May 30th, 2012
In the early 1970s a study was conducted ranking the different levels of stress 43 different life events produced, and if the amount, and type of stress induced illness. Back then, a change of living conditions, or change of residence fell in the middle, somewhere between a loss of job and changes in social structure, like school and families.
While I’d bet the ranking would be different today, the events causing stress are the same. Even under the best of circumstances, moving is burdensome. Besides the physical task, there are endless details, as well as emotional and financial issues to consider.
But factor in having lived in a house for decades-there are the new realities of the real estate market, as well a myriad of tax laws and other rules about selling, and structuring any gains. And ohyes family and friends are not always local, able or available to help. In other words, cleaning out the garage is the least of your troubles.
Well, you know the punchline to the old joke, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ It’s the same with downsizing-’One bite at a time’. There’s a lot to know about these different elements; missed opportunities or wrong guesses could cost you, while adding needless stress or family drama.
On Tuesday June 5th, I will be participating in a panel presentation touching on these elements, and would love you to join us. Suitable for anyone contemplating a move, or for those who love, and wants to support someone on the verge of such a change, Easing Transitions: Simplifying Your Next Move will be presented at Atria Briarcliff Manor from 6:30-7:30.
In that hour you’ll meet:
- Colin Sandler LCSW and owner of Medicaid Solutions will discuss navigating paperwork, obtaining services, and financing of long-term care needs
- Barbara Bodnar SRES, LCSW is an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker and will speak on practical considerations of selling in today’s market
- And MOI-owner of The Refreshed Home, who will explain all the ways this mysterious entity known as “Staging” can work for you by sharing stories, and lots of Before and After photos.
The presentation is free, and open to the public, and refreshments will be served, but seating is limited (and I really mean that, it’s not just a line). Atria Briarcliff Manor is located at 1025 Pleasantville Road, in Briarcliff, please RSVP to Robin Goldberg 914.923.4400 ext 233, or at email@example.com
Moving is about more than the stuff, it’s about the people, and the process. Ours is a complicated world, having smart and kind people in your corner counts for a lot. Hope to see you there!
May 27th, 2012
It happens to us all…we’re busy, short on time, and like shopping on December 24th, we grab the first thing that makes sense and lets us get going.
But wonderful words are all around us. Words that add dimension and clarity. Words that elevate the conversation, and make for better communications. I love the power of a good word, and that was the inspiration for this series.
Word of the Week has been a regular feature for some time, but fans (and DONNA-you know who you are!) will know there have been several weeks without one. Part of it was issues with IT (and TIME), but for the most part, these last few weeks I have been living today’s word: TRANSFORM.
I love this word, and it’s derivative, transformative.
It is a verb with chops: “To make, or undergo a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character”.
It’s CHANGE, but TRANSFORM focuses on the subject-the personal experience-rather than the predicate-the change, or event of change- itself.
TRANSFORM is uber-personal, and can be both an internal process, as well as an exterior manifestation.
It sounds magical-and thanks to Hollywood, it’s pretty much seen as a positive force in most demographics…evil Decepticons excluded, of course.
TRANSFORM is a PROCESS. Helpful to remember, as ”during” doesn’t often feel magical-in fact, it can feel downright crappy. During troubled, stressful or difficult times, it’s a great word, a really helpful reminder, to TRUST your instincts, and to be CONFIDENT in your pursuits.
TRANSFORM I think is best evaluated, most understood and appreciated-in hindsight.
To me, TRANSFORM is about HOPE and PROMISE going in, PATIENCE during, and GRATITUDE on the other side. And FOR TODAY, am so glad to be on this other side! Have a great week everyone, and (DONNA!)-see you next week with a new Word of the Week!
The Refreshed Home is all about making a space work better for the people who use it. Together we make good plans and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. If your space, your stuff, or your mindset is holding you back, read on-or, better yet, call me and we’ll talk.
The Refreshed Home
Because Experience Matters, and Kindness Counts
May 26th, 2012
Searching for that perfect gift for that special guy? Something to show dad, hubby, or grad just how important he really is to you? Or maybe that one, last final touch to make the man cave complete?
Well, you’re in luck. Just in time for HIS big day, Yankee Candle introduces Man Candles.
Seen at the local BBB-and I would not have believed it if I did not see them, hold them, and photograph them. And yes. SIGH. Sniff them.
Yes, indeed. Man Candles. Limited Edition, the collection features four testosterone-inspired scents:
Riding Mower Hot sun. Cool breeze. And the intensely summery scent of freshly-cut grass
First Down Game On! The scent of orange, patchuli, vetiver (essential oil from the root of Indian grass) and leather is as exciting as game day!
2″ x 4″ The warm, unmistakable scent of freshly planed wood and sawdust evokes a sense of confidence and quality
Man Town Escape to the man cave with this masculine blend of spices, woods and musk.
Each with notes of desperation and chutzpah, and just a touch of pandering. I hear the Fall Line will include 10W40, Cool Ranch Doritos (if they work out the licensing) and Man Hamper.
Get yours while you can, I think they will be very, very Limited Edition.
May 23rd, 2012
Maybe because I grew up in a house where the flowers were always on the sofa, and the carpet was always beige, but I love, absolutely love working with handmade area carpets.They bring charm, warmth, and character to a room, each with personalities as different as the myriad of craftspeople who make them.
If you are contemplating a decorating project, I will make two important points here: First- don’t believe there is one specific element of a room to start decorating with. Color and pattern is a very personal choice, so I counsel my clients to start with where they see the most pattern, find something they are really drawn to, and build on it. It could be flowers on the sofa, it could be a wallpaper mural, a pair of paisley chairs….or a wonderful rug !
Second, I can only counsel you on investing in your happiness. If you are looking for guidance on investing in antique or heirloom carpets, consult with an expert in this field instead. OK then-here are my three most important tips to remember when shopping for a handmade carpet:
1. LOVE IT If a handmade carpet is in your future, this is my absolute best advice. Seems silly and obvious, but many times I’d meet clients who had SO many other things on thir mind about what constitutes a good decision-things they saw on TV, read on line, or heard from friends-that starting with something they love simply never crossed their minds. Choose something you feel a genuine connection with. It makes the strongest case for your parting with dollars.
2. DO NOT be swayed by 70% off sales, or those places that are terminally going out of business. YES< of course dollars matter, and YES you could find a deal on the carpet of your dreams, but neither of these two, by themselves is a guarantee of value or savings.
Remember value is in the eye of the beholder, so first see what’s out there and get a sense of what calls to you. Many times the carpets that are ‘up to 70& off’ are in odd/unusual color combinations or funky sizes that will not fit into your space, or with your existing furnishings so well.
Handmade carpets by definition, are not a perfect or manufactured product-in fact, as a reverence, some weavers intentionally weave an imperfection into their carpets, believing only God makes what is perfect. However, check the parallel measurements, make sure they match, or are very close…you want a rectangle, not a trapezoid on your floor.
3. UNDERSTAND how rugs are made, an the elements that make up its basic cost structure. The number of knots-referred to as the ‘quality’ of a carpet is key. Unlike what we typically attach to the word quality, a lower quality carpet will not wear out or fall apart, it just costs less to make because there are fewer knots.
Want to be stunned? A carpet referred to as a 12/10 quality means there are 12 rows of 10 knots, or 120 knots per square inch. 144 square inches in a square foot, so these 120 knots x 144 square inches is 17,280 knots, per square foot. A 6×9 carpet consists of 54 square feet; multiply these two and you come up with 933,120 knots.
12/10 quality and a 6×9 size carpet are average/conservative markers, and 1 million knots, +/-, is the industry’s benchmark of yearly production. What is truly eye-opening for me is that how little it costs to get a very nice carpet of these numbers-literally almost a year’s worth of someone’s work. In our market, you’d have A LOT to choose from at this level, in the $700.-900.00 price range.
Next time I will cover fibers, dyes, and some history, but I will end now, with this thought: Most of these carpets come from less developed parts of the world, and while for many craftspeople it is their main, if not only source of income, the actual source of the labor has long been of concern.
RugMark International is an international non-governmental organization, incorporated in India in 1994, formed to end illegal (under age of 14) child labor in the handmade rug industry. They promote higher ethical standards, while offering educational opportunities to children in South Asia.
They have a voluntary licensing program that uses an independent verification to ensure its standards are being met. Below, at left is the RugMark label used on all rugs certified as child-labor free, shipped up thru July 2009, and on the right is the current Goodweave symbol, on all products shipped from August 2009 and later.
If you are looking at handmade carpets, please look for this label, tell your friends, and check out their website for more info.
May 23rd, 2012
When I was in school and desperately broke, I decorated with plants because it was cheap.
Later, I included plants in my floor plans for my clients largely for aesthetic value-there was always a plant or tree out there that could fill in an odd space, or add balance to a room; place an up light underneath it, voila-sculpture!
But who knew plants could also genuinely, simply, dramatically, inexpensively and immediately improve the quality of your own personal air? NASA, that’s who!
Photosynthesis takes carbon dioxide out of the air, and combines sunlight and water to provide energy for the plant to grow, releasing oxygen in the process.
Extra oxygen is good, but better is that the plant AND the microorganisms in the dirt also scrub the air of known carcinogens. NASA has been studying this for years- sending plants up in the space shuttles, as a way to extended stays in space stations by cleaning the air… but the science works just as well in our earthly digs.
B. C. Wolverton was the lead investigator in one 1989 NASA experiment where harmful gases were pumped into a sealed greenhouse. Over a 24 hour period, Gerber Daisies removed 35% of trichloroethylene (dry-cleaning, adhesives, varnishes), 50% of the formaldehyde (cigarette smoke, particle board, insulation and fire-retardant), and almost 68% of benzene (plastics, inks, dyes, detergents) particles from the air.
Gerber Daisies!! I don’t know if that is more startling info, or that this is known science for over 2 decades. His widely-acclaimed 1997 book, How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office at under 150 pages is an easy read, concise and helpful.
Don’t let the Latin names throw you: you’d recognize many of them by photos; Gerber Daisy, Chrysanthemums and the Peace Lily-3 of the most effective plants tested-are all sold in the floral dept of my local Stop and Shop.
And you don’t have to live in a terrarium, either; experts say as few as 2 tabletop plants per 100 sf will do the job.
Brown thumb? Many species originate from the rain forest, and are used to low light, so are very well-suited to office and home application, where the natural light might not be so abundant.
Young kids or pets? The more exposed dirt, the better; but a fine mesh screen on top will discourage cats and toddlers from digging. One caveat: some plants are toxic if ingested, so pet owners or parents of small children need to do the research.
Mother Earth has taken some big hits lately, who knew it’d be so easy to give back?
May 23rd, 2012
Whether or not you believe in astrology, it’s always fun to check and see what the stars are SUPPOSED to hold for you. ..so each month we take a fun look at what makes each of our boats float, home decor-wise. This month, we wish a Happy Birthday to GEMINI!!
Gemini (5/21-6/20) is represented by twins, and it’s one of the few signs where the style of getting things done is just as important-maybe even more so-then what you are actually doing. You see, very little about a typical Gemini is predictable, or even-paced.
Beyond flexible, they are the original multi-taskers; with them, most everything tends to move, and change at warp-speed. Geminis act-speak-think quickly, and are impatient with those who cannot keep up. They also dislike routine and structure.
Many would argue all this speed, duality and volitility is not always a bad thing. Professional Gemini athletes like tennis powers Venus Williams, Steffi Graf and Lindsey Davenport would testify to that, and be joined by basketball greats Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Olympic skater Apolo Ohno, and beloved QBs Joes Nameth and Montanna. Anderson Cooper-of TV’s aptly named 360 (Degrees), and famed fool-the-eye artist M.C. Escher would probably agree, as would multi-facted actor Johnny Depp, and comedian/actor/impressionist Mike Myers.
‘Bird-like’ is a description more than a few astrologers use to describe this sign. Intesnse, and in the moment, but easily distracted, and just as quickly, gone, on to the next big thing. And therein lies the real challenge.
They make decisions quickly-which, of course they attribute to their confident nature. But sometimes the results are not what they anticipated. BUT WAIT-here’s the hard part-they are so quick-witted and articulate, they have either changed their minds-or the rationale of what is important-that those trying to keep up can be back at square one.
So-needless to say, room for change and flexibility should be built into any Gemini’s decor…perhaps neutral fabrics, and keeping the paint fan deck handy, as well as a painter on retainer could be the answer?
With all this hustle and bustle, Geminis do not tend to take the time to rest and re-charge. To soothe their nerve endings, and rejuvenate their mojo, think soft colors and fabrics. Not pastel or sherbert tones, but warmed, nuanced versions…a spiced burgandy, or barn red instead of a clear red; a gray-ed sage instead of an emerald or evergreen.
Mix, and layer patterns in small and inexpensive ways-pillows, or use a bowl of woven, painted or hand-blown glass balls as a centerpiece. A great gift for a Gemini would be one of those tabletop mind-bender puzzles-like 3 story tic tac toe, or something to take apart and re-assemble.
Books, and writing is big for Geminis, as well. Not personal correspondence as much as poetry or prose-so make sure a desk, good lighting, and some bookshelves are part of the plan.
SO-best words of advice: If you are a Gemini, have patience for the mere mortals who live with you, or are trying to help you. If you are a co-decision maker with a Gemini, it’d probably be best if you did your own research or reconnaissaince missions first. No guarantees, but being prepared is your best shot at keeping up.
May 22nd, 2012
Meteorologists define winter as the time span from December 21 to March 20th.
To baseball fans, winter is that flat, joyless time that kicks in sometime in October, and lasts clear up until around Valentines Day. Depending on how your team did, symptoms can be resignation, disgust, determination; on rare occasions it’s a glow that slowly fades. The only known remedy is the green grass and blue skies of Spring Training.
Last year Mel Ahrens started, and ran the ActiveRain Baseball Junkies League, I joined, and it was THE BEST. Free, all we needed was a Yahoo account, so what’s not to love?? Back from last year are Mel, Jeffrey DiMurio, Craig Rutman, Jim Patton , and myself. This year we are joined by two more GIRLS of summer: Tracy, CA Realtor extraordinaire Susan Goulding, and AR’s own sweetheart Kerrie Greenhalgh.
Hailing from the wild north is former baseball prodigy and Minnesota Realtor Bill Feela, and from the even wilder northeast-you know him, you love him, Phil Faranda. Rounding out our group is the skipper of the mysterious Brewster 9…that is my husband Doug…who is still trying to convince his wife (that’d be me-Commissioner, and OHYES, last years’ winner)-on the error of her ways in evaluating stats. HA!
At the start of the season, the league resembled a soccer game with five-year olds: lots of activity, but no clear trajectory. But the ensuing weeks have got everyone settled down, and we have ourselves A RACE!
Now-it’s a long season, and anything can happen. A slump-or breakthrough? A rainy weekend? A couple of Can Not Trade players on DL? It can happen to any of us-but one quarter into the season, here is where things stand:
ONE POINT-which scoring-wise is like one third of a stolen base, or being able to correctly spell the last name of the Red Sox catcher-is all that separate the top three teams: Doug, myself, and Jim.
TEN POINTS-which could be all your pitchers having a good outing, a couple of home runs, and a few rain-outs-or a bad fajita- for the other guys-is what separate the next four teams: Kerrie, Mel, Bill and Jeff.
SEVEN POINTS-what you’d score if say two guys broke out of a slump-or if one of the other managers were too busy SELLING HOUSES to update their pitcher rotation-is what separate the rest of the teams: Craig, Susan, and Phil.
Now, it’s a long season, and you can’t rule any of the players out. For example, experience has taught me that Jim can trade his way out of a jam in a heartbeat. Mel and Bill are both stat masters, and Susan has an awesome pair of bench coaches. The rest of us-Kerrie, Craig, Jeff, Phil, Doug and myself-we’re all from New York, so there you go, no worries about US!
Stay tuned, and hope you’re enjoying the season as much as we are!!
May 20th, 2012
Within the American Legion, each state has a position known as Department Commander.
It’s elected position with a term of one year, where the Commander tours every post in the state to meet the members and other dignitaries. They also speak at different functions to raise awareness of, and promote programs that support the health and welfare of both veterans, and those actively serving: homeless vets, the VA budget, their medical facilities, and pending legislation.
It’s a lot of work, but quite the honor to be voted into this position, and towards the end of the Commander’s term of service, they are lauded at a Homecoming Dinner, given by their home post. Home post members, as well as Legion dignitaries, politicians, friends and family all attend, and it is a big deal. Last year, Doug and I were invited guests of New York State’s retiring Commander, Jim Triola.
Now-my dad served in the Coast Guard, but my contemporaries were too young for Viet Nam, and too old for subsequent engagements. While I’m certainly grateful to all those who now serve, or have served, I have neither experience of the sacrifices, or any familiarity with the traditions, so wasn’t sure what to expect.
The hall was HUGE, and filled. The dias was long, directly opposite the entrance. Immediately I noticed a small table in front of, and slightly to the left of the dias. It contained a single place setting, a lone candlestick, a single bud vase, with one perfect red rose in it, all set on a simple white tablecloth.
I thought it was the guest of honor’s spot…perhaps this evening would be like a ‘celebrity roast’ that you see on TV?
The cocktail hour was in full swing, and we met a number of Jim’s friends. Then, when the group was called to order, and the evening’s program started, no one sat at that table. Within moments, we found out why.
For nearly 30 years now, every official Legion meeting is to have the empty chair and table for one set up, as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POWs/MIAs still unaccounted for from all the wars and conflicts involving the United States. It’s a powerful image on its own, but here is the preamble that starts each meeting.
We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table.
It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay our humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence.
This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.
The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty. They are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
Let us pray to the supreme commander that all our comrades will soon be back within our ranks. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.
If you did not know this story, you are not alone-please pass it on.
And for the holiday weekend, in between all the other stuff, find a parade, take the kids, cheer and clap loudly. (White Plains parade starts at 10am on Main Street, marching up North Broadway, towards 287)
Look for veterans selling the red paper poppies. Buy a bunch, wear yours proudly, and give the rest to friends. Made by disabled vets, they remind us of the past sacrifices of our veterans, with all proceeds going to supporting veterans and their families.
Thank any you meet, and then, in a quiet moment, say a prayer of gratitude.
May 18th, 2012
Google Alerts, and On Being A Successful Optimist
YES, I’m B-A-A-A-C-K!
Gotta love Google Analytics, and the alerts you set up to skim tidbits out of cyber-space on your behalf…I have several: most to make sure my intellectual property stays mine, but a few to see who else is talking about the same concepts and directions I do.
Last few weeks when my computer was in and out of ICU-what saved me-what connected me-were the accumulated alerts that I had left for that proverbial rainy day that I accessed through my handy-dandy smart phone.
One gem is a recent WSJ article by Mark Stevenson: Eight Principles of Successful Optimists. Adapted from his book, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future-what is there not to be enthused about in either title?? The article did not disappoint, I especially liked his first principle:
Have an unashamed optimism of ambition. Don’t feel embarrassed to say that things can be better. Have no qualms about imagining an improved world and advocating for it, no matter how much derision you may receive at the hands of the cynical.
I believe we have the power to attract what we want in our lives; and I am also an optimist…not sure which came first, but no matter. How empowering is it to voice your best dreams and hope, and give them legs?
The book was named one of the 10 Essential Books for Thought-Provoking Summer Reading by The Atlantic…but follow the link above to read the article, enjoy the rest of them on your own, and may your own best force be with you!
May 3rd, 2012
Ahhh, it’s May, and this weekend the annual wave of commencement ceremonies begins. And yes, the inevitable Doonsbury comics, but that’s not where we’re going with this…
Unless you were Stanford ’05, chances are good to excellent you have no memory of who delivered your commencement speech, or what they spoke about.
So many other thoughts in my head those days… I know I don’t remember any of mine, but I do enjoy listening to thoughful speakers, and their messages in others’ speeches.
IMO, a good commencement speech is equal parts timeless and fresh, is both hopeful, and reality-based, and shares both retrospect, and vision.
Former speechwriter Charles Wheelan had his share of commencement speeches; writing them was his first job out of college. He’s since moved on, and in a recent WSJ essay, he wrote of things he wished someone would have shared with Class of 1988.
Adapted from his about to be published book 10-1/2 things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said, #3-Don’t make the world worse, and # 9-It’s all borrowed time I thought were particularly wise. Neither snarky or pessimistic, I think most are things we probably already ‘know’, but are just so well-articulated here. Click the link above to check it out, maybe get a little re-calibrated yourself.