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Everlasting Memories Blog About Life, Loss and Everything In Between

Preparing To Be Unprepared

Posted by Hallie S. on


Hard to believe that summer is halfway over…yeah, I hear ya. Midway through July, just really settling in to the summer routines and schedules. My own calendar seems to change on a daily basis and I’m trying to find my rhythm between three babies that are working, working out and driving here and there. And driving me a bit crazy. But I am embracing the chaos, the challenges, all of it - with the realization that in a few short weeks this house is going to be awfully quiet.

In the midst of all of this planning and preparing and figuring things out, there have been bumps in the road. An unexpected shift at work ending early. Needing a car when there were no cars available. Plans that were not ‘heard’ by all parties. Minor blips on the radar screen in the big scheme of things but certainly a blueprint for how life works in reality. And therein lies my next post.

How do we prepare for the things we are unprepared for? Think about that. There are countless moments in life that whether they are minor or major setbacks, situations, matters of circumstance that smack us right across the face and say, “Oh yoohoo - you are not in charge. I am. And today, this is how we roll.” And with a little bit of forethought, a little bit of awareness and sometimes, just by sheer will and grit, we can somewhat prepare ourselves for those things in life that we are unprepared for. I am no guru or self-help expert but I do know things that have worked for me and/or worked for others. Sharing is caring and y’all know I care so read on!

Matters of Life and Death

There are certain things in life that are a given - matters of life and death. Children coming in to this world, the loss or death of loved ones. Birth and death are a part of life and whereas you cannot be prepared for everything surrounding those two major parts of our life, there are ways in which you can prepare yourself for both.

Take care of your health

This is so simple and yet so not done by so many. Get a yearly physical. A once over by a doctor that knows your history. Yes, waiting around at the doctor is super annoying. But a little bit of routine maintenance goes a long way. We do yearly exams with our children - why would we be any different? It also helps to create a health history so that if the proverbial you know what does hit the fan you have someone that is knowledgeable and intimate with your physical well-being. Especially as we age and hormones or lack thereof play a significant role in our emotional well-being, having that blueprint of blood work to look back on can save you a lot of time and testing.

Update your will or have a will drawn up

Get a will. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. You can even go online and get one done that helps you fill in the blanks. Having a will that is up to date, signed and notarized and a couple of copies in safe places not only gives you added assurance that your wishes will be carried out but it also makes life so much easier for those that are left behind. Countless times I’ve heard stories of estates that are a mess because a will wasn’t signed, updated, etc. Who is your power of attorney? Do you have a DNR on file (Do Not Resuscitate) that outlines clearly what you want? Distributions that you want made to family members, family heirlooms that you want passed down, who would the guardian to your children be - all of that should be put in writing. And it won’t cost you a fortune! Most can be done, again, online for around $100. Then you simply need to make copies and get it notarized.

Insure your life

All you young parents out there or young professionals - do this if you haven’t done so. Term life insurance is so cheap if you are young and reasonably healthy. Like so cheap. It’s easy and affordable and most times they come right to you. We have a 20 year policy that actually expires in about four or five years (guess I should check) and if anything were to happen to me or to Rob then the house would be paid for as would all of their schooling. Plus maybe enough for a little nest egg. Rob and I both kick the bucket than the kids are rolling in the dough. Cha-ching! And we pay $55 a month. That’s it. If you don’t have life insurance get it and assign the beneficiaries. Every company will most likely walk you right through the process.

Insure your child’s life

I find this a little morbid and have not done so but am shocked at the number of families that do. I believe Gerber offers it and there are probably other companies out there that do as well. You can take out a life insurance policy on your child when they are two weeks old and the policy can then double when they turn 18 - all for the same monthly cost. Again, not something that I personally have done but knowing what I know now, I would have done so after the birth of all three of our children.

Save for your child

When your child is born, start a savings account for them. Doesn’t have to be significant but start saving for them. $25 a month even. If that’s all you did was $25 a month from the time they were born until they turned 18, that’s $5400. Not a bad little gift to give them and a great way to start teaching them the value of saving their money.

Fill out a health care proxy

I did this with my oldest as she is away at college and because she is 19, is considered an adult. A health care proxy gives whomever you designate the power to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. It doesn’t express wishes concerning medical care or end-of-life decisions - simply allows you to designate who makes the decisions if you can’t. And as each of my sons come up on the age of 18, they too will fill out health care proxy forms that I can file away. And pray that I never need to use.

Matters of Circumstance

There are circumstances that happen in our life. Things break down, illness strikes, layoffs from work, unexpected happenings that impact our general well-being - emotionally, mentally, physically, financially. You know the time when the washing machine went, the refrigerator stopped working and the dog ate the stuffing out of the comforter? All in the same week? Yeah, those kinds of matters of circumstance that no matter how much we prepare for we are typically totally and completely unprepared for. But I have some thoughts on how you can ease the impact to be not so brutal on your person.

Be mindful of your gratitude

Gratitude plays a significant role in the way in which we deal with adversity. Bad things are going to happen. That is a fact of life. But your reaction to that particular ‘bad’ thing will be instrumental in how you recover and move forward. And one of the best ways in which I have found to do so is to be aware of what I am grateful for, of the blessings that I have in my life. Is it that easy? No. It’s like anything else. You have to practice being grateful, practice looking around and taking inventory of your life and focusing on what it is you are grateful for. And like with anything, practice becomes permanent. And that leads me to the next point.

Attitude is everything

Gratitude and attitude go hand in hand in my opinion. It’s great if you’re grateful but does your attitude reflect that? I consider myself a glass is half full, grateful kind of girl. But I’ve had to catch myself several times in recent weeks - thinking what am I ranting for? I may be frustrated at the circumstance but at the end of the day I’m grateful for the frustration because I will miss HER or HIM in a few weeks. Make sure your outer attitude is reflecting your inner gratitude. When you practice that and implement it you will find yourself alleviated of a lot of the stress and a much more relaxed approach to the challenge at hand.

Have a slush fund, savings account, emergency credit card

With three tuition payments, our savings account is currently collecting cobwebs. But we do have an emergency credit card for those unexpected times when things happen. By ‘things happen’ I don’t mean the 50% off sale at Aldo Shoes. I mean the emergency trip to the vet. The purchase of a new appliance. You get the picture. Having a back up plan in place can help ease some of the financial burden of the inevitable financial challenges and setbacks that happen in life. And things could always be worse, right? (Gratitude, Attitude - see how I tied that all in…)

Take advantage of pre-tax accounts

If you have health care spending accounts from work and spend a lot in co-pays, etc. throughout the year, these can be of significant assistance when it comes to medical expenses. Small sums are taken out pretax from your paycheck and placed in an account. Said funds can used to pay for medical expenses outlined by the IRS. 401k plans are something everyone that has the opportunity to take part in should be taking part in. Whether it’s $50 a pay period or you’re maximizing your contributions, once you get used to living without it, you’re only benefiting yourself down the road. Talk to an advisor, talk to your hr person, get some advice from someone that is financially smarter than you and has done things better than you have.

Being prepared my world

Like I said earlier, a lot of this we have taken care of. And much of it we haven’t. Rob is much more up to date on his general health than I am and I own that completely. In fact, when I’m done typing I will be calling my primary care and scheduling my physical that I am three years behind on. Our health is our most important asset and I can’t talk the talk if I’m not walking the walk. So the physical will be on my to-do list today.

The will and the life insurance are in need of a go over. That is again on my to-do list for this year and although some of it is just a matter of semantics, it does need to be taken care of. Given that one little goosey is an adult and another little gosling is on his way to achieving that title, both will have copies. And a conversation will be had as a family of the basics. As far as the life insurance, for 16 years it’s been a no-brainer as the money is just debited from our account. But with the term coming to a close in a few years, we need to look at what our options will be and have a plan for what we want to do.

We take advantage of our health care spending account and for us, it has been a life saver. For around $100 pre-tax, it’s a $2600 medical savings credit card if you will that when you have $60 co-pays, prescriptions, etc. it helps. It’s not for everyone and I get that. For us personally, it has been worth it to take advantage of.

And, I had to laugh and do a little bit of introspection myself this morning.  For all of my talk about gratitude and attitude, life threw a little wrench into my plans last night with oldest goosey son and I threw a tantrum. A door slamming, yelling, foot stomping good old-fashioned tantrum. There was no gratitude, no positive attitude. And it all worked out just fine. Everyone got what they needed when they needed it. So yes, peepers, even I need a reminder that 99% of the time the minor inconveniences typically work themselves out. My approach last night did nothing but upset me and upset my son. And all for NOTHING. I am working at being more mindful and keeping the gratitude forefront in my mind and in my approach for the future.  And having that gratitude be reflected in my attitude.

I have a friend whom has an elderly neighbor that lives alone and suddenly took a turn for the worse and now is in a position where the neighbor cannot advocate for herself. No family, her will was not updated or signed, she doesn’t have a signed DNR, lots and lots of loose ends. And my poor friend is at a loss as to how to help because her hands are tied. For all of their preparation, both women were unprepared for the situation they are now in.

I realize our days are full and busy and crazy and hectic. Trust me - I get it. And all of these little things that we can do to prepare for things and challenges that we are unprepared for take time and energy. But they are important. And, in some cases, necessary. Make a list, make a timeline, dedicate an hour a week to getting yourself more prepared. Jot down a gratitude list that you can carry in your wallet or your purse and when that frustration builds, take a moment, pull out your list and read it. We all have our moments but attitude is everything and the more focused you are on a positive outcome, seeing the glass as half full when possible - the quicker we adapt and move forward. We have one trip on this merry go round called life, peepers. When it’s my turn to step off, I want to know with as much certainty as possible that I have done all I can to make it as easy as possible for those still riding round. And that I’ve done so leaving them with the certainty of knowing how grateful I was to have them in my life.

Being prepared to die is one of the great secrets of living