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Berg and Harberts – These People are Making a Difference in the Media

Photo: Showrunners Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts

Representation matters in the media. Although, there has been a push for more diversity and inclusion in films and television, Hollywood still has a long way to go. Breakout movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Call Me By Your Name, and Get Out with their diverse casts have opened the door to more films being made with different types of casts, themes and characters. Doors are starting to open but it has been such a slow, uphill battle and there are still a lot of changes that need to be made. Hollywood has a diversity problem that isn’t being fixed fast enough but there are individuals working to make a difference.

Currently, there are a few individuals in the entertainment industry who are making noise and disrupting the norm in Hollywood. These people are working hard to bring diversity front and center.  Talented individuals like Aaron Harberts, one half of the dynamic writing duo of Berg and Harberts, and Jordan Peele, the extremely talented actor/director have brought diverse issues and recognition to minority groups around the world in their work.  

The Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 completed by the UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences is an annual study that reviewed the staffing both in front of and behind the camera in the top theatrical and television releases of 2016. The study, titled “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities”, had three main goals. The first of which was to create comprehensive research that analyzes the inclusion of diverse groups of people in film and television. The second goal is to identify best practices for inclusion and the appropriate way to disseminate those best practices. Finally, the report looks to provide the broader implications of diverse industry access.

The report examined 174 theatrical releases and 1,251 television shows either airing or streaming during the 2015-2016 season.  2016 did include some award wining movies with diverse casts like “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”, but the report acknowledged that there is still a long way to go. The authors of the report say that diversity does sell but the industry is leaving money on the table by not providing more representation in film and television. One of the study’s authors, Ana-Christina Ramón, said, “Our reports have continually shown that diversity sells, but the TV and film product continues to fall short. So audiences are left wanting more representation on screen that reflects the world they see in their daily lives.”

Research has shown that people not only want a diverse cast but also that when the media depicts minority groups it can have a power educational impact on audiences. When a wider audience gets the opportunity to learn about a minority group through a movie or a television series, it broadens the knowledge that a person has about another group of people. Much of pop culture is what influences and sets the tone for what people are interested in and so by introducing diverse and different cultures into pop culture, people can learn more about others that are different from them. It is also very impactful for different cultures and ethnicities to see themselves represented in the media.

Jordan Peele is a prime example of an individual leading the charge for a change in Hollywood. He is an American actor, comedian, director, writer and producer known for his hit movie “Get Out”. His current horror film “Us” has hit the theaters and the reviews are amazing. The film celebrated the highest-grossing first weekend for an original horror film and his films are proving that an all black main cast can be a moneymaker for any studio.  His contributions to the film industry over the last few years have greatly helped to open the door to minority actors and actresses becoming the main in a movie. His movies have proven that the world wants to see a black main cast along with themes that are important to the black community. He is proving that the average moviegoer is interested in seeing diverse films and casts.

Aaron Harberts is a very well known name in the entertainment industry. The openly gay screenwriter has been working in Hollywood for a long time as a writer and producer for some of the most popular and impressive television shows over the last few decades alongside his long time collaborator, Gretchen J Berg.  Berg and Harberts have made quite the name for themselves over the span of their careers. Out of the many contributions that Aaron Harberts has made in Hollywood, his inclusion of a realistic depiction of a small-sex romance is one that he is very proud of. This type of LBGTQ representation resonated with viewers because it exemplifies an authentic experience.  Harberts is an openly gay man and has been with his spouse for over two decades. He wanted to share his experience and to increase LGTBQ representation in the media by introducing characters that are in LGTBQ relationships.

Hollywood has an issue with representation. There has been some changes made in the industry but overall, the media at large does not do a very good job of representing diversity. Diversity in the media is so important because it gives minority groups visibility. When movies like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” hit the movie theaters, moviegoers were overjoyed with having a female and black superhero as a main character.  People get the opportunity to see different background represented on the big screen and it gives a positive portrayal of different groups of individuals and minorities.

The media teaches a wider audience about minorities, gender representation, societal norms, and LGBTQ issues. When screenwriters and producers like Aaron Harberts, and directors like Jordan Peele are able to draw on their own experiences to educate a wider audience about issues facing minorities and marginalized groups. They are both making a difference in Hollywood by bringing diverse storylines, characters and themes to the big screen. Their future projects will continue to delight, educate and enlighten audiences everywhere.  Follow Berg and Harberts on Twitter.

The Success Story of Berg and Harberts

The success stories behind several powerful Hollywood actors, writers, directors, and producers all have one factor in common: adversity. Like most people in the creative field, these people go through hard times in a very competitive industry to work in entertainment and thrill audiences with their talents.

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts fit this exact description. Both halves of the television creative team have gone through their struggles and lived in difficult conditions to stay on the path that could further their careers. However, through their hard work and determination, they have found success in the industry as the writers and producers of several hit TV shows.

Early Life of Gretchen Berg

Gretchen Berg was born on February 8, 1971 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ever since she was young, Berg has been fascinated with creating new worlds and characters, further assisted by her daydreaming when playing with friends in the woods. She was a fan of the series Remington Steele, about a woman struggling to succeed in a man-dominated world, further inspiring her. During her years at North Allegheny High School, Berg was active in drama class and writing. She even used the school’s TV production studio to experiment with filmmaking. [Berg was interviewed on Pittsburgh Magazine]

Gretchen Berg would end up attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to pursue not just a TV/Film education, but also a complete liberal arts experience.

Early Life of Aaron Harberts

Aaron Harberts was born on January 20, 1973 in Waterloo, Iowa. Despite the town’s lack of a creative arts force, Harberts was an imaginative child who loved to daydream. Because of his parents’ nomadic life, he had difficulty settling in a single location as the family moved throughout Iowa, Indiana, and South Florida. Harberts found inspiration in his preacher father’s sermons, which had vivid descriptions that Harberts would use as fuel for his own stories.

After finishing high school, Aaron Harberts wanted to pursue creative writing education. He traveled to Evanston, Illinois and attended Northwestern, where he would have a fateful, life-changing meeting.

How The Creative Duo Meet

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts met at a class called Creative Writing for the Media, and would later collaborate on Berg’s student film, with Harberts as a production assistant (PA). Despite their constant time together and their mutual friendships, they did not develop a friendship at this point. Berg graduated in 1993 and moved to Los Angeles to build her career. Aaron Harberts would follow a couple of years later.

The Struggle of Starting a Hollywood Career

Harberts was supposed to live with other people when moving to LA. However, the plans fell through. Having difficulties finding a place to live, he remembered Gretchen Berg, and asked her if he could live with her. Berg allowed him to crash under her wet bar at her apartment.

Berg and Harberts went through the adversities that many Hollywood hopefuls have when pursuing a career. They spent months working on a comedic spec script that they ended up hating and disposed of it. The duo lived on cheap food and took on low-paying jobs until they became Hollywood assistants. They read and analyzed scripts and wrote a variety of specs and original screenplays, ranging over a variety of genres, such as dramas, sitcoms, and TV movies.

Despite their struggles, Berg and Harberts continued writing and submitting scripts to agencies. Their hard work would pay off when an agent liked one of their scripts and recommended it to a television agency. The rest is history.

Where are they now?

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts thrive these days as an active writing and producing team. They have been involved on series such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Pushing Daisies, Revenge, and most recently, Star Trek: Discovery. They have also written for the movie Valentine and created the show Pepper Dennis. Berg and Harberts are proof that, despite adversity, hard work and initiative can take one from humble beginnings to well-earned recognition.

Pat Murakami Condemns Hate Speech Against City Council Candidate

Seattle, WA — Seattle small business owner, community leader, and Seattle City Council Candidate Pat Murakami has released the following statement in response to recent hate speech and threats of violence against Seattle Council candidate Ari Hoffman:

“Like many of you, I am disgusted and angered by the racial slurs and threats of violence against Seattle City Council Candidate Ari Hoffman and his family. Mr. Hoffman has repeatedly been accused of “weaponizing antisemitism” and we have frequently seen his concerns and those of the Jewish Community dismissed or treated with a sense of disbelief. While I am saddened to see how bad the threats have gotten, I hope this will finally open some eyes.

If a person from any other community had been treated the way Mr. Hoffman and his family have been treated, I have no doubt that there would be a line of elected officials and candidates ready to condemn this behavior. While I am very proud to see that both the Seattle Police and the FBI are taking these threats seriously, I am saddened at the silence from community leaders and elected officials.

Mr. Hoffman and I may come from different political backgrounds, but this is a moment that is beyond politics. We Seattleites pride ourselves on our progressive ideals and our willingness to stand up for what is right; this is a time to prove it. We prove it by standing up to hate in all its forms; by defending every individual against intimidation and violence; by fighting just as hard for those we disagree with as those closest to us.

I will not be silent when a member of my community and their family are treated this way. I call on all my fellow candidates and all leaders across the Puget Sound Region to join me in condemning this language that is universally evil. I call on all of you to join me in solidarity with Mr. Hoffman, his family, and the entire Jewish Community to let the world know that this hate has no place in Seattle.”

A Rainy Day in New York to Be Released in Italy Late 2019

Woody Allen’s latest rom com, A Rainy Day in New York is slated by Lucky Red Distributors for a debut in Italy on October 3rd, 2019. This release date finally comes after a year-long delay the film encountered due to a dispute with its original distributor, Amazon Studios. Despite Allen signing a four-year contract with Amazon for four pictures, Amazon shelved A Rainy Day indefinitely based on ties between Allen and the #MeToo movement. Now, however, fans are gearing up to finally see Allen’s latest flick, which he finished in 2017. Hollywood is not ready for this!

About A Rainy Day in New York

A Rainy Day in New York tells the story of two young people (Elle Fanning and Timothée Chalamet) on an adventure in New York – where they unfortunately meet with bad weather and a series of unexpected events. Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber also star in Allen’s latest flick. Although not much else is known about the plot of the film, it’s sure to be infused with Allen’s signature humor, wit, and complicated romances – along with strong female leads and plenty of sarcasm.

Woody Allen is famous for writing and directing ensemble romantic comedies that check off all the boxes for cinematic excellence, and A Rainy Day is sure to be no different. Some of his most famous films include Midnight in Paris, Annie Hall, and Manhattan. Principal photography for A Rainy Day began on September 11th, 2017, and ended on October 23rd. Two years later, the film is finally hitting screens with a delayed international debut. Unfortunately for American viewers, at this moment, A Rainy Day will not be distributed in the U.S.

Why the Wait?

The tumult regarding Woody Allen’s newest film release date happened during the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Amazon backed out of its agreement with Allen to distribute four of his films (one each year) in the United States. Amazon Studios had originally planned to debut A Rainy Day in New York in 2018. However, Amazon paused the release date indefinitely, citing sexual assault allegations against Woody Allen as the reason for the fallout. Woody Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations, which came from his then seven-year-old daughter in 1992, and investigations in two states never led to any charges. Many have reported the true story by Woody Allen.

The #MeToo sexual assault awareness movement amplified Allen’s daughter’s voice right when production wrapped on A Rainy Day. Despite no evidence supporting the allegations, this was enough to rehash the old case and sully Allen’s reputation all over again. The subsequent media frenzy apparently pushed Amazon into shelving the project, in spite of having a signed agreement with Allen to distribute the film. Fortunately for Allen and his fans, Lucky Red (a film distributor in Italy) eagerly jumped at the chance to distribute A Rainy Day to overseas audiences instead. Woody has always supported strong women in his films.

Where You Can See Allen’s Latest Film

A Rainy Day in New York will debut in theaters on October 3rd, 2019, in Italy. The next day, it will appear in Spain. It will then reach theaters in Germany, Austria, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, South America, and South Korea. The managing director for the distribution company said in a statement: “[Woody Allen] is one of the outstanding directors of our time.” He said he was excited to be part of the group of distributors bringing the film to numerous countries.

BMF Media – Learn More About The Company

One of most effective ways to ensure the success of a brand is to make it super relatable to the masses. Consumers love brands that they can relate to on an emotional and trustworthy level. This is the responsibility of several marketing companies who are constantly looking for ways to reach and captivate specific audiences to get them invested in that specific brand. This work requires research, innovation, and persistence, which only a few can pull off successfully.

Brand Music Fusion (BMF Media) is a marketing firm that focuses on several brands and has a variety of strategies, including content creation, sponsorships, target audience research, influencer engagement, and talent management. The company has earned the loyalty of major clients such as Uber, Dell, MasterCard, and Revlon. It also has multiple offices across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami. A recent expansion in later 2018 now includes London, the first international expansion. Other BMF client success stories.

What has BMF Media done to earn such strong loyalty from these recognized names? Read below to learn more about the beginnings of the company, its strategies, and how it has helped numerous clients.

The Beginnings of BMF

BMF Media was founded by two marketing visionaries: Brian Feit and Bruce Starr.

Brian Feit studied at the Stern School of Business at New York University from 1996 to 2000. During this time, he was interning with Clive Davis at Arista. Feit had sent him a letter and the music producer actually responded. This motivated Feit to make his next move. He became a member of Stern and Tisch Entertainment Business Association (STEBA) and worked hard to parlay his passion for both music and business into a solid career. Upon graduation, he worked at an independent music label for a few years. After considering attending law school, Feit instead worked with business partner Starr to found BMF.

Bruce Starr was born and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. After finishing high school, he moved to New York, where he became business partners, and later close friends, with Brian Feit.

(L) Brian Feit – (R) Bruce Starr

Feit and Starr founded BMF Media in October 2003. At that point, the company started with humble beginnings, operated out of Feit’s West Village Apartment. They only had two employees, but also two powerful clients: Maverick Records, a label company founded by Madonna, and Kiehl’s, the cosmetics brand that focuses on skincare and hair care. Despite the uncertainty of the company, it eventually grew in clientele and influence. 

Change in Direction

In the beginning, BMF Media lived up to its name (Brand Media Fusion) as it focused on combining several brands with musical talent. The marketing company essentially arranged for the brands’ musical events so they could raise their profile, humanize themselves to their customers, and reach a wider audience in general. At the same time, the duo also wanted to promote new musicians with these influential brands, which could also lead to new fame and recognition.

Eventually, the company had to grow in conjunction with current marketing trends and needed to expand. While BMF Media still has a powerful talent division at hand, it now also focuses on full event productions beyond music and concerts. The company also has a strong focus on experiential marketing, in which the consumers are involved directly with the brand’s growth through participation of several events, contests, and more.

The company has also recognized the rise of internet influencers as a method to entice audiences into trying the latest brand products. In addition to a musical talent department, BMF now also has a social media influencer division that increases the consumers’ engagement with the brands.

The Strategies of BMF

BMF Media has a general outline for any collaboration project with a brand that always guarantees results. While certain services can change and adapt to the clients’ specific requests or the specific event at hand, BMF provides the following services:

  • Strategize. BMF performs exhaustive research on trend activity and forecasting, as well as gathers consumer insights, to create the marketing strategy. The company comes up with the right sponsorship and talent for the campaign.
  • Execute. BMF actively procures the necessary talent, in addition to the partnership between the client and the sponsors. Other aspects worked on include brand immersion, the art direction, and the overall design strategy.
  • Amplify. The company now fully analyzes the analytics of the execution, such as ROI, KPI, and overall social impact. It also extends projects to talents, influences, and sponsors, among other tasks.

The staff and crew at BMF Media relish in the challenge of humanizing brands with new, innovative methods that create memorable experiences.

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What is Gender Lens Investing and How Can it Change the World?

Bloodworks Logo

Fulcrum Capital and Bloodworks Northwest to hold Gender Forward Investing Symposium to Leverage Power of Finance to Address Some of World’s Most Pressing Economic & Social Issues

SEATTLE (May 23, 2019) – Next Thursday, May 30th, Bloodworks Northwest and Fulcrum Capital are hosting a Gender Forward Investing Symposium drawing national leaders on the topic of gender lens investing to Seattle for an afternoon exploring the impact of this emerging national economic trend and its impact on nonprofits like Bloodworks. Bloodworks Northwest is hoping to be a catalyst for change here and across the nation. 

What is gender lens investment?
It’s the use of capital to effect real change in the lives of women and children. Harnessing the power of finance for both economic gain and to address systemic social challenges; gender-based violence, women’s underrepresentation in leadership positions. Right now, women and children make up almost 3/4 of those living in poverty in the United States.

Why does gender lens investment make sense?
According to a McKinsey Study in 2017, achieving full gender equality in the workforce could boost global GDP by $28 trillion by 2025. That’s greater than the six of the Eurozone economy today! Right now, only 29% of all enterprises in the U.S. are women owned. More importantly, senior management positions are held by women only 19% of the time. Leadership at the corporate level needs more female voices, especially in finance. Women hold senior roles in only 9% of Venture Capital Funds, only 6% in Private Equity firms and only 3% in Hedge Funds.

Why should gender be a factor in investment?
Experts say, better outcomes are consistently achieved if gender diversity exists. Companies with high gender diversity had lower stock price volatility and fewer drawdowns than similar companies with less gender diversity (Gender Diversity Continues to Work – Morgan Stanley 2016). Meanwhile, women are expected to control two-thirds of U.S. private wealth by 2020 (Market Watch 2019).

Featured Speakers:

·Joy Anderson – Founder Criterion Institute will provide background and lay out the case for finance to analyze gender as part of its work and depict how finance can be used to create meaningful change for women and girls.

·Chris Andersen, President & Executive Director – InFaith Community Foundation will provide real world example of integrating gender lens investing into an asset base of over $400 million, specifically pursuing investments that undermine the conditions that promote gender based violence.

·Tresa Thomas-Massiongale -BloodworksNW Chief Investment & Partnership Officer will offer a perspective of Bloodworks’ goals and motivations for investing in gender as a call to action for other investors, philanthropists and community leaders.

·Darcy Johnson – CEO Fulcrum Capital will provide a broad overview and speak to traditional asset class diversification and the importance of generating competitive returns.

About Bloodworks Northwest Bloodworks (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) is backed by 75 years of Northwest history and 250,000 donors. It is local, nonprofit, independent, volunteer-supported and community-based. A recognized leader in transfusion medicine, Bloodworks serves patients in more than 100 hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska — partnering closely with local hospitals to deliver the highest level of patient care. Comprehensive services include blood components, complex cross-matching, specialized lab services for organ transplants, care for patients with blood disorders, and collection of cord blood stem cells for cancer treatment. Bloodworks Research Institute performs leading-edge research in blood biology, transfusion medicine, blood storage and treatment of blood disorders. Patients with traumatic injuries, undergoing surgeries or organ transplantation, or receiving treatment for cancer and blood disorders all depend on our services, expertise, laboratories and research. Blood donation appointments can be scheduled on the Bloodworks App. For more information, visit bloodworksnw.org.

Fun Facts About the National Parks in Our Backyard

Washington's National Park Fund

Washington’s National Park Fund Springs into Summer with Fun Facts About the National Parks in Our Backyard

High Winds, Stinky Bob, Singing Marmots and More

Seattle, WA—May 22, 2019 — In an announcement sure to delight outdoor enthusiasts and trivia buffs alike, Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF) today unveiled “Fun Facts About the National Parks in Our Backyard.” WNPF is the official philanthropic partner of Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks, and its collection of insights will tickle the senses of even the most urban among those in the Evergreen State. As people prepare to venture outdoors this spring and summer, these fun facts will add to their enjoyment:

• Winds Can Reach 70mph on Hurricane Ridge. There is a reason they call it Hurricane Ridge. The weather on that mountain pass in Olympic National Park can get pretty gnarly, with intense gales and winds reaching up to 70mph.

• Invasive Stinky Bob is not a Cartoon Character. Making its home in shady forests with damp soil, Stinky Bob is an invasive plant species that has made its way into our national parks. Officially called Geranium robertianum, Stinky Bob isn’t just a clever name. Its smell is most frequently described as a mix of diesel and mint. Ewww!

• Marmots sound the alarm! Hoary Marmots are often out sunning themselves in Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks and people can hear them whistling away. They are vocal animals with at least seven different kinds of calls, many of which are alarms alerting fellow animals to predators. The Olympic Marmot, endemic to Olympic National Park, has four different types of whistles.

• Olympic National Park works to help us see the stars. Things like streetlamps, porch lights, neon signage and more can be a barrier to our ability to see the stars. Olympic National Park has been working to get an International Dark Sky Park designation from the International Dark Sky Places by taking steps to reduce light pollution, creating dark skies to make stars more visible.

• The lakes are so turquoise blue because of “rock flour.” What makes alpine lakes like Diablo and Ross in the North Cascades those incredible blues and greens? Glaciers in surrounding high country slowly wear down the rock to a fine silt, or “rock flour,” that streams into the lake. And it’s those minerals, typically quartz or feldspar, reflected through the sunlight that produces those unbelievable colors.

• Lake Crescent doesn’t have algae. Known for its crystal-clear water, Olympic National Park’s Lake Crescent is the second deepest lake in Washington. Even still, in some places you can see as far as 60 feet down! That’s due to a lack of nitrogen which prevents the growth of algae.

• North Cascades National Park has more glaciers than Glacier National Park. That’s right! With 312 glaciers, North Cascades National Park has the most glaciers of any U.S. Park, except Alaska, and a third of all the glaciers in the lower 48. Now that’s a lot of glaciers!

• More than 10% of our beloved Mount Rainier is covered in glaciers. Aside from being the most prominent peak in our, Mount Rainier is also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S., with 25 named glaciers that have a combined area of 90 square kilometers, meaning almost 10% of the park is covered by glacier!

WNPF is the only philanthropic organization dedicated solely to these three national parks and 100% of the donations stay in Washington State for park priority projects. Founded by former governor and senator Dan Evans and legendary mountaineer Lou Whittaker, WNPF has awarded more than $5.3 million in the last nine years to support these national parks.

About Washington’s National Park Fund
Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF) is the official philanthropic partner of Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks, which span more than 1.6 million acres of the Evergreen state. Annually, WNPF allocates monies to 50-75 park priority projects with the goal of deepening the public’s love for, understanding of, and experiences in Washington’s National Parks. Get involved at www.wnpf.org

Being There for Mom This Mother’s Day – in Sickness and in Health

With aging parents, we often think about the physical ailments that come with getting older. It could be vision loss, arthritis, trouble walking or a new heart condition. We can easily forget the emotional and mental health challenges that our parents may face.

According to the American Psychological Association, one in four adults ages 65 and older experiences a mental health problem such as anxiety or, more commonly, depression. However, older adults are far more likely to discuss physical symptoms than talk about emotions. There is generational stigma at play and the perception that feelings commonly associated with mental illness are just a part of getting older. 

If you’re anything like me, your mom is the strongest person you know, and you may never suspect she might be struggling. She may be the one that never misses a birthday or anniversary, makes the perfect cookies, relays the best advice when you have no words and always has a smile on her face. But remember she is human – just like you – and has emotional needs, just like her physical ones.

This Mother’s Day, take the time to check in on your mom, no matter where she is. You can help her avoid future issues or get treatment early if you suspect a problem. So where do you start?

  1. Visit With Her Regularly: Whether it be in-person, on the phone or video chat, let your mom know you are there. Encourage other family members and friends to do the same. This is the first step to help her avoid loneliness, boredom and even isolation. Also, aim to stay connected with your mom’s closest peers. They can be your lifeline should they suspect an issue and vice versa.
  2. Track big life changes: As people get older, they may experience difficult life changes – losing a partner, moving out of a home, undergoing surgery or experiencing new physical limitations. Pay special attention to your mom during these times as they could trigger an issue. 
  3. Look for the physical signs: Stress and mental health can impact your physical health as well. Even if your mom seems fine, physical signs that she may be experiencing a mental illness could include difficulty sleeping, a poor appetite or an inability to concentrate.
  4. Talk about the tough stuff: It can sometimes be difficult to talk about the new emotions and health concerns that arise with growing older. No matter how awkward or even invasive it may feel, carve out time to address potential issues with your mom. You may learn something new. And if you don’t, the door will be open should your mom ever need to talk in the future.
  5. Be a health advocate: Living a healthy lifestyle has a direct impact on your mental health and well-being. Encourage your mom to schedule regular check-ups, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Join your mom for stress-relieving activities like yoga and spending time outdoors. Mental well-being isn’t just beneficial in the short term – according to the Global Council on Brain Health, adults age 50 and older who have mental well-being tend to report better brain health including memory and thinking skills.
  6. Ask for help: Encourage your mom to schedule an appointment with her physician to be evaluated if you suspect a problem. Some health plans, including some Medicare Advantage plans, also cover telebehavioral health services – where your mom could meet with a behavioral or mental health specialist for conditions including grief and loss, depression, anxiety or relationship issues without leaving the comfort of her own home. You can also contact your health plan and ask for help. Many plans offer behavioral health resources and have referral resources at your fingertips.

We all want to be there for our parents, just like they have always been for us. Part of “being there” is acknowledging that the life changes they are experiencing can be challenging and letting them know you have their back. 

Catherine Field, based in Federal Way, is Market Medicare President at Humana.

Blood Supply to Local Trauma Centers in Seattle Running on Fumes

Bloodworks Northwest issuing urgent appeal for donors after inventories dipped sharply

Bloodworks Northwest at Less Than 1 Day Supply of O Blood Types.

SEATTLE, Wash. (APRIL 25, 2019) – Running out of gas is inconvenient but running out of blood is deadly. Bloodworks Northwest is at less than a single day supply of O Positive and O Negative because those specific types are required most for emergencies in trauma centers across the Pacific Northwest.

“Making things worse, there is a nationwide shortage on group O, the universal blood type, which effects our ability to receive assistance from other parts of the country,” says Brian Danforth, Bloodworks Northwest Senior Customer Engagement and Business Development Executive. “Compounding the problem is the fact that Easter weekend donations were down as well.”

Bloodworks has fun perks for people who donate a pint by April 30 to help end the shortage. Donors who give before the end of the month will be entered to win travel prizes like $500 Alaska Airlines vouchers, $100 REI and gas gift cards. The campaign is called Bold for Blood & Adventure. So far, response has been encouraging, but Bloodworks is concerned that the upcoming Memorial Day weekend will impact their ability to provide urgently-needed blood for emergencies at a time when the trauma units around our region typically experience high patient usage.

 “We’re urging folks to make an appointment as soon as possible to pump up the community, if you will, and help restore our inventories to normal levels,” says Danforth. “A strong blood supply is critical to healthcare in our community.”

Donors can find locations of donor centers and drives or make appointments online at BloodworksNW.org, by calling 800-398-7888, or by texting ‘bloodapp’ to ‘91985’ to download the Bloodworks App.

Blood donation takes about an hour and each donation can help up to three people in the Pacific Northwest. The actual donation time is only about 10 minutes. Most people in good health are eligible to donate blood every 56 days. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood.

Bloodworks Donor Centers:

Please check BloodworksNW.org for latest hours and locations.

About Bloodworks Northwest

Bloodworks (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) is backed by 75 years of Northwest history and 250,000 donors. It is local, nonprofit, independent, volunteer-supported and community-based. A recognized leader in transfusion medicine, Bloodworks serves patients in more than 100 hospitals in Washington, Oregon and Alaska — partnering closely with local hospitals to deliver the highest level of patient care. Comprehensive services include blood components, complex cross-matching, specialized lab services for organ transplants, care for patients with blood disorders, and collection of cord blood stem cells for cancer treatment. Bloodworks Research Institute performs leading-edge research in blood biology, transfusion medicine, blood storage and treatment of blood disorders. Patients with traumatic injuries, undergoing surgeries or organ transplantation, or receiving treatment for cancer and blood disorders all depend on our services, expertise, laboratories and research. For more information, visit bloodworksnw.org

Crossing the Border, Guatemala Style

Crossing The Guatemala Border

Crossing the Guatemalan border from Mexico was chaotic, scrambled and the perfect transition to my new Spanish-only world.

The driver picked me up at 7:30 AM and 3 hours later dropped me off at the Mexican side of the border. One of the passengers spent 5 minutes screaming in Spanish at the driver. You’re an idiot! This is so stupid! No YOU Shut up!

Hmmm. This can’t be good. Are we supposed to walk through? Is this guy mad because he knows something or because he’s an idiot? The best solution? Just start walking.

The border itself is just a small road with a few buildings. On the side of the road, some folks are burning trash, others are selling food, and dozens of make-shift stalls with everything from kitchen-ware to crocs to woolen ponchos.

I hustled past, hand my passport over to the official. Stamped. Climb onto another van, this time on the Guatemala side.

Three hours later, I’m dropped off at a gas station where little boys are wrestling in between trying to sell shoe shines. No, my sneakers don’t need a shine, thank you. The angry guy gets some french fries and feeds them to stray dogs. I’m ushered to a late model Chrysler and told that “this guy” was going to drive me the rest of the way.

Ok.

I had understood every word of Spanish that the tour operator who sold me the $27 ticket to Xela had said to me. It hadn’t occurred to me to ask if I was going to be riding in some sketchy car for part of the trip. And I’m quite certain he hadn’t described the trip this way: We will drive you to the border, you will find your way through, and hopefully get into the right van on the other side. Don’t worry there will lots of them and no one will speak English. Then we’ll drop you off in some gas station and my cousin will drive you in his dad’s car the rest of the way. Sound good? Great, 350 pesos please.

It was a great introduction into what I would later learn of life in Guatemala. Figuring things out in Spanish (a very good thing) and the laid back way things are run (my first day at the school, I showed up as scheduled at 8 AM, only to wait 20 minutes for someone else to show up) and the immense amount of trust you end up placing in those around you (from living with a family you just met, to hoping that the ice really was made from boiled water).

You have to be cautious too. You can get robbed. You can get hit by a car. You can get swindled. (Oh and that car bit—so serious, the drivers here will mow you over, if you walk in the street). But if you can’t take a few chances, trust a few strangers, then truly you’ll never get over the border.

Making the Time and Money Connection – Minimalist Lifestyle

Saving Money To Travel The World

If you think commenting on my blog precludes you from being quoted later, guess again:

“i have everything a guy could want:

  • Badass Jaguar, Viper, Corvette (68), and lastly my prized shelby cobra
  • A 7000sqft house, filled to the gills with cool shit like plasma TV’s, etc etc.
  • King Air (it’s a plane guys, a plane)
  • An awesome Wife”

OK, beyond the fact that he lists his wife on a list of possessions, and she’s the last item on the list, I can completely understand where this guy is coming from.

From an early age we are taught that acquiring wealth is a sign of success. This cultural mindset often becomes apparent during travel. A westerner traveling to a country without modern luxuries might think, “Wow how do they live like that? They don’t have anything.” They might even wrongly assume that they are simple people, and admire them for their spirit, for the way “they smile despite everything…” Typically that “everything” is the fact that they don’t have significant wealth. We describe these qualities to them as a matter of condescension. “I could never live like that”. If you travel enough, you’ll find that these stereotypes are not always true. They are hustling like the rest of us. They are not simple and child-like, they just have different priorities. Of course poverty is a world wide issue, but is everyone without wealth, poor? Could it be they have something we don’t?

The person with the most stuff wins

My own path on the consumerism tread mill involved a beautiful house with an in-ground pool. My reasons for wanting a big house revolved around an over-compensation for growing up in an apartment and a sudden fit of nesting instincts. I genuinely thought that filling the house with art, books, modern furnishings and ‘stuff’ would bring me contentment. It did and it didn’t. The idea was wonderful, it felt great to think about. The reality of it was that I was never home to enjoy it.

At the time, I was working 60 hours weeks and commuting 2 hours a day. Besides the time I was at work, I was physically and mentally wiped out after work. I could switch jobs, find something less stressful, true. I eventually did change jobs, but not before I did some math that changed the way I thought about money and what I give up to get it.

What is your time worth?

We all trade our time (and knowledge, expertise and skills) for a salary. We assume we have to give at least 40 hours a week to a job, so we don’t count this time as ours. We give it away freely, without a second thought. But that time is ours, it’s a limited resource, and once it’s gone, there is no replacing it. I can’t beg, borrow or steal more time. It is, in fact, my life.

The Math

Say it costs me $100,000 a year to maintain this lifestyle. (*not my actual salary, just to demonstrate)

That’s $32 an hour at 60 hours a week.

If I lower my cost of living to $20,000 a year, I would only have to work 12 hours a week.

I was working 48 hours a week just to live in a big house, with lots of stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against working hard or owning a house. But the idea that I was giving over 9 hours per weekday just to have an increased standard of living shocked me. Sure the house was nice, of course I loved swimming in the pool, but for that much of my time, I wanted more value.

From there I started breaking out the cost of everything by time.

Cable $100 or 3 hours a month
Car payment $375 or 11 hours a month
Name brand suit $400 or 12 hours
Fancy dinner $120 or 4 hours
And so on…

Lifestyle Redesign Phase I

This process hasn’t been overnight. For me to stop trading my time for things, I had to face the facts. We had to stop buying so much stuff! The End. (My husband had to talk me out of buying a book on “how to save money” and it took me a second to realize the irony). Inherently I already knew how to do it–reduce, reuse and refrain. Easy to say, harder to stick to…

Over the course of the last year we saved 50% our income. The next step? What to do with this financial freedom.

What’s your time worth?

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