On May 15th, 2018…

The official release date is May 15th! Get the book EVERYONE will be talking about. On Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at fine bookstores.


Tackling Those Old Photo Albums

From guest blogger, Mollie Bartelt of Pixologie

When thinking about planning for the future, we often consider our financial situations, health status, living arrangements and much more. However, our family photo collections routinely are left to the bottom of the priority list. Most people know it’s a problem, but are just not sure where to start.

Why Should We Take Time To Save Our Photos
Family photos are integral to passing down family values, celebrating the best in life and connecting generations. Deborah Gilboa, MD says that “organizing and displaying photographs connects children to our families, our values and life goals for them.” In her experience, photos teach respect, show responsibility and build resiliency in children.

In addition to those important reasons, when we take the time to save our best photos and document who is in them, we are leaving our legacy to future generations. Our children do not want to deal with a mess of albums, boxes of photos and unidentified relatives.

Lastly, when we save our photos (ensuring they are scanned and backed up), our memories are preserved if an unfortunate disaster hits. I have met people who have been in housefires, floods and even the wildfires out west. They have expressed deep regret for not protecting their photos.

Preparing to Remove Photos From Albums
For this article, I am focusing on photo albums, but many families have boxes and bags of photos stored many places in the home. It is important to bring all of your photos to one place with the goal of saving the best photos.

If you want to preserve your photos for future generations, your photos have to come out of the albums at least temporarily for organization and scanning. The decision of whether to put the photos back into albums lies with you. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do I want to have these albums forever?
  • Will my kids want these albums?
  • Are my photos safe in them?
  • Are these albums in good condition?
  • Will I want or need to downsize my home someday?
  • As you look through photo albums, do any photos stand out that you no longer need to save?

Remember, back in the day; it was normal to save every photo taken because we had so few to look through. If you do decide to continue using photo albums, chances are, you’ll want to get rid of poor quality photos and place the good pictures in new, photo safe albums. Another option is storing the photos in high quality, photo safe archival boxes.

Getting Started
First, be sure you are prepared for quick action in working with your albums. This is no time for memory lane if you want to finish saving your photos. Here’s a list of items that will be helpful for you as you start removing photos.

  • Photo boxes or bins
  • Index cards and Post-It notes
  • Photo labeling pencil
  • Spatula for sticky album pages or dental floss 
  • White gloves if you have very old, fragile photos

As you take photos out of the albums, only keep the best photos that help tell your family story. You can place them in photoboxes or bins temporarily (if returning to the albums) or you can put them in a photo safe archival quality photo box. I like to use index cards or dividers to separate the photos by year.

Later on, when you are scanning the photos, then the digital files can be labeled by year. If you prefer, you can also divide your photos up by person or subject. However, chronological order is great if you are dealing with many photo albums. We recommend our clients create an Age Chart to help with estimating the dates of photos you don’t know. 

Which Photos to Keep?
It can be overwhelming to look at decades of accumulated photo albums. Think of your role as a curator. No one wants to look at all the photos of a lifetime. Instead, you will want to select the best photos and stories out of a generation or more of photos that the family can enjoy together.

 Here’s some thoughts as you think about what to save.

  • Identifiable people: save the photos where you know who is in the picture and why the event is significant to the family
  • Vacations: save the very best photos with family members in the picture. Save a few of the best landscape scenes
  • Repetitious photos: Never mind duplicates, repetitious photos are boring to look at. Think of the many birthday parties with one picture for each present a child opened.

Remember we are trying to save the photos that tell the essence of what life was like back in the day. We don’t need to save a photo for every moment that was caught on film. 

Scanning Photos
With today’s available technology, scanning photos can be easy. Using a flatbed scanner is definitely not going to be a good answer. We recommend using the Kodak Alaris Picture Saver Scanning System. The high speed scanner can scan photos up to 1000 photos an hour, depending upon how prepared you are. In addition, it scans both the front and the back of a photo if you’d like to preserve any handwritten notes. If you don’t have a local place to rent this scanner, use the contact information below and we can arrange to have a scanner system shipped to you.

Wrapping Up
Hopefully, this article will have shed some light on how you can start to preserve your photos and family memories. Prepare to laugh and cry as you go through your photos, but more importanly, enjoy the feelings of relief when you have saved the best of your family photos for future generations to know your story.

About the Author
Mollie Bartelt, Co-Founder of Pixologie, has helped hundreds of people get their photos out of chaos and back into life to be celebrated and shared. She wrote “A Simple Guide to Saving Your Family Photos” to share the Pixologie photo organizing system. It is available on Amazon.

email: mollieb@pixologieinc.com
phone: 414-731-1881
website: pixologieinc.com

“You’ve Got to Write a Book!”

For years, people would tell me I had to write a book. And I used to smile and nod and say “some day.”

The funny thing is, I write all the time. From the time I was a tormented geek in public school, I kept diaries and journals. In my teens, I wrote songs. “Take your broken heart and turn it into art” was a concept I always embraced.

When my father got sick (2003 – 2004) I saw a therapist who suggested I “journal” as an outlet. It was a great (if obvious) idea. I kept a book of ravings and doodles.

Caregiving my mother in the years following my father’s death was particularly challenging because I did it on and off for years (2004 – 2015). When I was confronted with being alone with her for the last time in her apartment in Florida, I felt like writing a journal was necessary for my survival. This time, I decided to blog. I thought what I was learning could have value for others, so I put it out for the world to see. I had some followers. And the experience was cathartic.

The blog ended when my mother did, in April 2015. Two years later, having some distance from the content, I was able to read it objectively. I liked it. And I’ve got pretty high standards.

I thought “Wow. My book is already written!” It needed some massaging and tweaking, but I felt like I had a great starting place.

So I got to work and put together a manuscript. Spending the first 5 months of 2017 caregiving my husband, I had time at odd hours to work on it. I shared the first draft with my niece, Jessica, who is a very smart, savvy and no-BS gal. She loved it and remarked that she thought people her age (mid-20s) would enjoy it. That was all the encouragement I needed.

I committed to getting the book published in 2017. Taking Jess’s feedback, I trimmed and smoothed some more. I bought a copy of “The Writer’s Market” and devoured the advice. I went to bookstores to do market research. I scanned the web for other books like mine. (And I can state with some confidence, there is no other book quite like mine).

Having attended my share of business meetings, I am on the lists of many coaches and lecturers. One of these fine folks blogged about his experiences writing a book and getting it published. He spoke of a type of professional I had never heard of before: “Book Shepherd.” These are professionals who know the current publishing landscape and help new authors find publishers. This fellow had gotten an offer on his own, but didn’t feel good about it. Connecting with his Book Shepherd, he soon had a better deal.

Why couldn’t I do the same? I reached out to this “Book Shepherd,” Debby Englander, and she invited me to send her what I had. I did. She loved it. She sent me a very fair contract. I signed it. She wrote a “mini-proposal” to a publisher she thought was a good fit. Turned out, she was right. Twenty days after we connected, I had a deal.

I even got to meet my publisher. Post Hill Press has offices in Brentwood, TN. They’re just 5 minutes from my dear friend who lives in Franklin. I already had plans to visit in August, so it was a very easy meeting to arrange.

My book, “Dementia Sucks; A Caregiver’s Journey with Lessons Learned” will be unleashed upon the world in May. My story of love, humor, heart-break, resilience in the face of a complex and cruel system and dogged insistence on the need for planning will be available everywhere fine paperbacks are sold.

Advance orders will be encouraged. Prizes will be offered. And the best gift of all, a great story, well-told, will be available for your consideration very soon. Follow this blog to be notified, or better yet, join the “family.”  There’s even a Facebook page for you to “Like.” Thanks for your support!


Celebrating My 30th 30th

Holy cow. Who saw this coming? You’re supposed to dread every new decade of your life, right?

My angst over birthdays started at 16. Sixteen was TOO OLD. Why? Because I was graduating high school in June, and my closest friends were going away to college. I was going to be stuck at Brooklyn College, close to home. It worked out better than I could have hoped. And for the love of all that’s holy, I was done with college (having transferred to NYU and receiving my BA in Psychology) by the age of 20.

Twenty was good, because I was able to leave home. I needed to. I was on a mission. I went to work. I found a lot of crappy jobs. Then I found a really good one with a Japanese travel agency that enabled me to travel to England, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, all when I was 22. Eventually, I stumbled into the graphic arts and stayed put for a while. I got married (a souvenir from England) and divorced in that decade, but it built character.

Thirty was OK, because I was professionally stable, healthy and happy. I was a singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist in a rock band. My boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer, but we beat it. I got married (again), bought a house, got into desktop publishing and kept developing professionally.

Forty was surprisingly good. I started feeling comfortable in my own skin. I started working for myself. I had opportunities to teach, which I really love. I got my Masters degree (29 years after my bachelor’s).

Fifty was interesting. I expected to feel older and didn’t, until my parents got sick. Dealing with caregiving and having to learn so much about aging was, well, aging. But once I got a handle on things and refocused on my own needs, I got some years back. Feeling old isn’t necessarily permanent.

In my 59th year, I survived another caregiving stint with my husband, who was disabled for 5 months, starting New Year’s Day 2017. I managed to get a publishing deal in July. My book, entitled “Dementia Sucks,” will be released by Post Hill in May of this year. My business, Grand Family Planning, is gaining traction and I’m saving people’s lives and legacies. My business is growing in ways I could never have imagined thirty years ago.

Today I am 60. If I don’t look in the mirror, I could still be 30. I feel good, with no aches or pains. I’m limber. I do yoga. I still sing. In fact, I have a gig coming up on Friday.

So, today, I celebrate thirty years of (mostly) feeling 30. I’m grateful. I’m here. And if I’m still around in another ten years, I’ll let you know how that feels. I’m predicting good news, but you know, it’s easy to be optimistic at 30!


New Year, New Outlook!

Like Santa’s elves, we spent December working on making things better for our friends. You want to live with freedom from worry and overwhelm. So our website is now simpler and easier to navigate. And we make it easy to grab free tools that will empower you to take action.

The ultimate conversation starter: get a free copy of The 8 Things You Must Discuss.

Looking for great resources? Our 2018 Resource Guide is now available. Just ask for it and we’ll send you a download link.

How’s your new year going? Can we help make it better for you? Just ask us!