Monday Night Get Togethers With Friends

We regularly get together on Mondays at two of our favourite restaurants – Symposium Cafe and the Olive Press.  Recently we met up at both places on different Mondays and here are the pics! Be sure to register on meet up for Monday October 16th’s dinner at The Olive Press!

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Where Are You?

Look who is reading the blog!

As we reach the end of September we are delighted to report that this site has been viewed over 80,000 times in the past year and a half.  As you can see from the chart on the left, for the month of September, the website has been accessed by people in Canada and around the world.

We hope you have found some interesting things on the site. We’d like the opportunity to get to know you better and would really like to hear from you.

Are you a widow or widower looking for support in Canada or elsewhere?  Are you local to us i.e. in Halton, south central Ontario or located somewhere else?  Is there something you’d be interested in reading about that we can add to the site?

Please let us know your location in the comments section and if there is something specific you’d like us to talk about.

Thanks for being there!

 

September Heat……And Pizza Too!

With the humidex approaching 40C,  it was a warm crowd that met up at Stephanie’s for another great pizza evening.  Escaping to the garden didn’t offer much relief as the humidity made the outdoors a bit swampy, but a group braved the heat to enjoy the last of the summer outside.  Another group stayed inside to enjoy a little air-conditioning  and chatting. Everyone enjoyed hor d’oeuvre, Stephanie’s home-made sangria, a little wine, a little beer, some salads, pizza and desserts.

Thanks to all the food contributors as well as all the helpers.  Special thanks to Stephanie for opening her house to the crowd. Here are some pics from the event:

Thinking about Buying, Selling or Renting? Here’s Some Expert Advice!

In another of our series on financial and real estate advice, we spoke with Carissa Turnbull of C&C Real Estate Group about the current real estate market and trends for the future. She kindly offered to provide us with some advice and knowledge in an informal Q&A. If you’d like to chat in more detail with Carissa, she can be reached at carissa@royallepage.ca

Q. The real estate market seems to be slowing down – is it a good time to sell or should we wait a while?  Have new government rules changed the market?

A. The real estate market has slowed down when we consider the activity in the first quarter of 2017.  The number of sales as well as the average sale price has decreased over the last few months, however, if we look at the number of sales as well as the average price, we are currently still slightly higher than compared to one year ago.  The new government rules have affected certain neighbourhoods targeted by foreign buyers, but the numbers speak for themselves, we are still higher than last year even when we remove foreign buyers from the market.  The first quarter of 2017 was not a sustainable real estate market.  Returning to a more balanced market is better for both buyers and sellers.  As we start to see interest rates increasing, we might see more of a downturn in prices if there is a major increase to interest rates.  It’s still a good time to sell since interest rates are expected to continue to rise.

Q. Downsizing is an issue for many of us. Do you have thoughts on when to downsize and how to do it?

A. Having helped many people downsize into a more manageable property the best advice we can give is “you will know when the time is right.”  Everyone is different and everyone has different motivators to downsize.  We have heard comments such as “I feel like all I do is clean my home,” “I used to enjoy taking care of the gardens, now they feel more like work than pleasure,” “Taking care of my property is cutting into my social life,” “I want to lock the door and travel,” “I want to spend all my time with my grandkids.” When you start to feel the home is more burden than pleasure than it may be time to start thinking of downsizing.

Q. Leaving a house and moving to a condo is a big step.  Some of us wonder if we’d be happy living in a condo after many years in a house.  What are your thoughts on making the transition to condo living?

A. Condo living does not always mean living in a tall, small, condo apartment.  There are condo bungalows, condo townhouses and large condo apartments; all of which include outdoor maintenance like windows, roofs, gardening and snow removal, etc.  Not to mention, there are workout rooms, pools, clubs, social activities included in your condo fees.  Condo living is a lifestyle adjustment, but when you don’t have to worry about outdoor maintenance and property upkeep, your time is your own.

Q. Lease vs Rent vs Buy?  There are so many ideas about which is the best option – how do you help clients decide which one is right for them?

A. Tried, tested and true.  Real Estate is your home as well as a great investment.  Without knowing each person’s specific financial situation, it is tough to say which is the best option.  We are well versed in “working the numbers” on a monthly or annually basis for rentals or property purchases, so we can help you work things out. As a preliminary guide however, here are some things to take into account:

  • what are monthly costs of each option?
  • are utilities included?
  • how much are the property taxes?

Working through the expenses of each Lease, Rent or Buy scenario depends on the individual’s specific circumstances.  Start with our basic questions above to determine what might be the best fit for you. We are happy to help you work out the details of each option to find the right fit for you.

Q. There are many more mortgage options than there used to be – what are the best options today?

A. Variable Mortgage, Fixed Rate Mortgage, Home Equity Line of Credit, Reverse Mortgage, Money for Life Annuity Products.  Sounds confusing.  A mortgage broker/financial advisor should be consulted for your specific situational needs.  We have contact info for trusted advisors to provide information on all of these mortgage products to help you make an informed decision.

Carissa is happy to answer any questions you might have. No question is too small, so feel free to email Carissa at carissa@royallepage.ca

Burger Night at Symposium

We had another great evening at one of our favourite restaurants, Symposium Cafe in Oakville!  Twenty-eight people came out for burger night and enjoyed the menu specials and good friends.

It was a rainy night so thanks to Robert who came prepared with a big umbrella and kindly escorted many to their cars during the passing storms.  Here are some pics from the event – just click on any pic to open the slideshow.

Labour Day Sunday at Edna’s

A huge thanks to Edna for opening her lovely home to a Widowed Friends group on Sunday.  Great weather made for a wonderful outdoor get together in Edna’s beautiful garden.

The menu included schnitzel and cabbage rolls prepared by Edna – they were delicious – as well as many other tasty dishes contributed by attendees.

Many thanks to our team of wonderful volunteers, Steph, Dorothy and Anita serving, Kathy F replenishing platters as needed, Glenda and Penny working to ensure everyone was served and Donna making sure everyone had what they needed.

A big thanks to chief kitchen organizer Glenda, and to Leslee and Penny for ensuring everyone had name tags, as well as to our fantastic, efficient clean up crew including Sharon, Kathy, Penny, Anita and Ursula.

A wonderful way to spend a long weekend afternoon!

August Social at Hampton’s

August’s Sunday Social drew a big crowd to Hampton’s Restaurant for a great afternoon of socializing and schmoozing with old friends and new ones!  Following  “happy hour,” a buffet dinner gathered everyone together in the dining room for more conversations and laughs.

Many thanks to everyone who turned out and congratulations to raffle winner Ken who won a large basket of goodies!  Check out the pics below – just click on any picture to open the slideshow!

 

 

 

 

Help Build Kindness in the World

With so many bad things going on in the world, it can seem like kindness is in short supply.

Yet an understanding listener or a word of encouragement can create waves of kindness that ripple throughout peoples’ lives, their families and the whole community.

It’s up to all of us to make sure we’re building kindness in the world around us, and Acclaim Health is providing an opportunity for you to make it happen in our communities through a variety of volunteer opportunities.

  • Volunteer at Acclaim Health – you’ll join an amazing team of wonderful, caring people working hard to make the world a better place.
  • Share this info with someone you think would make a great volunteer.
  • Attend an upcoming training session or choose another one of their other current volunteer opportunities

The two upcoming training sessions are free – check out the times and dates below:

Hospice Visiting Volunteer Training

One of the most meaningful volunteer experiences you’ll ever have.

Learn to companion a person with a life-threatening illness by listening, supporting and being present.

Next training session:

Thursday evenings from September 28 – November 30, 2017

6:00pm – 9:00pm

Acclaim Health, 2370 Speers Rd., Oakville

More Information | Apply Online

Bereavement Peer Support Volunteer Training

Have you experienced grief yourself and are now strong enough to help someone else move forward? Are you a caring and compassionate listener?

Help another through the grieving process by becoming a Bereavement Peer Support volunteer.

Next training session:

Monday afternoons from October 16 – December 4, 2017

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Church of the Nazarene, 320 Bronte Rd., Oakville

More Information | Apply Online

If you have questions about any of the volunteer opportunities, contact Dee Kearns at 905-827-8800 x2313  for more information.

Aloha From Donna’s Backyard

It was a perfect day for a Hawaiian themed pig roast, and Donna’s lovely backyard was the perfect venue for 50+ attendees to enjoy the weather, the bar-b-q and the great company.

It was also a surprise birthday celebration for Donna, Shirley K and Henny who all turned 39 -what a coincidence!  Check out the pics here – just click on any picture to open the slideshow.

 

Mad for Meatballs

If it’s Monday it must be meatballs!  Members get together at the Olive Press a couple of times a month to take advantage of the Monday special – delicious meatballs and spaghetti.  As you can see from the pictures, a big Widowed Friends crowd turned up to enjoy the dinner and each other’s company.  The next event is Monday August 28th, so be sure to sign up and join the crowd.

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.

Walking Each Other Home

Here’s a little bit of inspiration for the week from Aubry Hoffman.  What’s your favourite piece of inspiration?  Share it with us in the comments box below or send it to us and we’ll add it to our website!

 

You are enough, right now, exactly as you are. You don’t have to do anything to prove your worth. You don’t have to accomplish more, do more, or reach a certain level of success. You don’t have to behave perfectly. You are worthy simply because you exist as a human being on this planet. There is room for you and all your messiness and confusion and pain.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. We are all in this together; we are all just walking each other home.

Are you confused about your life purpose? You don’t have to figure it all out today or tomorrow or next year. Trust that you are living your purpose right now, that the questions are part of the journey and the journey is your purpose. You don’t need an impressive career. Whatever small or large thing you are doing now, changing diapers or cleaning houses or crunching numbers, it’s all important, it’s all perfectly part of the plan.

Are your relationships in shambles? Are you afraid you’ll be alone? Become really still for a moment and know you aren’t alone. Know that no one has this romance thing figured out. Even the people that seem like they do still go to bed lonely sometimes. Become really still and know that no matter who you are, no matter who you love, no matter what you’ve done, there is a love so much bigger than your romances. A love that holds this tiny planet together, a love that transcends time and space and understanding, a love that is you and that will always be with you. Let this love hold you.

Have you done something you think is unforgivable? Do you hide in shame and guilt? Come into the light, speak your truth, you will find the light shines kindly on those who seek help. Know that you were doing the best you could in that moment.

There are generations of abuse and lies and pain that many of us are fighting to rise out of and away from. So make your apologizes, release the guilt and shame and keep moving forward so we all can be free.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. In the end it will never get you where you want to go. Practice radical self- acceptance and self -love. Determine to love yourself so completely, so fully that everyone you come in contact with will feel loved simply by being around you.

Embrace your beautiful body. Show it love. Feed it well. Give it rest. Move it often. Love every bump and lump and stretch mark. They tell the story of you. The story of a human being traveling through life, a life marked by tragedy, exhaustion, new beginnings, endings, birth, successes, failures, countless lessons and adventures. All along the way your beautiful body is there for the ride, housing your spirit and witnessing your journey. Love your body.

And remember; you are enough, exactly as you are.

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!