7 things you should know about 7 things

Wherein six alumni and one staff member offer their expertise

Want to retire?

Carole Luce '62 of Bath, Maine, is a financial advisor for Prudential Financial Services.

• "People do not plan to fail, they fail to plan." This saying has been around the financial industry for many years, but it remains as true today as it was the day the words were first spoken.

• Do your planning with a professional and select that financial advisor with care. Your best investment is aligning yourself with someone 100 percent committed to your needs.

• You can do a Google or Yahoo search for financial advisors. If you want to get really classy, look under categories like "Million Dollar Round Table," a listing of financial professionals that rank in the top 1 percent of their peers. We have to meet very rigid criteria, including ethics reviews. As far as I am concerned, it is one of the best measures available to the public.

• Try on your choice of advisor to see if they fit. Insist on references and information on their formal education. The initial interview should be a "get to know you" time before one considers doing business - a time to measure comfort over a cup of coffee. This relationship is ongoing; it's important to find the right person.

• Once you choose an advisor, share the whole picture with this person. Not only are the facts important, but your short- and long-term goals, your fears and concerns and your dreams! You will be partners in this adventure!

• Do your homework! Talk to your spouse, partner or anyone else who is part of your retirement years. Listen to each other about who and what are important to you.

• Take your "homework" to your financial advisor and start the process. Many are reluctant to start, but all are pleased that they did.

What are great children's books?

Jessica Gurney '05 is a first-grade teacher in Sabbatus, Maine.

• The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. I use this book at the beginning of the year to help inspire my students to believe in themselves.

• I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jaime Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. I use this book because the students love the rhythmic repetition and it teaches them that everyone is special.

• The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. This books opens the students to the magical world of Christmas. I do a complete unit around the story.

• Mean Jean The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neil and Laura Huliska-Beith. I use this to help solve bullying problems, because it teaches the power of kindness and friendship.

• Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna. This book is about telling the truth and how rumors get started.

• I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw. Every child needs to know they are loved before they can love themselves

.• The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book by Eric Carle. Not only does this book teach about a butterfly metamorphosis, but it also teaches counting and the days of the week.

What's a lasting approach to exercise?

Rick Garcia '86 of New Gloucester, Maine, owned a fitness facility for many years.

• Schedule exercise. Treat exercise like you would any other appointment, such as a medical appointment. (But always have a pair of sneakers handy in case you want to take an impromptu walk at lunch.)

• Mix it up. Try something new. Alternating workouts keeps things fresh.

• Don't skimp on the weights. It's great to exercise outside in nice weather, but you need to include strength training for stronger bones, muscle tone and a more efficient metabolism.

• Work out with a buddy. You will take the workouts more seriously if you know someone is counting on you.

• Challenge yourself. Add another five pounds to the bar if you can do 10-15 strict repetitions. Or walk the opposite direction on your normal route in order to work different muscles (approaching hills from the other side, for example). Don't over-train, however. Set realistic goals and gradually increase them.

• Wear a pedometer. If you know how many steps you take in a day, you may be challenged to improve a little each day. (You can find pedometers at most sporting goods stores.) Keep a log of your steps and your workouts to motivate you.

• Make it fun. Pick activities that are beneficial and enjoyable. If you're not enjoying yourself, you will be more apt to stop.

Have you visited these not-to-be-missed Web sites?

This list is compiled by our virtuoso library director, Natalie Hutchinson.

• Google Maps www.google.com/maps
Enter any address to place it on an area map, as well as see a satellite view of it.

• Pandora.com
You like Singer X, and wish you could find more music like hers. Pandora.com to the rescue!

• Snopes www.snopes.com
Does your uncle's barber's best friend's friend swear that she knew a person who ate Pop Rocks while drinking a Coke and exploded? Check out the story on this great site that debunks urban legends.

• Yahoo Games http://games.yahoo.com
This site is a gamer's delight! It has free online games, downloadable demos, and inexpensive downloadable games of all types.

• Jigzone www.jigzone.com
Do you like jigsaw puzzles but a) have small children who like to "help," b) have pets that consider jigsaw puzzle pieces to be the perfect toy/snack, or c) would like to use your table within the next six weeks? Then check out Jigsaw.com, which features thousands of virtual jigsaw puzzles

.• Cooks.Com Recipe Search www.cooks.com
Cooks.com provides hundreds of thousands of tried-and-true recipes sent in by site readers.

• RottenTomatoes www.rottentomatoes.com
Not sure if you want to drop $7 on a film? Stop by this site, which gathers movie reviews from print and Web sources. Movies are ranked from zero (rotten) to 100% (fresh) on the site's Toma-tometer, based on positive and negative reviews.

What makes a good manager?

Sandra MacDonald '81 of Gray, Maine, is a Vice President at TD Banknorth in Falmouth.

• You have to be in tune with people. You need to know what motivates them, and you can't assume that what motivates you is the same thing that motivates your employees. I'm motivated by a job well done, but someone else may be motivated by money or status.

• You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your employees, as well as yourself. Draw on their strengths and be honest about weaknesses in their evaluations. Don't be afraid to ask questions to see what might help them. All of us have weaknesses or challenges, and you are much better off facing them.

• Set clear and realistic expectations, and make sure that your employees understand them. Do not assume that they fully understand an assignment just because you do.

• You have to understand what's good for the employee and the company.

• Saying "Thank you, you did a nice job" goes a long way.

• Surround yourself with talented people and consider that an opportunity to learn from them, instead of a threat.

• Remember there are plenty of ways to get things done, and your way is not always the only way. Be flexible and consider that people with differing strengths can work together by combining complementary skills.

How do you rate a long-term care facility?

Jean Morris '05 is a licensed nursing home administrator who lives in Hamilton, N.J.

• Start at the top. Is the administrator actively involved in the operation of the facility? Is he or she consistently "out and about" in the facility, involved in decisions regarding the well-being of residents and readily accessible to residents and family members?

• Look at the residents. The fact that they are well cared for should be immediately apparent. Are they well-groomed? Is the staff attentive?

• Spend some time observing the staff. Does caring for the residents appear to come naturally to them? Are they in tune with the residents' needs? Is the staff properly groomed?

• Can you tell by looking at the surroundings that people live there? Are residents' personal items displayed in their rooms? Is their handiwork evident throughout the facility? Is there any sense of hearth and home?

• Peek in a few nooks and crannies. Do you see dirt, trash or cobwebs? You shouldn't. The whole facility should be up to speed, not just the high-traffic areas.

• Talk with several residents. What patterns do you detect during conversations with them? Are they confident that they are well-cared for, or are they frustrated with the facility?

• Ask yourself, "If I needed to be in this facility, could I flourish? Could I be confident that my needs would be met?"

How do you reduce stress in your life?

Allison Talon '97 of Portland, Maine, is a nurse practitioner at Martin's Point Health Care in Portland.

• Make an attitude adjustment. A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you are out of practice or tend to be a pessimist, you can learn to think more positively. Begin to think of challenges as opportunities and stressors as temporary problems, not disasters.

• Exercise, exercise, exercise. Find more ways to move your body, not only as a fitness tool, but as a stress buster. Think in small increments of time. (It does not have to be an hour in the gym, although that is great.) The goal should be 10,000 steps per day or about 30 minutes of moderate activity.

• Drink more water. Symptoms of mild dehydration include chronic pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches and fatigue. Often we think we're hungry when we are actually thirsty, so drink a glass of water before reaching for a snack may also keep extra pounds off. Increasing fluid intake helps recover from viruses sooner, as well. The rule of thumb for daily fluid intake (not including caffeinated or alcoholic beverages) is 64 oz.

• Get enough rest. Most people suffer from stress because they do not get enough sleep. Ideally, a person should get 8 hours of sleep every night. Take a 15-minute power nap during the day to help energize the body. Those who feel listless and tired all the time should make a special effort to include more rest.

• Put yourself in "time-out." People get stressed because they have too many things going on at once, or they do not leave any time for rest. Those who are always taking care of others to the point of neglecting themselves are especially guilty of this. Take time from your schedule to pamper yourself.

• Ask for help. When problems become overwhelming, this is the time when support of friends and family will save the day. Knowing that you have someone to turn to when nothing is going your way will really help battle stress and anxiety.

• Stop procrastinating - right now. Putting off tasks or assignments that aren't due for a few days or weeks will only create unnecessary stress. Plan ahead, create a "to-do" list to help keep focused and organized, so the work doesn't feel so overwhelming.