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.
By Tonya Mott, Vice President of Operations
The month of May is Lyme Disease Awareness month so I figured it’s the perfect time to advocate for my loved ones suffering from the disease and spread awareness.
Last May I wrote a blog post describing my good friend’s battle with Lyme disease and shortly after my husband was diagnosed with the same illness. You can read the article here: Lyme Disease – The Great Imitator
Given our current situation with COVID-19, I’ve wanted to learn more about pandemics and epidemics. What is the difference between the two and how does COVID-19 compare to Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, and Lyme disease. I came across this article: Parallel Pandemics: Covid-19 and Lyme Disease.
Here’s a few excerpts that I found helpful or fascinating:
EPIDEMIC VS. PANDEMIC:
When the amount of disease in a community rises above an expected level, it becomes epidemic in nature, with sudden increases in the number of cases over a larger geographic area than anticipated. Sometimes, an epidemic stays contained to a specific area—but when it extends into other countries and spreads across continents, it becomes a full-blown pandemic.
IS LYME DISEASE A PANDEMIC LIKE COVID-19?
Arguably, yes. (I am paraphrasing.)
HOW ARE PANDEMICS TREATED DIFFERENTLY?
When epidemics evolve into pandemics, the biggest difference is that more governments are involved in and more financial resources – public and private – dedicated to preventing the progression of the disease and, potentially, treating the people who have it. Unfortunately, this is where similarities between COVID-19 and Lyme disease diverge. Unlike for COVID-19, there is no concerted and comprehensive effort to stem the global increase in TBDs (Tick-borne diseases) or to treat patients suffering from them.
Although Lyme disease patients do not suffer the same infection and mortality rates as those with COVID-19, the long-term consequences of prior infection associated Lyme disease can encompass arthritis, carditis, and neurological complications, particularly cognitive deficit and neuropsychiatric disorders. Collectively, such debilitating and chronic symptomatology leads to diminished quality of life and the increased likelihood of depression and suicidality.
In my attempt to understand our reaction to COVID-19 in comparison to other diseases, I also came across this chart (https://ourworldindata.org/cancer):
Disclaimer, I’m not trying to minimize COVID-19, I’m just trying to understand how it compares to other diseases as far the world’s response, the government’s role, and our own personal steps taken to mitigate the spread. My only conclusion is, if we can come together like we are now to stop a novel coronavirus then imagine the differences we could make in slowing the spread of these other diseases.
By Jennifer Outcelt, Account Specialist
It’s been about 6 months since the Coronavirus hit our radar. Since then, our work lives (awe, let’s face it, our WHOLE lives) have been turned upside down. Our time is now spent pivoting our goals, engineering endless workarounds, avoiding people (while desperately wanting to be near them), and frankly, doing a ton of emotional parkour. So, I bet you’re probably nearing the end of some type of rope by now. While I can’t lobotomize the part of your brain that is FREAKING THE HECK OUT, I can help you control one of the few things left that you still have control over: Your immediate workspace. I’d like to introduce you to the concept of Knolling. I use this method to control my physical and digital workspaces and it helps me create a more Zen work environment. Yeah, you know you could use some Zen.
Ahh, the art of Knolling. No known knowledge of Knolling? No worries. Here’s a helpful link to explain who, what, when, where, how and why. Knolling helps you control your physical space by grouping, and aligning like objects (both tangible and digital) into clear workable units. It provides an aesthetically pleasing overview of everything you are about to work with. Think of it as laying things out to give you a bird’s eye view of all your materials, all at once. While the result of Knolling aids you in working through a project, the act of Knolling is quite peaceful and calming.
Chances are you already do this in some aspects of your life, though you may never have thought much about it. Ever try to assemble Ikea furniture? Maybe you first took all screws and laid them out to count if you had enough. Then, maybe you found all the bolts and made a pile of those too. Perhaps then, you gathered the washers and created an array next to the bolts. Did you group all the draw fronts together and nest all the drawer handles next to them? Congrats! You know how to Knoll! If you have ever employed this method to put together an Ikea dresser, then I bet it went a whole lot smoother than you expected, AND you are still happily married to your Ikea construction partner!
“But Jennifer, I’m not a professional Ikea furniture assembler! I work at a desk (that I didn’t assemble) on a computer with windows and apps! You said this would help me!” That’s right, I did. Way to listen! I use the knolling concepts on my desk and in my digital work as well. Each morning, before starting my day, I clean off my desk getting rid of anything I won’t be using that day. Then, I arrange all the things that are left at 90-degree angles. This keeps my physical space LEAN, clean, and mean(ingful). No visual clutter equals a Zen work mind.
When it comes to the digital world, you have to get a bit more creative. I’ve created a perpetual Knolling environment on my computer screen. It ebbs, it flows, but it maintains a Knoll like structure. For example; I always keep my email window in the top right corner of my desktop screen and I always keep my folder window in the bottom left corner on my desktop screen. These windows shall not be moved! If I open a new folder window, it goes parallel to the existing one. If I open a new email window, it goes parallel to the main one. I can’t begin to explain the stress involved with tracking down windows when you have 20 open at once. If I know that an email will always appear in the upper right corner of my screen, I can train my eyes to always go to that spot. If I always know where to look when accessing a certain type of window, then my digital landscape becomes very organized. I can move quickly from window to window and avoid the searching for that one lost browser window. Because I know it’s always in the bottom right corner on my screen with the rest of them.
So how do you feel about this Knolling process? If you’re unsure, just meditate on the extreme Zen like feelings of satisfaction you get when looking at these pictures. Don’t you wish you felt that way at your desk too?
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
The single greatest improvement to libraries in the last few years, is the addition of digital libraries. Digital libraries allow you to check out eBooks and audiobooks online, which enables you to easily read and return books. If this sounds like a hassle, it is not. It is much easier than you think – easier than actually driving down to the library, actually. Additionally, in many communities, libraries are still closed but through digital libraries, you can still access new content from the comfort of your own smartphone.
If you have a library card, you can easily access this resource through an app called Libby. (Note: some libraries don’t require library cards, you can learn more about that at this link). Through Libby, you can download eBooks and audiobooks to your smartphone for free. It works a lot like a regular library – with only a certain number of copies available, and a due date when the content will expire. For popular titles that are currently checked out, you can place a hold on the book, just like the in-person library. I recommend sorting by available books, and be sure to set your search preference to eBooks or audiobooks. You can also sort by genre, search by author or scan through Librarian recommendation. Whether you’re looking for a book on leadership, teamwork, a biography, or even Harry Potter, I am confident there is something for everyone at the library… even digitally.
By Andrew Kupperman, RISQ Consulting Employer Services and Workforce Technology Consultant, SHRM-CP
I know we’re past Valentine’s Day, but have you ever heard someone say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”? If you have, I’m curious as to what your reaction was. Did you laugh in their face? Did you give them a look of confusion to signal you had no idea what they meant by that? Or did you suddenly realize every job you’ve ever worked, you’ve absolutely hated?
There are many aspects that go into liking a job; who you work with, the relationship with the person supervising you, the mission of the organization you’re working for, compensation and benefits. All of these are important factors that will ultimately help you decide if you want to continue working at a specific job. But, what about the work you’re actually doing? Where does that rank in terms of importance, and how do you figure out if what you’re doing is something you actually love to do?
From an employer aspect, it is important that the people who work for you have some semblance of liking what they do. In terms of why employees leave jobs, doing what you love, doesn’t rank as high as some of the other factors. However, try to imagine your workplace where everyone detests doing what they do? As an employer, do you think you would still enjoy leading this kind of team? Now I know what you may be thinking: the work we do at our organization isn’t exactly exciting, so how do we go about getting our employees jazzed about doing what they do on a daily basis?
This brings me to my first point – finding meaning in what you do. Here at RISQ Consulting, the majority of our business is related to Insurance, which is probably one of the most publicly disliked, non-alluring types of business you can think of. So how do we, as workers within the insurance industry, go about finding value doing the day-to-day work? One of the reasons why insurance is so widely loathed is because it’s very complicated. It’s a product you pay for, that you might not ever use, and when you do actually need to use it, you might need to jump through 1,000 fiery hoops in order for it to successfully meet your needs.
At RISQ, we strive to take the pain of insurance away from our clients, whenever they are interacting or using the insurance products we sell. And many of us can recall the specific moments where we’ve been able to help our clients in times of the most dire needs and situations. One thing we like to do is talk about these moments often, because they are the moments where we find the most meaning for our day-to-day efforts, and we don’t ever want to lose sight of that. I like to think of having that meaning or value in what you do as the base for being able to love what you do. But you need to talk about these experiences with others to help reinforce them.
But there are other things involved in being able to build that job that you love – mainly the actual tasks you do on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t always easy to determine. In my schooling days, I was brought up to become a well-rounded individual, and so was taught many different subjects in which I felt I needed to excel. Some of these subjects I didn’t like, others I did, and as I went through the different levels of school, I found that sometimes the subjects I liked changed in comparison to lower levels of education. Looking back on why this happened, I think at certain ages I got a certain kind of energy by doing different types or work or learning about certain subjects. I felt this energy when I was doing something and I had no real sense of time when I was doing that task. I also felt energized after completing that task as opposed to feeling drained. This energy ultimately factored into the subjects I liked, and exceled in at different points in my youth.
I’ve discovered the same thing happens at work. I get energy from doing certain tasks versus others that can drain me. Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize this because, going back to my youth, I was brought up to try to excel at everything. But I wonder sometimes if I was able to focus in on the things that give me the most energy, would I get closer to that magical place of loving what I do? I think with any job, there are always going to be some things that don’t give you this energy, and you ultimately don’t like doing. But just imagine, if you could work on increasing the number of tasks that do give you that energy, maybe, just maybe, you could start liking or even loving what you do.
So now that we have the foundation of finding meaning and value in what you do, and identifying more tasks that give you that sense of energy, it’s important to be able to express these things with your direct supervisor. Remember when I said there are always going to be things that don’t give you that sense of energy? Well, it’s likely that these tasks still need to be done. But because these tasks can drain you, it can lead to inefficiencies, errors, complacency, and general unproductiveness, which isn’t good for you or the organization you work for. So be open about this topic with yourself, as well as your supervisor. There are only positive things that can come out of being open about your strengths as a worker. A competent supervisor would recognize the benefit to you being more productive, happy, and in love with what you’re doing, and at the very least offer a compromise to get you doing more things that give you energy and make you more productive.
So I hope I’ve laid the groundwork for getting to love what you do – meaning in what you do, and finding those things that give you that special energy. Just remember the skills you’ll need to be successful are being open and honest with yourself first, and then being able to communicate these things with your supervisor and potentially other co-worker
By Bailey Penrose, Employer Services Account Manager
I read a short article years ago about the concept of ‘liminal space’. ‘Liminal’ is translated from its Latin root as ‘threshold’, and in this concept refers to a beginning or ending marked by traveling through a physical space. When you pass through a door, enter an airport/bus depot/train station, or ride an elevator, you are in a liminal space – transitioning from point A to point B, cycling from beginning to ending (or vice versa).
I remember the article, and the concept, because the writer made a joke about stepping through a door to enter a room and completely forgetting why they had gone into the room in the first place. Moving from one room to the next, stepping through the liminal space of the doorway, their task had been completely knocked out of their head. They exited one room expecting one thing and entered a new room expecting something completely different, and it took them a second to remember what they had initially wanted. This happens to me all of the time and I loved the idea that maybe the issue was the doorway rather than my faulty short-term memory.
Liminal space is a theory that appears in architecture, anthropology, art, and psychology. The human brain is wired to transition from one thing to another; it’s not surprising that this concept crops up in our daily lives.
The thing about transition, though, is you’re not meant to linger there. You’re supposed to transition from point A to point B, not get stuck at point somewhere between the two. How many books or movies have played on the idea of being stuck in an airport, a hotel, or a long hallway, as a way to unsettle the audience or show that the characters are trapped somehow?
The liminal space concept certainly crops up now too. In the age of COVID-19, it’s normal to feel like life has been paused. Due to the situation, we’re stuck in a transitional space. It’s important, but it’s not fun and it can be very frustrating.
Thinking about the concept of liminal space has helped me come to grips with some of my own frustrations. If you’re interested, this article may make for an interesting read and give some context for why it feels like we’re stuck at times.
Understanding How Liminal Space is Different from Other Places by Julia Thomas:
By Tonya Mott, Vice President of Operations
I don’t know about all of you but life got serious real quick.
Looking back about a month ago I’ll never forget my coworker asking me, “Do you really think we’ll have to close the office”. I said, “No way, but we’re prepared if it comes to that”. Now, here we are, the entire team working remote.
When our office went remote on March 23rd the majority of us had already experienced a remote work environment. Operationally, it was like turning on a light switch with a few minor adjustments. What I wasn’t prepared for was the reason this was happening. Between juggling work, family, and trying to keep up with the fast moving train that is Covid-19, I was overwhelmed. One of the first things I did was find resources that would help us through these strange times. Okay, if I’m being honest one of the first things I did was watch, The Tiger King. Once that well dried up, I had to find something else to fill the void. Here’s what I found-
Check out Frank James’ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxc0c4cOfFmSUnzX9uY7Jww/videos
He does comedy sketches based on personality types.
(If you don’t know your personality type you can take a free test here: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test)
The Most soothingly effective self-care activity for your Myers-Briggs Type, Found:
I’m an INFJ and the suggested self-care activity is journaling. Not something I’m used to doing but then again neither is social distancing so I’ll probably give it a try.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
Are there still any news junkies out there? In light of recent events, I know plenty of folks who say they can’t read the anxiety-inducing news. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had friends and acquaintances who refused to read the news because of constant barrage of articles on war, politics, and crime. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, but I love to read the news. I always have.
I should clarify, I do not like to read the news because I enjoy observing the calamity. I am often overwhelmed with the conflicts occurring, and I do not revel in tragedy. If you’re familiar with the Kolbe Index, I score high on the Fact-Finder index, which means my reaction to nearly any question is often, “I need more information.” Good or bad news in the world, being informed is a critical piece to maintaining society and holding local and national leaders accountable.
I’ve recently discovered an app that has made this commitment to news reading easier and more enjoyable. Knewz is a news aggregator that brings together articles from a variety of sources, organized by topic. If you want to read articles about the Race for the White House, or Coronavirus, or the Royals, you can sort through that grouping of articles to read all about that specific topic. On a personal note, I strongly prefer the iPhone app to the desktop experience. The iPhone app is easy to navigate and provides a streamlined view, but I find the desktop experience to be overwhelming.
In my experience with Knewz, I’ve found that the articles are delivered from different sources, so it is easier to see all the related articles, instead of switching between tabs to look at four different news sites. This app has helped me in my goal to remain informed. Regardless, it is always important to think critically about the information presented in news articles, and do additional research when necessary.
By Aimee Johnson, RISQ Consulting Account Executive
Working in employee benefits during a pandemic equates to clients needing more than ever. This is a great thing as it presents a tremendous opportunity to show our worth – and we are worth it (in my not so humble opinion).
The problem here, is that my 11-month old has no idea there is a pandemic occurring and she still wants your attention, needs to eat, nap, and have her diaper changed. Go figure. She obviously didn’t get the memo that Mom and Dad still have to work and can’t play all day.
I, by no means, have it the worst or even bad. I am thankful to have a job that allows me to continue working and helping others during this time. We are all adjusting to the new way of life.
Chloe I. Cooney articulates what I, and I imagine, many other parents are feeling right now. I do not have any school age children, but I can still relate to her and her husband’s situation. I hope you, too, can find solace in knowing you are not alone and it’s OK if you are not OK right now. We are in this together and we will persevere.
Here’s to that extra glass of wine, extra push on the treadmill, “not hearing” that “Mom” or “Dad”, or binge watching your favorite show. Whatever it takes to take the edge off and feel OK during these unprecedented times.
I, for one, am thankful I was able to witness my daughter crawl. I may have otherwise missed this monumental milestone in her life if things had been “normal”. Try to find the silver lining and be thankful for our health, family, love, and ability.
Link to Article: https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/04/10/parenting-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-chloe-i-cooney?utm_medium=social&utm_term=nprnews&utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=facebook.com&fbclid=IwAR3jL71nVA_SkaNNgiQS2I1snPiG5Xql2ghb8S_Nv8d1-uoVoqGA9k2tsC0