organ donation

The Gift of Life – Organ Donation

In late April 2017, an amazing and compassionate woman approached the Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL and offered to donate one of her kidneys to a total stranger. This woman’s generosity started the first-ever ‘transplant chain’ at Memorial that ultimately involved eight patients and provided kidneys to four people. This is the story of Misty Shaw, 49, of Springfield.

On September 19th, Misty donated her kidney to a woman who now has the chance for a longer life and can end the rigorous process of dialysis she had undergone the previous 2 ½ years. The husband of the woman who received Misty’s kidney then donated one of his to a … Read More

Pet story with a happy ending

A Pet Story with a Happy Ending

You have to love a pet story with a happy ending, and I heard this one last week at an event. The story was about a woman who could no longer remain in her own home because of declining health and the onset of dementia. Her four children were aware of this situation and decided her safety and well-being would be assured if she moved to an assisted living facility. This was NOT an easy decision for the grown children, but all of them lived a considerable distance from their mother and were unable to become full-time caregivers.

Everything from downsizing her possessions to selecting an assisted living facility for their mother was handled with love and respect. The one decision causing all of them distress dealt with their mother’s little dog who had been a constant and loyal companion. After much deliberation, they decided … Read More

Died and nobody noticed

She Died and Nobody Noticed

She died and nobody noticed–can that be true? Every once in a while, I receive an article too bizarre to believe, so when my cousin emailed me the story titled ‘Woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years’, I knew I had to research this before writing about it. And yes, it’s true – she died and nobody noticed for six years – I found the live broadcast on St. Louis’ FOX2now.

After viewing the telecast, my first thoughts were:

  • Why had neither family nor friends nor her employer reached out to her when she no longer ‘showed up’?
  • With all of our technology including cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc., how is it someone dies and no one notices for SIX years?

I read with interest how this 40-year-old traveled extensively for her job and therefore wasn’t … Read More

life insurance awareness

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and is the perfect time to examine your life insurance needs and beneficiary designations. The following list, from the Social Media section of the website, contains some very interesting statistics:

  • 1 in 5 people with life insurance say they do not have enough coverage.
  • 1 in 3 people purchased or attempted to purchase life insurance online.
  • Approximately 50 million households recognize they need more life insurance.
  • The top three reasons Americans give for ‘owning life insurance’ in 2018 are:
    1. 91% – cover burial and final expenses
    2. 66% – help replace lost wages/income of a wage earner
    3. 63% – transfer wealth or leave an inheritance.

As a former financial advisor, I’m always interested in life insurance awareness and the …

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Lost Memories

Having a conversation with an elderly loved one about their life can be a rewarding experience for both the storyteller and the listener. I consider myself very fortunate to spend time with my 91-year-old mother who still drives, loves to travel, and frequently participates in a water aerobics class. After living in Texas for 27 years, I returned to central Illinois and embarked on a personal mission to learn more about my mother’s life, the places visited, the people met, and the memories made.

One of my favorite stories is about a picture of her she gave my father when they were dating, but …Read More

Legacy Planning

Legacy Planning! What is it? Why is it important?

The words ‘Legacy Planning’ were in the title of a seminar I recently attended, and because the title of my book is ‘Lifetime Legacy Planner’, I eagerly signed up. The seminar was informative and generated lots of questions from the audience, but I felt the topic covered Estate Planning and not Legacy Planning. Thus, I want to share what I feel differentiates these two subjects, and why Strategic Hourglass Solutions is focused on Legacy Planning.

The term, Legacy Planning, is increasingly being used to replace or supplement estate planning. In its basic meaning, a ‘legacy’ is a gift of money or other personal property that’s granted by the terms of … Read More

having a will

The Importance of Having a Will

In last week’s article, we discussed the importance of having a will. I shared survey statistics on who has a will. As expected, a person 50 or older is more likely to have a will than a younger person who believes they are going to live until their 80s or 90s. For this younger age group, the belief is having a will isn’t necessary until much later in life. And besides, creating a will is just not one of those fun activities you joyfully add to your to-do list.

I personally experienced how important having a will is regardless of your age. My nephew, Shayne, died in a house fire at the age of 32 and almost everything in his house was either destroyed by the fire or covered in soot. Not only were we dealing with the grief of losing Shayne, but also the daunting … Read More

make a will

August is National Make-a-Will Month

Most people know they should make a will, but many don’t know what a will is and how it works. A will, sometimes called a “last will and testament,” is a document which states your final wishes. A county court examines your will after your death to ensure your final wishes are carried out.

According to a January 2017 survey by, only 42% of U.S. adults have a will or estate planning documents. When broken down by age, 81% of the 72 and older group have these important documents. 60% in the 53 to 71-year-old age group, 36% for the Generation X group (ages 37 to 52), and only 22% of millennials (ages 18-36) have a will or estate planning documents. The significant … Read More

farm animals

From Farm Animals to Pets

Although I grew up on a farm and was surrounded by farm animals, I was not particularly attached to any of them as pets. It was a known fact that sooner or later, the steer you showed in 4-H would likely end up on the dinner table as hamburger or steak. The dogs were more for alerting us when the ‘cows are out’, which meant the cows had gotten out of their pasture and were on the road. Those three words would immediately cause everything to come to a halt in order to round up and secure them back in the fenced pasture since they presented a hazard to drivers. The cattle are still my favorite of the farm animals, and in a future article, I’ll share the story of running inside a burning barn in … Read More

Organizing your personal property

Organizing Your Personal Property – Let’s Get Started

Organizing your personal property is the third article in our series on personal property and your stuff. As we go through life, we accumulate a lot of stuff. Some items make our lives easier and more enjoyable, and other things we hang on to for nostalgic reasons. After years of accumulation, there comes a time in every person’s life when they need to decide what to do with all their possessions.

For many individuals, these decisions are forced upon us or our loved ones due to a major life change such as moving, downsizing, disability or death. Planning ahead prevents family conflict and … Read More

don't want your stuff

Your kids still don’t want your stuff! Some ideas for you!

They still don’t want your stuff. Last week’s article addressed the topic of personal property or your stuff, and the top 10 things kids don’t want to inherit from their parents or relatives. Fine china is at the top of the list with sterling silver flatware and crystal glasses running a close 2nd.

The audience recommended donating to an organization, having a garage sale, opening an account for selling online, or my favorite, giving to the person you want to have it knowing it is now theirs to do as they please. I recently did this with my diamond wedding rings even though I would still occasionally wear them. For me, it was so much fun telling my niece the humorous story of my wedding … Read More

kids don't want your stuff

Your kids don’t want your stuff! Can that be true?

It’s true – your kids don’t want your stuff. The conversation on personal property or stuff is a universal topic. I design my speaking engagements for the intended audience and recently spoke to a large group of older, retired adults still living in their own homes. I shared the research on the top 10 things kids DON’T want to inherit from their parents or relatives. The top 10 are:

  1. Fine china and fancy porcelain dinnerware
  2. Sterling silver flatware and crystal wine glasses
  3. Linens
  4. Persian rugs
  5. Dark, heavy antique furniture
  6. Anything silver-plated that must be polished
  7. Figurines and collector plates
  8. Trunks, sewing machines and film projectors
  9. Paper items such as photos, greeting cards, postcards
  10. Books

I briefly introduced myself and explained my reasons for starting Strategic Hourglass Solutions and then asked my audience how many owned #1 – the fine china. More than 50% raised … Read More

death, dying and funerals

There can be humor involved when talking about death, dying and funerals!

Death, dying and funerals are a big part of Legacy Planning. Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to educate others on the importance of starting conversations about not only dying, but also moving, downsizing and disability. Moving can mean different things to different people. Maybe it’s a move to a warmer climate after retiring, or a single story home to accommodate a now required walker or wheelchair. A move could also involve downsizing because with the kids grown and … Read More

Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several senior living facilities about Legacy Planning. My actual presentations can vary because they are designed for the attendees.

At one senior living facility, the majority of the audience was individuals who lived there. They were a delightful group of seniors who willingly shared their stories about downsizing, moving, and distributing their possessions in order to accommodate their smaller living spaces. In those two hours, the stories ranged from the cost of assisted living to caring for pets to funeral arrangements. One gentleman talked about his dog and the joy of being able to have his pet with him at this particular … Read More

Identity Theft

Identity Theft Epidemic

Identity theft has become a nationwide epidemic. According to AARP, 15 million people were victimized by identity theft in 2016, alone.

I’m reluctantly becoming an expert in identity theft. In my previous corporate careers, I was responsible for the safekeeping of other’s personal information, especially social security numbers. I was always meticulous and shredded any documentation containing personal information. Personally, I created my own ‘organize and shred’ process to coincide with filing my taxes. Imagine my surprise …

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