August 2020

August 01, 2020

Lessons from a 1,000-Year-Old Cherry Tree

The springtime waltz of cherry blossom flowers through the air is a time-honored tradition in Japan. A national festival is dedicated to their beauty, attracting visitors from far and wide. But as the blushing blooms only last an average of two weeks, a sense of bittersweet reflection is attached to the historically symbolic cherry trees.

The emotion is well noted in Japanese art and poetry and goes by the name of mono no aware, or an "acceptance of the transient nature of life and beauty." This awareness of the impermanence of things leads to a greater appreciation of the fleeting moments that make up the present. However, the symbolic trees also carry another lesson.

Takizakura is an ancient cherry tree famed for its resilience. Over the course of its 1,000-year life span in Miharu, Fukushima, it has survived much adversity, including the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear reactor meltdown. It's caretaker, Sidafumi Hirata, believes the tree to be an emblem of enduring strength, inspiring others to stand tall amidst the chaos of life. "This tree has lived so long, and the longer you live, the more bad events you see," Hirata told an interviewer. "So she will see more bad things, but she'll also see good. Life is layers, layers of bad and good."

Its blossoms may fade every year, but the strong roots of the Takizakura and trees like it remain firm. In this duality lies an uplifting message. Yes, it reminds us of the ever-changing nature of life but, most importantly, that difficult times will always pass. If we lay strong foundations and stand firm, we can weather any storm.

Simple Summer Coleslaw

With a rainbow of vegetables and a dressing you'll want to write home about, this easy-to-make, light, and colorful salad is a perfect side for those summertime BBQs. And it only takes 15 minutes to make!

Serves 6-8

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

To make the dressing, in a small mixing bowl, whisk the sour cream, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Toss the cabbages, peas, tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers in a large mixing bowl.

Dress the salad right before serving.

Is Shopping Online for Insurance Really a Bargain?

Buying auto or homeowners insurance on the internet seems easy and cheap. But is it?

Discover how relying on the web to protect your most valuable assets could cost you more - and put you and your loved ones at risk - by requesting my free guide, "The Dangers of Shopping Online for Insurance."

Just send us an email and I'll send it right out to you.

Quick Quiz

Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just send us an email and submit your answer.

Who really invented champagne? Hint: it's probably not who you think!

First 10 responders will be entered into drawing for 3 Starbuck's gift cards.

Last month's winners were:

Emalee Mann

Sergio Avalos

Nicole Swanson

Taking a Road Trip in Your RV? Here's How to Prepare

Summer is in full swing, and that means road trips in your RV to enjoy the season. Below are a few tips to make sure you're prepared for your road-tripping fun.

Before you go anywhere, check that your RV is in tip-top shape with this maintenance checklist:

1. Check your RV's batteries to ensure they are fully charged

2. Check appliances and tires (including the spare) and inspect all seals

3. Check engine and generator fluids and change as necessary

4. Flush and refill the water system

5. Do a full safety check

6. Thoroughly clean the inside of the coach and freshen up toiletries

What to pack:

For an RV trip, pack what you'd need for a regular trip (clothes, shoes, accessories, and the like), but also pack as if you're furnishing a home. Include items such as towels (bath and kitchen), plates and mugs, cups, silverware, cooking pots and utensils, sheets and pillows, cleaning supplies, and anything else that makes you feel at home.

What to do if you break down:

Breaking down happens to even the most experienced RV owner. The important thing is to have a plan that you follow. Make sure you have phone numbers you need to call for emergency and accident services. Have our office's number handy, too, and be sure to share your itinerary with a relative or friend so someone knows where you are.

Not all RVing is the same. Before you hit the open road, contact us to discuss your travel plans and how to properly protect your RV so there's nothing to worry about.

4 Types of Identity Theft and How to Prevent Them

With most of our transactions happening online and the vast majority of our records accessible through Internet-based services, it's no wonder identity theft is rampant. Below are four types of identity theft and how to prevent them.

Existing account identity theft. Thieves will hack into your existing bank or credit accounts and either steal your cash or use your available credit to make purchases or cash withdrawals. Protect your personal information by never giving out your bank account number to anyone except an authorized representative of a business or other professional. If you doubt someone is who they say they are, hang up and call the business directly.

New account identity theft. Thieves will open new accounts in your name using your Social Security number and begin to draw on the lines of credit or loans to acquire as much as possible before being caught. Never give your Social Security number out to anyone except a trusted professional, such as an accountant, a human resources manager, or another similar person.

Tax identity theft. Thieves will not hesitate to file a fraudulent return on your behalf and claim your refund. Unlike with credit accounts, you will not know until you go to submit your legitimate tax return and the IRS rejects it.

Employment identity theft. Some people will resort to stealing your Social Security number to get a job, and, to your surprise, you will owe taxes on the money they earned.

It's vital to protect yourself from identity theft. Many credit cards offer free alerts so you can stop unauthorized transactions and theft. Consider investing in a paid identity monitoring service, which looks at your credit and finances. Protect your personal information. Never give it out over the phone to out-of-the-blue callers. Secure documents with sensitive information, and shred them when you no longer need them. Check your credit reports regularly. Call us today so we can work with you on finding the best product that fits your budget to protect yourself from and prevent identity theft.

Worth Quoting

This month, some famous quotes on the topic of good design:

Good design is good business.
Thomas J. Watson

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.
Ralf Speth

Good design follows, great design is followed.
Onur M. Cobanli

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Good Words for Barbara Swanson

"I had the pleasure of speaking with Barbara Swanson, and she is absolutely amazing! She is so helpful, kind, and a true professional. I refer people to your agency, due mostly to her and her help over the years. Having an accident is always stressful, and when you speak with her she explains everything so thoroughly while given comfort through the process. I really can't say enough on how much I appreciate her, and what a true asset she must be to your company. Please let her know how much she means to me and my family!"

Jennifer Souza

Good Words for Ryan Jennings

"Mr. Oliver... 

I wanted to let you know that Ryan Jennings has done an awesome job helping me obtain auto and renters insurance.   He is very pleasant and has answered all my questions. He is definitely a great member of your team!"

Vickie Mendez 

Good Words for Our Staff
"The staff is so friendly and always prompt. They are patient with any questions and always willing to help."

Clayton Allison

Every Little Bit Helps: Stimulating the Economy

In times of great hardship, it's easy to forget that all the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle. There are still effective and everyday actions that you can take to support friends, family members, and local businesses as we collectively navigate the choppy waters of recession and recovery. Take note of these positive tips from financial experts and entrepreneurs to stimulate the economy; every little bit helps!

Buy small. According to the US Small Business Administration, there are 30.2 million small businesses in the US, making up a staggering 99.9% of all businesses in the country. Avoid big companies and take the extra time to check in with local vendors. They are very likely to have online or pickup options.

Order takeout. Don't feel guilty about checking into your favorite weekly treat. Your patronage of local eateries helps keep the restaurant industry thriving!

Pay your taxes. While not the most pleasant of undertakings, here's a reminder that the simple act of paying your taxes is a significant part of a healthy economy.

Take the risk. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to start up a business when times feel unstable, it is the fastest way to contribute to local communities. Certified financial advisor Jill Van Nostrand encourages those who are poised to open a new venture to continue, thereby creating employment opportunities, creating cash flow, and supporting the real estate market.

Foster education. If you are able to do so, donate to educational organizations and charities. Financial strategist Michelle Loretta believes one of the best ways you can help individuals increase their earning power and ability to spend is by investing in their education. You can directly contribute to educational scholarship funds and grants.