The Powerful Benefits of Volunteering

The Powerful Benefits of Volunteering

I’m sure your first thought about the benefits of volunteering is, “Of course there are benefits! That’s why people volunteer! People, parks, communities, churches all get the help they need -”

But no, I’m not talking about those kind of benefits. I’m talking about how volunteering benefits YOU.

There are four effects to consider: happiness, health, career success, and more time. Check out this short video (less than 90 seconds) to see how research shows how volunteering creates powerful life benefits.

Insurance Know How: Take Care of Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home

Insurance Know How: Take Care of Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home

Have you ever ridden a mechanical bull? Did you know that the owner of whatever bar or restaurant you’re frequenting had to get special insurance for you to be able to enjoy that experience? 

Neither did I until I worked for my father one summer and had to remember to include the “mechanical bull exclusion” in people’s new or renewal insurance packets. That fine summer of 2002, I read well over 50 books from the Doylestown Library, lived on UPenn’s campus, and learned more about insurance than I ever wanted to know.

As an intellectual exercise, I find insurance fascinating, but once you add in the human element, I quickly lose interest. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. The entire premise of the insurance company doing everything it possibly can to NOT pay you always gets my goat.

But that doesn’t mean I get a pass, and neither do you! Being properly insured can mean all the difference in the world to you and your family in times of crisis. 

Enter Meghan Krajewski, my amazing, selfless, and beautiful older sister who joined our father in the family business. As someone newly licensed who just opens her own agency, I thought she’d be a great person to give us Notable Women a look into this world. 

Meghan is licensed in Pennsylvania so this information might not apply directly in your state. You would need to take an agent licensed to work in your state. Also, this is interview is just for informational purposes. Go find an agent and ask questions! It’ll just be harder for some less than scrupulous agent to trick you.

Hey, Meg, darling sister, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about the wonderful world of insurance.

Thank you for having me. I can’t believe we are sitting here talking about insurance. How things have changed!

Tell us how you first got started in insurance.

Well I guess that I have always been exposed to the business since Dad has been a part of it my whole life.  I took a more active role in paying attention once Ed, my husband, got into the business.  This was, in fact,what was helping support my family and supporting our parents.  Once Ed decided to expand the business that he and Dad created, I decided it was time to join them full time on the adventure. 

What’s it like working with Dad? Do you enjoy it?

Ha! Some people thought I was crazy when I said I was going to work with my father and my husband. Honestly, it has been great. I love working with both of them.  Dad has so much knowledge of the business which makes him a great resource for all of us in the office. 

And all our commercial clients love Mr Terry!! It has been a real pleasure hitting the road with Dad to meet his clients. They love him! And I think they like me too!

What sort of work did you do before joining insurance?

I worked in the retail banking world for over 15 years.  I was a manager for 14 of those years.  I loved working in the branches. I met so many wonderful people over the years and made dear friends.  It turns out that many of those people I met come in to our Levittown Farmers Agency.  It’s really nice that I helped them in the banking world and now get to help them in the insurance world. 

What types of insurance should the “average” Notable Woman being looking into having? What do these policies typically cover?

If you own a car you should have auto insurance.  Own a home? Homeowners. Rent? Renters insurance. And everyone should have life insurance.  Your auto, homeowners and renters policies all carry property coverage and liability coverage.  With these policies you are protecting your “things” and your assets. 

How can people make sure they have the coverage they need in the event of an emergency?

Always plan for the worst.  Insurance is all about risk.  The risk of getting your car stolen, the risk of your house having a fire. 

As someone who has had to use insurance for two major claims, my advice is review your policy often.  Things change. People get married, buy a house, have children, change jobs.  It’s always important to make sure your coverage matches your needs. 

I had to replace two vehicles.  One car was stolen from my driveway and one car was totaled by someone driving under the influence.  If I didn’t carry enough insurance I would have been really stuck.  Fortunately I did carry enough insurance and was able to replace my vehicles.  And both times I filed these claims my insurance company worked with me throughout the claims process.

What sort of paperwork about their insurance should folks have, and do you have any tips about how to organize it? What should they have easy access to?

The most important piece of paperwork the insured needs is their declaration page.  This is all the vital information on the policy.  It states who and what are covered and for what amounts.  This is often what we insurance agents use to review policies and help customers match up coverages. 

You always want to have this information at the ready.  Nowadays you can access this information online if you have signed up for your insurance company’s website.  If good old paper works for you then keep a binder with all your insurance information together. 

Any tips on what people should avoid? Policies? Agent practices?

Avoid skimping on coverage to save money, in the long run it may not work out in your favor.  If an agent claims that they will save you a ton of money, then make sure they are matching up your coverage apples to apples.  They may be saving you money by cutting out important pieces of your policy. 

And make sure you ask questions.  Ask lots of questions.  If you don’t understand what something means, then ask! Your agent should be explaining everything to you when they review your policy but stop them if there is something you don’t understand. 

Do you have a final piece of parting guidance for us?

Yes I do! Insurance is a shared risk, people.  I really understand that now.  We are all sharing the risk with each other. 

Here is my PSA, be safe out there.  We need to take care of each other. 

Thanks again, Meg. I know that insurance is pretty boring, despite what Dad says, and this info will help us all out. 

It’s not boring!!!!

(Meg always has to have the last word. 🙂 )

Mama, Rock Your Body with Shelly Robinson

Mama, Rock Your Body with Shelly Robinson

As a new Mama, I have been plagued by body issues. On an intellectual level, I can understand how biology and physics change your body when pregnant, and how those changes can be permanent in some ways and how your body can be restored in others. On a societal level, I have been lectured a thousand ways about this very subject. Open a magazine, turn on the news, even listen to your mother and her friends, and eventually your own friends. “She ‘let herself go’ after the baby.” “She looks so amazing, she must have had work done. No one looks that good a month after her baby is born.” I would high five anyone who managed to make it to child bearing years without hearing this negative messaging. So is it any wonder that a woman can get negative about her post baby body?

Enter Shelly Robinson, stage right.

Shelly is a women’s health coach specializing in helping busy moms get unstuck, reclaim their health, and rock a life they love, one baby step at a time.

Because remember, not only did your body change, but now your whole life has with a new baby and no sleep and no time to cook meals but obviously a need to eat and no energy and etc. etc. Shelley is helping women get positive about their new bodies and their new lives, as well as providing tips to live life fully. She and I sat down to chat about the good work she does.

Good day, Shelly, and thanks for taking the time to chat with me about this. It’s an important issue for me, and I am sure many women can nod in agreement that post baby woes get them down too.

Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you and your awesome readers, Cristin!

How did you get passionate about this issue?

I became passionate about this issue for two big reasons.

After my first baby, I felt really pressured by the messages we receive in our culture (that you mentioned) about how FAST we’re expected to get “back into pre-baby shape” (um, hello, we just gave birth to a baby – can moms have a sec to appreciate this miracle before being asked how soon we’ll be back in our skinny jeans?!).

But to be totally honest with you, I pretended not to care. Six years ago after having my first child, if the topic of losing weight or getting “back in shape” came up with my husband or friends, I’d blow it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal when/if I got back into shape.

But in reality, I was secretly counting calories and restricting foods, desperate to drop the weight. Back then, I associated my self-worth with the scale and whether I fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. So, I punished myself on the treadmill, did ridiculous detoxes, and made my life miserable all in the name of getting my ‘pre-baby’ body back.

The other reason I became passionate about helping moms reclaim their health was related to my struggle with infertility (something many of your readers can probably relate to, as infertility has become more prevalent in our country).

Though I don’t specialize in that field of health specifically, my thirst for knowledge on this topic during that time in my life led me down a very fascinating and enlightening path about women’s health in general. And, the more I learned, the more I wanted to take that knowledge and passion and use it to serve and support the women I love most in this world – mamas.

Why do you think women have such body image woes post pregnancy?

Unless you live under a rock, it is incredibly hard to escape the onslaught of media images, stories, and messages we receive about what moms *should* look like after having a baby.

When we’re bombarded with these messages on a regular basis, women can’t help but feel disappointed when they don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations that Hollywood/media/marketing gurus paint regarding how a woman’s body is supposed look after birth.

onesieI believe this onesie has been taken off the shelves, but a few months ago this was actually being sold in stores. Thank God, consumers were outraged and demanded it be taken out of circulation immediately. But these are the kinds of forces women and little girls are up against.

Somewhere along the way, the miraculous story of how awesome it is that we can even grow and carry new life in our bodies gets completely lost. I think if we as a society saw what a gift that is, we would focus much less on the physical aspect of our post-baby bodies and more on the miracle of childbirth itself.

How can these body image issues manifest themselves?

Wow, that is a wonderful question. Often people don’t see the direct relationship between how they perceive themselves and how that ripples across other aspects of their life.

When you see your body as the enemy, that lack of self-love tends to manifest into how you show up in the world. As a result, women end up feeling disempowered, unworthy, and uncomfortable in their own skin – not a fun or enjoyable way to spend this time we’re given here on Earth, right?

More specifically, though, negative body image can also translate into binge eating, numbing out on social media to avoid those uncomfortable feelings, an inability to handle stress well, a lack of passion for life, and, most sadly, passing those negative beliefs about ourselves on to our children.

Blog interior image (1)I know in my heart of hearts that no mother would ever intentionally pass that on to her kids, but our brilliant children pick up on EVERYTHING and they *know* when they’re mama loves herself and they also *know* when she doesn’t. So, by helping moms heal the relationship they have with their body, I’m also passionate about helping them pass those values on to their children.

What sort of tips do you have for someone to adjust how she feels about herself?

One thing I know for sure is that how you feel about your body has nothing to do with your body and everything to do you with your mind.

When I work with moms on changing the way they see themselves, we spend lots of time on mindset work in the beginning. We treat the brain as a muscle and train it to begin seeing her body as beautiful and whole. It takes some time to rewire our brains into believing this because for many women, they’ve spend their entire lives believing the opposite to be true.

Here are a few specific and practical ways to “retrain” your brain into believing what’s true about your body (that it’s whole and beautiful, NOT broken or unattractive).

  • Create a brief affirmation about your body, write it on a post-it or put it on your desktop – somewhere you’ll see it multiple times a day – and say it regularly throughout the day. Here are some great examples that I encourage my clients to start with.
  • I also encourage clients to write a letter to their body, thanking it for all it’s done for them. So often, we spend time criticizing our bodies for what we don’t like, and it’s amazing how differently we feel about ourselves when we tell our bodies what we actually appreciate about them.
  • Lastly, for women who’d like to take a deeper dive into this topic, one of my favorite books on body image and weight loss is “A Course in Weight Loss” by Marianne Williamson.

Do you have any suggestions for women who find themselves going on carb benders at the end of the day (slowly raising my hand on this one)?

Absolutely! I struggled with this for years and can totally relate to the desire to want to face-plant in brownie batter after a long day in the office and/or with children.

The first thing I recommend is integrating self-care into your day. By taking small breaks and doing something you enjoy during the daylight hours, your desire to numb out on sugar or carbs at night decreases dramatically.

Second – and I know this one is much more challenging because I am living this struggle right now with a baby and kindergartner who BOTH like to party at night – but SLEEP as much as your life permits. Getting proper rest is crucial in managing carb cravings, particularly at night.

I actually have a free guide on this very topic entitled “How to Not Eat Cookie Dough After the Kids are in Bed” that can be accessed here for even more helpful tips in this challenging area for so many moms.

How can a new mom integrate exercise in her newly crazy life?

Finding the time to exercise can feel daunting to moms, whether you’ve got a newborn or a 10-year-old, but it’s totally possible to do if you can manage 10-15 minutes at a time.

You don’t need a gym membership or an hour a day. High intensity/burst training is perfect for busy moms as it allows you to get your heart rate up and your sweat on in a short amount of time, and continues to burn fat and calories hours after your workout.

One of my favorite fitness experts who provides free at home 15-minute workouts (requiring no equipment) is The Betty Rocker.

Going on walks with your kiddos or getting in any sort of movement you enjoy are also great options. It’s important that our children see exercise and physical activity as an important part of life as well.

Family and paper airplanesI think partners can really help or hinder this new body acceptance process. What advice do you have for a new Mama who might not feel supported by her sweetheart? 

Another awesome question! It all starts with mom. When you believe you’re beautiful (inside and out), you exude that confidence and it shines through to everyone, including your spouse. Your sweetheart will love and appreciate your enthusiasm for your body, and it will impact your relationship in an amazing way.

But if you’re not there yet (which is totally okay!), I think it’s important to be honest about that with your spouse, so your sweetheart can do specific things to help you feel beautiful and confident in your new body. That type of vulnerability with each other is another awesome way to grow closer as a couple.

If people wanted to learn more about you, how could they connect with you?

I would absolutely love to connect with moms out there who want to reclaim their health, their bodies, and their life. If you’d like to learn more about me, feel free to scamper on over to www.shellyrobinson.com. You can also join my Facebook community at www.facebook.com/FillUpOnLife/.

Lastly, don’t forget to grab my free guide which can be accessed here! You’ll join an amazing community of moms who are ready to take back their health and live an empowered, joyful, and amazing life, one baby step at a time.

* * * * *

Thank you, Shelly, for taking the time to talk to me about this.

Below, let me know if you try any of Shelly’s suggestions and how they are working for you.

Book Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Book Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

I don’t really watch TV. If I do, I stream. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are my jam.

Which means I don’t watch TV on Thursday night.

Which means I don’t really know what it means to “own Thursday night.”

However, I still know who Shonda Rhimes is. She’s a boss, and I make it my business to know powerful, boss bosses. Shonda Rhimes is a powerful television producer and writer. Her long list of credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, as well as her newest show The Catch. She has her OWN production company, aptly named Shondaland. She devastates people on a regular basis. Even I have seen the Denny/Izzie Grey’s Anatomy’s episodes that leave people as sniveling shells of the former selves. (And, of course, me too.) I had a friend who just started streaming Grey’s Anatomy who watched the episode for the first time this month, and she Facebook posted about how she remembered her friends being broken years before. All she could do now was drink wine and sob. That’s how good Shonda Rhimes is. 10 years old and that episode is still going strong.

woman readingSo when my friend Nicole shoved Year of Yes; How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes into my hand, I said, “Yes, please.” Maybe I don’t have cable, but I respect a woman who has her own night of TV. I wanted to know everything and anything there is to know about Shonda Rhimes. My friend also said that as a new Mom, she thought I could relate.

The premise behind Year of Yes is simple. Ms. Rhimes’ sister made a passing comment at Thanksgiving about how Ms. Rhimes always never said yes to anything. It struck her so fiercely, and no matter how many ways she tried to deny it, she couldn’t find that statement false. Ms. Rhimes than resolved to celebrate her own “Year of Yes” – a year where she would say yes to every and any opportunity that came her way. The results are thought-provoking, hilarious, and deeply moving.

Ms. Rhimes takes you with her as she tentatively says yes when she wants to scream “NO!” – from giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth, to appearing on Jimmy Kimmel, to attending an event at the Kennedy Center and sharing a box with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. She shows that by saying “YES!” to you, sometimes you are saying “NO!” to something bad for you, whether it be habits, food, or even people.

woman jumping with umbrellaI’ve heard this book described both as a memoir and also as self-help. I’ve also heard people complain that Ms. Rhimes goes on and on,
meandering, and that she’s perhaps self-indulgent. To all those ideas and complaints, I quite disagree. Year of Yes is a creation. It’s a theatre piece, it’s a television show, it’s a novel, it’s a movie. The story unfolds. Shonda Rhimes is taking the reader on a journey, just like she does on television, and you don’t know where she’s going to take you. Everything isn’t going to happen in order, chronology doesn’t matter, but how you feel does. If you are a person who reads memoirs as a genre, you might not like this book because it isn’t quite that. If you like reading self-help, you might not like this book either because it doesn’t quite fit in that genre.

If you respect the art of creation, appreciate it, and are mesmerized by those that engage in that creation, I think you will love this book. I certainly did! I put my hand in Shonda’s and went on her journey. And it was exhilarating! I bet every Thursday night is like that for millions of Shonda fans.

I might need to start watching TV. On Thursday.

Have you read Year of Yes? What did you think?

Mobilize Your Movement with My 5 Favorite Apps

Mobilize Your Movement with My 5 Favorite Apps

Sometimes you hear something hyped and it just doesn’t turn out the way you hope it will. Think the new social media network “Peach.” Think the tv show “Minority Report.” Think “Crystal Pepsi.”

And then other times, you wildest dreams come true.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime on Broadway. Newman’s Own’s Lemonade. And Evernote.

Wait, Evernote? Yes. Evernote!

And Evernote isn’t only an app that fulfilled my wildest dreams; it saved me. It saved me from a life of post-it notes and misplaced notes and having to remember. It’s the only app I regularly profess my love to, for, and about to anyone listening. Watch this short video (under 90 seconds!) to see the apps I love and why.

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