Simplifying the Transition to a New Home for Seniors

Decluttering & Downsizing

Have all of your children left the family home?

Are healthcare issues preventing you from keeping up your house and yard?

Do you want to spend more time relaxing?

Do you require some care as you age?

Has your spouse passed away?

If so, it might be time to downsize from your existing home to your next home.

Here are some tried and true tips to make this process smoother and less painful.

Craft LifeStyle Management has been helping clients transition from one home to another for over 30 years.

Please let us know how we can help you.

Contact Us Link from CLM page. 

Where is Your Next Home?

In a perfect world, you know where you are moving to and answers to these questions are a great way to begin downsizing and decluttering:

  • What is the floor plan?
  • How much space will you have?  
  • How many closets? What size?
  • What is the square footage of the living space and the bedroom?
  • Is there a garage? Are there shelves in it?
  • Are there rules for what items you can bring into your next home?
  • Will your furniture fit the living space? Measure everything with a tape measure. Avoid eyeballing and estimating.
  • Does your furniture fit through the doorways?
  • Is the kitchen much smaller? How many cabinets are there and how many drawers?

Sentimental Items

Try to appreciate the sentimental value of items as you sort. For example, fondly recall the memories of your wedding dress and/or your military uniform. Ask yourself if you can release these items now.

Can you take a photo of them as a keepsake memory? If so, upload photos, videos and irreplaceable mementos to a hard drive or cloud storage.

Seriously ask yourself what your children will do with these sentimental items after you are gone? Keep in mind what is sentimental to you may not be to them.

It’s okay to be disappointed if they do not want your “treasures.”  However, try not to let this disappointment affect your relationship with them, adding stress to an already challenging time.

HINT: The more sentimental an item is to you, the higher value you will place on it.


Here’s an idea that makes sorting and downsizing less painful.

Take a video or photo of each room in your home before you start. This way you have a record of everything, especially anything you have a tough time releasing.

Sorting takes time. It can take countless hours to thoughtfully go through items you’ve been accumulating for decades.

Pace yourself.

Start early.

Enlist help, if needed. Keep in mind family will often suggest ‘you don’t need this’ or ‘throw that in the trash.’

HINT: Do not ask the family or friends whom you know will give their thoughts before you have your own moment to decide.

Know what you value and stand your ground. If you truly treasure something, keep it.

By room, place items one-by-one into one of five piles:

1. Keep-take to my next home. A good rule of thumb is one of each item. This rule is especially helpful when sorting a kitchen. For instance, one water pitcher, one cake knife and server, one corkscrew, etc.

HINT: Craft LifeStyle Management places emphasis on the “Keep.” This will be opposite of many helpers, including family.

We believe focusing on the Keep will help you quickly see what’s important to you-what you value.

HINT: Bulk items like laundry detergent and shampoo may no longer be a good fit for your smaller, downsized space.

2. Donate to one of many local charities happy to pick up your items. Or, ask family members if they need an extra bedroom set or kitchen appliance. Again, try not to be upset if they are not interested in your ‘discards.’

Do you have a collection of, for example, musical instruments or books? Find an organization that will make good use of these items. It makes the releasing less painful knowing your items will be deeply appreciated.

HINT: Over time, Craft LifeStyle Management has developed many creative ways to release to organizations. Let us share those with you.

3. Trash. Craft LifeStyle Management can recommend ways to downsize and prepare for a move without the obvious driveway dumpster.

4. Sell. Some items, including vintage clothing, might be worthy of selling online. Also consider selling items at a local consignment or antique shop.

HINT: We suggest “testing the market.” If your children, extended family, friends and neighbors are not interested in the items you are not taking to your next home, then it’s not likely they are worth the time it takes to try to sell them. Instead, donate or discard the items.

5. Maybe. If the “Maybe” pile is almost everything, then it is time to enlist professionals to help you walk through this challenging journey. Finding out “why” you are not releasing items will help you get going again.

Comfortable Peace

Downsizing involves making tough decisions. Each item goes into one of these five piles.

The goal is to touch each item only once as you place it into one of these categories and then release it.

If you can see the things you want right in front of you and feel at peace, then you are on the right track.

Craft LifeStyle Management likes to call it “comfortable peace.”

If, instead, you are anxious or feeling upset, it is time to ask for a little help. Craft LifeStyle Management is glad to work through this process with you.

HINT: Plan to take breaks. Downsizing can be emotionally and physically overwhelming. If your ‘helpers’ are planning to show up early and stay late, this may not be the most productive plan for you. Once we are tired, we can’t make clear choices. You don’t want to regret a release because ‘you couldn’t think straight any longer that day.’

Craft LifeStyle Management can help guide you during this process and ensure you aren’t throwing away or donating valuables and that you are at peace with all of your transitioning decisions.

Paper & Storage Units

You may have storage tubs or file cabinets in your home full of paper. Paper like utility bills, bank statements and/or tax filings from decades ago.

You don’t need to move all of this to your next home.

Before you shred everything, reach out to an accountant or financial advisor and ask how long you are required to keep certain documents.

Keep those and shred all others.

HINT: Today most statements can be found online, making the accumulation of paper unnecessary.

If you have “treasures” in a storage unit. Go through these items as you would the possessions in your home. Keep, Donate, Trash or Sell.

How Can We Help You?

Transitioning to your next home requires decluttering and downsizing.

Yes, it can be difficult. It is also exciting.

Let us know how we can help you as you prepare for this transition.

Contact Us Link from CLM page. 

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

© October 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.
Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Do You Know Your Spouse?

$5 Answers for You

Let’s just say you’ve been married for more than a decade. Maybe 26 years.

You profess your greatest strength as a married couple is “communication.”

You’ve weathered and remained intact through multiple life challenges, including job changes, relocations and medical issues.

Most often you will claim your spouse as your “best friend.”

Then the world abruptly changes in early 2020 and you’re spending 24-hours a day, seven days a week for months on end with this person.

Are your claims and proclamations the same? How well do you really know the person you are living with? Can you stand being around one another all the time?

Do you know how they’d answer questions like this?

  • Who or what challenges you?
  • Would you ever set up a nanny cam to spy on someone watching your kids?
  • What is the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?
  • Who’s someone you’d like to trade places with for a day?
  • How long do you think you’ll live?
  • Has anyone, or anything specific, ever made you feel inferior, if so what?
  • What opportunity do you wish you would have taken?

It’s downright alarming how one can “know” someone for decades and not really know with certainty how they’d answers questions like these.

Priceless Clearance Book

I stopped at a bookstore in early 2020 and without much thought bought this $5 clearance book. I randomly flipped through the pages thinking this could be fun answering some of these questions and headed to the cash register.

Instead, this $5 book has proven priceless to our marriage.

It’s offered me rich, deep insight into a man I’ve known for over 30 years.

Wednesday Nights

When I introduced the book to Ken, I framed it as a COVID Wednesday night activity. Sort of like a “date night”-something we always professed to do but never seemed to get around to actually doing.

Admittedly, we were both a bit tepid when we started this exercise. Each Wednesday, we’d take turns randomly choosing a number between 1-2000 and start asking each other the questions on the two pages, dating the pages and recording our responses in writing.

Some weeks we’d sit on the back porch after work completing this exercise, others on the sofa. As time went on, answers seemed more thoughtful and insightful and the awkwardness lessened. And, I, in particular, looked forward to seeing what questions would be asked and how we’d each respond.


Here’s a few things I’ve discovered.

  • I cheat. Ken takes longer to answer the questions than I do. I give top-of-mind answers knowing that if the same question was asked on another day, my answer could quite likely be different. But, at that moment in time, this is my response. So, while he’s pondering and reflecting, I skip ahead and answer the questions he’s supposed to ask me when I’m done asking him. I need to refrain from turning everything into “cycle time management.” Yup. This exercise isn’t only about partner-discovery but also self-discovery.
  • Ken likes chocolate. One can imagine with 2000 questions that there’d be some repetitive answers throughout the book. However, he answers a lot of questions with “chocolate.” For instance, “What food describes your personality?” Ken’s response is chocolate. Mine is watermelon. Or, “If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?” Ken’s response was chocolate. Mine was a Grammy’s Award Show producer. Ken admittedly and consistently likes chocolate. This is not new learning for me but it’s nice to see he’s consistent.
  • Memories are resurrected. Many of the questions uncover buried childhood activities or memories. Listening to one another share these stories has been enlightening and fun. Stories and answers offer a lot of insight into the way one another responds to events and issues today.  We grew up in very different environments; Ken in Louisville, Kentucky in a family of four and me on a North Dakota diversified farm in a family of 11. Imagine the stories being shared through these questions we may have never thought to ask one another.
  • People have many layers. In the business world peeling back the multiple layers of an onion to get to the core is used as an example of how to understand a problem. This same principle applies, only it’s not a problem, it’s a person. What this exercise has clearly proven is that there is a lot of joy in going beyond the superficial and peeling back the layers and getting to know the core of the person you love, perhaps the longest.
  • Men also like sharing deeply. The stereotype about men being emotionally closed off and too manly to answer questions like those in this book is repeatedly proven wrong. Ken could have very easily stopped this weekly activity. He could have used sarcasm and humor to answer the questions, not giving it serious attention. He didn’t. About the third week in, I got it. He actually enjoyed sharing, recalling and being listened to. It doesn’t make him less of a man. It makes him more of a human and more known to me.

Wednesday nights now are sacred. We purposely avoid scheduling other activities at this time and do our best to avoid distractions like phones, the Internet and TV. The book is an adjunct to the date-one week planned by Ken, the other by me.

It’s taken us quite a while to reach this point in our marriage.

Good Choices & Happiness

But when question #1212 was asked: Do you think happiness is a choice? Ken responded, “Yes” on June 3, 2020 and I, “Certainly. Work at making good choices.”

Buying 2000 Questions About Me was a wonderful choice leading to much discovery and happiness in our marriage in 2020.

September 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

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What Happens to Special Needs Adults When Parents Die?

Do you know a special needs adult living with elderly parents? Is this person your brother or sister? If so, has your family openly and frequently discussed plans for the special needs adult who may outlive Mom and Dad, and maybe you?

 If so, your family is ahead of most.


  • Special needs is a term used to describe those who require extra support because of a medical, emotional, behavioral or learning disability or impairment.
  • The number of adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) is projected to nearly double from 641,860 in 2000 to 1.2 million by 2030 1/
  • As of 2006, more than 716,00 adults with developmental disabilities were living with caregivers over the age of 60 in the United States.
  • Whether it’s medical, financial understanding or living arrangements, Craft LifeStyle Management can help guide families with special needs adults, especially those living with aging parents or those whose parents have deceased. We have years of experience helping families get the resources needed during this transition.

Living with You

You love your sibling with disabilities. In fact, the plan is that he or she will live with you after Mom and Dad die. Have you considered:

  • Has your disabled sibling been to your home many times so that he or she is familiar with the surroundings, or do you live in another geographical location?
  • How your existing family routine will be altered as you fit in the tasks and responsibilities of care for your disabled sibling? Are you fully aware of what Mom and Dad have been doing all these years to care for your brother or sister? What was their routine? Was it completely transparent and now understood by you?
  • What happens to your sibling if you become ill, disabled or lose your life?
  • How will care be provided and paid for?
  • Who will attend medical appointments and manage the financial and legal aspects of care?

Again, Craft LifeStyle Management can assist you in fully understanding the complexities of what’s involved in caring for your loved one with special needs.

In the meantime, set up a time as soon as possible to talk to your parents so that you are not left without critical information after a crisis.

The smallest details matter while caring for those with special needs.

This link provides an excellent list of questions and conversations so that you and your family are prepared for the well-being of your sister or brother. Record these conversations on paper or a computer file. Let other loved ones know where this information is since you may not be the only one that needs to access it.

Loving Choice

Everyone needs to be realistic about caring for your loved one with special needs. As parents age, they may have ongoing health challenges making it difficult to consistently care for your special needs brother or sister.

Perhaps, now, the most loving thing your family can do is find a group, assisted living or nursing home for your brother or sister.

If this is the decision, please consider transitioning your special needs sibling to this home before a parent dies. It will help ease the transition to a new home environment, which makes for one less loss after death.

Legal Protections & Financial Implications

Craft LifeStyle Management ensures you have formal legal documents and protection in place for caring for your brother or sister. We help you understand the financial implications of this care.

We surround ourselves with highly qualified and trained professionals who specialize in special needs life-care planning.

We will sit side-by-side with you while subjects like this are discussed with you:

  • Special Needs or Supplemental Needs Trusts
  • Pour-Over Will
  • Last-to-Die Life Insurance Policies
  • Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property
  • Power of Attorney for Advocacy
  • Medicaid Gifting Powers
  • Guardianship Documents
  • Letter of Intent or Direction

Please contact Craft LifeStyle Management for assistance with making informed decisions regarding the special needs adults in your life.

1. Heller T. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities growing old: an overview. Impact. 2010;23(1).

More Information

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

© September 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.

Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to the end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Home Modifications to Age in Place

More seniors are choosing to age in place than ever before. This is partly due to long-term care costs. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation has been privileged to have a more active lifestyle than generations before them, allowing greater health in older years.

Technology and availability of more services, like home care, are also making it easier for older adults to independently remain in their own homes.


Home modification means materially changing a senior’s home to make it easier for them to safely move around. It also involves removing potential hazards to support independent living.

Falls, often resulting in broken bones, are the #1 reason seniors lose their mobility, thus their independence.

To avoid this, home modifications, supporting aging in place, typically address three areas.

• Safety

• Accessibility

• Convenience

Help is Available

Craft Lifestyle Management and Craft Homes, supported by a team of professionals like occupational therapists, have years of experience with home modifications.

We can assist you, or a family member, in creating a safe space for those choosing to age in place.

We will walk through the home with you and make suggested modifications.

We’ll also introduce you to products and services that will make you and your loved ones feel safer in the home while aging in place.

Our Craft Homes team can make the physical upgrades on your schedule and within your budget.

BONUS: Peace of Mind-Family members who cannot be with their aging loved ones all the time can have peace of mind knowing these modifications will create a safer place for their aging family member.

Basic Modifications

You Can Do

Clear Excess In Rooms

Remember, falling is the #1 reason seniors lose their independence.

Ensure each room, including the front door entryway, has plenty of space to maneuver around, especially if your loved one relies on a mobility aid like a cane, walker or wheelchair.

Remove unnecessary furniture. Clear pathways and hallways. Leave plenty of space to move around without bumping into anything.

Remove or Fix Trip Hazards

Rugs beautify space; however, they often are trip hazards. Remove area and other floor rugs or secure them to the floor to avoid slips and falls.

Are there extension cords running across floors? Find another way. Cords are definite trip hazards.

Level uneven areas of flooring throughout the home. Minimize height differences between flooring types to avoid tripping hazards. NOTE:1/8” or more is a trip hazard.

Assess Lighting

Not enough light can increase tripping, thus falls. Too much light creates glare. Make sure the home is well lit, always.

By age 75, most people require twice as much light as the normal recommended standard, and nearly four times as much as a 20-year-old, to see satisfactorily (Dementia Services Development Center – The Importance of Lighting).

Consider putting nightlights in hallways and in bathrooms. Use table or floor lamps in sitting areas and put adhesive countertop lights under cabinets.

NOTE: Changing light bulbs is often risky for seniors. To avoid having to change lights frequently, switch all lights to LED bulbs. Most are rated up to 50,000 hours.  

Raise the Toilet Seat

Low toilet seats are a major hazard for falls. Install a raised toilet seat with handles and/or grab bars next to the toilet.

Change the Shower Head

Install a handheld shower head. These are easier to use while seated or while holding on to a grab bar.

NOTE: Craft Homes can help you install grab bars and other safety equipment and tools to avoid slips and falls.  If someone in your family does the installation, for your safety, make sure the grab bar holds up to 250 pounds or more and that it is installed by screwing it into wall studs, not just the sheetrock.

Replace Door Knobs

Arthritis or other conditions that limit motion make using round doorknobs challenging. Replace these with lever-style ones, which are much easier to grip since they don’t require a twisting motion.

More Involved Modifications

Contact Craft LifeStyle Management for an In-Home Assessment

Remember any modification that ensures safety and helps you or your loved one live independently for as long as possible is well worth considering.

Craft LifeStyle Management will work with your time schedule and budget. We will schedule a convenient in-home assessment and begin any modification work when you are ready.

Contact Us.

Widen Doorways

Doorways must be at least 32” wide for a wheelchair to move easily through it but 36” wide to accommodate a turn, like from a hallway into a room.

In addition to the actual widening construction, sometimes light switches and electric wires must be moved.

Pocket doors may be recommended instead. Using pocket doors has two advantages: doors are no longer in the way when open and wheelchairs don’t get caught on hinges.

NOTE: Sometimes just flipping a door to open to the other side is all that’s needed. Every option to create accessibility and contain cost will be explored with you.

Adjust Kitchen Countertops

Regular countertops stand about 34 inches off the floor. Adjusting countertops to 30 inches makes it easier for someone in a wheelchair or scooter to enjoy daily activities like cooking.

Cabinetry with pull out drawers is a real bonus for those wanting to enjoy working in their kitchen longer.

NOTE: Simply lowering a microwave makes a huge difference for independence.

Install Slip-Resistant Flooring

Choose flooring that is soft so bones are less likely to be broken if a fall happens. Also consider installing flooring that is easy to clean and stays clean.

While hard surfaces like wood and stone floors are easier to clean and more sanitary, they have less traction and are just that-hard. Carpet is softer and warmer and provides more cushion if there’s a fall. Yet carpet is more challenging for mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs.

Engineered vinyl planks may be an ideal option for those wanting a hard surface. They are both easy to clean and hold up well to liquid spills. This flooring looks and feels like hardwood floors. They also have texture so they’re less slippery than real hardwood floors.

NOTE: If you don’t want to replace bathroom tile that’s in great shape, buy ADA approved anti-slip coating and roll it on with a paint roller.

Build a Wheelchair Ramp

If the home is not zero entry, meaning it has zero steps and a minimal threshold, you may need to have a wheelchair ramp built and installed.

The most obvious use of the ramp is for wheelchair accessibility but ramps also eliminate the need to navigate steps, which is often difficult for those with balance issues.

If the home is zero entry, ensure there is a covered entryway to protect you from snow and rain. Regularly have your drainage systems checked. Don’t allow rain to puddle or ice to form by the entryway.

Change Faucets

Replace twist faucet handles with levers. Or, install touchless faucets on the kitchen and bathroom sinks for those with arthritis or other grip issues.

Install anti-scald faucets in the bathtub or shower. These prevent sudden bursts of hot water when cold water is diverted due to a toilet being flushed or the washing machine being filled.

NOTE: A simpler way to avoid scalding is to lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees or less. 

Replace the Bathtub

A walk-in shower provides much easier and a safer entry than a bathtub. It makes showering independently possible.

If space or budget don’t allow for a walk-in shower, definitely have a safety bar added to the tub and install safety strips.

You can also purchase a bathtub transfer bench. or use a bathtub chair. Transfer benches are safe and affordable and highly recommended.

A walk-in or siting tub option is also available, though much more costly. These serve as a stand-up or sit-down shower as well as a deep soaking tub.

Move the Bedroom

The bedroom should be on the main floor of the house.

Craft Homes can definitely help you redesign your space to make this happen.

Contact Us.

NOTE: Alternatively, you may want to install a chair lift or elevator.

More Information

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

© August 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.

Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to the end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Please contact Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.

Greg Craft founded Craft Homes in 1980. Since then, he’s been involved in home building, redesign and modification.

Contact Craft Homes at PHONE: 402.578.5911 or or

Mary Kay Superstar-Rhonda’s Journey to the Top

How did a self-proclaimed shy girl from rural North Dakota come to lead a team of nearly 300 consultants, earn $500,000 in sales and get herself featured in New York’s Time Square?

She became a Mary Kay Consultant in 1996 and has never looked back.

Meet Rhonda

Rhonda’s entrepreneurial parents owned Schmitt Locker in Napoleon, North Dakota.  There, she worked side-by-side with them after school and in the summer, observing their work ethic and customer service skills, which she now mirrors in her professional life.

She and her husband Joe of 31 years raised three adult children who’ve richly blessed them with three young grandchildren. “The most important thing to me is spending quality time with my family. I want to share as many experiences and fun memories with them as possible.”

Rhonda attended beauty school, worked for the Bank of ND, was a stay-at-home Mom and now has been self-employed with Mary Kay for 23 years. “I’ve always loved helping women look and feel better.”

Faith, Family & Career

Rhonda started selling Mary Kay because she always enjoyed skin care and makeup. Initially her earnings were tagged for fun, little family extras like taking her children to Chuck E. Cheese. “I took it one day at a time, day in and day out and as my customer base grew, I looked back and realized I’d created a mountain.”

She’d found something she loved doing. “It has never felt like work.”

Rhonda’s been an Independent Senior Sales Director for 20 years.

Business Model

Mary Kay’s business model and principles align with Rhonda’s.

  • Faith First
  • Family Second
  • Career Third

According to Rhonda, Mary Kay is a company with a heart, always encouraging consultants to treat every person as if they have a sign around their neck saying “make me feel important” and treating others the way we would want to be treated.

The true heart of Mary Kay is Enriching Women’s Lives.

At Mary Kay, success is defined as “simply ordinary women with extraordinary determination.” She boasts the “organization attracts the kindest women with huge hearts. If you live your life in this order: faith, family and career, you can’t help but be successful.”

Achieving Success

Rhonda’s been splendidly rewarded for her Mary Kay success. She’s

  • Earned the use of 14 career cars, including 9 Cadillacs
  • Achieved a half million in sales and was featured in New York’s Time Square
  • Named a Director-Top 2% in the company
  • Received diamond rings and diamond bar pins
  • And, earned the Director Miss Go-Give Award, voted on by one’s peers for giving enthusiastically, willingly and beyond what is expected of them

She’s striving to become a National Sales Director. “To achieve that I need to help more women have the life they want and deserve, using Mary Kay as their vehicle.”

Building a Successful Sales Team

Regardless of one’s chosen career, Rhonda strongly believes a commitment to never quit-determination-is essential.

As a leader she makes it her mission to figure out what matters to her consultants. “What is their ‘WHY’? She pours her belief in her team members and leads by example.

She’s had many consultants who’ve stayed on her team throughout her 20 years because they love the brand and the company. “It truly is a sisterhood.”

Her consultants must

  • Have a genuine love for helping others
  • Love skin care and beauty
  • Know they deserve more and be willing to work for it

She seeks 5 key work habits in her Consultant team members

          1. Determination

          2. Self-motivation

          3. Strong, independent work ethic

          4. Self-discipline

          5. Never give up attitude

Rhonda’s disappointed when consultants quit but understands that’s part of the process.

Those that quit often don’t believe in themselves or have had someone crush their dreams by telling them they can’t do it or they know someone who’s tried and failed.

“Our business is simple, but not always easy. Sometimes it’s easier or more comfortable to quit after a few disappointments.”

When it comes to fear of selling, she wants everyone to know that we all sell every day. “When we find a good movie or restaurant, we “sell” it to others. We “sell” our children on why having lunch now and snack later, is best.”

Selling is simply finding a need and filling it. There is no reason to fear it.

Measuring Success

Rhonda knows there is nothing more rewarding than setting a goal, working toward it each day, realizing the fruits of one’s labor and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

She believes all women have within them the power to control their life and future.

“I measure success when a woman in my organization realizes how great she truly is and uses my belief in her, and her God given talent, to achieve her personal and financial goals until she has belief in herself.”

Rhonda & some ND team members at Dallas, TX annual convention

Overcoming Barriers to Success

No one rises to the top of any organization without establishing good work habits and overcoming some barriers along the way.

Rhonda’s journey to the top is no different.

“Because Mary Kay has no time commitments or sales quotas, it’s very easy to put Mary Kay on the back burner and say yes to everything else.”

To reach the top Rhonda had to set a schedule for herself and commit to working in and building her business. She never felt like she had to make sacrifices to be successful. “I haven’t attended every game or school activity for my children, but I never missed any of the big ones.”

She accepts that life isn’t always going to be balanced. Instead, she believes it’s all about harmony. Sometimes you work 12-to-15-hour days, many days in a row. Sometimes you have days of relaxation.

Her motto is “Work Hard. Play Hard.”

She readily reveals the barriers she’s had to overcome to become successful.

1. Shyness. “I’m probably one of the least likely to succeed at owning a people business because, by nature, I’m shy.” Now she understands that shyness is sometimes a selfish trait-focusing on oneself. “Turning my focus on others makes everything work better.”

2. Limited Belief in Self. My National Sales Director always believed in me. I used that belief until I had it in myself.

3. Limited Faith. “If I couldn’t see how the goal could happen, I didn’t believe it could happen.” Today she keeps her mind in the right place by constantly reading and listening to motivational and self-improvement books, podcasts, etc.

4. Comparing Myself to Others. “I realize that when we do that, we always compare our worst traits to someone’s best traits. God made each of us perfectly, and he doesn’t make mistakes.”

5. Wanting to stay “comfortable.” Every success takes stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Rhonda has kept a magnet on her kitchen refrigerator since her early Mary Kay days. It reads, “Do one thing every day that makes you uncomfortable.”

About Beauty

Rhonda shares 4 insights about beauty.

1. Beauty comes from within. Skin care and makeup can enhance beauty. When we look good on the outside, we generally feel good on the inside.

2. Self-love, care and pampering are important. No one can be good to others if they are not good to themselves too.

3. Skin care is the #1 secret to a great, finished makeup look. If one doesn’t like how her skin looks and feels without makeup, she won’t like it with makeup. However, if you like how your skin looks and feels without makeup, you will love it with makeup.

4. Good skin care regimens, used consistently, help slow down the aging clock.

You & Mary Kay

If you’re inspired by Rhonda’s Mary Kay journey and would like to explore becoming a Consultant, reach out to her

Text or Call: 701.226.4545



“It’s the best decision I have ever made. Endless possibilities and earning potential.”

And, as founder, Mary Kay Ash always said, “If just one more woman realized how great she truly is, it’s going to be a great day.”

Click here for other great Mary Kay Ash quotes

Who Could Use This Inspiration?

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© August 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

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Explore Columbus, Nebraska Area

The COVID-19 Pandemic cancelled our family’s summer getaways. Therefore, we’ve taken mini Nebraska stay-cations.

For each adventure we choose locations that

  • We have not previously visited.
  • Are considered a day trip from our home base of Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Have a good mix of art, history, dining and parks and recreation.
  • Are surrounded by a nearby cluster of other interesting sites and locations

Recently we chose Columbus, Nebraska.

After reviewing their wonderful Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, we decided to add two surrounding small towns, Newman Grove and Humphrey, Nebraska and the village of Tarnov to our itinerary that ended in Columbus, Nebraska before returning to Omaha.

For those interested in driving to the locations we’ve visited, here’s an estimated mileage chart.


Omaha to Newman Grove, Nebraska: 2 hours 2 minutes

Omaha to Humphrey, Nebraska: 1 hour 47 minutes

Omaha to Tarnov, Nebraska: 1 hour 48 minutes

To Columbus, Nebraska from

… Omaha: 1 hours 30 minutes

…Sioux Falls, South Dakota: 3 hours 5 minutes

…Sioux City, Iowa: 2 hours 5 minutes

…Des Moines, Iowa:  3 hours 11 minutes

Stop #1

Newman Grove, Nebraska

City Café

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511 Hale Avenue Newman Grove, Nebraska 68758 402.447.6446     
     Adam and Dawn Witchell, Owners

We’d seen this café and their pies widely touted on Twitter and Facebook. Droves of Omaha citizens were pre-ordering pies driven back and distributed in a local parking lot. We were curious not only about the pies but about the community and the café owners.

After driving through town, we had omelet breakfasts at the City Café around 9:30 AM and finished up our visit with a piece of their famous pie.

If you like pie and road trips, add the City Café to your bucket list.

Here’s the other thing. Your tourist dollar is deeply appreciated in communities such as Newman Grove. And, the service is what you’d expect: top notch.

There are always plenty of freshly baked pies to enjoy at City Café.

Stop #2

Humphrey, Nebraska

Veterans Park

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Near Humphrey Public School (405 S. 7th Street)

Contact Information:

The purpose of the Veteran’s Park in Humphrey, Nebraska is to recognize servicemen and women across all branches of the United States military for their service and sacrifice to our great nation during times of war and peace.

We’ve visited many veterans’ parks. This park is quite impressive, especially for the size of the community. Add it to your places to visit when in the Columbus, Nebraska area.

A local veteran was there the day we visited making our visit even more meaningful. He provided a lot of insight into the Park and the surrounding communities.

Stop #3

Tarnov, Nebraska

St. Michael’s Catholic Church

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Contact Information: Contact ahead of time for scheduled tour. Free Admission. Good Will Offering Encouraged.

St. Michael’s is the first Polish Catholic parish still operating in Nebraska. Established in 1900. Now listed on National Register of Historic Places.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-26.png 309 3rd Street Tarnov, Nebraska

To date, it’s the most surprising place we have visited in Nebraska.

Not only is the church spectacular but also the museum next door is plump full of pieces that will help you recall days gone by. Each item is well maintained and appropriately displayed in a historical building.

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Museum is housed in former Saint Michael Boarding School Built 1910-1911.

HINT: We contacted the church via email before leaving Omaha asking if the church would be open during our visit. Since it was not, we received a gracious reply that someone could come over and open it and give us a tour of both the church and the museum, if we had time and interest. [We texted an assigned number when leaving Humphrey, NE so the guide could meet us at the church.]

Make time. Judy, our guide, was phenomenal. She’s from the area and a member of the Church. Her heart for her community and for the preservation and maintenance of both the church and the museum shone through during the entire 2-hour visit.

RESEARCH: Fascinating Fact:

NOTE: There are stairs in the museum but a stair chair lift is available on each floor.

Groups can make arrangements to tour the complex and eat lunch and/or dessert on site.

The former rectory now serves as a rental property for short-term guest/visitor stays.

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Contact the church office if you’re interested in arranging a group tour with dessert or lunch and/or overnight lodging.
Be sure to visit the grotto and the cemetery on the grounds before leaving the complex.

Stop #4

Columbus, Nebraska

Lake North Park-Loup

Before driving into Columbus, we drove through the Lake North Park-Loup. Our intent was to walk the trail; however, the rain storm prevented that.

Contact Information: Two Lakes Trail, Columbus, NE 68601, USA

402.564.3171 / 402.562.5709

Location: 4 miles north of Columbus at US Highway 30 on 18th Avenue. The park is 14 acres with two beaches and two boat ramps adjoining a 200-acre lake. It is popular for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Camping is allowed. Electrical hook-ups and primitive camping are available during the summer. Primitive restrooms are on-site.

Glur’s Tavern

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Location: 2301 11th Street Columbus, Nebraska 68601 402.564.8615

This tavern is a National Historic Site (July 30, 1975). It is the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River. Circa 1876.

It is believed that it was patronized by “Buffalo Bill ” Cody during a visit to Columbus, Nebraska.

Hamburgers are the menu item of choice here.

Columbus, Nebraska Historical Mural

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Location: 2524 13th Street Downtown Columbus, Nebraska

Walk across the street to read the placard on the meaning of the mural.

Sit awhile in the park square. Lovely, clean downtown area.

Pawnee Park

Pawnee Park is known as the “Picnic Capital of Nebraska.” It contains almost 153 acres adjoining the Loup River and Van Berg Golf Course.

Location: 2001 Higgins Drive Columbus, Nebraska 68601 Southwest of Columbus. South of the viaduct on either side of Highways 81 and 30.

Contact Information: 402.562.4240

Visit in walking shoes. There is a lot to see and do in Pawnee Park. 

Pawnee Park also contains:

  • 1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive
  • Quincentenary Belltower
  • Oregon Trail Monument
  • Horseshoe Pits
  • All Weather Running Track
  • Playground
  • Sand Volleyball Courts
  • Tennis Courts Lit Until Midnight
  • Disc Golf
  • Living Tree Museum
  • Rose Garden
  • Skate Park
  • Water Park

Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

LOCATION: In West Pawnee Park.

This sculpture was built from pieces of World Trade Center steel. The large bronzed freedom eagle on top has an 8-foot wing span. The pieces do not touch symbolizing that terrorists cannot destroy freedom.

 The soldiers in front honor the National Guard and Reserves.

1904 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive

Plan your weekend Getaway.

Visit Columbus, Nebraska and the surrounding area.

Share this story and start exploring.

© August 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature?

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Senior Housing Options Defined & Explained

What is Senior Housing?

Senior housing is housing that is suitable for the needs of an aging population. It ranges from independent living to 24-hour care. In senior housing there is an emphasis on safety, accessibility, adaptability and longevity that many conventional housing options may lack.

When to Think about Senior Housing

If your elderly loved ones are experiencing increasing medical or mental health challenges and are no longer safe in their home, it’s time to consider senior housing options.

Think about what type of help they are starting to need and what funds are available for this help.

Choose one of the following options to meet their care needs and budget.

Who Can Help?

Remember, Craft LifeStyle Management is always available to talk with you about each of these options and to assist in any way possible in creating a smooth transition for you and your loved ones.

Contact them today.

Housing Options to Consider

Aging in Place

Many older adults wish to remain in their homes forever. For some this wish can come true, especially if the home has a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor and the hallways and doorways do not create problems for those with limited mobility.

Depending on the level of care needed, homes can often be modified, allowing seniors to age in place. Modifications are made to prevent falls, eliminate barriers, increase accessibility, and accommodate wheelchair use.

Sometimes these modifications include adding wheelchair ramps, eliminating entry steps, installing grab bars, lowering countertops and improving lighting.

Craft LifeStyle Management works with families to make in-home modifications, allowing seniors and those with special needs to remain in their home if this is the best care solution for the aging or disabled loved ones.

Community services like cleaning, meal delivery and even some medical services can be provided to seniors wishing to age in place in their own home.

Family, neighbors and friends must check-in with older adults aging in place regularly to ensure their well-being and to verify that living in their own home is still in the best interest of their aging loved one

Independent Living

Independent Living is defined as a senior living community where residents require minimal or no assistance with daily activities.

This housing choice is ideal for seniors who wish to remain active and social with others in their age group, generally 55+, without the burden of home and yard maintenance.

These communities can be separate stand-alone properties or part of a continuing care retirement community.

The services and amenities offered within independent living communities vary greatly by property.

Assisted Living Community

Assisted living is a lifestyle that offers a combination of housing, personalized support services and health care designed to meet the unique needs of seniors.

These communities offer individual apartments in one setting. Here, seniors live somewhat independently while having services available for Activities of Daily living (ADLs) when needed. These services may vary by community but usually include: 24-hour on-site staff availability for bathing, grooming, eating, toileting and dressing.

Housekeeping assistance, along with medication management and transportation are generally offered.

Meals are provided and available usually in a community dining room to encourage interaction.

Activity programming for social and recreational needs is also offered for this same purpose.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

These properties provide multiple levels of care all on one campus. They often include independent living, assisted living and a skilled nursing facility.

This housing concept is relatively popular today, especially for seniors who want to live in one location for the remainder of their years. As their care requirements change, residents can easily move from one housing type to another.

It’s also ideal for couples who may have two different levels of care requirements upon admission to the community. Each can have their needs met while both reside in the same community.

Skilled Nursing Facility

Nursing homes are licensed facilities for those needing 24-hour supervised nursing care. They are one step below an acute care hospitalization.

Those with chronic or long-term care mental and physical illnesses, who can no longer care for themselves, are offered care by doctors and nurses in these homes.

Residents here are provided meals, activities, and health management, including rehabilitation services like physical, occupation, and speech therapies right on site.

Some nursing homes even have dedicated sections for Alzheimer’s or memory care.  

What’s Next?

  • Speak to your aging loved ones. Listen. Be patient yet realistic and practical. Decide if aging in place is an option. If so, contact Craft LifeStyle Management to tour your home and discuss any modifications that may be necessary.
  • Join your loved one on an upcoming medical appointment. What does the doctor think is the best housing option for your loved one based on current medical and mental health conditions?
  • Contact Craft LifeStyle Management to discuss transitional needs. They will listen to your concerns and suggest the next best transition for your loved one. They will even join you on property tours and help you find the best place for both the care needs and budget.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

© July 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management.      All Rights Reserved.

Denise Craft founded Craft LifeStyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to the end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless. 

Please contact Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.

14 Unusual Places To Visit in Nebraska

Our family transferred to Omaha, Nebraska nearly five years ago.

Since then, we’ve explored nearly all of the state, recently guided by the Nebraska Passport program

Here are the top 14 most unique or unusual places we’ve visited with photos I’ve taken.

The real test of an experience is asking oneself if you’d do it again.

In our group, the answer is a resounding, YES. We’d return to all of these spots.

See for yourself. Visit these communities/attractions/places.



Brownville, Nebraska

Check out the historic community of Brownville, founded in 1854.

We discovered a broom maker and a fabulous winery there.

Sweet Water Brooms & Engraving

Terry and Renee Vice, Owners

Contact Information: 402-825-3701 Call ahead for an appointment.

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery

702 Main Street Brownville, Nebraska 68321 Located in 100-year-old renovated barn. Visit for schedule of events, including wine tastings.

Contact Information: 402.825.4601 Closed Monday and Tuesday

Nebraska wines, samples and gifts available. Be sure to check out the all brick cave.

York, Nebraska

Marble Museum

3120 S Lincoln Avenue York, Nebraska 68467

Contact Information: 402.362.3320

World’s largest collection of marbles. Free admission. Take time to visit with the owner. Great for all generations/ages.

Columbus, Nebraska

Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial

2001 Higgins Drive West Pawnee Park Columbus, Nebraska 68601

Free Admission.

Learn about the contributions Mr. Higgins made to World War II. See the sculpture made from steel remnants of the World Trade Center.

Spectacular site. Great reverence to armed forces members.

Visit in walking shoes. There is a lot to see and do in Pawnee Park.

South Central

Red Cloud, Nebraska

Home to Willa Cather, Author

Especially fun to visit during a special program or event.  We visited when the Neil Diamond tribute was on stage.

Excellent auditorium. Outstanding performance.

Our group stayed in the Willa Cather second home guest house. Lovely!


Contact Information: Contact Jarrod McCartney Director of the Red Cloud Heritage Tourism Development Office to personally plan a visit 402-746-4065 or at 

Kearney, Nebraska

Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA)

2401 Central Avenue Kearney, Nebraska

Contact Information: 308.865.8441

Free Admission


Ogallala, Nebraska

Petrified Wood Gallery

418 East 1st Street Ogallala, Nebraska 69153

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8-4        Sunday Closed

Contact Information: 308.284.9996

Free Admission

A showcase of natural history specializing in ancient woods and fossils from around the world plus Native American arrowheads and artifacts — many from within 25 miles of Ogallala.

The collection is a result of the efforts of brothers Howard and Harvey Kenfield who began collecting in the 1950’s.

McCook, Nebraska

Fuller’s Family Restaurant’s Cookie Jar Collection

110 Norris Avenue McCook, Nebraska 69001 So fun to see all of the cookie jars in this family restaurant that’s been serving guests since 1946.

Contact Information: 308.345.7464

Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge

123 N Oak Street Paxton, Nebraska 68155

Contact Information: 308.239.4500 Restaurant            308.239.4719 Office

Walk around the restaurant. There is so much to see. Enjoy your meal.


Boys Town, Nebraska

World’s Largest Ball of Stamps

13628 Flanagan Boulevard Boystown, Nebraska 68010

Free Admission. It’s in the back of the gift shop in the same building that the public restaurant is in.

One can also tour the campus including the Hall of History, Dowd Chapel and the Father Flanagan Tomb, Garden of the Bible, Father Flanagan House, Chambers Chapel and the gift shop. A restaurant open to the pubic is also available on site.


Ainsworth, Nebraska

Meadville General Store

89235 Meadville Road Ainsworth, Nebraska 69210

Truly one of the most memorable stops on our adventures. The setting, music, dancing and fellowship left a lasting favorable impression: a simplier time.


Pierce, Nebraska

Wragge Dogs at Pierce Locker

117 North Brown Street, Suite 53 Pierce, Nebraska 68767

Contact Information: Call ahead for store hours. 402.329.4365 . This food product can only be found here…in Pierce, NE. Go get some! Pierce is near Norfolk, Nebraska.

Newman Grove, Nebraska

City Café

511 Hale Avenue Newman Grove, Nebraska 68758 Known for pies, but try out other worthy menu items. The owners have a tremendous social media presence. It’s worth following them but better to support entrepreneurs like them helping build and maintain small rural communities.

Contact Information:

Hours: 6AM-2PM Tu-Sa & 11-1:30 SU Closed M.

Tarnov, Nebraska

St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Museum & Grotto

Contact Information: Contact ahead of time for scheduled tour.

Free Admission: The Museum next door is a can’t miss stop. The grotto is between the museum and cemetery.

As spectacular as the church itself is, the most surprising find on our Nebraska adventures, to date, was the museum next door to this church. It warehouses a diverse array of all aspects of Polish and rural life.

Contact the church to schedule your private tour. Donations accepted.

Groups can arrange for a tour that includes lunch.

The former rectory is now a visitor rental home.

What unusual sites (lesser known) have you visited in Nebraska?

SHARE this post with others wanting to explore Nebraska.

Want to explore more places in Nebraska?

Click on the TRAVEL tab above and then MIDWEST and NEBRASKA for other suggested road trips throughout Nebraska.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together?

©Copyright. July 2020. Linda Leier Thomason.

This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

All Rights Reserved.

Parents Matter in Black Lives

A Father & Son Speak

Do all black men fear the police?

Do they support the Black Lives Matter Movement?

Do they feel pressure to address today’s issues?

What lessons were they taught as young black men?

How do they succeed being black men?

How do pre-teen black males see the world today?

I wanted to know.

So I reached out to a South Carolina father and son for answers.

Let’s learn what a 40-year-old black man and his 12-year-old son feel about recent events including the George Floyd killing, Black Lives Matter Movement, and the anti-police sentiment.


Jason and Jessica, Summerville, South Carolina, have been married for 19 years and have three children. One daughter is in college. The other will be a senior in high school. Their 12-year-old son will enter seventh grade in the fall.

Jason, the youngest of three boys, served in the U.S. Army (Watertown, New York and Honolulu, Hawaii). His parents both proudly served in the military. So, he’s also lived in Guam and attended primary school in California and Nevada.

Today he’s a Government Contracting Terminal Manager for bulk storage and distribution.

Lessons Taught by Parents

Q: Did your parents speak to you in your youth about the realities of being a black man?

A: Yes, at a young age, they spoke to us about what it meant to be a young black man but mostly about what it meant to be a young man period.

They emphasized:

  • A man provides for his family. He protects them and loves them. He teaches his family how to navigate through life by setting the standard.
  • Never hit a woman.
  • Treat people as you’d want to be treated.
  • Always repay your debts.
  • Be a man of your word. [My Mom’s most important lesson.]
  • Dream big, but set goals that are attainable.
  • Be prepared.
  • Work twice as hard because nothing will be given to you.
  • Respect your elders. Many people have made sacrifices for you to be able to live in the way you do.
  • Honor your parents and family members. We are all we have.
  • Respect the country even though it has not always respected us as black people.
  • Rise above! There is no limit to what you can accomplish in life.

Q: Those are great lessons on life. How have you practiced them?

A: Yes, these are just some of the gems passed on by my parents to us as children. These values became gospel. I still live by these guidelines today. It helps when my core beliefs were reinforced by my military experience.

Q: Who did you watch or who was your role model as a kid?

A: Again, I am extremely fortunate to have a strong married mother and father in my life. Race was never a big issue in our home. We were raised in a manner and mindset to believe we will succeed in life based on the work and education we accomplished.

The fact that we are a black family was not going to be an excuse for failing or any failure we encountered.

Being black is not a crutch or a setback.

This was the overall mindset and tone in our home while I was young.

There were struggles but they did not define us.

Standing Out

Q: Then as a child did you ever feel you were different from others?

A: I do recall one moment in a Nevada elementary school where a bully called me a “nigger.” When I reported it to the yard monitor, she said, “that’s okay sugar, that’s what you are.” My Mom had my back and went to the school to “fix” this.

She also reassured me that I was not what I was called. She made sure I knew I was special and smart and that my skin color was beautiful and that I was beautiful.

Fear the Police

Q: As a child, were you taught to fear the police?

A: No. I was not taught that. Instead, I was taught police were a group of humans capable of making mistakes, being wrong and maybe even being corrupt.

Recent Headlines

Q: How do you feel about the George Floyd murder and the killing of many other black people in recent times?

A: The outrage for me would be the same no matter the victim’s race. Wrong is wrong. Evil is evil. Mr. Floyd’s murder was senseless. It’s a true testament of evil and one man imposing his will over another. The fact that Mr. Floyd was black intensified the officer’s wrongdoing.

Q: What is your overall opinion about police today?

A: I believe there are good and bad cops everywhere. I just hope there are more good than bad.

Q: What is your overall opinion on the “Black Lives Matter” movement?

A: I believe there is cause for a movement. At the same time, coining a phrase such as “Black Lives Matter” is a blanket statement, which should go without saying. I have mixed emotions on the subject. I’m wary of groups and movements that ‘represent’ me without my influence or my approval. If you say “Black Lives Matter” and I’m black does that already affiliate me with the movement? Right or wrong, I’m lumped in with whatever this movement is standing for. And, if I don’t approve, am I part of the problem?

The Movement will not allow one to stand on the fence or be silent on the subject. This is what makes it so uncomfortable for a lot of people.

Conversations are being had that normally wouldn’t happen. To me, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s only bad when either side can’t handle the hard truths coming from a hard conversation.

Q: Have you joined any protest rallies?

A: No. I’ve done Black Out Dates on Facebook to show my support for black owned businesses. I believe the only way to truly have freedom is to be economically independent by generating generational wealth and to vote.

Teaching White People

Q: How do you react to people saying, “I don’t see color.” Or, “I’m color blind” as a way to prove they aren’t racist?

A: I do see color. I see things for what they are and people for who they are. If you show me who you are, I tend to believe you and that can’t be changed or walked back.

Q: How do you describe or explain racism?

A: Simply put, it’s purely hate and ignorance.

Q: Let’s address the discomfort of white people during these times. Many don’t even know how to refer to you. Are you Black, Afro-American, Brown, a person of color? And, what is your best advice for whites interacting with blacks?

A: Calling me black is fine. I know I’m American and I fought for this country. I should just be American, but if there must be a label on behalf of my skin color, then let’s go with black.

Now, how to address so many uncomfortable white people interacting with blacks whom they’ve interacted with for years. I’d say just be a decent human being.

Respect the fact that awful things have happened to many groups of people and continue to happen today. I encourage openly listening to hardships explained by many people of color. 

Try hard to be empathetic and place yourself in their shoes, without your current resources.

It’s impossible but try anyway.

Q: You’re given a magic wand. What’s your one wish for race relations in the USA today?

A: I’d definitely wish for everyone to have the opportunity for economic growth with no regard to skin color or social background.

Raising a Black Son

Q: Nice. Let’s talk about raising your 12-year-old son in today’s culture. Do you fear for his life?

A: No. Not in the sense that he will do something wrong. I fear he could find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, possibly with the wrong people.

Q: What fears do you think your son has?

A: I think he fears disappointing his parents. It’s not because he’s a young black man or anything to do with race. He wants to be successful and make something of his life.

Q: Describe an ideal world for your son.

A: It would be one allowing him to follow his dreams and encouraging his ambitions without breaking his will. It’d uplift and celebrate his blackness, not just tolerate the fact that he is not in the current majority. I hope he has the chance to showcase his greatness.

The Son Speaks

Then Jason’s 12-year-old son was asked:

Q: Are you afraid of being a young black man in South Carolina?

A: Yes! Because I don’t know how my future will be and if my children will be safe in today’s society.

Q: How can your Dad make you more comfortable about being a young black man?

A: Let me know not everyone in the world is racist against black people.

Q: What is the most important lesson your Dad has taught you so far?

A: Easy. Stay focused in school and pay attention in class.

Q: If a police officer stopped you, how would you feel?

A: I wouldn’t feel threatened. I know if I didn’t do anything wrong, no harm would come to me.

Q: What words would you put on the end of this sentence: I can’t wait for…

A: A new dirt bike and for COVID to be over.

Passing on Lessons Learned

Q: Your son shared the most important lesson you’ve taught him. What other lessons are you trying to teach?

A: I want to be clear that these lessons are the same for my daughters and my son. Okay?

  • You must work hard for what you want out of life. It can be twice as hard for you, if you let it.
  • Be smart. Make good choices.
  • Education is key. It can never be taken away from you.
  • Lead by example. Do what is right even when no one is looking.
  • Do the work you have to do now so you can do what you want later. Ownership is everything.
  • Never miss an opportunity to be more than what others expect you to be. Some may judge you based on the color of your skin. Be better than what is expected of you. I expect greatness.
  • This country has many advantages and opportunities but nothing is free. We do not take handouts, nor do we give them.
  • Be careful who you surround yourself with. You could become a target unwillingly. Perception is everything. Do not ever put yourself in a position where you are somebody’s fall guy.

Parents Made All the Difference

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Yes, I’m acutely aware that having both parents present in my life and traveling and seeing different parts of the world as a child were important factors in my young life and in shaping the man I am today.

I know many have not had the same opportunity.

The environment in which I grew up kept me close enough to see what could happen if I wasn’t careful and far enough to be isolated.

In the end, my parents made all the difference.

Share this story with others.

Let them learn to be great examples as parents and decent human beings.

©July 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Do you have a story idea or interesting person who’d be a great feature? SHARE details below.

Elderly Hoarders: 5 Compassionate Ways to Help

Excessive Treasures or Junk?

To you it’s clutter. To them, they’re valuables. Maybe treasures.

The sight of ‘junk’ blocking hallways and piling up in each room disgusts you.

Stacks of paper everywhere cause worry about fire hazards.

The odor sickens you. You gag. Gasp. Cry.

You’re Angry! You have been here in this exact place so many times.

You’re embarrassed, and maybe even ashamed, that your parents live here. They ‘caused’ this.

Both parties agree you own “excessive treasures.”

You’ve stopped visiting as the piles of treasures began growing.

Your children, their grandchildren, have never visited.

You deem their home unsafe, and them unstable.

You beg, hope and pray for it to stop and to go away.

It doesn’t.

They remain socially isolated and lonely in what you call squalor.

Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is a clinical diagnosis.

Did you know that up to 1 in 20 of the elderly have tendencies that are consistent with hoarding? 

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins revealed that about 4% of the population as a whole shows hoarding behavior, but that percentage goes up to 6.2 in people over 55.

It has emotional, physical, and even financial or legal implications.

Hoarding can have a devastating impact on older adults:

  • Risk for falling: Will emergency workers be able to reach them after a fall, or anytime?
  • Poor hygiene: Is the bathtub/shower full of papers or empty bags?
  • Fires, mold and mildew in the home
  • Poor nutrition: Spoiled food can cause foodborne illness
  • Rodents and insects in the home
  • Utilities. Air conditioning, heat and running water. Are they turned off? The freezing cold is as dangerous as the heat.
  • Other medical problems, including depression

It can also indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s, dementia or mental illness.

5 Ways to Help Elderly Hoarders

1. Join them for a medical evaluation

Since hoarding is almost always connected to mental health or other health condition, it’s likely your parent may need professional help. Schedule a full medical evaluation for them and then go to the appointment and any follow-up visits. Learn if their hoarding behavior is caused by dementia, Alzheimer’s or other condition. If not, psychiatric care may be needed.

Denise Craft of Craft Lifestyle Management, who has worked for over 30 years with elderly hoarders, says all hoarders have a “dis-ease” of the soul from this learned behavior.

2. Start small and make it a special event

Acknowledge that the process of decluttering your parent’s home is going to be hard and require a ton of patience. Bring a good attitude and try to make it conflict-free. Perhaps you can call it “Memories Monday” or “Super Saturday.”

Remember, every single item, down to the scraps of paper, IS important to them.

Agree you’re going to stick to a weekly calendared date and identify which room will be worked on for each date.

For instance, start in the bathroom and remove expired medications and old make-up. Or the stairways where you remove stacks of papers and shoes, etc.

Be sure to acknowledge their ability to let go of these items, many hazardous to their well-being. Keep in mind, each item they’re willing to discard takes a lot out of them and may be considered a victory. Show them they can do it, together. And, of course, never start decluttering without the owner’s cooperation.

3. Sort with a System

Remember, you’re coming into their home causes stress and chaos in their already chaotic life. They may feel threatened and find many excuses not to proceed. Be gentle, kind, compassionate and always patient.

In addition to identifying the day of the week for sorting and decluttering, also set up areas where sorted items will be placed:

  • Charitable donations
  • Valuables and keepsakes
  • Trash

It does not help the soul to contribute to the hoarding behavior by agreeing to rent a storage unit for your parent during this sorting and decluttering process.

There are ways to negotiate with them on this specific topic.

Keep the focus on their safety and your concern for them.

4. Acknowledge sentimental items

Many hoarders hang on to items because they consider them unique and irreplaceable, attaching great sentimental value to the item.

Listen to the story and/or the memory of the item. Ensure it doesn’t have great monetary value. If not, suggest taking a photo of the item to keep the memory alive rather than keeping the item. Again, be patient. This process takes time and assurance.

5. Hire an outside company

Sometimes the clutter and the family dynamics and emotions are too much for loved ones to handle.

Walking into this environment can cause ‘paralysis’ Not knowing where, or how, to begin.

Craft Lifestyle Management has been assisting families in these situations for three decades.

Contact us.

We are trained and experienced in handling excessive treasure situations with care and compassion for both your loved one and you.

Learn More:

Definition of late life compulsive hoarding:

What is hoarding disorder?

© June 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.

Written by Linda Leier Thomason for Craft LifeStyle Management.

Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She has a special place in her heart for those who collect excessive treasures.  She understands the conflict hoarding often causes within families and frequently mediates the process with and for them. If you have a loved one who collects excessive treasures and you need assistance, please contact Denise at Craft Lifestyle Management