Sunday, December 18, 2016

Should Churches Provide Shelter For The Homeless?

According to Google Trends, this topic of homelessness is one of the most searched for topics in the United States and has been consistently for the past 5 years.

Supposedly according to that research, there are over 6000 homeless people living in San Francisco. How do they live? How do they support themselves? And should churches offer shelter for these ones?

In the past and present, homelessness usually paints a vivid picture of an individual living in an old appliance box on the edge of a street or under a bridge. Some cities like Roanoke, Virginia has in the past housed many homeless persons underground in the city's sewer system. Access to these areas can be had by crawling into a street drain or pulling up a manhole cover.

One famous homeless blogger states that he makes between $15-$30 and hour by panhandling or asking for donations from passersby. He claims that this money is not consistent, however, sometimes only bringing in $60 for a whole day. That's about the same amount of money servers make for working long shifts at say...The Olive Garden.

The questions about whether or not churches should provide shelter to homeless ones can be answered by researching the history and purpose of churches. Originally, the first churches or houses of worship were built as a place where individuals could go to feel close to God and give him proper worship. They could pray there or learn about his will.

In ancient Israel, when the Israelites were told that they would have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years due to their lack of faith, God gave them the architectural plans for building a tabernacle so that they could have a place to worship God while in the wilderness. The plans for this tabernacle allowed the people to take it apart and put it back together as they moved from place to place.

When King Solomon began to rule over the people, he inherited the designs and materials left by his father King David to build a temple for the people to come and worship God. There was never any mention about this also being a place for the homeless to be able to come and live. In other ancient temples and shrines, it was never a common practice to house the homeless.

However, in the year 64 CE, Rome was set fire by some means, either by accident or due to some treacherous deed of Nero. History contradicts itself as to the actual cause. But when this disastrous fire had left many people homeless, Nero did open up the Campus Martius or "Field of Mars" among other facilities to help house these ones. This was a plain dedicated to festivals of the pagan gods.

So, apparently, there are exceptions, but it is not the rule. It is not normally a practice to house homeless people in churches, temples or sanctuaries. In modern times, it is noteworthy that the role of churches has seemed to change from ancient days. In many churches today, live entertainment, restaurants, barber shops and many other unusual venues are in place.

Even if there are no such attractions present, it is not uncommon for churchgoers to present their main reason for attending church to be for social reasons rather than for learning about God and the bible and for the opportunity to worship. In fact, in recent years, church membership has waned so much that there is certainly room for the homeless to have a place to stay.

Obviously, the best solution for the homeless would be for programs to be in place that encourage or help them to find suitable work and for them to be able to pay for their own affordable housing. Of course, the bible does promise a time when "they will build houses and live in them, and they will plant vineyards and eat their fruitage." -Isaiah 65:21

Monday, December 12, 2016

Do Statin Drugs Really Lower Your Risk Of Alzheimer's?

Many popular news sites in the last few days have been reporting that a recent study suggests that the use of statin drugs may be connected to a lower risk of developing the dreaded dementia causing illness Alzheimer's. 

This disease was first named in 1901 by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer and thus its name. In 2015, there were approximately 48 million people worldwide diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

If it is true that statin drugs help prevent Alzheimer's, then the drug companies producing statin drugs that have been enduring some pretty bad press and some very costly lawsuits for decades due to the terrible liver destroying and incredible aging side effects of statin drugs will likely breathe a sigh of relief. 

The life expectancy following a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is six years, so it's likely that being responsible for producing a "cure" would almost change the reputation of most pharmaceutical companies from a villian to a hero.  But what about those side effects of statin drugs? Are they really aging people?

In fact, many doctors recommend that their patients on statin drugs take COQ10 supplements to help reverse the aging effects of statin drugs. Everyone naturally has an abundance of COQ10 in their bodies in their youth. But as we age, our body loses this vital nutrient and it loses it even faster if we are on some type of statin drug. Statin drugs also work in the liver, blocking its ability to make the enzyme that produces cholesterol. 

Side effects of statin drugs range from something as simple as muscle cramps all the way to liver dysfunction and worse to (ironically) memory loss. Dr. Mercola even claims that taking statin drugs increases your risk of getting Lou Gehrig's disease, diabetes and ever cancer. He also lists on his website other risks including anemia, impotence, a depressed immune system and polyneuropathy which is nerve damage in the hands and feet. 

So, do statin drugs like Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor to name a few actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer's? Well, here's what the study concluded: The University of Southern California conducted a research study of 400,000 patients who took statin drugs on a regular basis. 

The study was published online in JAMA Neurology, a monthly medical journal published by the American Medical Association. What the scientists discovered was that these patients had reduced their chances of getting Alzheimer's by 12 to 15 percent. Why? Because statin drugs lower cholesterol.

An article published at (National Institutes of Health) in November, 2011 states, "Substantial evidence has accumulated in support of the hypothesis that elevated cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, much work has been done investigating the potential use of lipid-lowering agents, particularly statins, as preventive or therapeutic agents for Alzheimers." 

So, the question arises, is the risk reduced by taking statin drugs? In the study of these 400,000 patients, was the risk reduced because they were taking statin drugs? Or was it because these patients were proactively reducing the amount of cholesterol in their arteries? The scientists working on this major study admit that the correlation between the reduced risk of getting Alzheimer's and the statin drug's ability to lower cholesterol and beta-amyloids in the brain is likely a factor. 

Beta-amyloid is the main component in the plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Statin drugs also have an anti-inflammatory benefit that may also contribute towards lowering the risk of Alzheimer's. 

So in reality, it's the lowering of cholesterol and the keeping of your arteries not inflamed that actually reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer's, not necessarily the taking of statin drugs. Eating a healthy low cholesterol, rich in fiber diet may be just as connected to reducing the risk of getting Alzheimer's. Large amounts of Vitamin C help to keep your arteries and veins healthy and reduce inflammation. 

To back up this claim, the organization Alzheimer’s Research UK in Cambridge, UK states that the research such as the study published in JAMA Neurology identified “important trends”, but also claims that the very best protection against neurological decline remains a good diet and regular exercise. There are other means of reducing cholesterol, but the article sounds like its saying that taking the "wonder" statin pill will prevent Alzheimer's and that's not necessarily the case. 

It kind of makes you wonder what pharmaceutical company funded that research?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Deliveries Done Right In Middle Tennessee

Delivery services seem to be in high demand these days. Many businesses or consumers need items picked up and delivered and just don't have the time or means to do it.

Items such as food, groceries, medicine, household items, paperwork, documents or just general shopping are examples of things that people need help with getting it from here to there.

This might be the reason that places like DoorDash, Postmates, Lyft, Uber and many others are always hiring. Additionally, many restaurants, flower shops and car parts businesses are also hiring for on-staff delivery drivers. Architects, lawyers and contractors also need documents and other items delivered. The need and wants of individuals and businesses alike with regard to deliveries is limitless.

Recently, I worked for DoorDash as a food/restaurant deliverer. The problem was location. I live in a small town and I would have to drive about 2 hours just to get to my delivery destination area of Nashville. Then it would be another 2 hour drive back home. Additionally, the company got a huge chunk of the delivery fee. That's when I decided to offer this service locally on my own.

So, at present, I am offering delivery services to just about any item that's not over 35-40 pounds and is not an animal and is not hazardous material to the following counties in middle Tennessee: Franklin, Coffee, Bedford, Lincoln and Moore. That's about a 60-75 radius of my home. My days of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I charge $1 per mile to deliver and the meter starts when I leave my house or present location and stops when I deliver the package.

Customers can pay with all major credit cards and PayPal. The way it works is to start by calling 931.434.7254 and ask for a delivery. The customer must have a working email so they can be invoiced. Then, the customer will be asked for the pickup place address and the drop-off destination. I will estimate the miles based on Google Maps and then the customer will have the option to agree to the amount.

At this point, I will head out on the delivery. When I reach the pickup point, I will send a text to update the customer that the item has been picked up. Before the item is dropped off at the destination, I will invoice the customer at the location and payment must be made via credit card or PayPal before the item will be left at the drop-off point.

Once payment has been received, the item will be dropped off and the customer has the option to confirm drop-off by speaking with someone at the drop-off location. So, for the sake of illustration, a typical 20 mile complete trip delivery will be $20 and so on. So, Deliveries Done Right is open for business and I look forward to your call!

Suzanne Lender-present owner of 2014 Nissan Sentra with a clean driving record and background  check available upon request. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yikes! Tornado Hits A Little Too Close To Home

I live in a small town in Tennessee called Estill Springs. Its a pretty quiet town with not much going on most of the time. The only concern that some residents have had around here lately is the very lengthy drought that the middle Tennessee valley has been experiencing. In fact, its been so dry that the area has seen a sudden spark (no pun intended) in wildfires, especially in and around Gatlinburg.

So, when the weather news stations finally predicted some rain in the forecast, many residents were relieved to say the least. However, we got a little more than bargained for. Last night, November 29th, 2016 at around 8:59 pm, tornado sirens in Tullahoma were blasting. Tullahoma is about 8 miles from where I live.

The huge weather system coming across the state and several states actually, raged on for most of the evening and throughout the night and even into the wee hours of the morning. At around 2:00 am, my phone weather alert buzzer went off and I jumped to my feet to find out what was going on. Tornado warnings and watches were being updated the entire night.

The next day, I drove to Tullahoma to take care of some business and the following video is what I saw there. I know it could have been worse, and thankfully no one was hurt that I know of, but I still think that this storm was a little too close for comfort.

freelance reporting by Suzanne Lender

Friday, November 11, 2016

Vines That Enrich Our Life

It is commonly believed that most plant life here on Earth benefits mankind. No one questions that. Plants bring us food, medicines, decorations and more.  

And many plants help us to express our emotions towards others in the form of gifts. But one plant is sometimes overlooked when other plants are credited with benefiting us. And that is the lowly vine.

At times, the vine is even considered a pest when we think of clearing away an overgrowth of vines at inappropriate places. Vines like the Virginia Creeper, Vinca Minor or worse, Poison Ivy are considered invasive and troublesome to most. Besides causing deterioration to wood surfaces, they sometimes provide inroads to rodents or other undesirable creatures.

However, in the defense of vines, this article presents some interesting and beneficial facts about 5 vines that you may not have known. Being objective can be productive. For example, we all know that tobacco causes cancer. But, you may not know that tobacco has saved thousands of lives as an anti-venom poultice for bee and wasp stings.

Our first vine to offer a defense for is the Wisteria vine. Likely, you won’t question the beauty of the delicate purple blossoms. And be careful about the brown bean-like seed pods. They’re poisonous. But did you know that some people use these blossoms to decorate their fresh, delicious salads? They add lovely color and light flavor to a healthy salad.

The next vine with a bad rap that might not be all bad is the Clematis vine. Although the Clematis vine is pretty in pink when it flowers, its petals can be toxic to both humans and animals alike, causing nausea and vomiting when ingested. However, the Clematis vine has been used for many centuries in medicine to alleviate inflammation and it’s an anti-microbial.

Our next vine is widely known for its health benefits. The Honeysuckle vine produces light orange colored flowers that are easily recognized for their lovely fragrance. What you may not have known is that the different Honeysuckle varieties have some amazing health benefits. Some of these benefits include headache relief and fever reducer, improved immunity, stabilizing blood sugar and tea made from honeysuckle aids respiratory problems.  

English Ivy has at least two mention-worthy benefits. Although it has been called an aggressive invader, having an inside potted English Ivy plant has been known to clean the air in your home of dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and airborne fecal particles. Outside, it is excellent for preventing soil erosion in your garden or landscaping.

Partridgeberry has been praised for the same thing. It too helps to prevent soil erosion on your property. ( But another huge benefit of Partridgeberry vine is its likely ability to prevent miscarriages. In the herbal world, it is well known as a uterine herbal tonic for female fertility.

This vine list is not all inclusive. There are many other vines with very beneficial properties like the Balloon Vine for example, that is known to aid in the cure of anemia and anorexia, headaches and asthma. And let’s not forgot the wonderful fruit that grows from the Grape vine. Both fresh and fermented, this vine produces fruit to nourish our bodies, strengthen our heart and yes, lift our spirits.

This article included a partial list of vines that enrich our life. This research shows that vines are not all bad. Yes, some are toxic, aggressive and difficult to remove from structures. But some vines are extremely beneficial to humans providing color, beauty, medicines, eco strength and clean air for our homes. Nobody’s perfect, including vines.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Coloring Your World, Inside And Out

We were created with the ability to see a wide array of colors. What would our world be like without color? It would be boring and drab to say the least. But splashes of color here and there excite and uplift our spirits. It has been discovered that color has the power to change our moods. It can motivate us to get up and get to work or soothe and relax us enough to go to sleep. 

Speaking of growth, is our outside world like the landscape around our home just as important as our inside world? Millions of people find great enjoyment and satisfaction from decorating and re-decorating our homes on a regular basis. We change the colors in each room to keep up with the ever-changing trends in fashion on a regular basis.

We change the colors of our clothing, our makeup and sometimes even our hair. It has been stated that the color arrangement of food on our plate determines whether or not our food is considered appetizing. What about our landscaping? Does the idea of changing colors in our landscaping interest and intrigue you?

Initially, that may sound like a tremendous amount of work. How can you change the colors of your landscaping without overhauling your entire yard on a regular basis? It might be easier than you think, by utilizing the concept of pre-planning. The Arbor Foundation’s website includes some great suggestions on the page entitled Landscaping with Trees and Shrubs. In the post titled Shrubs Under Shade Tree Designs, there is some information about planting different types of shrubs to achieve this goal.

That post suggests planting Forsythias, Azaleas and Hydrangeas under the shade trees in your yard. When spring comes each year, you will delight at the rich yellow blossoms of the Forsythia shrubs. Later in the spring, bright pink blossoms from Azaleas will be eye candy for viewers as they pass. Then in the summer, lovely blue, lavender and white blossoms will engage viewers from the Hydrangeas.

However, there are several different choices with regard to scheduling color changes in your landscaping. The Mountain Laurel or Spoonwood shrub has a bright red blossom in early June and keeps its green leaves all year, making it an attractive piece for your winter landscaping. Additionally, the tall variety of the Blue Speedwell bush also makes a lovely and sweet smelling addition to the landscape under your shade trees.

And who doesn’t love the purple or white Lilac bush? Alternatively, there are the intense violet or red colors of the Crepe Myrtle or vibrant reds in the Burning Bush. Simply pick out your favorite colors and get creative planting these bushes and shrubs around the base of the shade trees in your yard. And to further your color changing project, get creative with the shade trees that you plant.

Because depending on the trees you plant, fall will bring an entirely new host of colors. Here are some great ideas for coloring your landscape in the fall by your choice of trees: Bright red Maples and orange Sugar Maples or yellow Tulip Poplars are just a few of the many possibilities. The Black Gum tree also turns a vibrant dark orange in the fall. There’s a shade tree to match your favorite color.

As individuals, we don’t stay the same. We are constantly changing, constantly growing, constantly improving. So, when we design the landscape around our homes with an ever-changing display of beauty and color, it makes a statement that is unmistakably personal. We want the world to pass our homes and gardens and see the beautiful, progressive environment that we have surrounded ourselves with and say, “Wow! The people who live there must be very modern, creative and inspiring!” 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Marketing Practices - Ethical and Unethical

If you were a marketing or advertising specialist, agency or representative, you might walk into a real estate company and offer to give them folders for free for six months.

These attractive, professional looking folders might make it easier for their clients to hold all the many forms given them when visiting a real estate office, like listing agreements and contracts, etc.

Then, after they readily and happily accept your gracious promise of this gift, you could then began calling contractors like electricians, carpenters, decorators, furniture stores, plumbers and so on and began selling advertising space on the inside pockets and back cover of these folders. Innovative? Yes, and very ingenious to say the least.

The real estate agency is happy to accept your thousands of free folders for their use in better organizing the paperwork they are required to give out to clients. The contractors and other vendors are very happy when they began receiving calls from new homeowners asking for their services because the new homeowners saw their name on the folders.

And you, as the marketing genius made a nice income selling all that advertising space. Now all you have to do is use a portion of that money to purchase and deliver the folders with all the ads laid out on them. This is a marketing win-win situation for everybody involved. However, what if the industry was a different one? Say the medical industry?

What if you went into a doctors office and promised to provide him or her with a six month supply of folders for free to hand out to their patients to hold medical forms like HIPPA forms, receipts, etc.? Then what if you called specialists like cardiologist, oncologists, podiatrists, chiropractors, etc and offered them exclusive space for a price on these folders?

There are a couple of things in place called laws that might prohibit your ability to do this same thing with medical doctors. These are called the Anti-Kickback Statue and the Stark law. It is against the law for doctors to pay for referrals. It is against the law for doctors to sell referrals.

Even though you are a third party marketing agency, the doctor receiving the free materials in exchange for promoting a specific specialist may be in violation and the doctor paying for the exclusive space on the folder that is going into a specific doctors office may be in violation.

Here's the part of the Stark law and Anti-Kickback Statue that might apply taken from the American Medical Association's website: Paying For Referrals Illegal 

At the federal level, the anti-kickback statute and the Stark law heavily regulate physician referrals.
The anti-kickback statute explicitly states that it is a felony to solicit, receive, offer or pay anything of value, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in return for referring patients or services for which payment is made by a federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid.
The law punishes both sides of the deal, the referring and referred physicians. While the statute applies nominally to federal health care programs (thus patients or services not covered by these federal programs are outside the purview of the statute), the Stark law and/or state law may nevertheless prohibit the arrangement.
Under Stark, a physician may not refer Medicare or Medicaid patients for designated health services to an entity with which the referring physician (or his or her immediate family member) has a financial relationship, subject to some exceptions. 

The key policy supporting the widespread prohibition of referral agreements and fee splitting is the notion that it creates a conflict of interest for the physician. As the AMA's Code of Ethics states, a referral from a physician should be the product of the patient's needs and the referred physician's reputation, training and skill -- not the basis of an economic arrangement that could undermine patient trust.
Even the appearance of impropriety can compromise the patient's trust for both physicians involved and ultimately can undermine the public's confidence in the medical profession.
So, even though this is a brilliant idea for real estate agencies, it is unethical and likely illegal for medical clinics. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Teeccino - Amazing Herbal Alternative To Coffee

I have always loved the smell of coffee, especially first thing in the morning. The taste of coffee is as inviting and engaging as the smell for me. When flavors such as hazelnut, french vanilla and amaretto became available for coffee, my agony only increased.

Why? Because I am allergic to coffee. At least I am extremely sensitive to coffee. It wasn't the caffeine, it was the coffee itself. As far as the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity, here is the explanation from

"An allergy is a reaction that triggers the release of antibodies that results in immediate symptom onset. A true food allergy causes an immune response that can affect multiple organs and in some cases, be severe or even life threatening. Food sensitivity symptoms are delayed and are typically limited to digestive problems, but they can lead to chronic inflammatory health issues."

Several years back I had a food sensitivity test done (it was called an ALCAT test) and it was found that I had extreme sensitivities to seven foods. These are brussels sprouts, bananas, cauliflower, soybeans, peanuts, mushrooms and coffee. So for me, I usually get a migraine, a rash or some digestive distress when I eat these foods.

About a year or so after I learned about my sensitivity, I was introduced to Teeccino. It's an herbal "coffee" made with certified organic ground barley, carob pods and chicory root. Those are the main three ingredients. Other ingredients are added to bring about different flavors like dates, figs, almonds and ramon seeds. Flavors include hazelnut, almond amaretto, vanilla, mocha, chocolate mint, pumpkin spice, chocolate raspberry, caramel nut, southern pecan and the list goes on.

This "coffee" is completely and naturally caffeine free. I started drinking Teeccino to satisfy my craving for a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning, but I had no idea that this amazing drink also had many health benefits. Not only does it taste very much like coffee, it is good for you. (I have served it to guests as coffee and they could not tell the difference until I told them what it was.)

Teeccino is non-acidic and naturally contains the prebiotic inulin which is good for digestion. Since it is rich in potassium and fiber, that makes it wonderful for your heart. So, you receive a natural energy boost from nutrients rather than the stimulant type of boost you receive from caffeine that later results in a crash. In addition, many of its fruits and nuts contain powerful antioxidants and it is always gluten free.

So, I can enjoy drinking Teeccino all day long if I want to with no worries about my food sensitivity or caffeine side effects.

Check out: and

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shear Technology - What's In A Professional Grade Cutting Shear?

So, does anyone know what kind of metal goes into a professional grade cutting shear? Some people guess Titanium. Others guess Steel. Those are good guesses, but not correct. Let's break it down. Remember in high school science class, you learned that alloys are a mixture of metals or possibly mixtures of metals and elements.

So to get regular ole steel, you take iron, carbon and nickel and a few other elements, but mainly those three. The more carbon in the mixture, the harder the steel will be. This is how you make regular ole steel. The problem with this recipe is that regular steel is prone is rust and corrosion and that would be disastrous for professional grade cutting shears.

So, chromium is added to aid in the resistance of corrosion. In fact, in order to be considered stainless steel, the mixture has to contain at least 13% chromium. Does that mean that it doesn't stain? Yes, but more importantly, it resists corrosion. However, there is still a problem with this recipe. Any guesses? It's the nickel.

According to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control), 20% of the US population is allergic to nickel. That translates into 64,000,000 people in the US alone. Maybe you've worn a pair of jeans with a nickel snap at the waist and after wearing them, you had a red circle near your belly button where the snap was. If so, then you are probably allergic to nickel.

It certainly wouldn't be good for a cosmetologist to be cutting around the neck and ears with shears that contained nickel and an allergic reaction broke out on the client. Or maybe on the hands of the cosmetologist. You know how allergies can be. You can develop an allergy one day, when you didn't have one the day before.

Surgical Stainless Steel was developed with a very low content of nickel for this very reason. Dentists use equipment with this metal. Surgeons use tools with this metal and of course, Cosmetologists use professional grade cutting shears made with surgical stainless steel. The main two countries that produce surgical stainless steel are Germany and Japan.

In the Cosmetology industry, there are five main grades of surgical stainless steel used in making professional cutting shears. The grades 410 and 420 are mainly used for making barber shears, mannequin shears and pet grooming shears. The blades for these shears generally have a beveled edge or maybe a serrated edge with a 40-45 degree angle. The metal in these grades are too soft to be very sharp. The cost of these shears are between $20-$50.

Once a cosmetologist gets "behind the chair", generally they will need to work with shears that are made with at least a 440c grade of surgical stainless steel. These shears usually have blades that are semi-convex with a 30-35 degree angle. The metal in 440c's are harder than 410's and 420's and can be sharper. They are generally used for everyday cutting. The cost of these shears are between $200-$300 per shear.

If a cosmetologist wishes to enter into the world of advanced styles like slide cutting or point cutting, then they will likely need to use higher grades of surgical stainless steel like Cobalt and ATS. These shears are considered the Cadillac and the Ferrari of the professional grade cutting shear industry. The cost of a pair of cobalt shears ranges from $300-$500 per shear and an ATS can cost anywhere from $1000 or more per shear.

Cobalt and ATS shears contain full convex blades made with what's considered a much harder steel and are extremely sharp. They slice through hair like they are floating on air. The higher grade of steel, the longer the blades will last before they need sharpening which is considered normal maintenance for professional shears. Mannequin shears may need sharpening every 500 cuts, while 440c's, Cobalt's and ATS's may last up to 2500 cuts before they need sharpening.

The components of a professional grade cutting shear include the pinky tang, used to aid in stabilizing the balance of the shear, the finger holes, the bumper which keeps the blades from crossing over each other and causing a nick or cut on the client's ears or neck, the tension screw which allows the owner to adjust the tension of the blades and of course the blades.

If the tension of your shear is too tight, the blades will be forced when cutting which wears them down sooner, creating a sooner need for sharpening. The average cost of sharpening is about $35. If the tension of your shears is too loose, the hair will bend over the blade, causing an incorrect cut. To create the perfect tension, adjust either the dial or inset tension screw until the blades form a soft V when the shears are opened and then released.

Ergonomics is the applied science of creating tools that allow the user to perform their work duties more efficiently and safer. Another word for this is Biotechnology. In the cosmetology industry, shears have been created that help to alleviate a common problem of wrist pain, elbow pain and shoulder pain. The Classic style shear, when used requires the user to hold their elbow out straight when cutting in order for the blades to be parallel to the floor.

However, the Offset shear was created with the thumb hole slightly closer to the tension screw allowing the user's elbow to be dropped to a 45 degree angle when cutting with the blade parallel to the floor. Even further still is the Crane shear, which is so angled in the handle that the user's elbow is almost completely at their side while cutting with the blade parallel to the floor.

The 3-Ring shear allows for more control, which is especially great for beginners and the Swivel shear allows the user to turn the shear from front cutting to top cutting without moving their wrist much at all. These style varieties aid in bringing comfort and relief to users that suffer from wrist, elbow and shoulder pain. It has been said that the Swivel takes some getting used to, but is worth the trouble.

Cleaning your shears thoroughly after each client is very important. Use a disinfectant like rubbing alcohol removing all hair fibers and hair product. Dry with a clean cloth, and use a good quality shear oil at least once a week, maybe twice a week. A couple of drops will do the trick. Never leave your shears on the counter. They can drop to the floor, causing damage to the shear. They can get stolen or a child might pick them up and get hurt.

Your cosmetologist generally has to have had over 1500 hours of training before they can be licensed by the state to cut your hair. And before they can begin their practice, they have to invest possibly hundreds of dollars in their equipment to cut your hair with. This is something to think about the next time you sit down in that comfy salon chair. Maybe you could express your appreciation in the size of your tip.

Shear Technology information courtesy of Icon Shears

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Saving For Retirement: What Do You Know About Annuities?

Nothing? Well, then, here's a little bit of information. An annuity is a vehicle (no, not a car) in which you can place your money for the purpose of preparing for retirement. Is it a savings account? No. Is it a life insurance policy? No. Can it sort of be both? Yes.

The money placed in an annuity will go directly to a beneficiary when you die. It is a trust of sorts. No need to go through probate, because it is handled like a life insurance policy. Wills are contestable, trusts are not. No attorney fees here. Just a check to your beneficiary.

The purpose of an annuity is to provide income that will outlive you. No one wants to be alive when their money runs out. Money placed in an annuity grows with interest that is tax deferred. So, this means that you do not have to pay taxes on the interest until you draw the money out of your annuity years later. At that point, you only pay taxes on the amount gained from interest, not the principal.

Since this is the case, generally speaking, you fund an annuity with money that you will not need to use for several years. Years ago, most all annuities were set up in a way that the money you placed in them was left there for at least 10 years. These days, there are annuities available for 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 years or more options.

Why the "years left in" requirement? The insurance company that holds your annuity will use the interest they make on your money to invest in stock accounts. In this way, they make money on your money. They need you to agree to leave your money in the annuity in order for them to make their money.

In exchange for using your money, they promise you a base interest rate that your money will make for you. So in effect, they are sharing with you the money they made off your money. As your money grows over time, your annuity gains value so that when you are ready to use your money, you will have more than you originally deposited.

There are basically 3 types of annuities: Traditional Fixed, Indexed and Variable annuities. Traditional Fixed annuities guarantee a fixed interest rate during the agreed upon term or years that your money remains in the annuity. Lately, that figure has been ranging from 2% to 3%. Compared to a traditional bank savings account with only .5% interest gain, this number may sound good to you.

An Indexed annuity interest rate is tied to the S&P 500. The interest rate may rise and fall according the changes in the financial world. Usually, however, there is a base guaranteed rate. There is a possibility for higher gain with this type, but there is also a possibility that your money may lose value if interest rates fall very low. This is also true with a Variable annuity.

Variable annuities may begin earning very high interest rates, such as 5%, 7% or even 9%. But if the market crashes, your money could lose value. Your money in these annuities is invested in the stock market, some in general accounts and some in more volatile accounts. The potential for higher gain is there, but the potential for loss is there too. Agents selling Variable annuities must possess a securities license as well as a life/health license.

If you have money that you can afford to lose, then Indexed or Variable annuities might be the way to make some higher amounts of money. If you are like most people that are saving for their retirement, money is precious and there is no desire to lose any of it. A Traditional Fixed annuity will likely be the better choice.

Let's say for example, that you had $20,000 to put into a fixed annuity. Let's say, you agreed to leave the money in the annuity for 7 years. Let's say that you were promised by the insurance company a 3% interest rate. The first year, your money would make $600. If your money was in a bank savings account, it would only have made $100 at .5% interest.

Also, you would have to pay income taxes on that $100 at the end of the year. Whereas, if your money is in an annuity, you would not have to pay any taxes on it until you draw the $600 out in 7 years. Now, in the second year that your money is in the annuity, $20,600 is now gaining 3% interest. So at the end of year 2, you now have gained $618, making a total of $21,218 in your annuity account.

At the end of year 2 in a bank savings account with .5% interest, you now only have $20,200.50. Now, with the end of year 3 upon you, your fixed annuity now has $22,266.54, but if your money had been in a bank savings account, you would only have had $20,301.50. I think you get the idea. There is a much greater rate of increase with annuities.

However, the downsides to an annuity is the lack of liquidity for most. This means that you must agree to leave your money in the annuity for the agreed upon time or else there is a penalty. Usually, the penalty ranges from 10% to 7%. That's a pretty big loss should you need to get your money out. So, it isn't recommended to put your money into an annuity unless you are pretty sure you won't need it for the specified time.

United American insurance company has an annuity available that is fully liquid or will not impose a penalty when you draw out your money. The interest rate at present is 3% with a 6 year term. AIG presently is offering 2%, but you can draw out 12% each year without a penalty. North American is offering 2.2% with a 10% penalty if you draw out more than the year's annual interest gained.

Let's say you put $200,000 into an annuity when you were 58 years old for a 7 year term with 2.45%. When you are 65 years old and ready to retire, you would have $236, 926.55. You basically made $36, 926.55 in those 7 years. That's pretty awesome! You would not have made a fraction of that amount in a bank savings account.

Now comes the point in time when you are ready to annuitize your money. At the end of the 7 years, you will receive a notice from the insurance company that you may annuitize your money or leave it in there if you wish. There will be a new interest rate at this point that they will offer you. You may choose to get your money in a lump sum or annuitize.

Annuitizing your money means that you will begin receiving monthly payment amounts until your money is all gone or you are dead. You choose how to annuitize your money. You can receive a set amount each month until its gone. Of course, now you begin to pay taxes each year on the interest portion of the amount that you are drawing out. But likely, you will be in a lower income tax bracket because you are retired.

If you die during this period, your beneficiary with receive the rest. You can alternatively choose to have a monthly amount paid to you as long as you live. If this is your choice, the insurance company will figure your life expectancy at this point and then divide those years into the money and promise to pay you until you die.

They are taking a risk here and so are you. If you live longer than your money, the insurance company continues to pay you until you die, even if your money runs out.  If you die sooner, the insurance company keeps the rest. Maybe I've seen too many John Grisham movies, but this concept has always made me nervous.

There are a few different options at this point for annuitizing your money and your agent would likely discuss them with you before writing your policy and then go over them in detail when the time comes to annuitize. An annuity is a legal contract with an insurance company and there is a bit of paperwork involved: applications, disclosures, replacement statements, etc.

Only a licensed agent in your state can write such a policy for you. Be sure to check out your agent's qualifications, licensing, etc. and the insurance company's financial strength and ratings before entering into such a contact.

There are definite advantages and benefits to annuities. There is more money to be made in preparation for retirement, but the money needs to come from a place where it is not needed for daily living expenses or even needed for occasional rainy days or emergencies.

Happy Saving!

Suzanne Lender is a licensed insurance agent in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Humility - Considering Others Superior To You

Humility is one of the hardest qualities to cultivate. Many struggle to obtain this quality. It's not just about being proud and arrogant. Sometimes it begins with low self-esteem. 

We sometimes have the tendency to be very hard on ourselves. We work very hard to accomplish good things in our personalities. We watch ourselves and reprimand ourselves when we fail. We strive to do better and then fail again.

Then, when we finally do reach a personal goal at attaining some particular quality, then we may become so proud of ourselves for reaching that goal that we are now really hard on others for not being where we think they should be in their personal goals. 

What we are forgetting is that others are likely working just as hard to become better people as we are and we should be encouraging them instead of judging them. It's like two friends struggling with all their might to reach the top of a mountain. 

But when the first friend gets close to the top, he turns and gives a hard push to the other friend so that he falls down to a lower ledge. But in doing so, the first person is now no longer a friend but has also lost his own footing and begins to fall.

How much better it would be when nearing the top, to reach out and extend a hand to our friend and help him reach the top before us. Then, our footing would be more stable and it's likely that our friend would then extend his hand to us and help us easily step up onto the peak.

Humility lets us extend our hand to others to encourage them, believing that they deserve to reach their goals before us because they are superior to us. This removes the focus off of ourselves and our achievements and onto others and their needs.

What a wonderful world this would be if everyone worked at possessing the beautiful quality of humility. That is, after all, the way we originally were designed. -Genesis 1:27

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Important Is Rapport? Sales Workshop #2

We talked about gaining the trust of your customer in the previous article and how they simply won't buy from you unless they trust you. So, questions arise about how to earn trust from a potential client or customer.

One important way to earn your customer's trust is to let them see and feel that you believe in the product that you are selling. There is no faking it. You must believe in the product that you are selling. You must sell your product to yourself first.

If you are simply going through the motions of your sales presentation and you don't sincerely believe that your product is worthwhile or necessary, it will be written all over your face. Your presentation will come across as phony, rehearsed and shallow. You will be doing a job to get paid for instead of providing a valuable product or service to your customer. When customers genuinely sense that you are passionate and sincere about what you are doing, they are more likely to trust you.

When you are genuinely concerned about your customer's best interests, they sense it and they begin to trust you. These are the first steps to building rapport. You can chat with them all day about their kids and grand-kids, their dog, their favorite sports or favorite food, but this only builds a surface relationship, one that feels forced and mechanical. Sure, personal interest is great, but your customer is not stupid. They know that you have been taught to ask those types of questions and that you really don't care about those answers.

But when you are passionate about your product, you will be asking a different type of question. You will be asking the type of questions that searches out and discovers what their product needs are. Let's use an example. If you are selling a long-term care insurance product, you might ask them what their plans are in the event of a long term disability.

You might ask them tactfully if they believe that their mate or other family member could lift them if they weren't able to care for themselves. This shows the potential client that you are thinking down the road for them and that you care about whether or not they are going to be in distress if difficult times come to them and they are unprepared. Showing concern about your customer builds trust and rapport.

Here's another example. When you are trying to sell a business loan to a landscaping or lawn maintenance business owner, you might ask them if they might be needing some new equipment as the season begins to ramp up. You might express understanding about the fact that cash flow is usually tight at the beginning of the season. If they say that they don't want to add any more debt, you could suggest they use a loan to consolidate their other debts and free up some cash.

Many times, the best way to discern what questions to ask is by listening better to the reasons behind the "No's". Customers will usually tell you how to fill their product needs when they express their objections. If they say, "I want to think about it", this usually means that you have not convinced them that they need your product, that the product is worth the price that you are asking or they are not sure they trust you or your company.

It's easy to see that the opposite is true. If someone likes and trusts you and your company, if they are certain that they need what you are selling and that the price is right, they will buy from you. Think about it, if you trust that a restaurant is friendly, clean and safe, if you are hungry and this restaurant provides the food you need and it's priced fair, there is nothing to stop you from eating there. That's rapport. A close and harmonious relationship between people who understand each other needs and communicate well.

The key words there are: understanding needs and communicating.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Is The Hardest And The Easiest Thing To Sell? Sales Workshop #1

A recent sales training class revealed that the hardest thing to sell is money. There have been dozens of financial institutions in recent years that have tried and are still trying to make lots of money selling loans with high interest rates. But business owners are skeptical about being offered money and rightly so, because a struggling business adding a new debt to its problems might not be the smartest move.

On the other hand, it has been speculated that the easiest thing to sell is food. There are literally millions of businesses offering food products as their main sales item and unless the business is off the beaten path, it usually doesn't even have to advertise much. Especially if the food is any good, the business will be booming in no time due to word of mouth. People have to eat.

But the question arises as to why money is so hard to sell and food is so easy to sell. The answer revolves around one word: trust. When someone offers you money, its the natural tendency to wonder what they are up to. Money peddlers usually don't take the time to earn the average business owner's trust and so its not likely that they will take the bait unless a fool proof sales pitch and strategy is employed.

But when people offer you food, the natural tendency is to connect that offer with someone in your past who you trusted, like your mother or grandmother and so you immediately trust them without question. Sharing food is a naturally neighborly thing to do, one that is associated with bonding. What could possibly go wrong? It's food after all.

Years ago, an independent research company discovered that it is literally impossible to stay mad at someone that you share a meal with. The sharing and eating of food is an intimate activity. Put that together with the fact that people get hungry at least three times a day and then all of a sudden you are willing and ready not only to accept offers of food, now you are willing to pay for it.

So, the lesson here for salespeople is that no matter what you are selling, you must earn the trust of your potential customer. It doesn't matter if you are selling the absolutely best product in the world. It doesn't matter if the most famous celebrity endorses it. If you don't earn the trust of your customer, you are not likely to sell anything to them. People only buy from you because they trust you. End of story.