities lawyer and an investment banker to an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom, I’ve reinvented myself many times over. Some changes were for the better, others not so much. I’ve found that the key to making solid transitions is to start them in a quiet place like the unique setting of the quarantine.

With mouths to feed, bills to pay and immune systems to protect, taking stock on the bigger picture might seem like a low priority at the moment, but it really shouldn’t be. Ultimately, who we choose to be – either in business, in wealth, in family or just plain spiritually – will determine our paths forward out of this crisis. Amid the chaos and loss of control, our own sense of self is one of the few things we can control. Plus, sheltering in place gives us a unique opportunity to do some personal observation, self-reflection, introspection, and evaluation because we’re not losing time in the dash to in-person meetings and child soccer practices.

The first question that a lot of us get stuck on is: Where do we start? Having gone through several personal and professional re-inventions, myself, I have found great value in beginning with a deep exploration into my hierarchy of values. This consists of the following important questions:

  • What’s important to my emotional development as a person?
  • What’s important to my economic goals?
  • What’s important to my interpersonal relations and social/ethical perspective?

All three are equally important and must be looked at holistically and practically. We can stand back and look at our lives as they were pre-coronavirus, and examine if we were happy and if our finances survived. In our society we seem to be perpetually busy and for many of us, this outbreak has been a hard stop, forcing us to spend time with our loved ones, get comfortable being alone and taking a moment to think about the things that really matter.

Using this time to think about how your financial situation held up, ask yourself what areas can be improved upon. Did you have enough in your savings to cover a couple months of bills if you were to get furloughed from your job? Did you notice how much less money you were spending on frivolous things like your morning coffee? Taking this time to reflect and thoroughly comb through your spending habits and fiscal well-being will help you plan for the future and give you the knowledge and tools you need to make better choices after this is all over.

Having more idle time also allows us to enjoy ordinary activities such as reading, yoga, exercise, painting, listening to music, cooking and reconnecting with our interests. Instead of succumbing to the pressure and uncertainty, embrace the stillness and relearn how to be thoughtful.

Just because the pandemic is tragic – and, of course, it certainly is – does not mean that it is not also a great chance to spend more time together, talk without rushing and determine how we can continue this in a post-coronavirus environment. There may be wonderful recalibrations to consider which never would have been possible during the rat race of the so-called “normal” life we used to know.

We should all examine the strengths of our relationships and family to gauge how we are surviving as a wife, mother, friend and/or businesswoman. In this state of quiet, what do we value and how do we prioritize it among all the other noise?

While contemplating that answer, it is important not to undervalue your career goals. Often, women will assume financial freedom and professional ambition are lower priorities because of societal pressures. However, though we are free to choose other values as higher priorities, that does not mean that we have to.

To adjust your career path, take this opportunity to learn new skills and pursue interests that have been on the back burner. The internet is full of how-to videos and video-networking/coaching platforms that are just a click or swipe away. Use it as a tool for reinvention – not just a vehicle for killing time as we wait for the economy to reopen. Set specific and achievable financial goals taking one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed and give up on your strategy in frustration.

Personally, I am rethinking my daily schedule from pre-coronavirus times. I have been taking a four- to five-mile walk at least four times a week, and I am committed to continuing that after we resume our new-normal lives. I am going to make exercise a non-negotiable priority. It clears my mind and gives me a positive attitude.

It is so important that you have good nutrition, get regular sleep, have regular physical exercise, have some down time, nurture your spirit and have some fun with the positive people in your life. Intentional self-care will reap many benefits, and it will increase your energy and sharpen your financial focus.

We all should be looking at our lives as a whole and reflecting on what changes we can be making to provide for a better tomorrow. In all our busyness, it’s too easy to lose track of what is really important. The excuse, “I don’t have time,” is no longer an option. For me it’s health, free time to pursue my interests and family. What is important to you?

Kimberlee Davis is the Host of The Fiscal Feminist, a podcast and platform about women and their relationship with money and finances. Her mission is to help all women of all ages and wealth levels embrace their responsibility to themselves to achieve solid financial footing in both calm and turbulent times. Kimberlee Davis has more than 25 years of finance, legal and corporate experience, her career has included being a corporate securities lawyer, investment banker, and Chief Financial Officer. Currently, she is Managing Director and Partner at The Bahnsen Group, a private wealth management firm.

Free Zoom alternative: Microsoft Teams lets 300 users video chat for 24 hours
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Laptop webcam screen view multiethnic families contacting distantly by videoconference. Living abroad four diverse friends making video call enjoy communication, virtual interaction modern app concept

This year has been a huge year for Zoom, as families and friends around the world have turned to the video chat service to stay in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft Teams just barreled into the room to make Zoom look a little silly by comparison.

According to The Verge, Microsoft’s primarily business-focused video call app is getting a free tier with a 24-hour time limit on calls just in time for the holidays.

As many as 300 people can jam into one room, with a gallery view that can display up to 49 of them on one screen. (Zoom has a max of 100 participants for Basic and Pro users.) There’s also a feature called Together Mode that will arrange everyone’s video feeds so it looks like they’re sitting together in a theater or coffee shop. If your family is that big, feel free to go nuts with Microsoft Teams — and good luck following the conversation.

Calls can be started and joined from a web browser so you don’t need to download an app. Whoever starts the call will need a Microsoft account, which you should have on hand if you’ve ever used Office or an Xbox but is pretty easy to set up if you haven’t. Crucially, folks who don’t have Microsoft accounts can join calls.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress and Staying Mindful While Traveling
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Author Katie Sandler pictured sitting casually with legs crossed smiling

The holiday season is typically the busiest time of the year for traveling. People enjoy going to see family members or exploring new locations as they have time off from their jobs and schoolwork.

This year, traveling may come with a bit more stress and anxiety due to the pandemic that people are facing around the world. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help reduce the holiday stress, as well stay safer while traveling.

“There may be fewer people traveling this holiday season, but there will still be a lot who do, and they need to know how to make it more enjoyable,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “Mindful travel is the key to reducing stress, staying safer, and making the most of your time traveling. This year will be a great exercise in mindfulness, which is something to be excited about.”

As an expert at using mindfulness, Sandler helps people not only reduce their stress, but to also reach new goals. The key to traveling safely during the pandemic, as she points out, is in using the technique throughout the experience. By remaining mindful, travelers will go about their experience in a way that is conscientious and intentional. Just as many things in life, this is an issue that comes down to learning to be more focused and plan ahead.

Sandler has created a recipe for mindful safe travel in the era of COVID, which includes the following tips:

• Forget being spontaneous. This is not the time to be spontaneous. In order to help reduce risks and stress. Figure everything out ahead of time. Know about everything before you go do it. This goes for restaurants, excursions, and even visiting others. Call ahead so you can plan out as much as possible.
• Know the rules and regulations. The rules today differ by city and state, so it’s important to know what they are for where you are heading. Get the information you need so that you are prepared. Whether it means all meals will be takeout, you will have to wear a mask, or you need limit the number in your party, avoiding surprises will help keep things stress-free.
• Get tested before you go. Getting a COVID test before you travel is a good way to help reduce stress and the spread of the virus. This way you will know that you are not unknowingly spreading it around wherever you may go.
• Create a checklist to use. A checklist is a great way to ease the hassle of ensuring you have everything covered. Make a list of what needs to be packed, calls that need to be made, things that must be done before heading out, etc. This will prove much easier than trying to simply remember everything.
• Make reservations wherever possible. This is a great time to make reservations for everything possible. Whether it’s at a restaurant, a tour company, or something else, this is a great way to help them limit the number of guests allowed in any one place at the same time.
• Be kind and patient. People you come across while you are traveling are doing things differently, too, and it may cause them to be stressed out and provide slower service. Take that time to remind yourself to be in the here and now, and focus on being kind and patient.

“The holidays are a special time, and most of us still want to travel,” added Sandler. “While we shouldn’t live in constant fear of the virus, we should strive to keep being keenly aware of the situation and our surroundings. When we do that, we will reduce the stress and anxiety, help to keep everyone healthier, and still be able to enjoy life, even more than when we travel without being so focused.”

Through her personal development and career coaching services, Sandler has helped people in many different ways. From helping them to identify things holding themselves back to being able to achieve personal goals, she brings a crucial, helpful outsider’s perspective. In addition to personal achievements, she helps many people with their career goals, as well as working with companies to provide their team with impact training. Through her efforts, companies have been able to reduce absenteeism rates, motivate their team, reduce stress levels, engage their employees, and create a better workplace.

Sandler offers impact retreats, corporate impact events, and one-on-one coaching services. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practices. She has also spent time as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins. Upcoming retreats include Reignite in Tulum, Mindfulness in Mykonos, Rewire and Renew in The French Alps, and Mindfulness & Mindset in The Hamptons. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

About Katie Sandler
Katie Sandler is a popular impact and private wellness coach. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful, overcome adversity, and reach new career goals. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

Staying on Top of Your Finances during COVID-19
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businesswoman-reviewing finances at desk with calculator and wearing a protective mask

A lot of people are dealing with serious financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re worried about your finances but haven’t experienced a loss of income or increased expenses so far, consider the following:

Our fellow federal regulators and their state counterparts are still working every day to keep our financial system safe. Generally, all bank deposits up to $250,000 are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Deposits at all federal credit unions, and the vast majority of state-chartered credit unions, are also insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). Take care of your finances as usual. If you are in the position to strengthen your financial well-being, read more below about how to take control. You’ll be better prepared for shocks down the road, whether from the pandemic or something else.

Keep Up with Your Bills

There are ways to get help if you are struggling to pay your bills due to the financial impact of COVID-19. But if you can still pay your bills, you will likely be better off staying on track. Keep in mind that if you decide to use a program that lets you pause or reduce payments; you will still owe the money you have not paid once the program ends.

Remember, if you ARE struggling, you have options.

If You Can’t Pay Your Bills
Don’t hesitate to contact your financial lenders and creditors if you can’t keep up because COVID-19 has cost you income. The CFPB and other financial regulators have encouraged lenders to work with their customers during this time.

If You Can’t Make Your Mortgage Payments
The new CARES Act allows homeowners with federally backed loans who are affected by the pandemic to request a forbearance of their mortgage for up to 180 days. The forbearance can be extended for up to an additional 180 days. Private mortgage loans may also offer programs. Learn more here.

If You Can’t Keep Up with Your Student Loans
The CARES Act also automatically suspends payments on federally held student loans through September 30, 2020. For help with a student loan other than a federally held loan, you should contact your servicer to see what options are available to you.

If You’re Already Behind on Your Bills
Check out these tips for dealing with debt – a stressful experience even under normal circumstances.

If You’re a Financial Caregiver
Those who serve as financial caregivers for older adults or people with disabilities may have unique worries and challenges.

Keep Your Money Safe

Whether or not you’ve experienced a financial hit, don’t head for the ATM to withdraw more cash than you usually need. Your money is safe in your bank or credit union account. Unlike money kept at home, you likely have federal protections if money you’ve deposited are taken illegally and in the unlikely event your institution shuts down. You will always be able to get cash when you need it. The professionals restocking cash machines and moving money across the country are on the job and are considered essential service workers.

Take Control of Your Finances

Getting money smart is one of the best ways to be ready for any kind of trouble the future might bring. We also offer a variety of tools including some designed to help you track your spending, build a budget, pay off your debt, or take stock of your overall financial well-being. And always remember to manage and protect your credit.

For more information, please visit: consumerfinance.gov

Mississippi’s Asya Branch Wins Miss USA 2020
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Miss USA pageant winner Asya Branch smilign with sash on and clasping hands

Better late than never! Months after the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Miss Mississippi USA Asya Branch has been crowned Miss USA 2020.

Branch, 22, was awarded the coveted title on Monday in a competition that aired live from Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. She was crowned by her predecessor, Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst.

Placing second runner-up was Miss Oklahoma USA Mariah Jane Davis, and just ahead of her was first runner-up, Miss Idaho USA Kim Layne.

Branch was the first African American to be named Miss Mississippi USA and comes from Booneville.

Prior to her win on Monday night, Branch shared her take on gun laws in her final statement.

“We should require people to pass training and safety classes” before attaining guns, she said.

This year’s winner was chosen by a selection committee that included Fox Nation host Abby Hornacek, entrepreneur Gloria Mayfield Banks, sports reporter and Miss USA 1999 Kimberly Pressler, businesswoman Susan Yara, Miss USA 2000 Lynnette Cole and Carolyn Aronson, CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare and Be A 10 Cosmetics.

The night’s festivities — which were originally slated for spring, but got postponed due to COVID-19 — were hosted by sports reporter and Miss Teen USA 2005 Allie LaForce and American Ninja Warrior co-host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, a former professional football player.

The competition also included a virtual performance by American Idol alum Haley Reinhart.

With the crown now sitting pretty atop her head, Branch will move to New York City to represent the Miss USA brand and various philanthropic organizations, just as Kryst did before her.

“Being Miss USA has afforded me the opportunity to be an advocate for issues that deserve attention, including criminal justice reform and racial inequality,” Kryst said in a statement. “I am proud to continue the legacy of national titleholders who speak up and encourage change, and I look forward to supporting the next Miss USA and Miss Teen USA in doing the same.”

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: People

How Cooks Are Helping to End World Hunger
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woman wearing a blue apron that says Cooks Who Feed

Everyone has food waste, even if we try to be mindful about our purchases and how much we are preparing. While we may all account for a little here and there, it adds up to a lot of wasted food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’s estimated that 30-40 percent of our nation’s food supply is wasted. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that over 800 million people per year around the world do not have enough to eat. One organization, Cooks Who Feed, is taking on the mission of helping to feed the people who need it most.

“When I realized the facts surrounding food waste and world hunger, I felt I had to do something about it,” explains Seema Sanghavi, founder of the organization Cooks Who Feed. “We help make it easier to get involved in helping to end world hunger. One of our aprons will top the list of many gift buyers this season.”

The Cooks Who Feed organization has teamed up with well-known chefs to create a line of aprons that people can purchase. Every apron purchased provides 100 meals to those in need. The organization has addressed numerous areas of concern by working with charitable organizations around the globe that collect surplus food to provide immediate hunger relief.

The mission is helping to end world hunger, but the company is also addressing the environmental impact of food waste. The organization works with three charities that obtain food surplus and provide it to those in need. The charities they work with are Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Second Harvest, and Zomato Feeding India. Over a third of Cooks Who Feed profits go to supporting their charity partners.

Beyond the food benefits that the apron sales provide, they also help to support underprivileged women in India. The aprons are all made in a fair-trade facility, giving the women a way to earn a living and rise above poverty so they can feed their families and help others. All of the aprons are environmentally friendly, handcrafted with natural and recycled fabrics. A lot of details have gone into each apron creating a stylish, functional and eco-friendly product that brings sustainable fashion to the kitchen.

Each of the organization’s celebrity chef ambassadors have created their own apron so their fans can purchase an apron designed by the chef. People can choose the one that suits them or the person they are gifting it to. Some of the celebrity chefs that have teamed up with Cooks Who Feed include:

  • Art Smith – Chef Art is an award-winning chef and co-owner of several restaurants, including Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, Art and Soul, and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar. He also spent 10 years being the personal chef of Oprah Winfrey. He’s known for his Southern fried chicken. Every purchase of his specially designed apron also supports Common Threads, which provides disadvantaged children free cooking and nutrition lessons.
  • Christine Cushing – An award-winning chef, Chef Christine is a judge on the hit Food Network program called Wall of Chefs, and won the 2020 Taste Award for “Best Chef” in a TV series for her food, travel documentary series called “Confucius Was a Foodie.” She also has an artisan line of tomato sauces.
  • Romain Avril – Best known for his appearance as a judge on Top Chef Canada All-Stars, Chef Romain has worked at a one and two Michelin star restaurant. He’s a star chef at such restaurants as Colborne Lane, Origin North Bar, and La Société Bistro.
  • Devan Rajkumar – After several years of high-end catering with the Food Dudes, Chef Romain moved into an executive chef role at Luxe Appliance Studio.
  • Gaggan Anand – Known for his progressive Indian cuisine, Chef Gaggan has repeatedly placed on the Restaurants of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He earned two Michelin stars in the first edition of the Thailand Michelin guide in 2018. He opened the restaurant Gaggan Anand in Bangkok in 2019, and has been profiled in Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

“The greatest lesson in life is taught by our family, simply share our food,” added Chef Art Smith. “By being a part of this great program I’m living that lesson, because every apron purchase shares food with the world. It’s a great feeling to be a part of doing that.”

Cooks Who Feed was founded by Seema Sanghavi. She loves cooking and got the idea for the organization after visiting a nongovernmental organization in India, where women were earning a living by performing safe work. Two years later, she came across information about the food waste problem, and an idea was formed. The mission of the organization is to create a movement, providing 1 million meals per year, which would be made possible by 10,000 apron sales annually.

The Cooks Who Feed aprons come in a variety of colors and styles and start at $55, with free shipping within the U.S. In addition to the celebrity chef aprons, there are others to choose from. The aprons make great gifts for those who enjoy cooking. To get more information about the program or see the selection of aprons, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

About Cooks Who Feed

Cooks Who Feed sells a line of fashionable aprons that have been sustainably made and help to feed the world. Working with charities that obtain surplus food, and providing it to the people who need it, the company helps people and the planet. The aprons are handcrafted, eco-friendly, and available online, for retail and for wholesale. To get more information, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

Sources:

US Department of Agriculture. Food Waste FAQhttps://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

World Health Organization. World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing.https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2019-world-hunger-is-still-not-going-down-after-three-years-and-obesity-is-still-growing-un-report.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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pink ribbon on a pink background with the text October is Breast cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness month or National Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins on Thursday, October 1 and ends on Saturday, October 31 2020.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an average lifetime risk of developing breast cancer at 12 percent. There are about 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, with about 15 percent of those (40,000 people) dying from the disease each year.

A clearer way of looking at it and why it’s so serious is that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer, and 1 woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. Additionally, and contrary to what most people believe, breast cancer doesn’t just end with the female folks, men can develop breast cancer as well (although its rare).

Always keep in mind that screening for breast cancer begins at 40 years old (for average risk women) with annual mammograms, and that catching breast cancer early can save your life.

Why Go Pink for October?
Every October, the color pink shows up in full force. From lapel pins to NFL uniforms, people integrate pink into their wardrobes to support breast cancer awareness month. As an awareness campaign, it’s incredibly successful. But awareness is just the first step. From awareness, public health education and advances in research are possible.

Lydia Komarnicky, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and a member of the board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, says wearing pink “reminds people of the importance of the month of October and to get a mammogram if you have forgotten. More importantly, I think the pink shirt, ribbon, hat, or merchandise of your choice honors those who have successfully beaten the disease, those who are currently battling the disease, and also reminds us of those that have succumbed to the disease.”

History Behind the Pink Ribbon or Breast Cancer Awareness
Charlotte Hayey, who had battled breast cancer, introduced the concept of a peach-colored breast cancer awareness ribbon. In the early 1990s, 68-year-old Haley began making peach ribbons by hand in her home. Her daughter, sister and grandmother had breast cancer. She distributed thousands of ribbons at supermarkets with cards that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

Statistics You Should Know
• About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

• In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US, along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

• About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2020. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.

• About 42,170 women in the US are expected to die in 2020 from breast cancer. Death rates have been steady in women under 50 since 2007 but have continued to drop in women over 50. The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1.3 percent per year from 2013 to 2017. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.

• For women in the US, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

• As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.

• Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2020, it’s estimated that about 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

• In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower. Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer because of a higher rate of BRCA mutations.

• Breast cancer incidence rates in the US began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7 percent from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk. In recent years, incidence rates have increased slightly by 0.3 percent per year.

• A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.

• About 5–10 percent of breast cancers can be linked to known gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 72 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69 percent. Breast cancer that is positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8 percent; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.

• About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are sex (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Source: breastcancer.org & smarthomeradar.com

15 Minutes of Yoga a Day Keeps Stress Away
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Side view of diverse confident women meditating together on yoga mats sitting near window in sunlight and relaxing

By Yogi Ram

Our modern lifestyle is very busy. Family, career, social life . . . The pressure is high. From a young age, we are encouraged to perform intellectually, physically, professionally and socially.

Unfortunately, a very common result of this constant pressure is . . . STRESS.

Controlled and limited stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Stress can actually help you perform under pressure, excel during a job interview, reach deadlines, etc.

However, constant and overwhelming stress can have a negative effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. It can even lead to a series of health problems such as anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, muscle soreness, reduced immune system and much more. According to research, stress can even lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, depression and obesity.

Therefore, it is important – no matter how busy your schedule – to take time for yourself. By reducing your stress levels and calming down your mind and body, you will feel better immediately, and will experience lasting energy, positivity, and health overall.

How Yoga Fits into the Mix

Unfortunately, when people get overwhelmed with stress, they don’t always handle it the right way. Commonly accepted ways to unwind are lying on the sofa, staring at the TV, using drugs or alcohol, eating junk food, or taking medication.

Yet there are much more efficient ways to unwind and learn to control your stress before it starts to control you. One of those ways is a regular yoga practice.

Several studies suggest that yoga can reduce the impact of chronic and exaggerated stress, and that it can also be helpful to relieve anxiety and depression.

When the body is in a state of stress, the sympathetic nervous system automatically activates. In this “fight-or-flight” response, the body temperature rises, the heart beats faster and the muscles automatically become tense, ready to fight or flight.

One of the main benefits of yoga is that it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s “rest-and-digest” system. When in this state, the body spends its energy on healing, recuperating and digesting. As a result, your immune system and overall body and mind well-being improve.

Aside from activating the parasympathetic nervous system, yoga also gives you access to an inner strength and calmness which empowers you to deal with life’s inevitable stressors, fears, and frustrations.

But What If I Have No Time?!

Even though many people agree with these facts, lack of time is a problem that still remains. If you have to carve another hour out of your already busy schedule, yoga could easily become an extra thing to add to your to-do-list.

But good news! It’s not required that you practice yoga for one hour every day. Even if you only practice for 15 minutes a day, you will still benefit from yoga’s effects. Just 15 minutes of yoga can make a tremendous difference in your energy levels and in how you deal with daily tensions and pressure.

No matter how busy your days are, never lose track of your most important duty, which is to take care of yourself. Try to keep that thought in mind whenever you think you are too busy to spend even just 15 minutes a day on your own growth and wellbeing.

To end with the wise words of Buddha, “You yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Source: yogiapproved.com

Political climate have you stressed? Do these five things now!
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Katie Sandler professional picture seated with one leg up and hand around knee smiling

The American Psychological Association takes a monthly pulse of the country in its “Stress in America” poll, and it’s finding that people are stressed and feeling anxious.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has conducted research and found that not only do Americans report that politics have harmed their physical or mental health, but it has also resulted in emotional costs, including lost friendships. There is no better time than the present to take action to curb the stress and fear. It’s just a matter of knowing how to do it, which is something that Katie Sandler excels in.

“Life throws a lot our way, including presidential debates, political rifts within families, fender benders, difficult dynamics with your boss/employees, migraines, and more,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “We cannot control all of those things that may come our way, but we can do things to protect ourselves by paying more attention to how we react to them.”

Sandler has helped many people who experience such issues as stress and anxiety, among other things. She focuses on a psychology technique referred to as positive reframing, which can help to completely shift your mindset. It’s a technique that anyone can do and have success with. It starts with small choices that you stack up throughout the day, and they ultimately make a world of difference.

Charles Swindoll once said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. If we remember that and gain control over how we react to stressors, we can have a better experience in which we feel less stress and anxiety. Here are five things to do to respond, rather than react, to life and its stressors:

  • Practice gratitude. Have gratitude for the day. Whether it’s a day off, a difficult workday, a time to socialize or to get your chores done, take time to practice gratitude no matter what the day holds. Times are shifting like crazy, and we don’t know where we will be in a week, a month, a year. Slow down and simply be grateful for the day.
  • Express compassion. Compassion and curiosity are key in life and especially during these unique times. But our fears of uncertainty are prevailing and making this practice a bit more difficult. Make a conscious decision to use your curiosity and compassion, to come off of autopilot and make choices in how to be a better person, a better community member, and a therefore build a better culture – a culture of compassion.
  • Set an intention.Take the time to set an intention for yourself and those around you, including to be present and kind. In this political climate, set an intention to understand with compassion. You don’t always need to agree, you won’t always “like or love” where you are today or what your life is like. But you can control your reactions. You have the power to respond versus react, and create a powerful shift in any moment.
  • Connect with your purpose. It is during these times of discomfort and distraction that connecting with your purpose becomes critical. Explore it, remember it, honor it, and write it out if it feels unclear. If you don’t know your purpose reach out for assistance. Your purpose may be helping others scale businesses because you love seeing them empowered and out of financial duress. It could be to share your learnings and teachings with others. It can be anything, and you’ll know it when you feel it. Check in with your purpose today and stay on track.
  • Live mindfully. When we stop living on autopilot, just going through the motions, we can tap into mindful, centered living. Having anxiety about the future will only rob you of today’s peace. Instead, focus on life each day as it comes, looking to make it the best day possible.

“When people experience difficult times like we as a country are now, it’s important to be purposeful in seeking solutions and beneficial ways to responded, rather than react,” added Sandler. “Climates like we have now are going to exist no matter how we react to them, but when we take a healthy and mindful approach to dealing with it, we will can not only survive, but we can thrive.”

Sandler specializes in helping people turn difficult times into periods of growth and reach new levels of success. She helps people in a variety of ways, including through one-on-one coaching, impact retreats, and corporate impact events. She has worked extensively with executive career coaching clients and in career development for women.

Sandler works with individuals, groups, and corporations to help people become more impactful and successful. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practices. She has also spent time as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins.

Impact retreats offer a low-key wellness opportunity for travelers looking for a unique experience. Upcoming retreats include Reignite in Tulum, Mindfulness in Mykonos, Rewire and Renew in The French Alps, and Mindfulness & Mindset in The Hamptons. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

About Katie Sandler

Katie Sandler is a popular impact and private wellness coach. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful, overcome adversity, and make their impact in the world. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

How One Woman is Reinventing the Wedding Industry
LinkedIn
Amy Grace decorating for an outdoor wedding while looking at the camera

Amy Grace Collins loved her work through Amy Grace Events. She was doing incredible corporate events and weddings for organizations and couples at the most amazing venues in California and Michigan, with the very best in everything—food, flowers, music, photography, videography and more.

But she saw a trend that concerned her with the dream weddings she was helping California brides make a reality: They wanted $60,000 events when they could barely afford $15,000, so they were headed out of Santa Barbara to less expensive destinations, like the dessert of Palm Springs.

“My background is in finance, so I’m acutely aware that the money goes where the trends are,” said Collins, a NAWBO-Central Coast California member, who currently resides with her family in Michigan but works in California as well. “I started looking for an option to keep Santa Barbarians in their local town.”

Part of an international mastermind group of wedding planners, Collins began sharing her thoughts on calls. She learned that a fellow planner in Australia was in the process of implementing pop-up weddings. The concept was that several couples would have their wedding at the same location, on the same day, enjoying the same vendor resources—just in their 3- to 5-hour window and with a small group of friends and family in attendance.

While the concept would take some time to tweak for the American market, Collins knew she was onto something big.

“I reached out last summer to all my vendor friends saying, ‘I have this crazy idea…’ We talked about it and I ran every financial number I could,” says Collins. “There are a lot of models out there that undercut the vendors, so they only do the events on off-days.

“But couples want a Saturday or Sunday wedding for less, so we created these and started working on marketing them in February.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “There were brides booked for March and April who were stuck in contracts and out $60,000,” said Collins, adding that the biggest engagement season is between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day and brides usually start reaching out to wedding planners in the spring…and it’s been silent.

Collins’ thoughts immediately turned to the women who are part of MasterBrides—her other business, which is a free, online community for brides to learn about weddings from an industry veteran. She knew these women didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to lose. Also, would it even possible for them to plan their weddings in the age of Coronavirus with so many unknowns from state to state, especially in California and Michigan, that tend to be among the strictest? Amy began sharing her research and expertise in blogs like, How Do I Know If I Should Cancel or Postpone My Wedding? and The Phased Strategy to Open America: What Does This Actually Mean for My Wedding? By the response she received from brides, it was clear it was time to pivot and focus on pop-up weddings. Her own industry, on the other hand, wasn’t so thrilled about what she was putting out there, but Amy felt strongly it was the right thing to do.

Today, that honest, timely communication has paid off. Amy is now offering pop-up weddings where she leverages the cost of a $60,000 wedding and distributes it three ways between couples so they can have stunning weddings for a fraction of the price. These are all-inclusive, with 90 percent of the decisions already made. She just helps each couple finalize the personalization aspects to make it their own event.

There are other advantages to this model, too. For one, it’s recommended that the guest list is small with just 40-80 people. In this time of social distancing, that’s the perfect size. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Whereas before, thousands of dollars on everything from flowers to food would go to waste after one big event, now several couples are taking advantage of the same resources.

“I think this will completely shift the mindset of brides,” Collins says. “To see the couples’ expectations from 2002 when I first started, to 2020 is mind-blowing—it’s the same amount of money with way different expectations. This is really resetting the industry so that couples are having a wedding within their means.”

Collins is equally excited about another outcome: A focus on the ceremony more so than the party. “I have always been frustrated by the lack of reverence given to the ceremony portion of the wedding,” she explains. “To have people now see the importance of the actual ceremony and license and how it affects so much in their life, from health care to taxes to immigration. It’s so much deeper and I think we, as an industry, will be appreciated in such a different way. I look forward to that.”

Attitude + Breathing = Balance
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Michelle Miller's headshot

By Michelle Miller, national correspondent for CBS News

There are many professions that take time away from family and friends. And many employees juggling tasks, pushing deadlines and pivoting from one place to another. For me, between the 24-hour news cycle, email and internet, there is no clocking off the job.

But the key is attitude! Attitude is everything! And for the last 30 years, having a good one has been my best ally. Being able to manage your attitude, your mood, your outlook and your pace is crucial. Even in the toughest of circumstances, I’ll find a way to work through the emotion of what I’m dealing with. And sometimes, it can be overwhelming.
But nothing is more of a game changer than taking a breath. Think about that for a minute.

When I was a breaking-news correspondent, I never knew what was coming at me, where I might be headed or what story I may be covering. A heavy chest, a chasm of emotion – there are moments in between the routine coverage that catch us journalists cold.

What saved me was a method from the “BEAD Diet.” It encompasses a Chinese method of breathing called Qigong breathing. Breathe in for 3–5 seconds, hold, and breathe out slowly over 30 seconds. You do that three times, it helps center and calm you into relaxation. Every trigger of emotion seems lifted.

A brain scientist by the name of Mike Nickonchuk has written a book called The Field Guide for the Barefoot Psychologist. In it, he describes how the body reacts to trauma and ways individuals can help relieve triggers through certain exercises like breathing. It’s an incredible irony or perhaps the brilliance of our own biology, that the very thing essential to our existence is also tied to our emotional well-being.

In this life, I have found balance. And it’s a balance I fight for every day.
Work is actually the easiest of all my tasks in life, or at least it seems that way. And perhaps that is because I love what I do! Part of the reason I became a journalist is because I did not want to do the same thing every day. Routine is a comfort to most of my family – to me, not so much.

There is, however, routine to the madness of my chaos. On an average day you can find me sitting down writing a story, charting expenses, and making calls. But another technique that keeps me sane is getting up from that desk once an hour, climbing a few stairs to make the rounds, to talk to people, and to take a few moments to see that everybody is ok.

This does wonders for my stress relief, too. Because whether we are at work or at home, like it or not, we are members of a village, and the well-being of the self also depends on the well-being of the whole.

Generally, I am a happy person because I like my job. I generally go home in a better state of mind. Yes, I am tired, but I want to see my kids and husband. Making sure you fit in time with the important people of your life, budgeting that time is so important. So that is what I do. I make appointments with my children and husband. Everything is budgeted in my calendar so it has space.

I want to share the news of the day. I want to unplug from my phone, from social media, and engage real people. Keeping a positive attitude at work carries home and helps build my healthy relationships with my husband and children. It is near impossible to for someone to have a bad attitude at work and flip it around when they get home. Staying positive is the key.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Verizon

Verizon