Celebrating Freedom and Independence!

The classic hallmark of summer is here, Independence Day, regarded as the birthday of the United States, as a free and independent nation.  Most Americans simply call it the "Fourth of July", a time of crazy celebration.  A festive day of grilling, games, water sports capped off with a dazzling spectacle of fireworks!

Here's a fun fact:  did you know that the Fourth of July is the most popular holiday for grilling.  On this day 76% of grill owners cook barbecue.

As you enjoy all the festivities with family and friends, please remember what this holiday is about, and the brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and independence we enjoy. If you see a service member out and about, please let them know you appreciate their service, whether it's a pat on the back, or buying them a cup of coffee. You never know how just a small gesture can really lift someone up and make their day!

Are you feeling secure about your financial independence and your retirement?  Do you have the proper plans in place to support your retirement independence?  I am here to answer any questions you may have.  Please call or email me any time.

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Addressing the Myths of Long-Term Care

When it comes to LTC protection, it's time to know the myths, master the facts, and have the conversation.

Retirement readiness risks come in all shapes and sizes, and few loom larger than the potential cost of long-term care (LTC). Most financial professionals understand the magnitude of this risk; however, preparing clients to address LTC costs often means overcoming a set of well-entrenched myths. Understanding some common myths in advance and becoming well-versed in the facts can change the course of the conversation. And most importantly, it can help create a stronger retirement strategy for clients at a range of income levels.

Myth: "My health insurance provides all the protection I need for long-term care."

Fact: Health insurance and long-term care protection are not interchangeable.
Health insurance helps cover the cost of medical care, while LTC benefits help pay for other potentially costly services, including help with eating, bathing and getting dressed - services that are generally progressive, with the level of care growing over time.

Myth: "I can rely on a government program to take care of me." 

Fact: Government programs are limited by financial resources and availability. It can be difficult to qualify for government programs, and each program carries specific rules and requirements for covered services.

Myth: "LTC protection is something only old people need."

Fact: It's never too early to protect your future. Applying for LTC protection at a younger age can mean lower premiums, and it can improve an individual's chances of getting approved for a policy or a contract. Waiting to purchase protection may increase the risk of paying higher age-based premiums or even being declined. And it's important to remember that roughly 70 percent of Americans ages 65 and older will need some kind of help with the activities of daily living as they age.

Myth: "I can save the money I'll need for LTC." 

Fact: Paying long term care expenses out-of-pocket can wipe out a lifetime of savings.  Today, the average cost for a one-year stay in a private nursing home room is $83,580. At that rate, savings of $500,000 would be depleted in just a few years. And one-in-five Americans will require long term care services for five years or more.

Myth: "LTC protection is too expensive."

Fact: There are many combinations of LTC features and payment options that may work with a range of financial situations.
Traditional LTC policies typically are funded like other insurance policies, with monthly or annual premiums that may be subject to periodic increases. Asset-based protection can provide a healthy mix of funding options - including a single lump-sum premium or options to pay level premiums over a period of 10 to 20 years.

Start the Conversation

From a wealth management perspective, it's important to remember that LTC protection doesn't exist to make clients rich. It exists to keep them from becoming poor. That makes it an important element of any well-rounded retirement income strategy and certainly a topic worth discussing.

Source:  OneAmerica

S tarlight and Cicadas: Summer Nights in North Carolina

You're never too old to get swept up in the magic of a summer night in North Carolina.

On summer nights, when the grown-ups got lazy on the porch or patio, the twilit yard belonged to the children. Your parents had shooed you away from the candles, where you'd dipped all 10 fingers, one by one, into the hot liquid wax, blown them cool, then carefully peeled away the fragile, perfect-fit caplets, vaguely rough on the insides with fingerprint whorls. Fathers had punched the lids of peanut butter and mayonnaise and Mason jars with an ice pick for lightning bugs (I don't know where they say "fireflies," but not in North Carolina), and you'd caught your limit. You were sticky with Popsicle or watermelon juice, but the sweet-seeking bees had gone to bed; bare feet were safe in the clover.

You lay down in the grass - later, you'd itch, but it was worth it - with limbs stretched wide and still, and looked at the stars and moon. But mostly, you waited to feel the earth spinning. It did. You knew from school that the earth spun, and now it was, right beneath you, rolling on.
Then it was time for bed, and while you read, you rubbed idly at the skin underneath your anklebone because you went swimming every day, so baths were less than frequent, and somehow, a layer of dirt collected there. Finally, there was the low, comforting thrum of the attic fan outside your room, where you slept on top of the sheets because it was too hot for covers.
* * *
Decades later, the grown-up pleasures of summer nights are scarcely different. Your feet are still bare, toes dug into the furred belly of a sleeping dog beside your chair; there's still a canopy of tree limbs overhead, and something in a jar, but it's something liquid now, not flashing and flying. Or, instead of spread on grass, your legs are hiked to the railing of a porch at a beach house, lake house, mountain house, farmhouse. The nasal tones of the organ at the baseball game downtown are faint, but definite, and the cicada song that made you homesick at camp is now a comfort. The night, if you're lucky, is soft and velvety - in feel and color - and the only active living things are moths batting at the screen, though you've yet to ever again see that startling, ethereal luna moth of your childhood: corn-husk green, with soft brown blind eyes on its enormous wings.

Talk is idle, of supper's stewed corn and sliced tomatoes. The scents of mint and basil waft by now and then, along with the aromas of someone-down-the-street's grilled steak. You can't see the stars quite as well as a 9-year-old, but there's that expensive telescope you got one birthday on its tripod in the closet with all the winter coats ...

Then again, it's too much trouble to stir. There's always the moon to gaze at, and besides, you can see falling stars that you never could as a child, because you have the patience to wait.

People seem to stay up later on summer nights. Couples push strollers and children call to each other till 9. Finally, though, you rise and venture indoors, switch off the AC, raise the sashes, and prop a piece of kindling to keep that one stubborn window up. Because it's grown cool enough to, as your mother used to say, "open the house," and let in the still softness of a summer night.

Source:  Our State Magazine/Susan Stafford Kelly

The Rescue

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.
I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Source: Truthbook

Texas Lowe's Store Hires Unemployed Disabled Veteran - and His Service Dog


Clay Luthy has a cute coworker in Charlotte, his 10-year-old yellow Lab - and there are aww-dorable photos to prove it.

Both were recently hired at the Lowe's hardware store in Abilene, Texas, and the Internet let out an audible scream when photos of the pair at work spread on social media.

"I love Abilene Lowes, way to go! This is a disabled vet who struggled to get a job because he needs his service dog! Lowes hired them BOTH!!" Judy Dechert Rose wrote in a Facebook post that's since been shared over 150,000 times.

Luthy tells King 5 News, who reported the story, that he was trying to find a job after serving in the Air Force. "I was trying to figure out where I could go that would be a good fit and it wouldn't mind having Charlotte, and my wife said I was at Lowe's so much anyway, I might as well get a job there," he said.

Lowe's human resources manager Jay Fellers said he made the right choice by hiring Luthy and his service dog. "Because they were the best person for the job. So, we went through the interview process and Clay and his own merit won the job. And we knew he was gonna make a great employee - we just got the benefit of getting Charlotte right along with him," Fellers said.

Luthy, who is in the process of training another service dog named Lola to take over for Charlotte, is overwhelmed by the attention the photo received on Facebook.

"By the time I looked at it, there was 1,000 comments on it. Oh my gosh, it was ridiculous," he told King 5. "I found a way to have a productive life and my prescription is four-legged."

Blueberries are the second most popular berry in the United States. They are delicious and versatile in regards to cooking, but it is their nutritional content that really makes these berries shine!

The health benefits of blueberries are abundant whether they are fresh or frozen. Since their antioxidant power isn't diminished by freezing, you can enjoy them year-round. This is great news for those who don't have access to fresh berries or who tend to avoid the costlier fresh blueberries in their grocer's produce section.  

If you want to boost the power of blueberries, consider organic options. Researchers compared traditionally grown to organically grown berries and discovered that the organic variety had more phenol and anthocyanin antioxidants overall.  

High bush blueberries are the most common variety grown in the US but low bush (also called "wild" blueberries) are equally as nutritious. These little berries grow on a shrub and mature to a lovely blue or purple hue.  

Blueberries are naturally nutrient dense for a fruit. That means they are low in calories while they provide excellent levels of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K,
fiber, copper, and manganese. In fact, they are believed to provide the highest concentration of antioxidants available in commonly consumed fruits and vegetables. Their water content also provides delicious hydration to every cell.  

There are many well-known health benefits of blueberries and researchers give the credit to the anthocyanins, catechins, and other polyphenols they contain.  
Fight Cancer with Every Delicious Bite.

Your DNA is under attack from oxidative stress every day. Free radicals caused by the natural process of oxidation run rampant in your body. Your diet and lifestyle determine the level of oxidation more than any other factors.  

The positive results of multiple studies have found that regular consumption of blueberries lowers your risk of cancers of the breast, colon, bladder, lung, esophagus, skin, and small intestine.

In an animal-based study out of Rutger University, an antioxidant called pterostilbene reduced the rate of pre-cancerous lesions of the colon by 57 percent over the animals that didn't receive the blueberry diet. The human equivalent was two servings or a 1 ½ cups of blueberries per day.   The New England Research Institute studied more than 42,000 men and found that those with the highest amounts of natural (rather than supplement) vitamin C had a 50 percent lower risk of mouth lesions.

Blueberries Help Your Body Fight the #1 Killer in the United States

Other blueberry health benefits include their ability to fight heart disease. They have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol while controlling lipoprotein oxidation that leads to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).  
They also lower high blood pressure (hypertension) by as much as 6 percent according to several studies. Hypertension is a leading risk factor of heart disease and patients may not exhibit symptoms for years! Blueberries lowered overall risk of heart attack by a whopping 32 percent in a trial that included more than 90,000 nurses.  

Eat Your Way to a Cancer-Free Life!

When you follow a cancer-free lifestyle, you automatically lower your risk of many other serious diseases that claim the lives of millions every year.  
Adding anti-cancer foods such as blueberries to your diet is a crucial aspect of total body wellness. Choose wisely, shop responsibly, eat cleanly, and reap the benefits for decades to come!

Source:  The Truth About Cancer


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha, optional
1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Butter lettuce leaves for serving

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat. 
  • Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  • Stir in chestnuts and green onions until tender, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf, taco-style. 

Adapted from Eat, Drink, Love