By Joshua Weinstein, President of the Employee Benefits & Employer Services Division
My daughter was married in the fall of 2019, and my gift to the newlywed couple was a family trip to Europe in 2020. COVID-19 hit, so the trip is on pause. So, I decided to dip into the trip savings fund and start a new hobby. I landed on personal electric vehicles (PEVs), and most specifically, an electric unicycle (EUC). EUCs are what they sound like, a battery-powered, motorized monowheel.
Wikipedia defines EUCs as: a self-balancing personal transporter with a single wheel. The rider controls the speed by leaning forwards or backwards, and steers by twisting the unit using their feet. The self-balancing mechanism uses gyroscopes and accelerometers in a similar way to that used by the Segway PT.
There’s a learning curve involved, but with the proper safety precautions, and lots of practice, riding an EUC can become an obsessive and fun hobby. They’re even a method of commutation to and from the office, the store, and more. The only thing is… I haven’t started riding yet. My “wheel” is on order, so I’ll owe you all an update in a few weeks.
EUCs are gaining in popularity throughout the world as a low-cost, fun, and zero-emission way of getting around. Enhancements in battery, mechanical, and computer technology allow these wheels to have ranges of 30+ miles on a charge, Bluetooth connectivity to a mobile phone (to adjust settings and preferences), lighting, speakers, and even suspension on the latest models. Top speeds on higher-end units top 40 miles per hour, although I’m preferring a slower pace. Many experts ride off-road, travel up and down stairs, and jump various obstacles and street curbs.
As I await my new EUC, I’ve been researching and ordering the appropriate safety equipment, and I’ll be donned up like a motocross rider before long.
Watch an expert ride off-road:
By Alesha Combs, Account Manager
How do you handle distracting colleagues? You know the ones I’m talking about. They ask you a million questions, half of which they already know the answers to, or could figure out on their own. They’re loud, even when you’re in the middle of a scheduled call or Zoom meeting. They tend to procrastinate and aren’t the most productive members of your team, unless someone is really pushing them to achieve. Some of them even struggle with their own personal hygiene! I’m talking about these new COVID-19 colleagues…your children.
During this pandemic, many of us are making the shift to work from home. While that shift may be wonderful in terms of cutting out commute time and minimizing morning preparations, it does mean for many parents, that their children are their new coworkers. Yes, you love them, but they’re distracting! It’s a full time job to make sure they’re getting their schoolwork and chores done, making good choices, and meeting their goals.
Making sure these small humans are staying emotionally healthy during a very uncertain time, and adjusting to the new normal that’s restricting access to their school, friends, and social activities, is another level of mental distraction. “It takes a village to raise a child”, but right now, you have to manage the overall wellness of your child, without a whole lot of help. How are you managing it? If the answer is less than perfect, then congratulations, you are human.
Kids are used to a highly structured school environment. When parents try to replicate that, what the child may interpret, is their parent telling them what to do… All. Day. Long. This can make kids irritable to even the smallest prompt or redirection. Some common signs that a child is experiencing stress include mood swings, sleep disturbance, over reacting to small problems, bedwetting, nightmares, bullying, defying authority, and lying. Is this ringing any bells? How do you utilize this new opportunity to teach your kids responsibility, self-awareness, and how to be a self-starter, without overwhelming them, and still having enough time to get your work done?
A child geared scheduling device and app called “Goally” could help you accomplish these objectives, while helping your child accomplish theirs. Goally is an electronic scheduling device for children. It is about the size of a chunky cellphone and acts as an interactive planner/scheduler, as well as a goal-tracking device.
Parents create and load their child’s schedule, and Goally prompts the child with each step or task throughout the day. Goally prompts the child with one task or item at a time, with a title, or picture icon for non-readers, and a visual timer. If the child becomes distracted and does not check mark the task in the allowed time, the device audibly prompts them with a pleasant sounding whistle. TIP: I do recommend creating the schedule with the child, not for them, so they maintain a sense of ownership.
Goally also helps your child set and accomplish their goals, by giving a set number of points for each completed task. You and your child work out a system, so they can redeem those points for rewards that you’ve both agreed upon. This teaches children to work towards their short and long-term goals without parents having to “keep score”.
Goally can be used for anything from a morning routine of brushing teeth and getting dressed, to homework, chores, and walking the dog. This tool offers children more independence and stress reduction, by encouraging them to be in control. It also means you don’t have to use your “mom voice”, which is a win for everyone!
I was originally told about Goally by my sister, a Registered Nurse and foster parent. She started using Goally for her 9-year-old daughter, and told me that her daughter “instantly went from daily tantrums and needing 3-5 prompts to get any single task done, to completing entire sets of tasks without any assistance from me. I had extra time to get my own work done.”
Goally is a dedicated device, meaning it only runs the Goally program. This is another positive aspect, as it prevents kids from using the device for games or movies. It costs $299 to purchase, in addition to a $9.99 monthly service fee. The monthly fee includes access to dedicated behavioral specialists, who you can access via phone, text, or email. Goally does offer a 30-day trial and is running quite a few promotional specials in response to COVID-19. It is also eligible for full coverage via a Medicaid waiver.
It may be worth noting that Goally was created as a tool for “neurodiverse” children, however that term encompasses all children. The need that Goally meets is not specific to only children with special needs. I would recommend Goally for children between the cognitive ages of Kindergarten through 5th grade.
We as adult professionals have had years of experience in self-regulation, setting and reaching goals, working well with others, and not leaving our shoes in the middle of the floor. Children are still practicing these skills. Goally helps parents reinforce their child’s positive behaviors and actions, setting them up for future success, while also empowering the child. This checks the box on our parenting goals as well. Check out Goally at: https://goally.co/
By Shayla Dablemont, RISQ Consulting Individual and Family Benefits Consultant
Planning a wedding is stressful enough by itself. Now let’s throw a pandemic into the mix! Most couples put a lot of thought into the specific day they choose to tie the knot. We wanted ours to be as close to our anniversary as possible while still being on a weekend, so that our family and friends can attend.
The average time of engagement for couples is 13 months before getting married and we gave ourselves about six. I was so excited to start planning that I jumped right in. This involved ordering everything possible with our magical date on it. Then BAM covid-19 hits.
Every possible scenario has ran through my head. I thought of postponing the wedding but what would I do with all of the awesome stuff I bought with “July 18, 2020” etched into it. We could cut the guest list down and make it more intimate. I have 200 people RSVP’d. How in the world do I choose?! Let’s get married in HAZMAT suits! Where do I get 200 hazmat suits?
I decided to be selfish…isn’t that allowed for my wedding? I called all of my vendors to get their input. Everyone said pretty much the same thing. “We will help you pick a new date and be there for you if you have to postpone, but if you don’t your wedding day will go off without a hitch.” Positive vibes!
With mandates and recommendations changing so rapidly, I watched and waited it out. I made no decision with the biggest wish being that by the time we get to July 18th we will be back to normal. May 18th rolls around. Two months to go and the Governor announces that Alaska is ready to move into a combined phase 3 and 4. I could have done a cartwheel! Not so fast! The mayor announces much stricter guidelines for opening Anchorage.
I contact my out of state guests and let them know they have to test negative 72 hours before flying here. It’s okay, it’s just another obstacle, we got this! The town is mostly open and I am still waiting and watching in anticipation as the number steadily rise every day. I am not postponing! Everything is going to go as according to planned. It HAS to!
I have kept all of my appointments. It is time to get my trial run to figure out how I will wear my hair on the big day. My hair stylist asks many questions about family and friends, where they are coming from and where they have been. I think she is just making small talk. Then she breaks the news. “Sorry, I am just not comfortable doing your hair on site. You will have to come to the salon.” Now that is a major blow. I really wanted to get ready on site, so that my photographer can get the classic “getting ready photos.” I also did not want to be in any kind of a time crunch, so I had to cancel with my hair stylist.
Again another obstacle. I am working extra hard to stay positive and just see each obstacle that comes as a bump in the road. My day will go off without a hitch and I WILL get hitched!
By Tiffany Stock, Vice President of Marketing & Client Relations
Here at RISQ, we strive to be thought-leaders and pride ourselves on being innovative, flexible and nimble. A big focus of our culture is on innovation and breaking down the silos on what we do and how we do it. This is one of the very cool things about being on the RISQ team but it definitely presents its own set of unique challenges.
In some professional development that I’m currently engaged in, I came across this article by Gary P. Pisano, published in the Harvard Business Review called The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures. Gary expands on the 5 key tensions that need to be created and managed in order to achieve and sustain an innovative culture.
- Tolerance for Failure but No Tolerance for Incompetence
- Willingness to Experiment but Highly Disciplined
- Psychologically Safe but Brutally Candid
- Collaboration but with Individual Accountability
- Flat but Strong Leadership
How does your organization stack up when it comes to fostering an innovative culture? I encourage you to check out the article to learn more.
By Angela Baker, Account Specialist
Refinishing a piece of furniture is a great way to save money while updating a piece you love. It’s really popular right now to paint classic pieces every color from black to white and everything in between. The popularity and ease of using chalk paint or milk paint makes it stylish and fairly simple.
BUT — what do you do with a piece that has a damaged finish, that can’t be covered with paint? Or if you want to restore the natural wood beauty of a piece? Then, you put on your gloves and get to work refinishing.
I am loving the look of raw wood lately. It is classic and goes with everything. I see more and more of it popping up in catalogs, decorating magazines, and Pinterest. Taking a few bits and pieces that inspire me from retail style and putting my own stamp on them is what takes the “manufactured perfection” out of the equation.
After being inspired by a raw wood table I saw recently I decided I wanted to strip a marketplace find and make it beautiful again. It is much easier to paint, but to get the look I am after furniture stripping is required.
I now know why I haven’t done this in the past, it’s one messy job.
- Wood Stain and Finish Stripper (I used Citristrip which has no harsh chemical smell at all)
- Rubber gloves – thick ones or double up thin pairs.
- Scouring pad or steel wool
- Old paintbrush
- Old toothbrush
- Several old rags
- Mineral Spirits
- Drop cloth or plastic sheeting
I took the cabinet out to my garage, placed it on a plastic sheeting and went to work. First applying a thick layer of Citristrip with an old paintbrush and then allowing it to set overnight. The next day what a goopy sad looking sight, I could tell the stripper had made some action happen. I rolled up my sleeves and started scrubbing with my steel wool dipped in the mineral spirits. I worked in sections to keep the mess to an acceptable level; anyone who knows me knows I don’t DO messes. Once the residue had been scrapped off I went back over the piece with a rag and mineral spirits to remove any left behind. No lie this is one messy job and not going to be my project of choice any time soon but after some elbow grease my cabinet looks 110% better and exactly the look I was wanting.
I will continue to keep my eyes open and be on the hunt for my next project piece, as I want to create a home that is perfect only for me and my family’s life and style.