Benefits of Meditation

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Why incorporate a meditation practice into your life?  One reason would be because it is a proven practice which can assist you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Studies have shown that using meditation can assist people with a multitude of issues they are trying to overcome such as anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders among other things. On the physical level meditation can also assist with lowering blood pressure, decreasing pain, reduce stress hormone levels, providing a more focused approach and improving cellular health. Meditation tends to calm the emotions and thus the body’s physical reaction to those emotions.

I hold guided meditation classes and routinely receive feedback from participants about how relaxed and calm they feel following the meditation. Feeling worried or anxious about situations often drains a person’s energy and it taxes the body making the individual less productive and unable to focus on taking the right action to correct any situations within their control. The beauty of meditation is that it is a practice which can often be done at no cost. There are many ways to meditate; in silence, alone, in a group, with guided imagery or while being actively engaged in some sort of physical activity. Often people do not try to mediate because they are not quite sure what to do or having tried in the past found they had difficulty. For people who fall into this category, there are many different types of meditation classes and groups being held and they may find it to their advantage to attend and try one out. Different methods of meditation appeal to different people so it is a matter of finding a good fit.

EATING HEALTHY DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

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The Holiday Season is meant to be an exciting time spent with friends and family, but stressing about the temptation for sweets and extra calories can put a damper on the fun.  Here are some ways to fend off holiday weight gain and tips to enjoy the season without over-indulging.

Start your day with a well-rounded breakfast, such as an omelet with whole wheat bread and a piece of fruit.  Neglecting breakfast could lead to excess calorie binging later in the day.

Choose healthy snack items before your office party or holiday gathering: you will be less tempted to snack on high-calorie foods.

At a buffet, make your first plate a small taste of everything you want to try, that way a trip for seconds can only be small portions of your favorites.                                                                      

Focus on the event and the company you’re with, not the food.  Spend time conversing and catching up with friends and coworkers.

Alternate water or calorie free beverages between holiday cocktails: you will reduce intake of a calorie-packed drinks and reduce the urge to snack when inhibitions are low.

Don’t set new goals.  Although it sounds negative, it is difficult keep your normal, healthy routine through the holiday season.  Striving to maintain your current weight is enough of a goal. Weigh yourself every day.  Seeing the number on the scale will remind you of your healthy habits you work hard at all year long.

This Holiday Season – Give the Gift of Planning

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As you gather with loved ones, remember the one gift your family can’t get for themselves….your thoughtful planning. The holiday season when family celebrate is the perfect time to begin to take stock of changes that have taken place over the year.
– New little additions are there to the family?
– Grandchildren that have grown and graduated from college?
– Recent marriages and unions?
– Divorces, relocations or loved ones lost?
– Do uncle or auntie appear to be struggling with their own care?
And then note, have theses changes been reflected in your estate planning? Planning documents for healthcare decision making can include a health care proxy and living will. Planning for financial decision making calls for a power of attorney. Health care proxies, living wills, last will and testaments and power of attorneys are all “advanced directives” and form the basis for proper estate planning.
The holiday season is the perfect time to give your family the gift of planning. Think about any advanced directives you may already have in place – do they still reflect your wishes?
My holiday gift to you and your family is a fill-in health care proxy for you to print out and share with your family. A great way to start the process is by designating a health care proxy. My office is available to review those advanced directives you may have in place and discuss any questions you might have.
Fill in Health Care Proxy

Refrigerator Karma Week?

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I'm Outta Here!

I’m Outta Here!

It seems like things have been going crazy in my life lately. Things that don’t usually happen – disturbing, upsetting and disrupting things. I got some Raid in my eye when I was spraying at an angle I thought was enough away from me. I had a strange evening with a male friend – the miscommunication made for an interesting encounter…the results of a sonogram raised questions and then my refrigerator died. All this in the space of a week! Oh, and my socks seem to keep falling down.

Like so many of us, I feel like I’ve already got way more than enough to deal with as it is – Aaaahhhhh!

An Opportunity to Lighten Up…

And then, in the midst of freaking out with the overwhelm of having to throw out all of the freezer and fridge food that was now spoiled, a friend called. I told him everything that was happening and he told me not to focus on the negative things or to look for proof that they keep happening because that will just open the door to bringing more in. Then he told me his refrigerator story. He had to have his fridge replaced a week ago because a mouse got into his apartment – and he has three cats – who must have terrified the mouse so that it hid, and subsequently died, under the fridge.

That happened to me when I was in college and I know how bad it smells! It was so bad that they had to replace his refrigerator. And then he said to me, “maybe this is refrigerator karma week – all the refrigerators decided to leave so they can move on to their next lives.” That made me laugh and gave me an entirely different perspective on things.

Three Different Takeaways from this Experience

I believe things happen the way they do for a reason. My friend’s call came at such a crucial moment and helped me to release and re-frame my negative experience of things. You could say it was divine intervention.

Look for my next post – I’ll be sharing an interpretation of all this chaos as seen through the “Course in Miracles.”

Rollin' On the Rhine River

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Chris and I were lucky to be among a group of Cruise Planner agents who were invited to take a Viking River Cruise. As the trip fell on Chris’ birthday and around our 38th anniversary, it was extra special for us. The cruise began in Basel, Switzerland and continued through the Alsace region of France, Germany and Amsterdam. Along the way, the ship docked in cities and towns that had a delightful, old-world European charm. Since we were conveniently docked near city centers, we spent our free time, after pre-planned excursions, walking through quaint, historic streets and enjoying what the cities have to offer. The pace of European life is slower than what we are normally used to and made for a very relaxing vacation.

11-20-2013 11-14-47 AMOne of our favorite excursions came on the last day of our itinerary to a site that was on my bucket list. On a beautiful sunny day we visited Amsterdam’s Kinderdijk Windmills, a Unesco World Heritage site, and toured one of the many spectacular and serene windmills, which have been operating since the 1700s.

Our ship was the Viking Rinda. It is one of the new beautifully-designed Longships with a sleek, modern, Scandinavian feel. Although the cabins are somewhat smaller than most ocean-going cruise ships, they are designed for maximum efficiency. We stayed in a French Balcony Stateroom with a sliding glass door that could be opened on nice days and were able to enjoy the passing views from the comfort of our cabin.

Whether dining or relaxing on deck, there is an intimate atmosphere on board the ship. We were among about 180 passengers and this low passenger count enabled everyone to socialize easily and get to know one another. We were well taken care of by the friendly and energetic staff. In fact, due to the high staff to passenger ratio, we felt downright pampered. All the meals were excellent; freshly prepared with local ingredients, portion-controlled and presented like works of art. The chef carefully catered to individual passengers’ dietary concerns.

If you have an anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion coming up, or if you would simply like to relax and feel pampered, Chris & I would welcome the opportunity to explore River Cruising as a possibility for your next vacation.  We can recommend small nuances to your vacation preparations. For example, deciding on which side of the ship to book your stateroom that would allow for the best views for your itinerary. We can also help you decipher the best route, ship destination and itinerary to fit your travel budget. We can communicate any dietary restrictions or preferences to the cruise line, on your behalf. We can also share with you the benefit of our travel experience regarding cultural customs and differences to make your cruise a relaxing, interesting and memorable experience.  Whether you choose a river cruise or another vacation option, we can guide you through the myriad of choices and help make your next vacation unique.

If River Cruising, seems like it might be your kind of get-away, please give us a call at (631) 893-4232 or email: skorte@cruiseplanners.com

CHRIS & SHEILA KORTE, ACC

www.kortetravel.com

Toll Free: (631) 893-4232 ~ 866-81-KORTE (56783)
Local: 631-893-4232

Babylon, NY 11702

Seize Control

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Years ago, when I commuted by train to New York City, I remember feeling powerless and frustrated by delays.  I would feel my blood boil if there was the threat that I would be late.  Once I accepted the fact that I was not in control of whether the train would arrive on time, and took responsibility for what I could change — my commute became downright productive.  I left myself more time to get to the station; I took an earlier train so that even if it ran late, I would still be on time; and finally, I always kept work or reading material at the ready to utilize the time spent commuting in a productive way.  Investing is a lot like the train ride.  It may be unpredictable and you may get anxious, so what can you do to make the most of this experience, instead of allowing yourself to be swept up in frustration? Plenty; but to be effective you can’t get emotional and you can’t panic.  Take this time to assess what you have been doing, and whether or not your strategy needs adjusting.  Here’s a step-by-step plan to empower you in these unsettling times:

1.  What do you own?  It is surprising how many people have tens or hundreds of thousand dollars invested, and yet they are not sure what they own, or what their portfolio is designed to do.  Looking at your asset allocation (how your investments are spread out in the investment arena) is quite important.  In fact, Ibbotson Associates, a leading authority on asset allocation, found that 92% of investment returns are determined by the types of assets owned.  Market timing (buying high and selling low) accounted for just 6% of returns, and individual security selection accounted for a mere 2% of returns.  Meet with your financial professional and discuss how your portfolio is invested not just between the broad categories, like stocks, bonds, and cash, but more specifically in what types of securities.  For example, stocks (ownership in a company) can be grouped by capitalization (size), as in large, medium, and small.  Stocks can also be classified by style:  growth stocks are those that are expected to grow quickly; value stocks are thought to sell for less than they are worth (a “marked down” item, so to speak).  Stocks can also be domestic (US), foreign, global, or from emerging parts of the world economy.  Bonds (a loan) also fall into many categories, and can be issued by the US Government (or other governments), corporations or state and local municipalities.  Alternative type investments, such as real estate, oil, or gold also can play a limited role in a portfolio and act as a hedge.  Make sure the mutual funds owned in all portfolios contain different types of securities, or you run the risk of weighting your portfolio too heavily in one area; a market correction in that area would affect your investment results twice as hard.  If you are not working with a professional, now may be a good time to consider working with a fee-only advisor,  because this analysis takes time and needs to be done thoroughly to consider and minimize investment risks.  Also, your situation may have changed since you constructed your portfolio.  Make sure your asset allocation strategy considers:

  • Your time frame/goals;
  • All investments in all accounts;
  • Investment overlap in individual stocks owned and in mutual funds;
  • Different asset classes (stocks, bonds, etc.), different market capitalizations (large, mid and small companies), different investment styles (growth, value) and different markets (US, foreign, emerging);
  • Where the investments are owned (in a taxable brokerage account, or in a tax-deferred retirement account) because investing without being aware of potential taxes can result in “giving back” your returns in the way of taxes; and
  • If the risks assumed are worth the potential reward.

2.  What is it costing you?  Having investments and not paying attention to the costs is a sure-fire way to handicap your potential returns.  If two portfolios own the same investments (such as the S&P 500 Index), but one’s fees cost 0.20% and you own the other, which costs 2.35%, immediately you have reduced your returns substantially.  In a volatile or down market, paying higher fees can make generating a reasonable return quite unlikely.  Most important, though, is what you forfeit over the long-term when you pay high fees.  As investments compound over time, the cost of high fees becomes more damaging.  Let’s assume these two investments each returned 10%.  After the deduction of fees, the returns are dramatically different: the high-cost investment returned 7.65% versus 9.80% for the low-cost fund.  After many years, these fees would really impact your bottom line.  If you invested $10,000 in each of these investments, after 30 years, the high-cost investment would be worth $91,289; and the low-cost mutual fund would be worth $165,222 – nearly $74,000 more than the high-cost investment.  Of course, this example is hypothetical and does not reflect past or future results for any investment. Click here to read more a more in-depth discussion about fees. 

3.  What is your plan?  Again, the power lies with you.  Maybe you have left your investments unattended and the stock portion of your portfolio is larger than it should be.  Maybe you have not left enough of a cash reserve to cushion the blows from difficult markets.  Perhaps you would benefit from a gradual reallocation of your assets towards a more palatable allocation that won’t keep you up at night.  Maybe you have kept too much in cash and are not earning anything and could benefit from buying low as opportunities arise in this volatile market.  Again, sit with your professional and really go over your objectives, time frame and tolerance for risk (keeping in mind, of course, that an all cash portfolio guarantees you a negative return in this low interest-rate environment).  It has been our finding in working with clients, that accepting 60% of the market’s gains is well worth the protection of declining 60% less than the market in times of trouble. We lean toward a more balanced portfolio allocation for our clients for this reason. 

Remember, until you sell something, you haven’t lost anything.  But looking for ways to buy low and adjusting your portfolio to assume less risk and to pay less in fees will certainly benefit your long-term results in a meaningful way.  The control is yours to seize.  You can choose whether to allow yourself to feel stranded, waiting for the train to pull in, or you can use this time to make sure you are ready to climb aboard when the opportunity presents itself.

 We’re here to help should you need guidance: contact ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. at 631.675.1420.

 

Are You In Denial?

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heartSo, let me tell you a story about this past week.  I’ve worked in healthcare for 27 years and have told many people to seek medical assistance and evaluation for chest pain.  Over the past few days I had been experiencing some symptoms myself.  I had an odd heart “flutter” one day, some shortness of breath one day, and some dizziness another.  My husband said, “Maybe it’s time to go to the doctor,” but I, like those who I had spoken with over the years, was “in denial”.  I had no intention of going to a hospital or a doctor to be told that there was nothing wrong with me and be embarrassed.

Sometimes we all know better, right? 

In this case, today, I finally did get checked out and have a follow-up with a cardiologist shortly.  I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

But, then I started thinking.  How often are we in denial?  Maybe we choose to ignore something has to do with our health, or maybe it has to do with a life situation.  Hate your job but suck it up and go in to be “tortured” each day?  Maybe you’re in denial.  Have a family member that is causing you pain in some way?  Have you addressed it or are you ignoring it?  Maybe you are in denial.  Budget tight and getting overwhelmed with bills coming in the mail with no way to pay?  Are you addressing the situation or ignoring it?  Maybe you’re in denial.

It’s most interesting to me how one situation we may experience can be applied to so many other situations or things that happen in our lives.

What to do?  The first thing is to recognize that there is a situation that may need to be addressed.  That is, perhaps, the biggest step.  Once you identify something, whether it has to do with your health, happiness, financial situation or work life balance (by the way, these are the items that make up the Time to Play philosophy), you can weigh your options.  This is a most important step as there are ALWAYS options, although they might not seem evident.  When reviewing, you will realize that some options are feasible, some options have potential, and some options would never be considered.  Look at all the options you have and evaluate each one.  Perhaps you can narrow the options down to one that would be the best to implement for the situation at hand.  Then it is time to implement it. 

Really.  Not kidding. 

It’s great to come up with ideas on how to make changes, but without actually taking action, they are just that – ideas. 

Do you want a better quality of life?  Take action.  It might be hard the first time you make a change, but life is a learning experience.  Each time we take action, and take control of our circumstances, it gets a little easier.

As far as my heart arrhythmia, I’m sure all will check out fine.  But, if I didn’t address my symptoms, I would have three possibilities that could happen.  One would be that I would continue to worry that something was wrong; it’s not easy to determine if there is a real cardiac event occurring in a woman without medical evaluation.  The second outcome might be that everything would be fine and the symptoms would go away.  We don’t even want to discuss the third potential outcome.

It’s most important to remember anything is possible and that it may be in our power to make a change to prevent a potentially undesirable situation from becoming worse.

Are you in denial?  Look inside and see.  The decision to evaluate your options and move from denial to action may be a good one, like mine was.

Thinking of Selling your Home? Don’t Go It Alone!

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Many homeowners have now seen their equity increase and moves that had been put off are being considered now that conditions have improved. 

 It is time to take advantage of low inventories of homes for sale and  decades- low interest rates.  However,making a move is still a complicated, disruptive and very emotional process.  One would think it should be easier in this high-tech, modern age, but moving remains an intricate process with many “parts”  that need to be coordinated.

 The first step in preparing to make a move should be to choose a “team” whose professionalism and expertise you can rely on – ie. realtor, accountant, financial advisor, attorney etc.  You will want to go over with your team your reasons for moving; the numbers involved in the purchase or sale; the cost of owning the new property including maintenance, repairs and expansion/updating plans; your job situation and employment outlook for your field/career (job security, need to relocate); your hopes and dreams for your family’s future; and your personal assessment of how the move will affect you and your family.  A well-put article – “

Homeownership, the Key to Happiness?”  The NYTimes, 7/14//2013 suggested asking yourself “How will this purchase/sale change the way I spend my time next Tuesday.”  In other words, really consider what life will look like in the new home and location. 

 Choosing an experienced realtor with a solid track record is crucial. A strong agent will help you determine accurate pricing to net top dollar for your home; create and execute a detailed, targeted marketing plan that effectively generates competing offers for your home and a strong buyer; conduct skilled negotiations to solidify the transaction; and coordinate every facet of the transaction from contract through closing, including settling-in services after the move.

 Your accountant and financial advisor will go over the financial impact of your sale and purchase.  They will review this in terms of your plans for building wealth for you and your family as well as consider the short-term impact on your current lifestyle and budget. 

 An attorney will be an important member of your team to advise you on implications of titling a property and how certain options affect estate planning, etc, in addition to guidance on the contract of sale issues. 

 Selling a home need not be stressful or complicated if the right team is put in place right from the start.  Working with top professionals in their fields allow you to make informed decisions and achieve satisfying results – a smooth and profitable move!

HOLIDAYS ARE OVERRATED

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This article does not focus on the religious meaning behind the holidays. My focus in this article is to share my thoughts as to WHY some people feel blue, sad, depressed, and lonely on or around the holidays. ~rln

I’ll never forget the day my only son, who was 16 at the time, said, “Mom, holidays are overrated!” My son’s comment is really an important one. Why? Because to him holidays felt overrated. At the time, I didn’t understand or even agree with his comment, but now I can say that I get it.

What I’m about to share with you is from my own experience and perspective. I do not pretend to have the answers as to why some people feel depressed, lonely, or sad during the holidays. What I can do is share how I changed the way I celebrate the holidays.

How can the season of merriness, joyfulness, festiveness, happiness, and warmth create so much depression, sadness, and loneliness? In my opinion, one of the main reasons is having enormous expectations. Expecting the day to unfold without a glitch. Expecting to be surrounded by loved ones that behave perfectly. Expecting the day to unfold on a timely schedule.  Expecting to give and receive the perfect gift. Expecting magic. Expecting an illusion.

Background

I was brought up in a home where the holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Years Day, Fourth of July, along with my own birthday, were celebrated on a large “Super Bowl” day scale. Yes, my birthdays and holidays were more than just another day. Those “anointed” days became events with growing expectations. So, not only did I have huge expectations for the day, I spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for the day.

Prior to each birthday and holiday I’d purchase new clothes, new shoes, and even new undies. My hair and make-up had to be picture-perfect too. And the gifts; oh, the gifts. I spent a lot of time shopping for gifts with anticipation and high expectations of pleasing someone else! And, if the person I gave the gift to didn’t respond in a manner that I thought was honestly happy and grateful, my day was literally ruined.

As I grew older, my expectations of the anointed days also grew. Houston, we have a problem. Preparing for any holiday actually taught me how to maintain extensive expectations. Preparing for any holidays also taught me how to NOT live in the present moment. When I look back and think about all of the expectations I had prior to the actual day, no wonder I stopped enjoying the holidays, like I did as a child. For me, holidays became an obligation, instead of a celebration. There was too much pressure – too much pressure to enjoy the day.

In 2006, my son left for college in New York City. It was only then that my perception of what a holiday should feel like to me changed. For me, the change came when I discovered that all expectations lead to unhappiness. If you don’t already know, being happy is a major priority for me. When I began eliminating expectations, I literally became happier. Along with eliminating expectations, I began to feel better about spending time alone. I would have never felt good about spending a holiday alone until I felt good about being alone.

Shortly after I began feeling good about being alone, I also began to shift my perception of “special” occasions, including holidays. Let’s think about it. There are 7.2 billion people living on this planet. Are you telling me that on a particular day I’m supposed to celebrate the way other people are celebrating? Who wrote these holiday rules for me to follow? What if I don’t want to celebrate the holidays the way the “masses” celebrate the holidays? Why do I have to talk to or hang out with family on a specific day? Does that mean I don’t love them? No, it does not. It means that I am living and doing on that day what I’m inspired to do – not what I’m obligated to do. It means that I’m living in the moment, and living in the moment means that I don’t know how I’m going to feel on any particular day, including the holiday, until that day is here.

The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been. ~Albert Einstein

What if I want to spend the holiday meditating? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday to hike, or exercise – by myself? Or, what if I want to spend the holiday reading, watching a movie or writing an article about what a fabulous day I’m having? What about that? If I don’t want to hang out with family or friends, am I supposed to feel bad about it? Not any more. You might argue that my loved ones will be disappointed if I chose to exclude them on such an important day. Honestly, if you claim to love me, then you will love what makes me feel connected to the Universe!

What are you doing for the holidays?

I don’t know about you, but the majority of people I know spend a lot of time asking each other, “What are you going to do for the holidays?” Before my new found freedom, I used to make stuff up because I wasn’t convicted in my convictions.

Now, when anyone asks me what I’m doing on Christmas, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, etc., I state with renewed conviction … “absolutely nothing”. I usually hear (out of concern), “Would you like to come to my house?” “No thank you,” I respond lovingly. “I’m spending the day alone”…again. People always look confused because I have a huge smile on my face, and I then I add, “I’m looking forward to the day.” The idea that I should be with family or friends and/or attend a ritual function is a man-made concept anyway.

Finally, after all these decades, I’ve eliminated the pressure and expectations that the holidays used to mean. Yes, holidays are special; however, they’re no more special than any other day in my life. That’s why I celebrate each day, every 24 hours.

How to Shift From Breakup to Breakthrough

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Now that the two of you have split, parts of you are probably feeling frightened and therefore clinging to familiarity. Although you may not be inclined to do so, consider loosening your grip on the past and beginning to experience the profound benefits of broadening out of your comfort zone. You can initiate achievable steps in that direction right now. Extricate yourself from “your side of the bed,” and venture into taboo territory. Roll over to the center, stretch out, hog all the covers, and make as much noise as you like. Now prop yourself up on all of the pillows and read on.
The following is an easy to navigate list to gently guide you out of your comfort zone and into the world of new possibilities. Approach the list at your own pace, perhaps one reflection per day, or one per week. Allow yourself the quiet and privacy that you deserve while you reflect upon what each step means specifically for you.

1. Although it may not be easy to envision, the challenge of divorce can be accompanied by significant opportunity that would not have otherwise presented itself. Identify one goal that you can accomplish now, that you could not have achieved during your marriage. For example, you might go back to school, take up yoga, lose weight, or start your own business.
2. Divorce can often cause our confidence and self-esteem to waver. Recognizing your positive traits is essential at this time. Identify one of these special personality or character traits that can show itself more clearly now than previously. Is it your resilience that is revealing itself, or perhaps your independence?
3. When we are involved in a difficult life transition, we tend to focus inward. Going beyond ourselves is an effective way to find meaning and put our issues into perspective. Identify one new strategy to contribute in some small way towards helping others or impacting the world. For you, maybe it’s volunteering in a literacy program, joining a political club, or “Walking for the Cure.”
4. When you want to see changes in your life, reaching out for support is an important part of the process. Identify three professionals, friends, or family members who can fill this role.
5. Developing a positive vision for yourself can be enormously empowering and can help you stay focused and goal oriented. Create this future image. How do you want to see yourself in five years? Let this vision guide you.

Applying these reflections has been transformative for me and that’s exactly what can happen for you. That’s why I’ve co-created this complimentary workshop with Sherri Donovan, Esq. Together; we will guide you to shift “From Breakup to Breakthrough.” I will coach you through strategies to deal with the emotional and practical aspects of divorce and Sherri will guide you through the legal aspects of divorce. Feel free to bring your questions.

Join us for “From Breakup to Breakthrough” on December 2, 2013 from 6:30 – 8:00 at Sherri Donovan & Associates, P.C. – The Family Center – Downtown Manhattan
Registration required: http://frombreakuptobreakthrough.eventbrite.com/
Questions: Heidi at coachheidik@gmail.com
www.reinventionlifecoaching.com