Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It’s been a rainy season.  And quite often when the rain falls, you’ll find a mixed bag of reactions.  Some people hate it. Some people love it.  It depends on if people view the rain as an inconvenience (traffic accidents, leaky roof, lost wages for outdoor events, an airplane delayed or a mood kill on a parade or picnic) or if they view the rain as something welcomed – like a cozy day inside, a free car wash or a watered yard.

Quite often, the rain can mean many things simultaneously depending on perspective.  But we all must realize that every now and again a little rain must fall.  

If we think about the rain as a life shift, we will understand the power of Mother Nature.  And it is up to us to tackle whatever challenges face us.

Let’s first take a look at inconveniences.  Rain falls in order to make us stop/pause in our tracks and remember SAFETY FIRST.  We must be safe as we walk so we don’t slip. We must drive more carefully.  We must take care of our health.  We must indeed ‘plan for a rainy day’ and remember that these days do come – so perhaps we cut back on our frivolous spending because sometimes rain does cost us a little extra.  Sometimes we need to replant, fix or repair something with our cars or homes and sometimes remember that if we do get rained out from a fun event, that it’s quite often a reminder to remember that it’s more important to be with the people we care about than to dwell on the negative part about the rain spoiling our day.

In the case of tragedy and great loss – the rain sometimes is very drastic.  But it also is to remind us of what matters and to honor each day that life gives us because it can be taken away in an instant.  It is to remind us that we have to endure and be strong and pick up the pieces of our spirit and start over.  It reminds us that all the times we sweated the small stuff... it really didn't matter - because when something of this magnitude affects your life, you are indeed grateful for the little things - like a kind gesture, outreach for help, a warm blanket and food.    It is also a reminder that we can indeed, rebuild again and that we as people can be resilient.  We have seen examples of this – all over the world: the rain may have caused a storm to destroy much, but it won’t destroy heart, spirit or human will.  It is here where survival is our reminder of how important life truly is.

When the rain comes – sometimes it can be cleansing and it can make us slow down when we are rushing through life too rapidly to notice life’s precious moments.   Sometimes the rain makes us wake up to responsibility.  Sometimes the rain makes us tend to our own procrastination of fixing or tending to things.  Sometimes the rain reminds us to reflect and appreciate life itself. 

So whenever it rains….remember, yes like Annie said, “The sun will come out tomorrow” – and when that happens, remember there will be rainbows.

Thursday, February 14, 2013
DOUBLE CHECK YOUR ZONE: Do you really need 'required' flood insurance?

With all the flooding due to overflowing rivers and hurricanes in areas across the nation you may be thinking of buying flood insurance.   This is something you may want to check into and talk over with your insurance agent about flood zones and premium amounts for your home.  

However if you have flood insurance and no longer feel the need to keep it and it was required by your lender.

PROBLEM:  Are you in a flood zone?  Are you sure?  Perhaps you bought a home that required flood insurance, then suddenly a year later (or longer), your mortgage company sends you a letter stating you are no longer in a flood zone and no longer required to have flood insurance.   Most people would call their insurance company to cancel the policy, right?   This is where you may have a problem.  The insurance company will tell you their hands are tied, they cannot cancel it and you will receive no money back from the premium you paid.  Or they may tell you, that you may be lucky and fall into the FEMA Cancellation guidelines.

SOLUTION:  First - double check your information.  Enter your address to access the flood map on the FEMA website:

If the zone was revised during your current policy term (you were in a flood zone and it was re-mapped and you are no longer in a flood zone) - FEMA's cancellation procedures are as follows (per their website):

Years Eligible for Refund: Current year in those cases where the map was revised during the current policy term. If the insured was required to renew the policy during the 6 months before or after the effective date of the revised map, the insured may be eligible for a refund of the prior year’s premium. For example, the flood policy was effective from January 1, 2010, to January 1, 2011, and renewed January 1, 2011, to January 1, 2012. The effective date of the map change is February 15, 2011. The cancellation will be effective January 1, 2010.

If a claim has been paid or is pending during a policy year for which cancellation is requested, the policy cannot be canceled.

••Cancellation Request: Must be received during the policy year or within 6 months of the policy expiration date.

••Required Documentation: Statement from the mortgagee that insurance was required as part of the mortgage but is no longer required, and a copy of the revised map.

Even if you are one of the unlucky homeowners that were told by your mortgage company that you were in a flood zone and required insurance and no longer have to carry flood insurance - Your insurance company has limitations as they must follow the government guidelines. 

The only options you have if you have never been in a flood zone but bought flood insurance are as follows:
  • The flood insurance policy can be changed from a STANDARD Flood Policy (required by mortgage company) to a PREFERRED Flood Policy (slightly lower annual premium and not required by mortgage company).

  • The insured's flood insurance company can go back to NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) with 6 years of documentation that they will do this once you change the policy to a preferred policy.  This will give you the difference in the annual rate. For example:  if the standard policy cost $505 for the year and the preferred policy cost $395 for the year, they will refund you $110.00 for that year.   They will do this for all 6 years.

  • You may be able to go back to your mortgage company and try to get the money back from them as they told you that flood insurance was needed.   Talk to management and be sure you have all the documentation you need in order to get a proper retroactive refund.

Your flood insurance company will have to submit the paperwork to NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program). 

While this may seem overwhelming, keep these tips in mind:

1)    Don't get frustrated when trying to get a refund. 

2)    Ask questions.   If the customer service representative you are speaking with gives you information you don't understand and they get frustrated ask to speak to a manager so there is no misunderstanding if the customer service representative can't answer to your satisfaction.   You may be talking to someone that has not handled this process before and doesn't have all the answers, or the authority to handle the situation.   This is no one's fault just a fact of life. 

3)    Keep a pad of paper next to you and record the company and person you are talking to.   Jot down notes of what was discussed in addition to the time and date, along with the name and badge number or phone extension of who you spoke with. 

4)    Keep all documentation from mortgage and insurance companies organized and paper clipped together for each and every person you may talk to.  

IF YOU HAVEN’T YET BOUGHT YOUR HOME:  Don't take the mortgage company’s word, double check you are in a flood zone and have your realtor get you the proper paperwork and have them both double check the geography and zones.  Do your own homework on the FEMA website.

This is important to do in order to avoid the above situation.  Once you buy the insurance you are not able to cancel it and get your money back – so DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST.  You can only cancel it if you were in a flood zone and that zone changed within a certain period of time, check regulations.     If you are not in a flood zone to begin with and you buy a standard flood policy (mortgage required) these can be changed to a Preferred flood policy (slightly less expensive) but they cannot be canceled only non-renewed.  In other words, you are stuck with this policy for the year or years you have it. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

PROBLEM:  You hate Valentine’s Day.

SOLUTION:  Change your perspective on what it really means and why you hate it.
While Valentine’s Day may appear to be solely a day for romance, here at We Solved It – we’d like to remind you that it can also be a day of replenishment for your psyche and your soul.  The cycle and circle of life itself is a unique one.  

Just because it is a commercialized holiday on the calendar – doesn’t mean you only need to celebrate it on the day itself.   Valentine’s Day much like Thanksgiving and Earth Day should be holidays celebrated every day – Love, Gratitude and caring for our planet are not just one-day-per-year celebrations and shouldn’t be limited to such.   If we did this – we would not dislike holidays so much because we feel obligated on ‘the one day’ we think we have to do something.  If we take the time to celebrate what matters each day, there wouldn’t be so much pressure on just one day, or expectation to be a certain way just because a date on the calendar dictates for us to be in a happy mood and do as the holiday states. 

One of the biggest misconceptions about Valentine’s Day is that you must have someone in your life to know what love is or how to celebrate this holiday.   Quite frankly, the opposite is true – you have to know who you are, what it is in your mind and heart and know how to appreciate yourself inside and out in order to even be able to give to someone else.   One of the reasons there are givers and takers is example that this is true.  If you constantly give – you have nothing left.  If you constantly take, nobody wants to give to someone who doesn’t know how to reciprocate.  Both are unhealthy scenarios and they do not work as they usually cause resentment from the other party or you, yourself will tire of a one-sided scenario.  This is what causes the cycle of fulfillment and depletion imbalance.   There are the days people are full of energy, life, enthusiasm and inspiration.  They have creativity.  They feel full of motivation and initiative.

Then the ‘overextension’ gets the best of them.  They get sick. They sometimes go into the hospital and are treated for exhaustion. They are dry, empty, unmotivated and feel literally ‘stuck. ‘ 

This is nothing new.  This is not a new ‘condition.’  But it is part of the human condition.  It is part of what we call the lack of self-love.  We must monitor this cycle to make sure we never get out of synchronization with ourselves and so we can stay in balance to have healthy relationships.
Very much like when a car is expected to go, but the keys are lost and the tank is empty, the cycle of depletion is a temporary situation.  Yes, the keys will be found and the tank will be filled once again. And then when you’re ready to go you’ll be stuck in traffic and get frustrated and then, yes, disrupt your internal peace meter.

This cycle is what melts us. But it is also what keeps us going at the same time.  You cannot have one without the other.  You cannot go, go, go and not ever expect to be stopped or be forced to stop the madness of the constant on-the-go cycle. 

Why do we have it?  It’s part of what nature intends as natural decompression.  We may not understand this – because we are human.  Humans are selfish beings who assume that everything is to happen upon desire and upon our terms.  But nature doesn’t intend us to live this way. 

If we look to the example given in the wild, an animal may wish to drink water because it is thirsty.  But perhaps it hasn’t rained in months and water is scarce.  So animals trek on in search of water and they will be forced to go the long route to go find it in the hot sun.  Then suddenly there will be some shade to sit under to rest.  And just because the animal sits in the shade and rests does not mean that thirst has gone away.  Yes, the animal may be tired, but the journey is there to seek out to quench the thirst it has.  Water may not come easily, but it is part of the idea that this is what keeps us yearning, hoping, learning, growing.   We must learn patience and we must learn discipline.  We must also learn to work hard for what we get and soon, in time, we will quench our thirst.   Perhaps along this journey we are meant to become thirstier, as if to desire more and be more motivated for when we have the energies to pursue the journey.   Sometimes the journey is long for purpose. So that we can remember to sit under the shade of the tree to enjoy the process of being ‘in the process’ of being.

This cycle of depletion is a gift. It is a reward before the big reward. It is a reminder to appreciate what we do have instead of what we don’t.  

In other words, if we appreciate the legs we have to walk the journey. We get start to understand what it means to appreciate the fact we found a tree along the way to guard us from the sun.  We will appreciate what it means to relax, when given the means (or force of exhaustion) to relax.  So that we can enjoy it for what it is.  And so when we finally get that wonderful quenching sip of water at last, we will not only savor the sip, and enjoy the beauty of finally discovering it – but we will have something to reflect back on to know what we were made of to get us there to enjoy it, rather than have it given to us when we wanted it or demanded it. 

The art of self-love is knowing when you need to fill your own tank.  Sometimes we need the time and space to relax, think, read, be and replenish.  It could be something as simple as going for a walk to clear your head, vegging out with a good book or movie or simply playing with the dog so we can catch our breath again to give our best selves to our family, friends and those we love.   We must understand that it is in the balance of this – where we can show up as our best selves when we are with the people we care about most.  But we must always understand if we constantly self-loathe, we’ll never get to the place of being happy with ourselves much less be happy around others. 

The cycle of depletion teaches us to be humble and give thanks for the downtime to rest, relax, heal, get well, sort out feelings, ideas, emotions, problems, issues and refuel to become more prepared for the journey ahead called life.  But it is up to each of us to learn the art of self-love with a time out to reflect upon who we are and what we are thankful for so we can appreciate life itself and how we live it so we have more love to share and give.  If we practice the art of self-love every single day, we will be less likely to loathe holidays so much because we will have had the time to refill our spirits to be in a more spirited place to celebrate. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Our planet is changing and needs help.  But you think you're only one person and there's nothing you can do.

SOLUTION: Plant a tree. Sounds simple - but just think if everyone did this ONE simple thing!
Trees are important in more ways than we realize.

Trees.  They are our lifeline.  And in every religion and culture, we are tied together by the tree which gives us life as we know it.  While many may go back to the Bible and the Koran and look at the olive tree, fig tree or even the apple tree, there is no argument that trees have always been a big part of our history, our spirituality and a part of our being. 


Trees are sacred.  Trees are symbolic. Trees are necessary for our life on earth.  The Baobab tree in Africa stores 30,000 gallons of water and provides food, medicine, clothes, instruments and shelter. The Oyamel fir of Mexico is helping to protect and prevent extinction of the Monarch butterfly while the Quassia tree (which also is grown in South America) helps with parasites and fever.  The sacred Kien-Luen tree of China and Sakaki and Bonsai trees of Japan provide spiritual symbolism while both countries share the importance of the Camphor tree – an important medicinal tree.  The Rauwolfia tree of India is an antidote for snake bites. The Birch tree in Russia has sap is which is turned into tonics and soft drinks to minimize hangovers. The endless references in both Greek and Egyptian culture and history show how trees have been essential in life and how they are still utilized today.

 It doesn’t matter how you look at it, trees are vital to our existence, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical ways of life.  Human life itself is dependent on trees and this is our common thread between all cultures around on the planet.

Trees have great importance: Wood for fuel and warmth; nuts, seed, fruit and leaves for nourishment; they reduce noise and they clean the air from pollution; they provide timber for products, shelter and animal fodder; trees provide the essence for all-natural non-toxic cleaning products; trees fight erosion and also slow storm runoff; and trees provide antibiotics, cough syrups, insect repellents, lotions, cosmetics, shampoos, antiseptics, sodas, spices and healing teas from roots.  All trees… from the rain forest to the trees in forests all around our globe have a purpose.  

OXYGEN is perhaps the one thing humans tend to take for granted, which trees provide. And with the presence of Global Warming, more people are starting to understand the importance of planting more trees, saving trees, and how integral they are to the whole process of nature, evolution and maintaining life on the planet. Trees can help lower heating bills up to 30 percent and also air-conditioning bills by providing necessary shade (they can make between a 10-12 degree difference). 

Trees also provide peace and artistic inspiration.  You’re never too young or too old to appreciate a tree’s importance and this is perhaps most obvious in Shel Silverstein’s book, “The Giving Tree.”  It may shed some light on how much we take trees for granted.   Artists Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and more recent artists like David Hockney have celebrated trees in their works as have many musicians and poets who have referenced a tree or two in their creative artistry. 

But what can we all do to ensure the future of trees?  The answer is simple: care for the ones we have, recycle paper, don’t waste Christmas trees (buy ones already in a pot where you can replant it in the ground to give it a sound future) and plant more trees.  

When you realize how important trees are to life and to your own human existence, you will understand the power behind saving trees, cultivating more life and even create a bit more ZEN for yourself.  Nothing gives you more peace than empowering yourself and the planet by planting a tree.  Whether you join important organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation  or go to your own local nursery or gardening section of your local home improvement store and plant a tree in your own backyard or start giving trees as the gift that keeps on giving – planting a tree is therapeutic. It makes you feel good.  It makes the world a better place.  And it makes you feel one-with-the-earth.

So branch out!  Go out on a limb and plant a tree.  And you will ensure the future generations of your own family tree by doing so.