What’s in a name?

By Jeanne Reynolds

If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably spend more time than usual with extended family this month: aunts, uncles, grandparents, in-laws, parents of old school friends.

Have you ever struggled with how to address them — especially as you get older and are no longer one of “the kids”?

This came up the other day when I stopped by a friend’s football tailgate and the conversation drifted to the topic of their parents — former neighbors of ours — and then on to the names by which we address our in-laws.

I became really intrigued by this, and started a sort of informal survey of other friends and family members. Turns out this is a tricky issue for most of us, and goes beyond family to pretty much anyone a generation older than us. If you’ve spent the first 20 (or more) years of your life calling someone Uncle Joe, it feels weird to start saying just Joe. And if your high school BFF’s mom was Mrs. Smith, how old do you have to be to call her Mary?

In-law nomenclature seems to bring its own set of unwritten rules. If you started out from day one calling your intended’s parents by their first names, no problem. But if they were Mr. and Mrs. Jones when you were dating, when is it OK to segue to Bob and Judy? Does it depend on how long you’ve been married, or your age, or your relationship with them? I’ve been married for almost 25 years, and am just now experimenting with first names for my in-laws. It feels a little odd but seems to be OK. It’s certainly less confusing when there are several Mrs. Reynolds in the room.

I experienced another spin on this generational name-calling last year when a friend’s daughter came to work for me as a summer intern. Like most companies, we’re all on a first-name basis from the president on down, so Mrs. Reynolds wasn’t going to cut it if she wanted to position herself as a capable professional. (Also out: “Yes, ma’am.” Not sure which was harder for her, being a good southern girl.) It was probably even more confusing for her when she went home in the evening. I imagine this:

Her mom: “How was work today?”

My intern: “I got a great new project from Jeanne … I mean Mrs. Reynolds … I mean … oh heck.”

Yes, the names we use for each other do matter. They can indicate respect, professionalism, status and intimacy. It can be annoying when someone takes the first-name liberty inappropriately (think telemarketer) and a slap when someone refuses that permission. And it’s very much a personal preference. An online search found numerous articles offering advice on when it’s appropriate to use first names, but mostly for business situations. When it comes to personal relationships, we’re kind of all on our own.

If in doubt, you could always just ask. More likely than not, most people are just happy to talk with you and really don’t care that much. So don’t be surprised if you hear some version of that old joke: “You can call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me late for dinner.”

 

December Wish List

By Ashley Whisonant

December is a month my family and I wait for all year long. I especially love the excitement it brings to my little ones, not just on Christmas morning. I am making an effort this December to focus more on family time together and not get wrapped up in having a “perfect” Christmas.

Here is my top ten list for things to do together as a family:

  1. Bake Christmas cookieschristmas-cookies-553457_1280
  2. Watch at least one Christmas movie a weekend
  3. Visit Santa as often as possible
  4. See the lights at Riverbanks Zoo
  5. Volunteer twice before Christmas
  6. Surprise Elf one of our neighbors
  7. Stroll through Saluda Shoals Park
  8. Decorate an ornament
  9. Send a surprise package to a friend
  10. Attend Christmas Eve mass

I hope this list is just the tip of the iceberg for my family this holiday season. I want us to focus on the times together and not the things we receive.

Happy Holidays, friends!

Wear Your Pearls, Girls, on National Wear Your Pearls Day

By Chaunte McClure

Just over two years ago I shared my story of dealing with and overcoming depression in a post titled I Survived, Part 2. That’s definitely not a period of my life that I’m proud of; however, I am glad that I came out of it.

About halfway through 2015, I was in that dark place again after a traumatic experience in February of that same year. This was my second encounter with depression, but this time, I sought professional help.

During my first visit, the counselor read off a list of symptoms and after each one, I acknowledged whether or not I suffered from any of them. There were enough yeses to determine I was in the right place at the right time to get the service I needed.

For many reasons, people often don’t seek support, but it’s necessary. Untreated, my mild case could’ve turned severe.

Because of the stigma of depression and mental health disorders, patients hide in shame and secrecy.

The first time, I was unfamiliar with depression and it was not until I overcame it that I realized I was depressed. Little did I know I was flirting with danger and literally putting my life at risk. Knowing the signs of depression and understanding that it’s a serious illness helps.

Thanks to local author and motivational speaker Deanna Bookert, December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls Day, a day designated to bring awareness to depression and anxiety. National Wear Your Pearls Day Dec 15

Besides her love for pearls, Deanna chose this bead because it represents a process and struggle. She wants sufferers to understand that “although we have hard times in our life, something valuable will come out of it.”

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, including children. Though it’s not a disease to be proud of, it’s definitely not one to be ashamed of either.

Join other women across American on December 15 and wear your pearls, girls, in support of National Wear Your Pearls Day. National Wear Your Pearls Day Proclamation

 

Social Security Disability Myths

By Stacy Thompson

As an attorney practicing in the area of social security disability, I often get asked “But what is it you DO, exactly?”  Many people are either unaware of the Social Security Administration program for individuals who are unable to work due to medical problems, or believe that the process to obtain benefits is simple, straightforward and quick.  I spend a lot of my time educating people on the program itself, but I make my living because the system itself is anything BUT simple, straightforward and quick.  In representing claimants for the last seventeen years, I’ve heard my share of myths involving the SSA disability process, so allow me to debunk a few –1200px-US-SocialSecurityAdmin-Seal.svg

  • If a doctor states I am unable to work, I will automatically be approved for benefits.

Having the support of your treating doctor in your application can be helpful, but does not guarantee that you will be awarded.  SSA will obtain medical information from all treating sources, including hospitals, clinics, physicians, etc., and will make a determination as to whether your limitations and restrictions would keep you from working.

  • I can’t return to my past work that I have been doing all of these years, so I should be approved for benefits.

The definition of disability under the social security regulations is an inability to perform any work due to a physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments); the inability to do your past work is one facet of the determination process, but when taking into account age, education and any skills you have from past work, SSA must also decide whether you could perform any other work that exists in the national economy.

  • I have a terminal condition but it’s still going to take me months to be awarded benefits.

SSA has established a list of “compassionate allowances” – conditions which may expedite the processing and handling of benefits.  In compassionate allowances cases, benefits may be awarded more quickly and without the usual process involved in an application.  For a list of compassionate allowances, go to:  https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances

  • SSA denies everyone / SSA approves people who really don’t have anything wrong with them.

Yes, these two statements are contradictory, but are frequently believed – many claims are turned down initially (only about 30% of the cases filed are approved initially) and should be appealed.  Of the cases that are appealed through to the hearing process, about 45% are approved by an administrative law judge.

On the flip side, I run across those who believe that they have a friend, neighbor or acquaintance who is on disability but is not deserving. I always point out that the process is very thorough and arduous – SSA does not easily approve anyone, and sometimes there is much more going on medically than may meet the eye.

  • I must be out of work a year before filing for benefits.

Although the regulations do require that an individual have a condition, or combination of conditions, that has lasted or could be expected to last twelve months longer (or result in death), the latter part of that definition is important – if your condition may be expected to last a year or longer, then you may file for disability benefits at any time.  I recommend filing as soon as possible, given the average application time is between two and three years from filing to award.

  • I must have an attorney or representative to obtain benefits.

An attorney or non-attorney representative is not required to file for or obtain benefits.  However, an experienced attorney/representative can certainly assist with the development of your claim and in preparing you for your hearing.  The hearing itself will be before an administrative law judge, who is an impartial adjudicator, however, having someone who is knowledgeable in the applicable rules and regulations can certainly improve your chances of success.  Attorneys and non-attorney representatives who are eligible to charge a fee do so on a contingency fee basis, which means payment of fees comes from any back pay awarded (generally 25%).

The above are only a few of the myths surrounding social security disability and do not answer or address all questions/issues involved in these types of cases – for more information, visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov.