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:

Advertisements

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

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.

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.

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!

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!

 

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!

 

 

Welcome to Symposium Cafe as a Widowed Friends Sponsor!

We are thrilled to have Symposium Cafe at Third Line and Upper Middle Road in Oakville, as a sponsor of Widowed Friends (WFH).  They have generously donated gift certificates for our monthly Sunday Social and have pledged support to WFH on an ongoing basis!

 

We have regularly scheduled dinners at Symposium Cafe twice a month, so we hope you’ll turn out and give back some of the support they have offered us.  We suggest thinking of Symposium Cafe when you are looking for a place for a nice meal or snack with friends or family.  Just tell them Widowed Friends of Halton sent you!  Thank you Symposium Cafe!

 

Check out the video to find out about special offers each night of the week!

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.

 

 

Happy Birthday To Us!

Hard to believe almost two years have passed since our first little get together in May 2015.  With around 20 attendees at the first event, we never thought that two years later there would be more than 225 members and we would keep steadily growing.

We are very grateful to our members for their support, encouragement and positive outlook over the past two years and we look forward to the future, building together an even stronger welcoming community for widows and widowers.

Come and help us celebrate our second anniversary May 28th at the Quality Suites Hotel – this event is open to Widowed Friends members, their guests and family.

Date:  Sunday, May 28th 2017

Where: Quality Suites Hotel, 754 Bronte Rd. Oakville (just south of the QEW,on the west side of Bronte Rd).  The event will be held in the upper ballroom

Time: 4:00pm -5:30pm – Meet & Mingle (Cash bar)

5:30pm – Dinner including:

Hor d’oeuvres

Roast Beef & Atlantic Salmon

Salad, Vegetables, Desserts, Soft drinks, Coffee & Tea

Cost: $40pp  – Tickets can be purchased from Stephanie & Dorothy or by E transfer widowedfriendsofhalton@gmail.com
Security Question:  anniversary Answer: celebration.  Please purchase your tickets as soon as possible as we have limited seating.
 
Raffle:  Baskets of goodies – be sure to bring a few extra dollars to enter to win one of 5 prizes

Donate:  We are supporting the Food For Life food drive. Please bring a food item with you to the dinner so we can help those in the Halton community who are hungry. The most needed items are canned meat, canned fruit, canned beans, canned vegetables and individually packaged snacks (ideally peanut free). We will ensure your donated items are taken to the Food For Life depot for redistribution. Thank you.

 

Dorothy has a Birthday!

A great crowd turned out for Dorothy’s annual 39th birthday celebration Saturday March 25th!  Stephanie planned a great evening starting with  Di Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Burlington. The crowd then moved on to Stephanie’s house where they were joined by others who couldn’t make dinner, but wanted to come and celebrate Dorothy’s big day. Check out the pictures below – just click on any picture to open the slide show.

 

 

Sunday Afternoon With Friends

Widowed Friends of Halton (WFH) hosted its regular monthly Sunday afternoon social recently at Hampton’s restaurant and a big crowd turned out to meet up with old friends, greet some new ones and enjoy the lovely buffet.

Several new members joined us and it was great to be able to welcome them to the WFH community. Here are some of the pictures from the event – just click on any picture to open the slideshow.

 

Reading For A Cold January Evening

On these cold, dark January evenings it’s nice to have a little reading to distract from the chilly weather. We’ve been following a few different blogs and websites and thought you might be interested in some articles we’ve enjoyed. If you have suggestions or recommendations for reading that you think fellow members might enjoy, please add them to the comments section.

First up is one from one of our favourite authors, Carol Brody Fleet who often writes for the Huffington Post and has her own blog called Widows Wear Stilettos.  This article entitled Your Top Ten Widowed Resolutions for the New Year is a good one to review in January.

Next we have one for the anxious. Most people suffer some anxiety at one point or another in their lives and often following life-changing events.  This article deals with anxiety from the perspective of bomb disposal experts. It provides great advice on avoiding the rabbit hole of stress!  How to be calm under pressure: 3 secrets from a bomb disposal expert!

Third, another from a favourite author, Michelle Steinke from One Fit Widow.  Here in the Huffington Post she urges us to Consume Life – a lesson that we have all learned.

Finally, if you’d like to keep your brain in good shape, here’s 3 easy ways to whip your brain into shape! 

Let us know if you like these articles or can suggest others that our members might enjoy!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It seems like everyone is celebrating, happy and carefree this time of year. What we sometimes miss is the undercurrent beneath the celebrations of people living with loss, illness and loneliness.

Finding comfort in the face of loss or hardships is difficult for many widows and widowers, so we offer a few warm thoughts on how to manage as another new year begins.

First you have already taken positive steps by joining our welcoming community. If ever there was a group of people who understand when you may be feeling a little bit low, it is us.

Second, be sure to come out regularly to events – whether it is a widowed friends event or another organization or interest group, getting out and about is an important way of reconnecting with the world and finding your way forward. Even though it may be cold outside, coming out of your home and joining a group at dinner or bowling or whatever your interests are can help warm you inside and out.

Third, is a tough one. Give yourself a break. Be patient with yourself. We know how difficult going through loss and change is and we all do it in our own unique and individual ways. You may feel like you’ll never recover or that you need to be different or more upbeat than you feel. However you feel is ok. It will get better with time and you can’t rush it or change it, so be kind to yourself.

Stephanie & Dorothy
Stephanie & Dorothy

At Widowed Friends of Halton we are committed to enriching each other’s lives through understanding and being present for all our members as we continue on our life journeys. We wish you the very best and brightest New Year in 2017.

 

.

 

 

Widowed Friends of Halton’s 2nd Annual Christmas Party!

Many thanks to all the attendees at our second annual Christmas Party at Hampton‘s!  It was a great evening of fun and friendship and it’s wonderful to see how the organization continues to grow as more members join and our activities expand in variety and scope.

Check out the pictures from the event – click on any picture to open the slide show.