Lazy, Hazy, Reading Days of Summer

Hard to believe it is mid August already!  Have you taken some time to rest and relax and enjoy the summer days?  What’s been your favourite thing to do this summer? Where have you been?  Did you take a vacation?  Let us know in the comment section – we’d love to see your pictures and post a few holiday snaps for everyone to see. You can email Lesley, Steph or Dorothy with your pics!

In the meantime, if you are looking for a few summer reading ideas, here’s a few that  that we thought our community might be interested in checking out.

The Globe and Mail recently published an opinion piece called How to Save Yourself From the Abyss . Writer Mitch Landell writes that sometimes there is nothing we can do about our circumstances, but there are active things we can do ourselves to improve how we feel. If you are feeling a bit down, take a read and tell us what you think.

And then there’s that tricky issue about dating as a widow/widower.  Here’s one take on it from the website Sixty and Me.  The article is Are We Too Old For Boyfriends in Our Sixties?  What do you think, do you agree or disagree?

Another favourite is the website One Fit Widow by author Michelle Steinke-Baumgard. Michelle recently wrote a great article called 14 Ways To Get Lucky in Life.  Her premise is similar to our first article – life is what you make it – but it has a few different ideas in it that you might find interesting.

And on a completely different note, if you need a bit of a summer giggle, check out British comedian Michael McIntyre’s take on the challenges of losing weight.

Burger Night at Symposium Cafe!

A great turnout this week at Symposium Cafe  for burger night! Symposium is one of Widowed Friends sponsors, so we are thrilled that so many came out to enjoy each other’s company at this great, friendly spot!  It was $5 burger night – a great deal for everyone. Check out the pics from the evening!

Saturday Night At Dominic’s Ristorante

It was a great pasta event on Saturday as a big crowd turned out at Dominic’s house for dinner.  Lots of salad, pasta and wine were served and everyone enjoyed getting together over the long weekend.  Many thanks to Dominic for hosting and cooking.  Check out the pics here:

You’ve Been Snapped…..

If you attended last month’s Sunday Social at Hamptons, then you’ve been Snapd!  Snapd is a publication that covers many local events in Halton.

We were thrilled to have Snapd’s Mary Dilly attend our Sunday event and take some pictures of our members enjoying each other’s company.  The article is live online now so check it out and see if your pic is on Snapd!  Many thanks to Snapd and Mary for covering our event!

Here’s the link to the article!

It’s Not Too Late To Build Resilience……

No matter how old you are or what your life circumstances might be, we can all still build resilience as we face life’s ups and downs.

Resilience is a speciality of management and psychology professor Dr. Adam Grant who co-wrote Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. He was recently  interviewed in the New York Times regarding resilience building in mid-life. The good news is he thinks that it’s never too late to develop those skills that will help see you through life’s peaks and valleys.

You can read the article in more detail but his main points include:

  • Practice optimism – consider being a glass half full kind of person instead of a glass half empty and surround yourselves with similar optimistic people ( like Widowed Friends!) and you’ll feel more optimistic.
  • Rewrite Your Own Story – focus on the opportunities you have in life and not on the things that have happened and that you can’t change. It takes a bit of time to reframe your thoughts, but with practice you can learn to find that silver lining in the dark cloud
  • Don’t personalize setbacks – everyone has moments of misfortune or reversals – remember to focus on what you can do going forward in a positive way
  • Remember your own “comebacks” – we all have a tendency to focus on what we haven’t done well, but it helps to take some time to think about what we also have succeeded at in our lives.
  • Support others – this is the core principle of Widowed Friends! We get together to support each other and to provide strength and caring to help us all move forward positively with our lives.
  • Take a stress break – ensure that you are doing the things you enjoy, so your mind and body get a chance to recuperate from life’s stresses
  • Get out of your comfort zone – for many of us that might be attending a first Widowed Friends event, or going on a vacation or trying something new.  Each time you try something new, you build confidence in your abilities which helps build resilience.

Do you think you’ve re-built resilience following loss?  What tips can you share for people who are looking for ways to become stronger and happier? Share your tips in the comments section and we’ll post them.

Social Sunday in the News!

Over 40 people came out to this month’s Sunday Social at Hampton’s Restaurant  to enjoy each other’s company and catch up on the latest news.

We were joined this time by Mary from the publication SNAP Oakville who was there to learn a little more about Widowed Friends so she could share what our community is all about with her readers – she took lots of pictures and talked with many of the attendees.  You can take a look at her pictures from the event here. 

Congratulations to Penny and Brian – our raffle winners.  Check out photos from the event below – let us know your comments in the box below too!

 

A Glass of Wine, a Little Lunch And A Lovely Summer Day!

We started with a wine tour in the basement at Cave Springs Winery , sampling a couple of whites and a red wine, learning how to swirl and sniff the wine before downing a glass.  Our expert guide from the winery led the WFH group on an interesting tour around the historic wine cellar and shared the story of Cave Springs Winery.

Following the tour, the group enjoyed a delicious 3 course lunch from Inn on the Twenty’s fixed price menu in a quiet private dining area reserved for us.  We needed to walk a few calories off after lunch, so a little shopping along Jordan’s lovely main street  worked perfectly.  Many of us purchased some Cave Springs wine as well, so watch for it at upcoming pot lucks – it’s delicious!

Thanks to Chet and Anna who volunteered to drive a couple of groups as well as members who came from some distance to be part of the afternoon. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

 

Summer Reading & Watching

As you sit on your deck or balcony or in some lovely shaded backyard, it’s nice to have some good reading material to pass the time.

We have found a few articles we thought might be of interest to you, that aren’t exactly relaxing, but might be informative.

We often get asked about scams and viruses when we use our electronic devices.  There seems to be an endless variety of approaches the bad guys try to gain access to personal info.  This article from Forbes is focused on helping adult children prepare their aging parents against some of the scams out there and of course this is an American take on the issue, but we face similar issues in Canada and there are some good tips here that we can all put into practice.

Another good read is the website Second Firsts by Christina Rasmussen.  Her latest blog post is entitled I Used to Compare My Old Life With My New One  – maybe a topic that will resonate with you.

And as long as we’re talking about grief and loss, Option B’s website has a good article by Rachel Roth about the profound wisdom and harsh realities of loss.

On a lighter note….here’s psychologist Shawn Achor discussing how to find happiness (he talks fast!).  What are you reading this summer – let us know in the comments section.

 

Making Sense of Your Dollars & Cents

Recently, Scott Strapp from National Bank Financial kindly shared his time and knowledge with Widowed Friends at a Financial Health Information workshop.

Many expressed an interest in learning more about what Scott shared so we thought we’d do a brief Q&A with him to provide a little more info. If you’d like to contact Scott directly he can be reached at scott.strapp@nbc.ca.

Q. We all want a happy well-funded retirement. Some of us may be already retired, while others are still in the workforce. What do you suggest is the best way to prepare financially for a long and happy post work life?

A. There is no crystal ball about what is the best, safest path to take. I tell all my clients that the single most important thing anyone can do when considering their financial future is to focus on their goals, both long and short term. It’s only by identifying what is important to you and what you really want out of life that you can start to build your plan. Once you know what means the most to you – where you want to spend your time and available resources, we can then start putting together a plan which will help you achieve these goals.

Q. With all the political upheaval and change happening all around the world, is it safe to invest in the markets?

A. For every negative news story, there’s always a positive story somewhere that is being ignored. Negative sells ratings, positive often does not. Remember that with negative times or news comes potential opportunity. The speed of change is only increasing. We cannot be afraid of it, we must embrace it. An example is the explosive growth of Amazon. They are redefining retail today. Companies need to adapt or they will fade away. The decline of Sears Canada is a case in point. In modern retail, they are largely irrelevant. As a result, they are fading from the scene. Going back to the original question, there has always been global political upheaval and change throughout history. These occurrences have always provided for investment opportunities.

Q. What if I don’t have substantial funds but am still interested in the financial market?

A. The same principle applies to everyone. What are your goals and what do you need to do to maximize your funds to meet that goal. Everyone can benefit from going through a visualization exercise – identifying what’s important to you, determining what your goals are and then evaluating a route to achieve your goals.  Realistically evaluating your financials is important but the critical factor is to identify your goals and what is important to you. Everything else comes after that.

Q. Do you have any recommendations that anyone can do to improve their financial security?

A. I think TFSA’s (Tax Free Savings Accounts) are not utilized as fully as they should be. Everyone has the opportunity to invest up to $5500 a year to a current maximum of $52000. When you pull money out, it is tax free, unlike both RRSPs and RRIFs which are taxed on withdrawal. What is commonly not known is that if you remove funds from a TFSA, not only are you able to contribute the fresh $5,500 the following year, but you are also able to re-contribute every penny that you withdrew the previous year. In addition, you can hold most kind of investments in a TFSA. The Banks have been great having investors purchase GIC’s and High Interest Savings inside a TFSA. In my opinion, this is a poor use of a TFSA. There are other options which can provide greater cashflow and still meet risk tolerances. Overall, take advantage of this great savings tool. It can make a difference.

Q. As a widower or widow, do I have different financial considerations to be aware of than couples or singles?

A. The biggest issue we’ve found is that the widowed often receive too much advice from too many outside sources. These sources tend not to be objective as they could be, if they are looking at your financial resources as their’s. Surround yourself with one or two trusted advisors who focus strictly on you and what is best for you. Talk to them. Listen to them. Often, ideas are presented that you may not have previously considered.

Q. If someone is looking for a financial advisor, what questions should we ask to ensure the person is knowledgeable and working in our best interests?

A. There are a few do’s to ask your advisor and one don’t:

Do’s:

  • Ask how they are paid (transparency with a client is very important)
  • What is their process for managing money – do you agree with it or should you consider someone else
  • What does your “gut” say – do you trust this person or not? Is it the right fit?
  • Do they have a specialty? How do they put portfolios together. Some institutions may only have limited portfolio’s that the advisor must use – the cookie cutter approach – decide if that is acceptable to you.
  • Do they have references?
  • How will they communicate with you – what are your preferences?
  • Will they put the time in to really get to know and understand you?

Don’ts

  • Don’t ask what their rate of return is annually – it is a variable number that can change significantly depending the client’s goals and risk tolerances. Everyone is different. It follows that portfolio returns vary as well.

What do you think? Do you agree with Scott’s take on planning for our financial futures? Use the comments box to add your thoughts. Thank you Scott for taking the time to chat with us!

Oh Canada (Day)!

Huge thanks to Donna for hosting another big event at her house!  Over 50 WFH members came out for a Canada Day celebration bbq and social.

Despite some discouraging rain in the afternoon, the sun finally returned and the party moved outside to Donna’s deck and patio to enjoy the green trees and lovely surroundings in the backyard.

A rousing rendition of Oh Canada was sung by the crowd….in the rain!! We are a hardy bunch!

Thanks as well to all the many helpers who brought enough food to feed several armies and to all the organizers, dishwashers, and clean up crew including Dorothy, Stephanie, Glenda, Henny, Penny, Lesley and of course the amazing Donna, who hosted, cooked and organized simultaneously.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

Mamma Mia – It’s Pizza Night!

Stephanie opened her home once again for a Friday night pizza extravaganza!  With hor d’oeuvres, appetizers, desserts and wine provided by attendees, and pizza a la Dominoes, it was a real feast!

Check out the pics from the warm, summery evening here:

 

 

Saturday Night at the Beach (and Happy Birthday Stephanie!!)

We had a great dinner at Baranga’s on the Beach  on Saturday night, sitting on the restaurant’s outside deck, enjoying dinner and the cool breezes off the lake on a hot summer day!

Coincidentally it was also Stephanie’s birthday, so following Baranga’s, a crowd came together to celebrate the birthday girl.  Many thanks to Donna for hosting the after party at her home and to Margaret B, Molly, Joanna, Penny and Lesley who provided snacks and supplies for everyone to share.

Here’s a combo slide show of both the Baranga’s crowd and the birthday party crowd. Check out Steph’s Micky & Minnie shoes – Dorothy’s gift for Steph’s birthday.

 

 

1940 Pounds of Food

That’s a lot of cans, bottles and packages to sort through for a team from WFH who spent Thursday afternoon sorting and boxing up donated food at Food For Life.

The need to feed families in Halton and Hamilton never goes away and the summer season doesn’t make the job any easier. Sarah Wolf, Community Engagement Co-ordinater at Food For Life noted that 1 in 5 families in Hamilton and 1 in 7 families in Burlington are “food insecure.”

Just a few hours of work can yield big results. By sorting through boxes, checking expiry dates, and categorizing food by type the team was able to accumulate 1940 pounds of food ready to be distributed to food banks and other pickup points across Halton.

Thanks as well to the WFH members who donated food – it was very appreciated!

Check out the video of our afternoon as well as some pics of the event!

 

Summer at WFH

It’s finally summer and we’ve got a busy season coming up!

Birthday Girl

This month there is golf at Millcroft Golf Club, dinner at Baranga’s on the Beach , a birthday party for a special person and lots more. ( Be sure to let Penny know if you are attending the birthday bash on Saturday).

Kicking off July 1 with a bang, Donna will be hosting Canada Day celebrations at her house.  Be sure to wear red and white to celebrate the big 150! Thank you Donna!

There are lots of dinners to attend in July and a special fun event will be lunch at Inn on the Twenty/Winery  on July 15th.  It was a great event last year so we’re looking forward to another fun day in Jordan! 

Golf has been scheduled again at Rock Chapel in July so if you love golf be sure to sign up when it is listed on meet up.

Halton Dance Party is revving up for the summer season too with events on July 8th, August 12th and September 9th.  Be sure to purchase your ticket well in advance of each event as the dances are very popular and we have limited capacity!  Just ask Dorothy for tickets and payment details.

Have a great summer!

Sizzling Sunday at Hamptons!

Another great Sunday afternoon at Hampton’s!  It was lovely to be able to sit on the patio and enjoy the warm weather and a great BBQ with friends.  Congratulations to Marilyn for winning the raffle!  Here are some pictures from the event – just click on any picture to open the slide show.   Thanks to everyone who came out – see you next time!

 

Walking for Carpenter Hospice

Widowed Friends recently participated in Carpenter Hospice’s  9th annual Hike for the Hospice.

Carpenter Hospice offers both residential-based care to people in the last stages of their lives, and community-based programs for people dealing with grief or a life-limiting illness. It lets residents spend their final days together with loved ones in an environment that is peaceful, comfortable and meaningful.

Billy and Grace S missing from this pic!

Walking just 4.7 kilometres through neighbourhoods around the hospice,  the Widowed Friends team raised over $1000 for the organization.  The weather co-operated nicely and the crowd of over 400 made their way around the course easily, stopping  mid-way to add the name of a loved one to the remembrance wall.  Arriving back at Mountainside Recreation Centre, everyone was treated to lunch provided by a great team of volunteers.

Thanks to all the participants for coming out on a Saturday morning to support a great cause.

Chet & John through the finish line!
Memory Wall

Grief Expert Nancy Berns Explains How To Carry Joy & Grief Together

With thanks to the Option B website, here’s a video the site shared that we thought might be of interest to you.  It’s just over 17 minutes long.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Do you agree with  Nancy Berns’s thoughts on closure?

 

Widowed Friends Celebrates 2 Year Anniversary – What A Day!

Widowed Friends LogoIn two short years, Stephanie and Dorothy have worked very hard to transform the original vision of creating a warm, caring and supportive group for widows and widowers into a large, ever-growing and evolving community.  A capacity crowd confirmed how successful their vision has become as they came together May 28th to help celebrate the group’s second anniversary.  It was a great opportunity for members to get together with new and old friends, reacquaint themselves with others they hadn’t seen for a while and to reflect on how quickly the group has grown and changed.

As a token of appreciation for Dorothy and Stephanie’s ongoing hard work and dedication, two lovely bouquets of flowers were presented to them (with thanks to Melody S for providing the beautiful bouquets).

Thanks also to Dominic for DJing the after party!

As part of the event, many members generously contributed tinned and packaged foods to the Food For Life food bank. The donation weighed in at 140 lbs and was greatly appreciated by the food bank as it has  experienced a drop in donations and is in need of food to sort and distribute. Thank you to all!

Pictures of the great afternoon are here – just click on any picture to open the slide show.

 

 

 

The Seeds We Planted Are Blooming!

A little over two years ago, Stephanie came up with the idea of creating a friendship group for widows and widowers.  There was nothing like this in the area and she knew that there were probably lots of widows and widowers looking for something else after attending grief groups or bereavement counselling or perhaps after being alone for several years.  The first event, held at the end of May 2015 was a cocktail reception; about 20 people attended.

Stephanie’s initial hunch proved correct, the group grew rapidly as more and more widows and widowers found the community. Today, membership is over 200 and members come from almost every corner of the GTA.  Since stats were started in August 2015, there have been 341 events with 5368 attending ( of course that is the same people attending multiple events!). There’s been a huge variety of events from restaurant dinners, potlucks at members homes, bowling, wine tasting, food sorting to help the Food for Life food bank, pool and lots more. We even did some traveling with a group going to Barbados in February and another group cruising the Caribbean around the same time.  We have a Meet Up page, a Facebook group and of course, this website!

We think there are a couple of reasons our group has grown so quickly.  The first is the unique concept  – we do not focus on grief and bereavement – we come together to enjoy each other’s company and to share friendship and reconnect with the world socially after experiencing loss.  The second is our membership.  Everyone who joins, stays and participates brings their own unique experience, knowledge and insights to the group.  We all benefit and grow with each new member, and the warmth and friendship so many have extended to others is inspiring.

We hope you will join us on Sunday May 28th as we celebrate our second anniversary.  This event is very meaningful for Dorothy and Stephanie who have put in countless hours and worked tirelessly to ensure that each event is an enjoyable occasion and that every member feels welcome in the group.  You can sign up on meet up – be sure to pay for your tickets in advance as seating is limited.

The future of Widowed Friends is unlimited – let’s celebrate the accomplishments of the past two years and look forward to the future – more fun,more events, more friendships and even some surprises!

Happy Anniversary!  Feel free to leave comments for Stephanie or Dorothy in the comments section.