About Angel Blair

I am a Client Services Specialist here at MSAA. I hold both a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Counseling from schools outside of the Philadelphia area. I love reading, music, movies, and writing. And one of my most favorite places I've traveled to is Disney World!

Summer Travel Planning

I think it’s safe to say that this summer, so far, is shaping up to look a lot different than last years. Being in the height of the pandemic and COVID cases still on the rise at that time, the summer was just another period to get through living in a changed world. With individuals having the opportunity to be vaccinated this year, the summer months are being celebrated once again. And hopefully in a safe manner. For some this will mean getting the chance to travel again and thinking about their accessibility needs in doing so.

Traveling can be an exciting and exhilarating experience for those who enjoy it. So, making plans and preparations that will ensure the trip is a great one is an important step. For those living with a disability, having the right accessibility measures in place for travel is imperative. From the planning stages to the endpoint of the journey there are different factors to consider. The destination itself, the mode of transport, accessibility of sites and attractions, and accommodations are all elements significant to the plan. It can sound tedious and like a lot of work but making sure the trip will be safe and enjoyable is the ultimate goal.

For those making travel plans, COVID has unfortunately added another layer to the planning piece this season. Checking with destinations on their COVID policies and procedures and with the mode of transport you plan to take are additional steps now to ensure safety. If able, working with a travel agent for assistance planning your trip can help in this initial phase. For many destinations they have websites for visitors and tourists traveling to their area and offer helpful information and resources online.

If you plan to travel this summer, be sure to consider what your travel and care needs look like. Are you using a mobility device, do you need your accommodations to have specific accessibility features? Would you be traveling with medications and need documentation from your doctor? Are the sites you’re visiting accessible? What about restroom accessibility? Trails, walking paths, street and sidewalk access? Are you heat sensitive with your MS symptoms and need to think of climate? These are just some aspects to think of when making plans for your journey. It can be fun but making sure it’s also safe and accommodating for you is key.

Wishing you a safe and pleasant journey!  

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Father’s Day—For All of Those Special Guys

With Father’s Day just a few days away, it’s nice to take this time to think of all the special men in our lives. They certainly don’t need the title of dad or father to be thought of at this time of year. Especially if they hold a special place in your heart and life, no matter the type of relationship. We have fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, godfathers, cousins, and friends that we are blessed to know and be surrounded by. They deserve to be recognized and celebrated, for more than just one day!

It’s a perfect time to let these special guys know what they mean to you. What you admire most about them and what you treasure about your relationship. Tell them thank you and how they’ve made your life brighter. Whether they’ve provided you with strength and courage, protection and love, or just endless support. Don’t miss out on a moment where you can express to them all that they are to you.

The day may also bring challenges for those who are mourning and remembering the men in their lives whom they’ve lost. It can be a difficult time for the men waiting and hoping to become fathers, or for those who have lost a child. But the day can be spent honoring and recalling special moments and memories too. To have faith and keep hopes that future Father’s Days may look different.

Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

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Mother’s Day-Celebrating all the Women in Your Life

She is your mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, cousin, or friend. She is a woman you have been able to rely on throughout your entire life. No matter the type of relationship, there are women we have been fortunate enough to have in our lives that care about us unconditionally. They support and motivate us to be better people and are our angels here on earth that we’re blessed to know. The women who influence our day to day should be celebrated, and Mother’s Day is a great outlet to do so.

The day doesn’t have to look a certain way either. If you’re celebrating someone who is not ‘technically’ a mother in the traditional sense, that’s perfectly fine and good! Mother’s Day is about acknowledging those who are significant to you. The women who’ve surrounded you with motherly qualities, kindness, compassion, and strength. Celebrate her. Talk to one another, visit if you’re able to, send a card or note, flowers or gift. Just saying thank you to her is a wonderful gesture.

I want to recognize that it may also be a day that is difficult for some. For those who have lost and mourned important women in their lives. Those struggling to become mothers or who have lost a child. The day may be one of remembrance and somberness at times. But it can also be a beautiful day where you can honor someone and recall fond memories. A day where you can hold onto hope that things may look brighter for future Mother’s Days to come. And to celebrate those in your life who have made a difference.

Wishing everyone a beautiful day filled with light and joy.

National Flowers - List Of National Flowers by Country
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We Can All Use a Good Chuckle Now and Again

I think we can all agree that life has been especially heavy lately. The world turned upside down last year with the pandemic and we are still living with uncertainty and concerns daily. Stress levels have soared, and this can have lasting negative effects on one’s health. So how can we help manage our stress? There are many ways, but a fun one is through laughter.

Having a good chuckle is good for the body and the soul. You wouldn’t necessarily think that laughter could have real, significant health benefits, but it can! Especially for managing stress. Laughter helps to stimulate organs, reduce stress hormones, and relieve pain. It helps boost mood and soothe tension in the body and helps combat depression and anxiety. It’s fun to do and even something you can fake at first until it comes more naturally. There are many benefits to laughter and its skills are plentiful.

It’s important to look for humor in life wherever you can find it. Life is stressful and chaotic and finding ways to lessen the heaviness of it is key. There are many outlets to find laughter in everyday life. And making this a goal can help to reduce stress, without putting in a lot of effort. Laughing with friends and family, at media, and even at yourself can bring instant change to your attitude and demeanor. Things can get so serious a lot of the time. Finding ways to laugh and humorize situations can be just what is needed to lighten the load at times.

After reading more about laughter and its wellness benefits, I see even more truth to the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine.’ The expression of laughter not only increases happiness and elevates mood, but it also helps connects us to others and stimulates positive thoughts and feelings. So let out a chuckle…it can do a world of good.  

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Resiliency is a Powerful Tool

No secret here-life can be very unpredictable a lot of the time. It can be messy and chaotic and ever-changing. But even after a year filled with such challenge and turmoil as 2020, it’s incredible to see how resilient people are and can be. Yes, life and the changes experienced can have its ripple effects. Impacting not only physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. But it’s how people adapt and overcome these hurdles that helps foster improved wellness of the entire body.

Resiliency, among other aspects, can be an extremely powerful tool when it comes to mental health care and wellness. Learning to adapt to difficult situations and continuing to strive forward despite them helps build resilience. And the great news is-this is a skill that can be learned and taught. Whether it’s teaching yourself the skillset or working with a professional for guidance, building resilience is an important key to overall wellness.

There are different components used to help nurture resiliency, with two crucial ones being self-compassion and self-care. Being kind to ourselves and our bodies is so important for both mental and physical health. This helps to decrease issues with anxiety, stress, and depression. Practicing mindfulness, surrounding yourself with others who support you, and taking care of yourself physically are all key parts to resilience skill-building.

I think many of us would agree that taking time for ourselves and thinking about our own health and well-being usually falls towards the bottom of our daily agendas. This is something that we can all start to do better with. Because taking care of ourselves helps validate that we can take care of others around us too.

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Sisterly Love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this time of year usually makes us think of candy hearts and bouquets of flowers and mushy love songs. But aside from the romantic relationships that usually dominate this holiday, it’s also a good time to think of the other bonds that we value and find important in life. Our connections with others are something to treasure now more than ever, so it’s nice to think of the other relationships that mean so much too. For me, I value the relationship that I am fortunate to have with my sister.

Growing up we bickered and fought just like typical siblings do. We had times where we didn’t like each other but we still loved each other cause ‘we had to’ kind of thing. But as we grew older, we started to appreciate who the other was and learned more about them. Now we look back and realize how lucky we were to have one another. Our other siblings were close in age but older, and while we were all close and grateful for that, my sister and I formed a bond that has strengthened to this day.

My sister is a wonderful mother and talks about having more children because she wants her son to have a sibling with whom he can have the same type of bond that her and I share. As our family has sadly lessened over the years, we’ve grown increasingly grateful for those we are still blessed to have, and I am thankful for her every day. She listens without judgement, loves unconditionally, and knows my quirks, fears and hopes.  My sister is always there, and I would feel lost without her. She’s a fun reminder of our childhood and is someone that I can reminisce with to share memories of family and good times.

If you have a relationship in your life that you value and cherish, be sure to let that person know it. You don’t have to say it every day, but once in a while let them know that they are important to you and what your connection means. It’s nice to share this sentiment with the people in your life who matter the most.

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A Hopeful 2021

When the countdown to New Year was upon us and the clock finally struck midnight on January 1st, I felt hopeful and optimistic about the new year ahead. Seriously, after a year like 2020 you could do nothing but believe that 2021 must be better, right? Well, we can certainly hope so!

We haven’t rid ourselves of the pandemic, but with the distribution and development of several vaccines hopefully Continue reading

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Choose Joy

The year was an unexpected one,

to say the very least,

it was unlike any we’ve had,

let’s just say 2020 was a beast.

 

Continue reading

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It may look a little different this season…

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe we’re already stepping into the holiday season. It’s bizarre to think that this year is almost over. I think many will be glad to see its end, as 2020 has for sure brought so many changes and ups and downs. In what has become a most unconventional year, the holidays may rightfully look a little different too. But that’s not to say that they will have any less meaning or celebration. This holiday season may just have a uniqueness unlike years before.

In this context, different doesn’t have to mean non-existent or absent. Maybe it means just having to tweak or modify the way the holidays are celebrated. It may not be the same nature of holidays past, especially with large gatherings and mingling. But you can still connect, still rejoice, and reflect. I always believed this time of year held special beliefs and a bit of magic. That does not have to change.

So instead of large family gatherings with everyone being in the same place at once, maybe celebrations are broken down into smaller groups at a time—much smaller groups. Weather permitting, maybe dinners and activities are held outdoors this year. And heaters and fire pits can be used in chillier climates, unless MS heat sensitivity is an issue, then the colder temps may be welcome. There’s also the possibility to find community traditions and events still being held in your area this season too. Again, with some changes, but still bringing a sense of festivity and merriment for this time of year.

Virtual connection remains a strong, ongoing theme of 2020, and throughout the holidays it will be more important than ever for many. Still being able to talk to and see one another, even if miles apart, will help keep holiday spirits alive. Whether it’s having virtual game nights and mealtimes, watching holiday movies or reading/telling stories to one another. The holidays can still create happiness and cheer. Especially after what this year has brought. Not celebrating the season would be an added sting that we don’t deserve. Staying connected through the holiday season is what’s going to keep beliefs strong, and joy possible.

Connect - nashvillelgbtchamber.org

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Medicare Open Enrollment 2021

We’ve entered that time of year again when insurance changes and decisions are upon us. And during what has been a very challenging and different, (to say the least), year, these decisions are more crucial than ever.

Medicare open enrollment begins tomorrow, October 15th, and will last until December 7th. During this time period, individuals can review their current Medicare plan and make changes if needed. You do not need to sign up for Medicare each year but reviewing your plan and making adjustments and changes as needed to make sure your healthcare needs are met, is essential.

Some new changes to note for the 2021 coverage year include lower premium costs and increased benefits and plan options for Medicare Advantage recipients. Premiums will be at their lowest rate since 2007, and extra telehealth and supplemental benefits, such as in-home support, will be offered as well. But it’s important to review out-of-pocket costs with these plans, even though premiums could be low, as well as making sure your providers are in the coverage network. These plans are very localized as well, so review what options are offered in your specific area/zip code for coverage. *Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and B benefits.

Medicare beneficiaries who have a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan should receive paperwork called “Evidence of Coverage” or “Annual Notice of Change” letters from your health plan showing coverage outlines and any changes that will occur. It’s very important to review these materials to make sure of any changes in the plan’s costs, providers, benefits, drug formularies, etc. so that if something is changing with your plan, you are aware of it and can make changes to your coverage if needed. These plans can change their benefits so it’s crucial to review your policy and any upcoming changes.

According to Medicare, you can make the following changes during the open enrollment period:

Also, if you are not satisfied with your Medicare Advantage Plan, you can disenroll from that plan and join Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. This disenrollment period is open from January 1st to February 14th of each year.

The Medicare website offers a Medicare Plan Finder where you can search for and compare health plans, benefits, coverage and estimated costs. You can also contact Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for information and questions.

You can also receive assistance and guidance in choosing coverage through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). This resource provides one-on-one insurance counseling and support regarding Medicare benefits. Visit https://www.shiptacenter.org/ to find your local office.

MSAA’s My Health Insurance Guide is a helpful source for the MS community to find more information about insurance options and resources, in addition to the Medicare Planning and Multiple Sclerosis brochure that helps to outline important parts and questions about Medicare coverage.

This is an important time to review your plan’s policy and make changes if needed to ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for your healthcare needs.

 

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