Mediation Advantage Services - February 2020

FEB 2020

(508) 795-1557 | LIFE IN BALANCE


Along the way to our destination, a few adventures reminded us what can happen when you’re open to life’s possibilities. Our group met up in Munich and boarded our plane headed for Ancona, Italy. Well, in the middle of our flight, we woke up to our pilot speaking in German. We eventually came to understand that due to weather issues, we would be landing in Croatia. After a six-hour minibus ride through Slovenia, we finally reached our destination. Before the workshop had even started, the shared experience of this unexpected detour bonded our group. I’ll be honest, when I first met up with everyone, I wasn’t very receptive. I was exhausted from the flight and didn’t feel like getting to know anyone. By the end of the workshop, however, I’d had one of the best birthdays of my life. Despite our varied experiences, there was a common thread that united our group: No matter what phase of life you’re in, there’s always an opportunity to start over. We were all there honoring this intention and giving ourselves permission to take the next steps in our lives. Each day, we had the chance to journal and talk about our feelings, goals, and visions. We were in a safe place with no judgment where we could share our writing with one another. On my flight home, I wrote the entire time. I’m working on my memoir, and my goal is to dedicate time to it and work on it every week. The workshop was exactly what I needed to give myself the framework and inspiration to make this goal a reality. In addition to taking the workshop, I found myself in the unique position of getting to empower and encourage these other women through the next phase of their lives. Completely unplanned, I led morning meditations, and it ended up being the perfect complement to the work we were doing. The whole experience was a reminder that when you breathe life into your intentions and open yourself up to life’s possibilities, you create room for something wonderful to happen. That’s when miracles occur. –Polly Tatum The whole experience was amazingly cathartic and allowed me to tap into my storytelling side.

In September, I turned 55 and embarked on a life-changing adventure to mark the occasion. It brought me to a tiny mountain community in Italy, where I spent days disconnected from technology. I connected to my own intentions and met several strangers turned friends.

Seven strangers and I from around the globe came together to travel to Montelparo, Italy, where we stayed at a small hotel run by British expatriates. The owners are a husband-and-wife team who dreamed of leaving their corporate careers and buying and renovating a property that would serve as a quiet getaway for others. Their dreams manifested in the Hotel Leone, which focuses on hosting small retreats in the stunning Le Marche region of Italy — think the picturesque hills and greenery depicted in the film “Heidi.” I’ve always wanted to do a workshop on memoir writing, in part to tell my journey of being adopted. So, when I learned about this one-of-a- kind opportunity to put my story in writing, I knew it was the one I’d been waiting for. I took a break from technology, work, and family and gave myself permission to focus on the creative aspect of writing. I was part of a diverse group of women taking the workshop: a contractor in Afghanistan, a four-time divorcée from Hawaii, a retired pediatrician, an amputee, a child cancer survivor, and two women who are lesbians, one with a career in the military. We formed an eclectic group, all there with the goal of learning to tell our stories.

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You Try It: Using your own spices, have a spice-blending competition. Taste-test the creations and decide which recipes are good enough for a repeat and which ones will go down in family history as lofty experiments. Who knows? You may just discover your family’s next favorite meal. MEXICO: THE LUNCH Diners in Mexico often step away from the hustle and bustle of their busy days to enjoy their largest meal of the day: lunch. Though it may surprise you, this cultural tradition has surprising health benefits. Nutritional experts point to making lunch the largest meal of the day as the healthiest dining option, especially to control weight. More calories at lunch keep hunger at bay, which means less afternoon snacking and fewer daily calories overall, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You Try It: Short of packing bigger lunches for your kiddos, try out this style of eating during the weekends. Enjoy large, family-style midday meals and smaller dinners with your loved ones on Saturdays and Sundays to reap the nutritional benefits of a large lunch. STICK A FORK IN IT HEALTHY EATING HABITS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

In the U.S., there’s nothing we love more than our large meat-and- potatoes dinners, but, according to nutritional experts, American-style meals are expanding our waistlines and leading to chronic medical conditions. Push back against these unhealthy habits by checking out these healthier food traditions from around the globe that your whole family will enjoy. JAPAN: THE APPEARANCE In Japanese culture, an emphasis is placed on the look and color of the meal instead of the portion size. Japanese chefs opt for smaller portions of colorful fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish to create gorgeous, nutrient- packed meals. The result is a dish that is as beautiful as it is nutritious. You Try It: Learn the art of making sushi and other Japanese meals with your family. See what creative combinations your family can create, and vote for the best one! As an added bonus, since portions are small, meals are easily transportable to school and work. INDIA: THE SPICE Delicious spices comprise the bold flavors in traditional Indian dishes, and many even boast health benefits. Common ingredients like ginger and turmeric can decrease inflammation in the body while curry powder can aid in digestion and strengthen your bones and heart.

For more information and tips on how to transform your eating habits, visit


IMPROVE SLEEP AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS WITH GRATITUDE JOURNALING Gratitude journaling — when your writing focuses on identifying what you feel grateful for and counting your blessings — has been found to improve sleep, reduce stress, and improve interpersonal relationships, according to NPR. Journaling is so healing, and if you haven’t yet tapped into its power, this is the time to do it. Whatever you are going through — be it a divorce, family death, or mediation — journaling can help you process your experiences and feelings and, ultimately, find healing. _______________________ WE PUT FAMILY FIRST Speaking of strengthening relationships, our practice focuses on family first. We help clients who may need guidance with divorce, family mediation, adoption, elder law, or estate planning. As a small local business, our firm thrives on referrals. Thank you for your referrals, and please continue to tell your friends and family about us!

If you don’t have a journaling habit, it may be time to start one. Research into the effects of journaling has found many powerful benefits of the practice. As clinical psychologist Dr. Shelley Sommerfeldt points out, “Just like talking to someone about feelings, experiences, and emotions, journaling can also allow for the release of these thoughts and allow you to emotionally process what you’ve been dealing with.” Here are three ways journaling benefits your health. BOLSTER YOUR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING Studies on the practice of journaling have shown positive connections to cognitive and emotional well-being. Because writing engages both sides of the brain, you have better access to your intuitive side and can express your feelings more easily through journaling. REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY Journaling allows for an open and honest expression of your feelings. Instead of keeping all those thoughts and emotions stored up in your head, you’re able, through the act of writing, to process and relieve yourself of holding onto them. 2



As Polly shared on the cover, the process of writing something down on paper is cathartic. You are able to share your thoughts and process your experiences. That’s why it’s part of our estate planning process. When you create your estate plan with Mediation Advantage Services, in addition to protecting your assets and ensuring they will go to the people you designate, we also encourage you to write a legacy letter. This is a letter to your loved ones that will be included in your will. When Polly first began practicing, she encouraged clients to record a message or write a note to be delivered to their children once they are gone. But few people actually got around to doing it. Everyday tasks and life in general just got in the way.

give you the opportunity to pass on your stories, your voice, and, most of all, your love to your children.

It’s a process born from personal experience. When Polly lost her dad, she found solace in a voicemail he’d left her. She turned to it for comfort and to remember one of the people she loved most. But one day, the voicemail got deleted. Polly wished she had recorded it. She wished even more that she had a message from her dad telling her how much he loved her and how proud of her he was. Due to her difficult experience, she’s making sure our clients’ families never have to go through the same painful ordeal. At Mediation Advantage, we help every client capture and pass on something that’s more valuable than money. Your character, insights, and stories are recorded and connected to your plan. Through our unique legacy process, you can give your loved ones the most precious gift of all — a lasting expression of your love.

So we built it into our planning process. Instead of getting to it “someday,” we help our clients record their legacy now. We



As I’ve shared throughout this newsletter, there is immense healing power in journaling. So this month, I’m challenging you to journal for 10 minutes a day for 21 days. Specifically, focus your writing on what you’re grateful for.



1. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. 2. In a separate bowl, whisk bananas, soy milk, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla together. 3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir. Don’t overmix. Lumps are okay. 4. Spray a heated pancake griddle with cooking spray, and scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture onto the griddle. Repeat until the griddle is filled. 5. After 3 minutes or when bubbles appear, flip each pancake. 6. After each pancake has risen to double its initial height, remove from griddle. Repeat as necessary until batter is gone. 7. Serve with your favorite toppings! 3 (508) 795-1557

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1 1/2 cups flour 2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Good luck, and please share your experience!

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1/2 tsp salt

2 extra ripe bananas, mashed

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1 cup soy milk

2 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Cooking spray

Inspired by My Darling Vegan


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19 Cedar St. Worcester, MA 01609

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Polly’s Life-Changing Adventure

International Eating Habits Every Family Will Enjoy!

Harness the Healing Power of Journaling


Estate Planning With Heart

Your 30-Day Challenge

Vegan Banana Pancakes


Give the Gift of Life

GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE Feb. 14 is National Donor Day

option to change your mind. Once registered, you will not need to carry your donor card with you, as your status exists in the registry.

JOIN A DONOR DASH. Donor Dash fundraising events pop up all over the country on National Donor Day. These noncompetitive 5K running and walking events are designed to bring donors and recipients together and keep hope alive for those who are currently waiting for a donation. To learn more, or to register for an event, check out PARTICIPATE IN #STARTTHECONVERSATION. Donor Alliance, a nonprofit that works to promote organ donation, began the #StartTheConversation campaign as a way to help spread awareness about organ and tissue donation. Starting the conversation can be as simple as sharing that you registered with your friends and family or as personal as sharing a story about how organ donation has touched your life or the lives of your loved ones. Don’t let another Valentine’s Day come and go in a tide of cellophane, candy hearts, and cheesy cards. This year, get involved in National Donor Day. After all, what better way is there to express the value of love than giving the gift of life?

With all the cards, chocolates, and expensive dinners, it’s easy to get cynical about Valentine’s Day. However, National Donor Day also falls on Feb. 14, and it can refocus our attention back on the real meaning of the day: love. In the U.S., 20 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant. Losing loved ones is one of the most painful aspects of the human experience, and while it is unavoidable, organ donation offers a pathway to help prevent that loss and keep more love in the world.

In the spirit of that love, here are a few ways you can get involved with National Donor Day this Feb. 14.

REGISTER AS AN ORGAN DONOR. Signing yourself up is easy and can be done either online or in person at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. You’ll need official identification to register. Registration is not permanent and you will always have the 4

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