What is the Correlation Between Legal Tips with a Side of Bliss?

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“Follow your passion stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you are in the woods and you are lost and you see a path, then by all means you should follow that.”

Ellen DeGeneres

It is no secret that most people are scared of facing any type of legal issue. Anytime the word lawsuit comes up is very scary, people don’t know what to expect, how to react or how to handle the situation. Legal issues are complicated, ongoing, and expensive. Being involved in the legal field for over 15 years and knowing more less how things work, I got stressed, when I went through a divorce and when I was the Plaintiff in a civil action regarding an auto accident I had. I feel it is important that people are aware of simple guidelines that will make the legal process less intimidating and more productive. If people have an idea of how things work, questions will be more specific, and answers can give a better understanding of possible outcomes. At the same time, it is important to find a time and place to relax and reset our minds to make intelligent decisions. To me life is not black and white, it is a combination of different shades of grey that create equilibrium for us to navigate easier our journey in this world.

In my blogs, I have shared basic legal tips with a side of bliss, my experiences with mindfulness, meditation, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, reiki, vitamins, natural remedies, oils, exercise and other topics, to help with the regular stress that we deal with on our road of life. I also shared my experience at a Shaman Ceremony in the wilderness of Colombia. Since the pandemic, many have changed their habits and way of living. For me, I started hiking every day.  It was something that I normally did only on weekends because during the weekdays, life was hectic with work, school, and family. Recently, I have been walking up very early (for me, 5:30 a.m.) to start my hike. Normally I would just wake at 7:30 a.m. to start my day, however my encounter with nature at the break of dawn has had many positive benefits that I changed my long-term habits without hesitation.

I love to go hiking with my husband, he is super active and 25 years my senior, so I really needed to step up my game.  Of all the things I do and practice to manage stress, having a connection with nature is so far the best. Nature has infinite positive effects on our mental stamina and in our cognitive performance, not to mention all the benefits that regular exercise provides. I also get to experience incredible sunrises, hear incredible sounds of the rushing Truckee River, where we often hike, as well as many birds singing about their upcoming day and smell the many plants and wildflowers. Even get to sample some wild foods such as wild chokecherries which are perfectly red and ripe about right now and not too bad either (bears love them!)

Photo taken by me at the Truckee River looking towards Reno at sunrise, Mayberry Park.

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of smiling and how it is good for our mind, body and spirit, and also a great way to start conversations.  My husband and I do different hikes but often we go near our home where we cross five bridges across the famous Truckee River which runs through Reno from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake in Northern Nevada and simply enjoy the beautiful changing river, each day is different. My husband coined the name ‘Five Bridges Hike’ for the five bridges we cross on the 5-mile hike we often do. After a while of doing the hike, I became familiar with many of the early morning regulars.  My hike became a package deal, I get to enjoy quality time with my husband, chat and enjoy each other’s company, I get to enjoy nature, feel rejuvenated and I get to chat and see all my new friends that I look forward to seeing. I have met many people; they are all special but three of them have a special place in my heart

Andrew is from Poland he walks his dog every day, he lives in Reno but worked in Colombia for 15 years. We enjoyed talking about my country and other things together. I also met Randy and Ellen, they have the biggest shaggy black dogs I have ever seen.  The first time I ran into them I thought they were actually bears! Since, I call them the bears and when they hear me saying that they run towards me. Then I met Hobart, the love of my life (as far as dogs go, my husband insists I include). In a matter of days, we fell in love with each other. His owner is John Kennedy, a retired Captain from the Reno Fire Department, and an amazing guy. Captain Kennedy told us he got to brief three sitting presidents on western wildfires while working for fire services. It is funny that he also follows different stories from Colombia, therefore I enjoy talking to him and seeing Hobart. I was bitten by a dog when I was little, and I am still apprehensive about dogs. Hobart has changed that and brings me happiness and excitement every time I see him, he just makes my day brighter!

Photo Taken by my husband (Me, Hobart and Captain Kennedy)

Probably you are asking yourself, why I am telling you all this? Simple, because we are the managers of our lives and sometimes simple changes can bring us great benefits. I am sleeping less and enjoying life more! I love my time with nature, it is the healthiest thing that you can do for yourself! Being outdoors makes you stronger, it helps your body, mind, and spirit. Sunshine is also a great source of vitamin D, and you get to enjoy fresh oxygen infused air. Hike, walk, kayak, run or whatever your preference is, but don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy nature.  By taking advantage of the bliss in my life I have been able to navigate through legal issues and life in general. There is a strong connection between bliss and everything else, be gentle to yourself, be ambitious, work hard, love, sing, dance and don’t forget to laugh but always remember to keep a balance so you can learn and enjoy whatever you are doing.

There is a cute journal by Monica Sweeney that a friend gave me called, “Let That Sh*t Go”. It is truly an awesome tool to keep track of all the positives in your life. Between working in the legal filed, being a student, wife, daughter, sister and friend, I have learned to adjust better to different scenarios and find more bliss and spread an attitude of gratitude. As my husband’s cardiologist and good friend Dr. Arger says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff!”

What changes have you done to change your routine and help you be more relaxed, content and happy?

The Art of Smiling

Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies. If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that’s beautiful.

Rashida Jones

Do you smile often? Do you love to laugh? I smile a lot, I love to laugh, I love to laugh so much my stomach hurts and I love when my laugh is contagious to others. I have been always like this, maybe it is in my genes because I am from Colombia, everybody in my country loves to smile, laugh, and to be happy.  Colombia is said to be the happiest country in the world for a reason! I have two sisters and a brother, and we grew up laughing about everything and anything, to this day we still do except now it is on the phone. Even though we all live in different countries we manage to keep the humor despite the distance, sometimes I feel that my husband thinks I am crazy when he hears me on video calls laughing for hours and hours. Unfortunately, life is difficult at times, even when we think everything is fine, something will come up to surprise us. We never know how strong we are until strong is our only option!

When you smile and laugh you have the power to relieve anxiety and boost your mood. Smiling helps to release our happy hormones commonly known as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. When we are happy our body releases these hormones, and it directly calms our mind and body. I know there are times when it’s hard to smile and even more difficult to laugh, but if we try it, can make us feels better. Last year has proven to be a difficult year for all of us with the stress and the effects of COVID. I was not an exception. My husband got really sick, he had two heart surgeries and over a dozen cardioversions, at some point, I thought he was not going to make it. I was very stressed but at the same time, I needed to be strong for him and for both of us. It was hard to go through all this without any family and barely any friends because of COVID. My family couldn’t fly from Colombia, and my friends couldn’t give me company due to COVID restrictions.

My husband had his first surgery on a Friday, I was waiting patiently for over 5 hours trying to maintain positive feelings about his situation.  His surgeon finally came out and told me we needed to wait until the next day to make sure the surgery was successful. I was not allowed to stay with my husband which made me even more stressed. Saturday comes and I was excited to go see him, it was also my birthday and all I wanted was to hear good news. I got to the hospital and still remember my husband’s face, his surgery was not successful. We were both sad and worried about what was coming next. A friend called me and offered to take me out for lunch. I desperately needed to get out of the hospital and breathe some fresh air.  I remember hugging my friend and crying. I then told her I want it to laugh, I needed to think about something funny to release all my stress. And we did, as weird as this sounds, laughing in that moment of panic, of uncertainty, and mostly of sadness, made me feel more centered and ready to deal with whatever was coming next. I returned to the hospital, and I felt more relaxed, of course laughing is not going to take your problems away, but it is a mechanism that we can use to ease our emotions and to help us with our anxiety. Luckily, my husband recovered, and now after a year and a half he is healthy and happy.

When I feel a little down or anxious about something, I just smile and focus on people and memories that make me happy. It really works, just the gesture of a smile on your face changes your attitude. It is as simple as putting on a happy face! There are many articles explaining how smiling releases stress and anxiety, enhances positive emotions, one’s immune system, helps with circulation and also reduces the risk of heart disease. Jane Plant, a chief scientific advisor to the British Government explained “smiling is a way of tricking your brain into thinking everything is ok, even if is not.” Facial movements can really have an effect on your emotional experience. So next time that you are stressed out or that you are going through a difficult moment, take a big breath or two and remember to smile, try to laugh, help yourself feel relaxed so you can have a clear mind to make decisions. Smiling is free, is contagious, and is worthwhile. Were you aware of all the benefits of smiling?

Other Alternatives to Reduce Stress & Anxiety

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“A healer’s power stems not from any special ability, but from maintaining the courage and awareness to embody and express the universal healing power that every human being naturally possesses.”

Eric Micha’el Leventhal

There are many things that you can explore to reduce stress and anxiety. I have been discussing how you can practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga and try different natural remedies, vitamins and oils, all to reduce stress and anxiety. You can also get in touch with nature with activities such as hiking, kayaking, running or whatever your preference is, there are many options, it all depends on what works for you. I love to explore different options and experiences and share my opinions with others. Here is what I discovered with acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and reiki.

Acupuncture is an important alternative medical option. It came to us from China and involves the insertion of very tiny needles in different parts of your body, depending on the treatment and issues. This technique is used mostly for pain, but can be used for wellness, stress reduction and anxiety. Acupuncture is a technique that balances the flow of energy stimulating the body’s immune and circulatory systems.  I have used acupuncture for migraines and muscle pain after a serious car accident I had several years ago and also for general stress reduction. When I receive acupuncture, I lay face down on a comfortable table and the acupuncturist insert needles in my ears, head, arms, legs and ankles. You relax for about 45 minutes and can definitely feel the energy begin to freely flow again.

After about 5 minutes after the insertion of the needles, my body feels really heavy and relaxed. The practitioner checks on you periodically and after the time is up, the needles are removed. Then I usually get a short massage with the Chinese oil that I mentioned in a previous post, “Po Sum On”. I always feel great after I leave, the technique is painless, and I find it very helpful.  If you happen to live in Reno and want to try acupuncture, I recommend that you go to “The Path of Wellness”, the owner Dr. Maureen McKenney is very knowledgeable and dedicated to each of her patients.

Hypnotherapy is a great way to reduce anxiety through relaxation and visualization. It allows you to focus on the positive aspects of your life encouraging a shift of perspective. I have a good friend that has been doing hypnotherapy for a while with really positive results.  I was curious and decided to try a few sessions to experience it myself.  First, I have to say that I thought hypnotherapy was going to be like is depicted in movies and television. Someone hypnotizes you and then you are out for a while until they snap their fingers and you come back, reprogrammed to whatever you wanted.  It is nothing like that. In my first session, I discussed with the therapist what I wanted to accomplish and in accordance with that, the therapist prepared an individual plan for me.

My hypnotherapist had a very comfortable chair that was adjustable to your preference, you can lay all the way back or just sit comfortably upright. Before the session starts, you close your eyes, and the therapist starts talking, imagine a guided meditation tailored to your needs specifically. After about an hour, the session ends, and you are prompted to open your eyes. I cannot describe how good I felt after this!

After my first session, I was so relaxed that I had to go to Starbucks to get a coffee to perk me up just so I could drive home! I arrived home around 4:00 p.m. and fell asleep until the next day, I must have been stressed!  I learned that hypnotherapy is very useful to treat stress but also it can be very beneficial to end addictions, reduce fears and phobias, improve sleep and generally to reset your mind. Again, if you are in Reno, I highly recommend Jeanne Robinson at Sierra Springs Hypnotherapy. She is amazing at what she does.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation. It is administered by “laying on hands”. You lay down in a table, face up, listening to soft music. The practitioner holds their hands lightly over different places of the body to transfer energy. In an older post I mentioned Jin Shin Jyutsu, a healing art of harmonizing the body through gentle touch over specific areas of the body to balance and restore energy flow, Reiki is similar to that, it treats the whole body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation, feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. This is another great and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. I tried Reiki in Colombia and Mexico so I do not have any local recommendations but would love to hear about one you may have!

Here are just few of the many options to reduce stress and anxiety.

Have you tried acupuncture, hypnotherapy, or reiki? If so, how what was your experience?

The Wonders of Marriage and the Odds of Divorce

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“Heartbreak is a loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid

A good marriage is a number one dream for many women. Many of us dream about our prince charming and living in a house with the white picket fence, in no-crime neighborhoods with good schools to boot! We make plans to have the perfect family and the perfect life, unfortunately many marriages end up in divorce.  I have always thought that if I knew how painful and difficult divorce could be, I would have never married in the first place! Every case is different, while some divorces are like the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner’s movie “The War of Roses”, others go smoothly when the parties maintain a modicum of civility. There are many different circumstances that make every case unique, if you or somebody you know, is going down the unfortunate path of divorce, it is important to seek legal advice to better understand your rights, responsibilities, and the different avenues you can pursue. I am an attorney and at the time of my divorce, I made my decisions with my heart not with my head, I refused to seek help from a family law expert and ended up quitclaiming all our community property to my ex-husband and settling for pennies on the dollar in the process. Here are some of the main points you may want to think about if you are contemplating divorce.

In the state where I live, Nevada, if you are getting a divorce, you have two options. First, you can file a Joint Petition for Divorce, if both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. You can file this document together with a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) to divide property and debts. If the parties do not have many assets or debt, and agree on all other terms, the Joint Petition will usually suffice. One of the parties need an Affidavit of Resident Witness to prove to the Court that he/she has been a resident of the State of Nevada for at least the preceding six weeks prior to the filing of the petition.  After submitting these documents to the Court, you can expect a Decree of Divorce within 2 to 4 weeks. It works the same way if you are filing for a Joint Petition for Divorce with children.  Things are a bit more complicated here, however, because in the petition you need to specify everything related to custody, child support, health insurance and other important decisions that are related to the wellbeing of the children involved. As a woman, you have the option to return to your maiden-name if you changed your last name to your husbands at the time of marriage.  If you do request a name change, you are going to need a certified copy of the Divorce Decree to change your driver’s license, social security, passport, credit cards, etc. Before you go to these offices make sure you check with them directly as to what other documents are required in order to make the desired change, then get ready to spend hours navigating (fun) bureaucracies.

If the parties are not in agreement, then the only option is to file a contested divorce. The party that files first will be the Plaintiff and the respondent will be the Defendant. Once the complaint is filed by the Plaintiff, a summons is issued by the court. After Defendant is served with these documents, he/she has 20 days to answer and then fasten your seatbelts, the fun is about to begin! Many states like Nevada are community property states. Make sure that you ask your attorney how this affects the division of property and debt. Depending on the type of custody granted by the court, one of the parties may be responsible for child support. The amount of child support is calculated by a formula applied to the responsible parent’s income. There is also the possibility of alimony, also commonly referred to as spousal support.  This again is different in every case and awarded only in specific cases.

I have seen clients and friends spending outrageous amounts of money on legal fees in divorce proceedings. If you think you are all done with the process when the divorce is finalized, you would be sadly mistaken. If you have children and one party is not following the terms of the Decree of Divorce the battle can go on for years.  It is unfortunate that many parents spend more time fighting instead of looking out for the happiness and well-being of their children. If you think there is no other option but divorce, then make sure that you reach out to a family attorney, but if you think you can work things out, put all your best efforts towards that avenue. I see my divorce as one of the most painful experiences that I had to endure. Today after 15 years, I now understood it was the best decision for me.  I cried a lot, learned a lot and what I had to go through made me the person that I am today. I realized is better to forgive and forget. Today, I have a great relationship with my ex-husband and I never thought that would happen, it makes no sense to go through life with bad feelings for someone that was a major part of your life. 

Are you or somebody that you know going through divorce? If so, please get legal advice from a family attorney to understand your options.

My Trip to the Unknown Part II

“When you reunite with your soul, everything that you think changes and all of the pain goes away.”
Gerard Armond Powell

My name was called. I am sitting on the floor in that house with the thatched roof in the middle of nowhere in Colombia facing Carlos, the shaman, without knowing what was coming.  I was feeling tired and nauseous from the Yopo I inhaled earlier. Carlos was a very nice guy, but I have to admit he looked kind of scary. He asked me why I was visiting and what was going on. I told him that I was newly divorced and was having a hard time adjusting. He didn’t say much and started signing some weird song I couldn’t understand, it was in a strange dialect. Because I was in the middle of the room my parents were able to see clearly what was going on. There was a fire close to where I was sitting, it was more like a bonfire, Carlos was singing and touching my head with his hands and with his mouth, my parents told me it looked like he was emulating swallowing the bad thoughts from my head, and then he was spitting that in the fire. I started feeling more relaxed and felt a sense of peace.

After about 10 minutes Carlos came back and sat across from me. This time he told me that I had a lot to be thankful for and reminded me of how many people love me and care for me. He then gave me a small bowl with some weird-looking beverage in it. He told me to drink up and get ready for the best trip of my life! I remember the taste was strange, but I was not expecting anything different. I didn’t realize what I was drinking was “Ayahuasca” also known as “Yage”. I started feeling more nauseous and lost track of time. I vomited again and then started hallucinating. I was seeing things, hearing things, it was overwhelming. 

 I don’t know how to describe what happened next, but literally, it felt like my soul came out of my body and I was seeing Carlos, my parents, the rest of the people and myself from above. My body was below me, but my soul was in another place. I couldn’t understand what was happening, I felt for a moment I was going crazy and felt like I was dying, but then suddenly a sense of peace came over me. Shortly after I started having visions of myself when I was 3 years old, memories of my grandparents that were dead and other family members and friends that had passed on, it was crazy, but also emotional and so peaceful in a way I can’t describe. I felt like I went through all my life having visions rush by me of all the best moments of my life with all the people that love me and care for me. 

The purpose of the “trip” I guess was to remind me of all the positives I had in my life. It felt like I was floating and flying, it was fun and scary at the same time, but the whole time I had this sense of tranquility, suddenly I felt this weird force that I can’t explain, I heard many voices, laughs, weird noises.  My vision went back to that thatched roof  house again, it was time to come back and I did. It felt like when you are sleeping and suddenly wake up because you think you are falling out of bed, I came  back abruptly but then after seeing Carlos  and my parents, I felt peaceful, calm but really, really nauseous. My parents told me while I was sitting there, I was crying, laughing and even screaming at times. I know this sounds strange but that was my experience.

Some of the others in my group had a less meaningful experience, I guess it just depends, as everyone is different, my friend I mentioned going through an equally hard divorce had a hard time and for him, it was more an inconvenience. I had hallucinations for several hours (my parents reported…my sense of time was obviously altered). After the ceremony was over, I was sent home with some bottles containing some weird beverage that I was supposed to drink for 3 days. I had nothing to lose, so I drank everything and was sick to my stomach for days, I vomited so many times that I lost count. Out of a sudden, few days later, I was feeling very different, in a good way. I wanted to talk and do things, my appetite was back, the real me was returning.

I often think about that day, I don’t know what really happened, I don’t understand if in some way my mind was “reset”, the only thing that I know for sure is that what happened changed my life in a major way, call it a miracle, faith, fantasy, I don’t know, nor do I really care. If I had the opportunity to go back today and repeat this experience I don’t know if I would do it. I have been reading all these years about Ayahuasca and understand it can be very powerfulbut at the same time very dangerous. I was lucky that my Shaman Carlos knew what he was doing and also that my body and my spirit took the experience in the best way possible, but not all people do. There was something magical and strange that happened to me that day, whatever it was I am forever thankful because it changed my life for the better.

Have you or anybody you know experienced Ayahuasca or a Shaman’s experience such as I had?

My Trip to the Unknown Part I

“Humans are a part of creation and shamanism is our way of connecting with the whole.”
 Will Adcock

Lately, I have been reading different articles regarding “psychedelic therapy” to treat depression. It is indeed an interesting topic that many may think of it as unusual, wacky or simply not credible.  A recent article from BBC News, mentioned that a powerful hallucinogenic drug known for being used at shamanic rituals is being tried as a potential cure for depression for the first time. How crazy is this? Perhaps not too crazy. This new treatment could offer an alternative for some that don’t respond or can’t tolerate regular prescription medication for depression. The drug is known as the “Spirit Molecule” because of the way it alters human consciousness and has the active ingredient of Ayahuasca, a popular plant from the Amazon region used to bring spiritual enlightenment and freedom from depression and anxiety.

Allow me to relate my story.  In 2005, I was recently divorced. I was young, very much in love and divorce was something that I never thought would happen to me, but did. We grew apart and it was very difficult. I changed my entire life for my then husband, I left family, friends, my country of Colombia and my career to build a life with my husband in the United States. Just when I thought I was getting used to things, everything went south. I have always been a very outgoing and happy person, but divorce really hit me hard and I became severely depressed. After my divorce, I left Reno and when home to Colombia to be with my family. At the time I thought my life was over, I was deeply sad and nothing seemed to give me any hope. I spent endless days in bed, crying, feeling sorry for myself, I was not eating and stress was taking a severe toll on me. My parents did everything in their power to help, but nothing seemed to work. After about a month with my family a friend of mine returned to Colombia from Europe. He was going through divorce as well and together we were the perfect combination for disaster at the time. His family was having a hard time with him, just like as my family was with me, he was devastated and nothing was working for him either. 

That is when the idea of a Shaman ceremony came in into the picture.  His family told my parents about this Shaman, that was coming from the Amazon jungle to a special ceremony just hours away from my home in Bogota. I know my parents were reluctant to even consider such a thing, it was something that they were not familiar with and my sister, being a doctor married to a psychiatrist, thought it was a ridiculous idea. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but, I was tired of feeling depressed all the time so my friend, his family, my parents and I decided to embark on the crazy adventure to participate in the Shaman ceremony hoping to get healed.

It was a Saturday at the end of January in 2005, we woke up very early and hit the road for about 3 hours.  We got to a little town in Colombia called Sesquile. Friends of the Shaman were waiting for us downtown and we started our journey of hiking for about 3 hours, uphill all the way! The Shaman’s friends looked like regular campesinos from a little town.  They were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. We finally got to a little village in the middle of nowhere. There were about 20 people and we were all seated in a circle in a place that looked like this.

There were a couple of natives that welcomed us. The natives seemed from another town and were dressed in beautiful dresses with colored feathers and different collars made with animal skin. They explained that before the Shaman appeared they had to make sure that our souls were clean.  In order to do that, they said we had to inhale some natural plant and that even though it was going to feel that we were dying, they assured all of us everything was going to be ok. There was no way out at that point, so we all went for it. I noticed there were many buckets around and I did not understand the purpose. After everybody inhaled Yopo, a plant similar to Ayahuasca but less powerful, I understood what the buckets were for as everyone who inhaled got sick and vomited. The way to clean the soul was more about cleaning the body, and certainly not fun. After everybody was “cleansed”, the natives started singing in their dialect and waving different plants in the air.

They then started to play some musical instruments that I have never seen before in my life that looked like flutes, then Shaman finally appeared. His name was Carlos, he was very tall and looked like a shaman from a movie, I should say the whole thing looked like something from a Hollywood set! He was wearing a super nice dress and he had a crown with different colored feathers. He was smoking a cigar and then he danced with the other natives for a while spreading all these different plants around everybody. Of the 20 people, only five of us were there for special healing, the other 15 were just family that came for moral support. Carlos started calling the five of us one at a time, and that is when the real fun began…. Stay tuned for part 2!

Essential Oils and their Magic

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“It doesn’t get much greener than essential oils: when used correctly, they are among Mother Nature’s most potent remedies.”

Amy Leigh Mercree

In my journey to peace of mind and stress reduction, I discovered the magic of essential oils and how they help us embrace wellness. I have to admit that at the beginning I was kind of hesitant to try, for me essential oils were just a great complement to a massage, well, I was wrong.  Essential oils help us mentally, physically, and emotionally. In one of my past blogs, I wrote about mindfulness and being in the moment, a great way to practice mindfulness is through smells.  Our sense of smell is immediate and very powerful, some smells will cause us to experience some emotion or excitement and others may remind us of a past memory.  Other smells, like the smell of delicious food will make us hungry or make us crave that food.  Smells have important effects on our mental and physical health.

Essential oils can be used by directly applying the oil to the skin or by using a diffuser this practice is called Aromatherapy. It all depends on your personal preferences, if you like the smell to be more intense you can use a diffuser and put it in your bedroom while you sleep. If you prefer to apply the oil directly to your skin, there are many oils that come in a roll-on presentation and is a great way to carry it with you. As far as brands, I love doTERRA, they have many products that are very high quality, and they sell many blends that people love. Another brand that I recently tried is “Guru”.  Guru has a lot of blends and many roll-on options for a fraction of the price of doTERRA products.  It comes up to what helps you individually, many have better luck with one brand over another.

Essential oils have many benefits they support digestion, boost energy levels, reduce toxicity, relieve headaches and migraines, promote sleep, alleviate aches and pains, boost skin and hair health, reduce stress and anxiety, improve brain function, boost immunity and fight infections among many other benefits.

There are an infinite number of oils for different treatments and purposes, some just smell great!  The following are my favorite for stress, anxiety and relaxation.

Lavender: you can find lavender also in a blend from doTERRA as Aroma Touch, Balance and Breath. If you are going to apply this topically, do it in your chest and your wrists during the day. At night put it at the bottoms of your feet to improve your sleep and promote relaxation. For anxiety, the best way to feel an immediate relief is to put a couple drops in your hands and then take some time to smell the flowers!

Clary Sage: you can find clary sage in blends from doTERRA as Aroma Touch, Balance and Serenity. Clary Sage is great for stress relief, mood balance and sleep. The best way to use this one is in a warm bath.  Put 4 to 5 drops in a bath and just enjoy the moment. This oil also works great as a massage oil for hands and feet.  You also have the option with any oil to use it in a diffuser.

“Whisper” by doTERRA and “Calm” by Guru: both of these oils promote a sense of calming.

“Deep Blue” from doTERRA: a magnificent complement to a massage. It is specially blended to relax muscles.

“Po Sum On”: I was introduced to this oil in acupuncture.  This oil is dark, has a very particular smell and it is great for soreness, muscle relaxation and also helps with circulation. Directions are easy…see the name!

If you want to learn more about essential oils, there are many books available.  I particularly like “Essentials of the Earth” it has an excellent description of many oils for different issues.

Do you love essential oils as much as I do? If so, which one is your go to oil?

What is Discovery?

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“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Supreme Court Justice

If you ever have had the pleasure of being part of a legal action, I am sure you have heard the term “discovery”. So what exactly does discovery mean? Discovery is the period where the parties in a legal action, exchange documents, witness information and other material relevant to their case. It generally starts right after all Defendant(s) have answered Plaintiff(s) complaint and depending upon the agreement of the parties, the cut-off of discovery is between 45 and 90 days before the scheduled trial date. If you are a Plaintiff or a Defendant you are going to be an active part of the discovery process either by deposition, interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions or all the above.

I wanted to share some of the basics of discovery in case you ever have to go through the process. Even for me, employed in the legal field, it was hard when I was the plaintiff in a civil action regarding an automobile accident. You see things differently when you are the one involved. In my deposition, I felt attacked by opposing counsel, there were many questions that did not seem to make any sense and questions seemingly not directly related to my case, however, I stayed calm, and my attorney was very good at making appropriate objections when necessary. I also remember running in circles trying to answer all discovery requests. My best advice is to keep open communication with your attorney, do your homework and legwork and make an appointment to review the final product. Here are my thoughts regarding the main discovery items:

Deposition: If you are the Plaintiff in a legal action, the Defendant is going to request you get deposed and vice versa. Depositions are usually taken at an attorney’s office or at a court reporter’s office. A notice of deposition is sent with the date, time and location but before that, your attorney will meet with you in order to prepare you for your deposition. Depending on the case and the number of parties involved, a deposition can last hours or even days in complex cases. Usually depositions are pretty straightforward, opposing counsel will explain the process, you will be sworn in by a notary and then get ready to get inundated by questions. It is normal to feel intimidated, scared and even angry, but don’t worry, your attorney will be there the whole time and if there is anything out of the ordinary, he or she will object to the question. Stay calm and answer the questions with precision, there is no need for extended storytelling. Depositions are recorded and videotaped in most cases.  Remember you are under oath and any false statements can have negative legal repercussions for you. Your attorney will get the transcript of your deposition and then you will have the opportunity to review it and request any changes if there are any mistakes or misunderstandings.

Interrogatories: are questions prepared by either the plaintiff or defendant regarding the case.  Depending on the jurisdiction the time to answer varies.  In Nevada, you will have 30 days and together with your answers, you have to provide a notarized verification stating that your answers are true and correct. I have seen many getting frustrated with interrogatories. There are usually a lot of questions, and some can be intimidating and quite confusing. If you are the answering party, try to do your best, answer as much as you can and then get together with your attorney to work on the final product to ensure that all answers and objections are complete and correct.

Request for Production of Documents: as the interrogatories, this is a request that the plaintiff prepares for the defendant to answer and vice versa, in order to produce documents for examination.  Depending on the case, documents can be medical records, reports, tax forms, letters, emails, pictures, photographs, drawings, etc. This request is usually sent at the same time with interrogatories. Instead of trying to put together numerous documents, many attorneys send releases for the answering party to sign making it easier for both parties to get access to the records requested. The same time frame of 30-day response time applies in Nevada.

Request for Admissions: here a party requests that the opposing party admits or denies a statement. Just like with interrogatories and requests for production, if you have to answer a request for admissions do your best. Your attorney will review everything before the final product goes out.

When you are finished with this process you may need an adult beverage (or two). Ask your lawyer to take you out to your local pub but check first if it will be “on the clock”. If so, you might want to just go by yourself, it will be a lot cheaper!

I hope this helps a bit to understand the basics of discovery.  Have you been part of a lawsuit? If so, have you ever been deposed?

Real Estate Bidding Wars Part II

“Don’t wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait.”

Warren Buffet

In Part I of my “Real Estate Bidding Wars” post, I shared my general perspective of our current housing market. In Part II, I want to share with you, some personal experiences in this area, in hopes that it can help whoever is house hunting.  I have been looking, with my husband, for a new house since April and since we are not in a hurry, we have the luxury to be picky in this market.  I understand many are anxious just to get a house yesterday, but for me it is more than that, I have a lot of boxes to check before I am interested in touring a house and since this is going to be a very big investment, I am taking the time to make an intelligent decision. However, it is hard because you also have to act quickly if you want any chance at any house, if a house comes on the market on a Wednesday usually sellers want to review offers by Friday, if not before. Then you have a few hours to decide if you like the house, if you want to make an offer, how much you should offer and then prepare for all the extra surprises that sellers may demand if there are somehow inclined to take your offer.

In the last 3 months, I have toured 6 houses and put an offer in on two. I would describe the two offers like night and day. When I started this journey with my husband, we did not know how crazy the market was, we heard crazy stories, but I thought people were overreacting. They were not.  We placed an offer in on one of the first homes we toured. It was a beautiful home that checked all the boxes, almost new, full of upgrades, great neighborhood. We had two days to place our offer before the seller cut off the buying process. All went smooth, we received a fairly recent inspection from the seller together with disclosures and all the documents regarding special assessments, HOA transfer fees, and even an economic contribution, yeah that’s right, some Homeowners Associations charge a one-time economic contribution of 1% of the final sale price.  At least we knew everything about the house before placing our offer, we had the time to go over everything with our realtor and just went for it. Our offer was very generous, unfortunately, someone else was even more generous, so we lost that one.  Bummer! It’s OK, it was our first try!

Our second offer was more like Nightmare on Elm Street (the name of the street has been changed to protect the guilty). A house that I saw two years ago came back on the market on Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. I requested a showing that we got the same day at 2:00 p.m. By 3:00 p.m. my husband and I were done touring the house and asked what the deadline for an offer was, our agent said Tuesday, after the long holiday weekend. At 4:15 p.m. I received a message from my agent saying that we had an hour to make any offers. My husband was reluctant, but I convinced him, and we made an offer of 10% over asking. The purchase offer was discussed and prepared in a complete rush, sellers were requesting to stay a few months until they found a new home.  We agree to that and told our agent we wanted a lease agreement with fair market rent and deposit. Well, guess what? In this market, in our area we were told it is customary to give free rent to make your offer more attractive! So we did, we offered free rent but requested a deposit. By 8:30 p.m. I got a text from my agent “Sellers accepted the offer, but with few small stipulations.” The small counteroffer included no deposit and no inspections. For us these were problematic as our costs just to own the home, pay tax and HOA was considerable and we did know the home had been bought and sold numerous times in past several years (possibly a red flag).

I cannot tell you how many texts and emails we received from our agent that weekend asking us to counter back so we could close the deal. Our agent told us that the sellers had multiple cash offers but that she was working hard to get us in the house. We had lost all interest at this point and decided to go no further. A week ago, after everything on the home closed, I finally got the chance to see how much the house actually sold for, we had offered asking price plus 10% and free rentback when we lost interest in the deal. The house actually sold for 4% over asking. What does that tell you? Don’t get pressured, ask questions, don’t buy into hype, do your research and trust your gut, I believe there were no other great offers, ours was the best and perhaps the only one at that time. Certainly, the sellers were hiding something by not allowing inspections and refusing to provide full disclosures. It is probably better at this point to buy new from a construction company, but homes are scarce and inventory low.

It has been fun, stressful and very educational and we will keep on searching! Future looks better every day!

Have you bought a house in the last 4 months? If so, I would love to hear your experience.

Real Estate Bidding Wars Part I

“The best time to buy real estate was 5 years ago.”

Ray Brown

Real estate is a hot market for sellers, but buyers have to be crazy to get themselves into this war. I have to admit I am part of that group of crazies!  I got remarried almost 3 years ago and at the time, I convinced my husband to move into my condo.  After I got divorced, I bought my condo and over the years I have done many upgrades.  It is hard for me to let go, but I finally made the decision that we need more space. We started our journey in April and let me tell you it has been a roller coaster of emotions, surprises, and learning. I am not an expert in real estate, but this is definitely a bubble, the million-dollar question is when is it going to burst and what is going to happen when it does? Nobody knows. Differently from what happened between 2008 and 2013, this time lenders are being really careful approving loans and people are getting scrutinized. Buyers are putting down at least 20% to 25% or more of the price of the house, if not just paying cash altogether.

Back in 2011, I was working for a law firm that did foreclosure defense, foreclosure mediation, and bankruptcies.  It was a constant adrenaline rush, every day we got a client with a notice of sale for the next day, meaning we had to act fast filling all the pleadings with the court to stop the sale that usually was set to happen on the courthouse steps early the next morning.   People were desperate, many had to do short sales or cash for keys while others were not that fortunate and were foreclosed on or had to file for bankruptcy. I think what is happening now is different.  To start, a high percentage of buyers are paying cash and the buyers that are financing, are paying very low interest rates.  However, at some point, the market will fluctuate again.  

Let’s say there is a house priced at $700,000 and in order to get it, you have to offer at least $780,000. Yes, you read that right, if you are not involved in the real estate market right now it is true, if you want a house, get ready to reach deep into your pockets! Then, say you invest another $50,000 in repairs and now you are at $830,000. Later on, market goes down, the house is valued at $680,000 bidding wars are over, what do you do if you need to sell? Loose $150,000? My advice, if you want to buy a house now, make sure you want to live there for a while.

I live in Reno, Nevada and the inventory of houses is very low at this time. Cash offers are very popular. California buyers are dramatically affecting our marketplace as they are selling their places for a ton of money and come to Reno to buy a much bigger home for way less. The market was pretty crazy a couple of months ago, houses were selling the same day for at least 10% over asking price. I follow the market daily and have seen significant changes within the last couple weeks. Houses are taking a bit longer to sell and offers over the asking price are between 4% and 5%, if at all, some homes are even seeing price cuts.  I dedicate at least an hour a day to my real estate research.  I sit down with my husband, and we look at homes we like.  For me, it is important to see the price per square foot, taxes, Home Owners Association (HOA) fees if there is one, curb appeal, neighborhoods and most importantly the history of the property.  If it has sold 5 times in the last 6 years, then something could be amiss.  Also, as mentioned, many homes have HOA fees that could range from a few bucks up to $700 a month.  I pay $300 a month in HOA fees and while I am not a fan, I think HOA is important in order to have some protections.

So, what had happened to us in our journey? Well, so many wild things! Stay tuned for Part II and please share your experiences if you are sharing this crazy ride!