You never know where you may find that restorable classic car of your dreams. Unfortunately, however, many times these cars have been stored in less than optimal conditions. Quite often, they have been exposed to the weather and even to small rodents and other wildlife! This can result in interiors that may exhibit foul odors such as musty or even barnyard-like smells.

In some cases, getting rid of these odors may require the costly removal and replacement of all the soft goods within the interior of the vehicle, such as the carpeting and upholstery.  Often however, this may not be required.  In this article, we address some of Disaster Blaster’s recommendations for odor removal techniques you can try first before you go to the expense of replacing those carpets and upholstery.

The first step to getting rid of odors is to remove the source of the odor.  To do this thoroughly clean the vehicle, both in and out.  Don’t forget the engine and trunk compartments. Pay particular attention to the soft goods in the vehicle such as the carpets, upholstery, and headliner.  It is these areas that tend to hold most of the odors.

These soft goods should first be vacuumed thoroughly.  After vacuuming, inspect these areas for any staining that is apparent.  Any stained areas should then be pretreated with a professional grade stain remover.  After allowing the stain remover to sit the length of time suggested in its instructions, then shampoo these soft goods very meticulously.  We suggest adding a professional grade deodorizer to the shampoo solution during this process.  Next, allow the vehicle to completely dry out.  Keep the vehicle windows and, if possible doors, open during the drying and may want to use some fans to speed up this process and help blow residual odors from the interior.  If it is a sunny day, it helps to let this drying occur outdoors. After the vehicle is dry, inspect the vehicle for any further staining and odors that may still be present. It may be necessary to repeat the process above numerous times before you reach a point where you are satisfied.

If the odor still persists, another method that has worked is using bicarbonate powder to help remove the odors.  While dry, sprinkle this powder liberally on the carpets as well as the upholstered seats and allow it to sit for a several hours.  Then vacuum up the dust and ventilate the car for at least an hour.  Again, this may need to be repeated for optimal results.

Often, the odor may be coming from the vehicle’s air-conditioning or heating system.  This is usually caused by bacteria or mold growing within these systems.  To take care of this, use a liquid antimicrobial product, which can be purchased at most cleaning product stores or online. You will want to spray this product heavily on the floor of the car by the front doors with the door open. Once applied, first run the air-conditioning system for at least five to ten minutes followed by running the heating system for that same period of time.  Make sure to set the system so that air is running through the entire system and all vents to ensure all internal areas are being treated. You may need to complete this treatment multiple times.  We also recommend that you add a deodorizer to the antimicrobial liquid for better effect.

Another way to reduce odors is to use a bar of scented soap in the vehicle.  This will serve to mask the odor by substituting it with a more pleasant scent for the short term until you can determine the odor’s source and remove it through proper remediation.  This soap often works better than car deodorizers.  Be sure to place this bar of soap in a place where it cannot move and get lodged near the brake or gas peddles.

While we are on this subject, we do want to comment on the use of ozone as an effective way of ridding vehicles of odors.  Disaster Blaster, Inc. owns a number of professional grade ozone machines that we use from time to time to remove smoke odors from fire or smoke damaged buildings.  These machines are very effective in oxidizing and removing odors.  We do not, however, recommend their use for removing odors from vehicles.

The reason for this is that ozone has been found to cause premature disintegration to some vital components in a vehicle, particularly those consisting of rubber.  While not all rubbers are affected by ozone, elastic rubber (elastomers) can be damaged and often destroyed by a relatively short exposure to these high levels of ozone.

Ozone causes cracks to form in these elastomers, which is appropriately known as ozone cracking.  It can occur in many safety-critical items such as fuel lines and rubber seals, such as gaskets and O-rings, which will ultimately lead to failure.  While ozone concentrations can be rather high when using an ozone generator, it is thought that only a trace amount of the ozone gas is needed to initiate this cracking.

It is often difficult to remove odors completely, but don’t give up!  Often a series of treatments are needed to see results.

Have fun cruising!

If there’s something that YOU want to hear about, please e-mail us at!


Sean_Nathanfinalphoto-570It was a private reunion held late at night in the cargo terminal of Newark Liberty International Airport the day after Christmas last December.  There was no flag-waving by gathered family and friends – just a lone Army staff sergeant waiting while a terminal attendant cut the nylon ties that sealed a crate – a crate that held his beloved friend.  As the ties fell away and with the mere calling of his name, Navy Chief Nathan bounded out of his crate and into the arms of Staff Sergeant Sean Harrigan. They were together again.

European-born German Shepherd Nathan began his service to our country after undergoing a year of training in Italy as a Military Working Dog, or MWD.  For the nine years following his successful completion of that training, he saw continuous service in India, Kuwait, Europe, Iraq, and Bahrain as a hunter of Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.  It was in Bahrain that he and his new handler SSG Harrigan began the year-long partnership that inexorably bound them for the rest of their lives.

Nathan and his fellow explosive-detecting MWDs, capable of a 98% bomb detection rate, were trained to sniff out minuscule amounts of a wide-range of explosives while searching entry points, patrolling within secure installations and at checkpoints.  According to SSG Harrigan, Nathan’s job-specific modus operandum was to retreat five feet from a device he had detected, lie down facing the potential killer, and await its disposal.  When asked how many such finds Nathan had detected, the simple answer was “countless.”

Prior to 2000, Military War Dogs were euthanized at the end of their useful working lives.  That practice was abolished in November of that year when former President Bill Clinton signed H.R. Bill 5314, which immediately facilitated adoption of the canine war heroes.  Thus, after his retirement, Nathan remained at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Sicily, awaiting approval of SSG Harrigan’s efforts to bring him home to Dingmans Ferry.

After the clearing of the red tape, the only remaining obstacle to his homecoming was the payment of $602 in transportation fees.  Stepping up with donations to clear the way were three local area veterans organizations: VetStock, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, and the Marsch-Kellogg American Post 139 (through its Benevolent Fund), all of which are unwavering in their commitment to improve the lives of our area’s former and present Armed Services men, women, and families.

These days, Nathan can sometimes be found at the American Legion Post 139 in Milford, Pike County, where, in recognition of his undying service to his country, Legion members continue to honor him with the permanent installation of a doggie bed and an endless supply of treats, ear-scratching, and head pats.

It would be difficult to find a more appropriate characterization of Nathan’s service and devotion than the following by Naturalist and Crusader Ernest Harold Baynes who wrote:


“Of all the animals that have come into the service of mankind, the dog is preeminent in intelligence.  But that isn’t all:  He is more than intelligent, for he is inspired by the love that merges into deathless devotion.

He is more than burden bearer, more than toy, more than companion; he fills posts of human responsibility, his integrity is unassailable, his loyal supreme.

‘The more I see of men,’ said Frederick the Great, ‘the better I like dogs.’ And today there are those who hold that, in accepting the company of men, the dog certainly condescended to a mesalliance.”


Department of Defense Military Working Dog Adoption Program

american flag ILLBlur-570Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are these dogs available for adoption?

Most of our dogs that become available for adoption are relatively young dogs that have failed to meet training standards, while others are older dogs that have completed their service and are being made available for adoption.  Still others are being medically retired from service due to injury or sickness that will preclude them from performing the mission.  Additionally, dogs who have served as Contract Working Dogs or CWDs utilized by contractors primarily in Kuwait are consistently available for adoption through the United States War Dog Association.

  1. Is any priority given to veterans or other persons?

Congressional Military Working Dog adoption law gives priority first to prior handlers, then civilian Law Enforcement Agencies, and finally to the general public.  Better than 90% of former MWDs are adopted by their handlers.

  1. Can our company or business adopt a dog and use it for security work or detection work?

All dogs that are transferred to Law Enforcement Agencies are done so with a contractual agreement which stipulates that the dog belongs to the department.  Only Law Enforcement Agencies are charged under statute with enforcing laws and are thus able to apply for an available dog.   All dogs adopted to private parties are done so on a separate agreement that includes stipulations that the dog is not allowed to perform patrol or security work, either public or private, nor will it be allowed to perform any substance detection work, either public or private.  The DoD representative responsible for placing the dog retains the choice as to the fitness of any retired dog for any home or agency.

  1. Where are the dogs located?

Two programs exist.  Dogs that have been/are assigned to bases around the globe are adopted (when approved for retirement/ separation) from the location where they are assigned.  The Kennel Master at that base is the person who best knows the status of their assigned K9 Heroes.  Keep in mind that quite often former handlers, with priority rights under Public Law, adopt their former comrades.  Also, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, sometimes has promising dogs available for adoption, but not always.

  1. What can you tell me about the dogs?

All our Military Working Dogs are trained at Lackland Air Force Base and then sent to operational units throughout the DOD.  The dogs are usually a German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retriever, and occasionally a mixed breed or other sporting/herding breed dog.  They range in age from one to 13 years, and include both males and females, although they are spayed or neutered before being adopted.

  1. How long can I expect to wait to be able to adopt one of your dogs?

Due to very strong public interest in adopting retired Military Working Dogs after their period of service to our nation, we are obliged to process and prioritize in excess of a thousand applications every year.  Because so many people are “queuing up” to adopt a relatively small number of available dogs, prospective Military Working Dog adopters can expect delays up to, and often beyond six months before a dog is available for them.  We follow the “first come, first served rule,” so that when a suitable dog becomes available, we offer that dog to the party that has waited longest.  If you are interested in adopting a Military Working Dog into your family, we encourage you to get your application in and we will schedule you for a dog as soon as we can.  However, be prepared for a long wait due to the community’s high interest in our adoption program.  Once we set you up with an appointment to meet our adoptable dogs, please be considerate of other eager adoptive families.   If you need to cancel, please do so as early as possible so we can fill the appointment with another applicant.

  1. What happens once I get an appointment to go to Lackland Air Force base, near San Antonio, TX to meet/adopt one of your dogs?

Once you have your appointment, expect to make at least two visits, normally two consecutive days.  On the first day, about one hour is needed to review your application and then to greet the dog(s).  Once you’ve selected a dog, we’ll need time to get the dog ready for adoption, and our veterinary clinic will need time to get the dog ready for departure.  Your dog should be ready to depart with you on the second day; however, sometimes issues arise that are outside the control of the adoption administrator and we ask for your patience and understanding.

  1. Will I be able to select the sex or breed or age of dog that I prefer?

We will do our best to match our available dogs with your preferences in terms of breed, gender, color, etc., but cannot guarantee that we will have a dog that will exactly match your desires. Please remember that no matter what their type, sex or color, these retired Military Working Dogs were selected by the DoD for their stable and outgoing temperaments.  They make wonderful companions and deserve great homes.

  1. Can you give me an overview of the Adoption Process?

The MWD Adoption Process starts when you submit a completed application.  Once we receive the completed application, you will receive a confirmation, normally by email that it has been received.  Your application will be kept on file in order of the date of receipt.  If questions arise when going over your application, we will usually email or telephone you for clarification.  As we schedule each month’s appointments, we’ll start with the oldest applications first.  Those who decline a scheduled appointment will be removed from the list of applications. When your application is pulled, you’ll be contacted about possible dates available within the time frame being filled, usually a calendar month.  About thirty days before your appointment, you should
receive a courtesy phone call or email seeking confirmation of your appointment and indicating information needed for a base pass, if it is required.  If you do not reply to this courtesy e-mail or phone call, we will be forced to give your appointment to somebody else, and your application will be deleted from our waiting list.

On the day of your appointment, please plan to arrive at the gate early to obtain your pass.  You will need a current driver’s license, proof of vehicle insurance, and current registration.  Once you arrive at the kennel facility, we’ll show dogs that are well suited to your interest/ability and home life.  Once you’ve selected a dog for adoption, we’ll refer the dog to the Veterinary Hospital for a departure physical, which is usually scheduled for the following day.  After the physical is completed, the Veterinary Staff will provide photocopies of applicable medical records for you to take to your animal health practitioner.  The records and dog are usually available shortly after the noon hour on this second day.  Bring a leash, suitable collar, and your driver’s license.  After you sign the indemnity agreement, you will be allowed to depart with your new family member.  This process normally takes about one hour.


The definitive source for information regarding adoption of both Military Working Dogs and Contract Working Dogs is the United States War Dog Association, Inc. (See


DogMedicalCarepic-570A free specialized Medical Care Program for retired Military Working Dogs and Contract Working Dogs is offered through the United States War Dogs Association, American Humane Association and Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Red Bank, NJ.

With healthcare costs on the rise, this program will help eliminate some of the financial burden put upon individuals and families who have adopted a retired MWD/CWD.  This is not an insurance program, but is a bona fide Specialized Medical Care Program for retired MWDs/CWDs, which will only be recognized by Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals of New Jersey.  (There are five locations: Tinton Falls, Cherry Hill, Hillsborough, Linwood, and Red Bank.  For more information on Red Bank Veterinary Hospital please visit their website at:

To participate, complete the Specialized Medical Care Program application (available on the website at: and submit it, along with a copy of your Retired MWDs/CWDs Adoption papers, via regular mail, email or by fax to the U.S. War Dogs Association.  Once the application and adoption papers are received, the owner and his or her dog will be entered into a database shared only with the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. (Any MWD already signed up for the Free Rx Prescription Drug Program will NOT have to sign up a second time as the required information has been previously added to the USWDA database.)

Then simply contact the United States War Dogs Association, which in turn will verify to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital that care for your MWD/CWD is in order and has been accepted.  You will also receive a letter (which will be mailed, emailed or faxed to you) to take to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital of your choice.

Your responsibility will be to provide your own transportation.  Specialized Medical Care will be free of charge while your dog is being cared for at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital.  The United States War Dogs Association will see that you are reimbursed for your hotel accommodations. (A list of local hotels can be found on the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital website.)

For further information please contact:

U.S. War Dogs Association, Inc.

Attn:  Ron Aiello, President

1313 Mt. Holly Road

Burlington, New Jersey 08016

Phone: 609-747-9340

Cell: 609-234-4539

Fax: 609-747-9340



When planning a home remodel, the scariest thing to most people is the potential for busting the budget.  This is a legitimate concern, as little things can add up quickly.

But, much as they can add up to increase the cost of a remodel, they can also add up to big savings!

And who doesn’t want to save money on their home remodel?

Planning a cushion:

Before we get into tips for saving money on your remodel, it’s important to discuss the likelihood that something additional may come up during your project.  Home construction can be unpredictable, and things like wall cavities can hide various defects and code issues.  In order to account for the unexpected, setting aside a cushion is important with any home remodel.  20% of the project cost is generally recommended, and hopefully you won’t need it.

Does the space need to be bigger or more efficient?

We’ve all been there.  If only we had a bigger kitchen, a larger bathroom, more space…  But is your current space maximized?  Take into consideration that the home addition that is necessary to give you more space will generally be significantly more expensive than a remodel designed to maximize the space that you already have.  Things like custom cabinetry designed to make better use of your existing space, or organization options intended to maximize function may provide you with what you want at a fraction of the cost!

Does the exterior need to be changed?

If you’re getting rid of an exterior door or window, you’ll likely need to replace siding, but do you have to replace all of it?

With wood siding, you often can locate a mill or supply company that is able to match the existing siding.  Getting paint that matches then allows you to only replace the section of siding that was affected by the project.

In the case of vinyl siding, which will fade and discolor over time, you’re unlikely to ever match the color that it is now.  While an option, replacing all of the siding is costly and depending on the condition of the rest of the siding, may be unnecessary.  Other options that you may want to explore, where feasible, are façades such as stone.  Even if you need to replace a somewhat larger section for uniformity or personal preference, it may still be cheaper than residing the entire home.

Minimize wasted time for your contractors:

We certainly understand that you would like the project to be completed as quickly as possible so that you can start using your new space, but hurrying things along can also result in additional unforeseen cost.  While your electricians and framers may be finished in one area, scheduling your drywallers prematurely may create some complications if they catch up to the electricians or framers.  It’s best to handle each project in stages, ensuring that you’re ready for the next step before scheduling this work.  A properly scheduled project may even result in savings for the contractor, allowing you to negotiate a reduced project cost!

Similarly, if you’re responsible for purchasing materials, choose options that will reduce labor costs whenever possible.  Things like moldings that have already been primed can significantly reduce labor costs as it will mean that your contractor will only need to paint these items, saving them a step.  The additional cost for factory-primed molding is much less than the cost to have this primed by your contractor.

Leverage your contractor’s contacts

If you’re taking the responsibility of getting certain materials, ask your contractor who they use.  These vendors may offer you a discount or give you the heads-up that a product is soon to be discontinued or discounted.

Check overstocks, clearance, and remnants

Shopping overstocks and clearance materials is a great way of saving some money on material costs, particularly with flooring.  Floor tile is regularly replaced with newer styles and patterns, forcing the store to offer deep discounts on current stock to make room.  If you’re shopping for carpet for a single room, you may want to look at remnants or the end pieces left over on a roll of carpeting.  People are often surprised by how large some remnants are, and this is a great way to save some money on your carpet.

Is there anything that you can do?

Sweat equity is a great way of saving some money on a home remodel, but be sure to run this by your contractor before you get your hands dirty.  While you certainly don’t want to do anything that will complicate, delay the project, or potentially increase costs, your contractor may have some recommendations of things that you can do.  Perhaps tearing out cabinets or drywall before the remodel begins, or painting after the work is completed.  Safety note: Always use proper safety equipment when performing any construction tasks, and leave things like plumbing and electrical to the experts.

Forget the deliveries

If you have a larger vehicle such as a pickup truck or a trailer, you may want to consider picking up materials rather than having them delivered.  The delivery cost savings is sure to add up quickly, and you can still opt for large items like drywall to be delivered if needed.

Avoid “peak” construction season

If you’re hoping for a discounted interior remodel cost, try to schedule your project for when your contractor is less busy, for example during the winter months.   Not only will you keep your contractor busy when they normally are not (which they will appreciate), but they are more likely to offer you a discount on their work!

Don’t move the toilet or sink

Moving plumbing such as toilets, sinks, and showers can significantly increase the cost of a remodel.  If possible, keeping these items in the same location can save you additional expense that you may be able to avoid.  Your contractor should be able to inspect your plumbing to determine its condition and age and make recommendations as to whether replacement will be necessary.

Plan with stock sizes in mind (custom doors/ windows vs. stock items)

Custom windows and doors are much more expensive than stock items, making this a great opportunity to reduce cost if possible.  Often, custom items become necessary for no other reason than a final design that requires an unusual size.  Keeping stock sizes in mind during the design stage will allow you to not only plan for the use of more readily available (and cheaper) materials, but will also avoid the delays that often occur when waiting for custom items to be manufactured and delivered.

Buy building supplies at auction

This is a great opportunity to save a significant amount of money on your materials, but it is not without risk.  Will those cabinets fit in your new kitchen?  Is that going to be enough floor tile?  Whenever considering building materials at auction, always double and triple measure to be sure before placing your bid.  If you’re still unsure, call your contractor to confirm before committing to the purchase.

Make decisions early and communicate

Communication is key during any home project.  Selecting materials early and committing to design plans on time will allow your contractor to plan one step ahead.  Waiting until the last minute, or worse, being late with selections can create delays in the project and could increase costs.

Some decisions, such as the location of recessed lighting, are very labor intensive and costly to change after drywall has been hung for instance.  Making these design decisions early will allow your contractor to plan for this work and the entire project proceed.

While these are some of the most common ways of saving money on your remodel, there are many others.  Don’t hesitate to ask your contractor what recommendations he may have for ways that you can save money on your project!

If there’s something that YOU want to hear about, please e-mail us at!

7 Reasons You’re Ruining Your Relationships

Sofia Milan Yoga Courtesy The Sofia Milan Company

Expert strategies for attracting more love into your life

While most would respond with an emphatic “yes” if asked if they would like more love in their lives, I suspect few people welcome the extent of “work” required to achieve that outcome.  Of course, the amount of work involved depends on how far away one feels they are from the level of love they desire.  Just like achieving a diet, fitness or career goal, elevating the amount of love in your life requires commitment, change, vision, and patience—with yourself and with others.  Towards this end, it’s entirely possible for sentiment-seekers to create a personalized plan to achieve love goals, no matter how short or long of a journey that lies ahead.  In the weight-loss analogy, if you want to lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds, your personal trainer would have different advice for you.  Similarly, if you want to increase the amount of love in your life by 5% or 500%, the means to achieve this would be different.  To help get you started, here are seven things that may be undermining your love goals no matter how far along you are on the jubilant journey.

  1. Not vetting the VIPs. Who is the most important person in your life? Did you say “me”?  If not, it’s time to practice self-love and move yourself to the top spot on your VIP list!  The most important person in your life must be you.  Only you can choose a side salad over French Fries.  Only you can choose to react calmly instead of angrily at the driver who cut you off.  Only you can choose to surround yourself with positive people who enrich your life versus toxic people who break you down emotionally.  I’m NOT suggesting that narcissism is good or giving you a license to be selfish.  Just take a lesson from the flight attendants who instruct, “put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.”
  2. Failing to train your brain. Perhaps you’ve heard about how athletes and other competitors imagine themselves successfully executing their craft with perfection prior to the moment they are expected to perform.  Top competitors practice, watch videos of themselves, mentally visualize their success, and practice some more.  Similarly, a powerful tool is to visualize the love that you desire and imagine it in a way so that you can actually feel it. Imagine the warmth and security of an embrace. Feel the joy of spending time laughing with dear friends.  Just like an athlete, this will train your brain to make it happen and to manifest what you desire.  Another way to do this is to collect images and phrases either from the Internet or magazines and assemble them into a “vision board” collage.  You need not be crafty, and the result may not look perfectly composed, but the exercise itself will help clarify exactly what you want your life to look like in the future.  Then, keep that visual handy—optimally visiting it at least once daily.  Not only is this a wonderful and more accurate way to envision the love and the life that you desire, but also to make it feel more real, accessible, and imminent.
  3. Holding steadfast to your “filter.” Do you know someone who can always cite a litany of reasons why something won’t work? Or the cynical person who thinks everyone has a clandestine ulterior motive?  Or the conspiracy theorist that really thinks everyone is out to get them?  How many people do you know truly see only the goodness in other people and the world overall?  How would you rate?  Does your own perception “filter” need an upgrade?  In today’s crazy and stressful world, whose doesn’t?  Whether it’s with respect to romantic interests, friends, or family members, rather than focusing on the flaws and shortcomings with a critical eye, instead try to see the person’s goodness.             Consider the positive reasons you have crossed paths with this person and practice seeing their good qualities when you interact with them.  A critical eye can always find something wrong.  We’re all human, after all.  Not only will you feel better just by making this small shift in the way you regard and relate with others, but they will also sense the favorable shift in you.  The more you practice this, the more love you will feel in your own life.  Even beyond those you know, try looking a stranger in the eye and smiling while imagining you are sending them happy thoughts, blessings, or even love.  Do so with no expectation of a positive response in return.  If you get one, great.  If you don’t, do not be discouraged and keep practicing.  Notice how you feel.  You have nothing to lose.
  4. Lacking a “Love Action List.” Make a list of “Love Actions,” which are specific things that special someone in your life can do that would make you feel loved. Make sure that small, no-cost gestures are included as well as bigger items.  For example, this list might include things like, “bring me coffee in bed,” “whisper in my ear and make me blush when we’re out,” “plan an outing for us to look forward to,” “send me flowers for no reason,” and other sweet or spicy gestures.  Obviously, some of these are not so easy to do for yourselves.  However, you can buy yourself flowers and plan things to look forward to!  Making the list—and even acting on it for yourself—will be a message to the universe that you wish to attract someone willing and capable of doing all of these things and more.  Note, if you do choose to do this exercise and share your list with your significant other, it’s imperative that you do not judge the items on their list!  Do make sure you understand them, as the list represents the key to their happiness.  Be thankful that you no longer are expected to be able to read his or her mind.  Also, do not keep score.  If you choose a “Love Action” from his or her list to show that you care, do so lovingly rather than regarding it as yet another chore and, just as importantly, do not expect anything in return.  You are giving a gift, and s/he needs to accept it as a gift graciously, with no anxiety about what to do in return.  Give and receive with love and no strings attached.
  5. Raising roadblocks. There are probably plenty of examples in your life, or in the lives of those dear to you, that make a good case for remaining aloof, building those proverbial walls up around your heart and not letting people “in” to experience the real you.  If you wish to experience the kind of deep-seated love you’ve trained your brain to imagine, there is likely some work that you need to do to remove whatever self-limiting beliefs, fears, pain, or negative feelings are lurking in the dark recesses of your psyche.  These are your emotional roadblocks, and you need to figure out how to step over, get around, or completely annihilate these barriers.  To do so, you’ll first need to identify what is blocking your ability to love fully and fearlessly.  Then you can do the internal work needed to transform those negative thoughts into positive ones: for example, a current belief of, “my first marriage was a waste of time and energy and my spouse was a cheating, lying, selfish jerk.” These thoughts are essentially agreements to attract yet another person who is and does the same thing. Instead, you should say out loud daily, until you truly believe it at your core, an affirming statement such as: “My first marriage taught me a great deal about myself, how deeply I can love someone, and demonstrated that I have the courage and strength within me as well as the support around me to recover from painful circumstances.  Thank you for the lessons I needed to learn.  I am strong, loving, and deserve true love.”
  6. Foregoing fun. Many of us are very busy doing things for others–work, family, community.  Imagine if all of those people who are siphoning your time and energy not only stopped, but also instructed you to do something that makes you truly happy.  Imagine them all saying in unison, “We give you permission to take time to do whatever makes your heart happy.”  What would you do?  Take a long walk in nature?  Dance?  Sit by the river and read?  Go to a jazz club and let the music wash over you?  You might be surprised how difficult it can be to identify what exactly will make you feel happy and fulfilled.  Look at your calendar over the next month and commit to doing whatever it is that brings you joy.  If you need to practice more self-love, plan to go solo, so that someone else’s “stuff” does not interfere with your experience and you can truly connect with your own needs.  If being alone feels uncomfortable to you, consider why and wonder if that is exactly why you should go by yourself.   And barring some major league disastrous circumstances, commit to your event like you would to the most important person in your life.  Do it without guilt, as it is for your own health and well-being.   The more connected you are to your authentic self and the better you feel inside, the more positive energy you have to devote to others.  If you are already in a long-term relationship, a key to long-term happiness is “shared experiences.”  Find something that has nothing to do with your family or running your household that you both truly enjoy doing together.  Find the time and commit to doing that and not talking about work or family.  Solely focus on enjoying the experience and being entirely present in the moment.  The more that the shared activity can enable the physical touch factor, the better.
  7. Not gifting unconditional love. A key word in this strategy is “gift,” and this is one you must give to yourself as well as others.  In giving a gift to others from your heart, you must do so with no expectations of a positive response or a gift or gesture in return.  And loving unconditionally, truly and literally, means that you love with no conditions–physical, financial, spiritual, intellectual, emotional or otherwise.  For example, I will still love you if you gain weight or get sick, if you are rich or poor, if you switch religions, if you make more money than I do, and when you are crying when I don’t understand it.  What is sometimes harder is to fire your internal critic, banishing it from your psyche, and replacing that pessimistic voice with a more loving one that says, “I love and value myself no matter what.  I am proud of who I am, what I’ve learned and who I’m becoming.” By addressing these seven issues, you are sure to attract more love into your life and realize the happiness and fulfillment you’ve always dreamed of.  And remember, you deserve it!

Sofia Milan is America’s spiciest and sweetest relationship expert dedicated to helping people have amazing relationships.  Her relationship blog on Facebook regularly realizes engagement in the tens of thousands, serving as a credit to the honesty, vulnerability and witty insights she offers.  Milan may be reached online at

Resolutions Being Kept


By Allison Mowatt

A helipad was built, adjacent houses came tumbling down to make way for 80 more parking spaces, new staff was hired and, most importantly, administrators say, lives were saved at Wayne Memorial Hospital in 2016 that might not have had the same chance one year ago.  Phase One of the hospital’s Master Facility Plan, unveiled just one year ago, is now complete, and it is full steam ahead for Phase Two.

“As promised, we opened a cardiac catheterization laboratory,” said CEO David Hoff, “and six months in, it’s already surpassed our five-year expectations for volume.  We have treated more than 165 patients, including about 10% who were in the throes of a heart attack and needed immediate lifesaving treatment.”

Next up–Wayne Memorial will apply for a Level IV Trauma designation (now that its helipad is built) and break ground for a new patient tower expected to house 50 private rooms.

Wayne Memorial kicked off its master plan with these four projects — a helipad, more parking spaces, a cardiac cath lab and private patient rooms, according to Dirk Mumford, Chairman of the Board of Wayne Memorial Hospital & Wayne Memorial Health System. “While we realize that we can’t provide every potential clinical service, it’s our long term goal to be able to provide these specific services most needed by the majority of the community we serve.”

Each step of the plan is a direct response to community needs, confirmed Hoff, “and to our growth ability to become a regional medical center.  In surveys and interviews, our community and its leaders told us their priorities for healthcare.  That formed our blueprint– and we hope to make it all a reality by 2018.”

The hospital’s service area has been growing with its own expansion, mostly of outpatient services such as lab (blood draws) into new localities.  It now serves approximately 100,000 people across Wayne and Pike counties and the Upper Delaware Region of New York and another 8,000 more in the Greater Carbondale area in Lackawanna County and Forest City in Susquehanna County.

Behind the construction, Wayne Memorial administrators say, are significant community concerns.  “The plan focuses on patient satisfaction and privacy, parking, technology, and infrastructure upgrades,” explained John Conte, Director of Facility Services and Real Estate.  He hopes the hospital will break ground on the new patient tower, which will be built out from the current outpatient services entrance, sometime in the first six months of 2017.  Three floors are planned, with private patient rooms on the first two floors and shell space for future expansion on the third floor.

Private, single-bed, patient rooms are a trend in hospitals now because they reduce the potential for infection, according to Lisa Champeau, Public Relations Manager for Wayne Memorial Health System.

She explained that the new floors will also incorporate new technology.  The hospital is currently looking at advanced call bell systems, for example, that will expedite response time and reduce noise.  Also, patient registration and changing areas will be improved for better patient privacy.  Existing three and four south nursing units will most likely be utilized for different services (as yet undecided), while other areas such as chemotherapy and wound care will be relocated to meet ongoing program needs and provide more convenience to patients.

In early 2017, in addition to the four main projects, WMH also expects to implement inpatient dialysis services and tele-neonatology for hi-risk infants born at WMH.  Through tele-neonatology, staff will have 24/7 virtual contact with neonatology experts from Lehigh Valley Hospital.  The hospital’s New Beginnings Birthing Suites, which offer delivery via an obstetrician or a certified nurse midwife, saw close to 500 births in 2016.

All the new and enhanced services are designed to offer care closer to home.  When a person is sick or injured, minutes usually count—the faster to treatment, the higher the chance for a good outcome.  That’s one reason WMH is applying for a Level IV trauma designation, which Hoff is very optimistic about.  “We anticipate receiving this designation with the authorization and ability to treat more accident and injury victims more quickly by summer,” he said.

Although WMH is non-profit, the hospital pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes annually on most, if not all, of its properties except the main campus.  “We are part of the community, too,” said Champeau.  “We benefit from many of the same services such as police protection offered by the municipalities in which we are located.  We are more than happy to support the community we serve medically.”

Champeau noted that community feedback for its Major Facilities Plan has been largely positive.  “We’re very grateful the community has supported us and our projects.”

The Plan is estimated to cost approximately $35 million when it’s finished, and the hospital is hoping to borrow much of the remaining funds.  The helipad was built largely through fundraising efforts by the WMH Auxiliary.   “We are very much committed to completing it,” said Hoff, “and we are exploring various options for funding that will keep Wayne Memorial viable for the future.”

Several years ago, WMH became a certified Primary Stroke Center, upgraded its state-of-the-art computerized tomography (CT) equipment, and expanded the emergency room to accommodate 28,000 patient visits a year.  Wayne Memorial Health System also spun off its primary care, behavioral health, dental, and women’s health services when those services received an independent designation as a “federally qualified health center” (FQHC).  This is now Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC), which since its inception in 2007, has grown to encompass more than 13 offices and 200 employees.  Most recently, the area’s two largest primary care practices, Highland Physicians in Honesdale and Pinnacle Health Partners in Tafton, became part of WMCHC.

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Mark Your Calendar for the Annual Mistletoe Ball
The WMH Auxiliary is anticipating the 76th annual event, which is the group’s largest fundraiser for the hospital.  The Mistletoe Ball takes place on January 21st at The Silver Birches on Route 507 on Lake Wallenpaupack.

Last year, proceeds went toward constructing the helipad and have also helped with the purchase of a mobile mammography van, which is scheduled to hit the road this year.  In addition, the auxiliary raised funds for upgraded fetal monitoring systems.  “We confer with the hospital and determine where best to allocate funds,” said Martha Wilson, of the WMH Auxiliary.

This year, proceeds from the Ball will be dedicated to the cardiac rehabilitation department, specifically to upgrading its telemetry system and the purchase of new equipment.  “The new cath lab’s been a huge success,” said Ms. Wilson.  “It’s important for the rehabilitation lab to have the most up-to-date equipment to better serve the growing need and to give patients the very best follow-up care.”

Ms. Wilson further states, “This event would not be successful if the community did not support it through attendance and/or through donations.  It is a wonderful, fun evening with cocktails, dinner and lively dancing to the music of the Groove Train Band.  We hold a raffle that night also for wonderful gift baskets that include overnight stays, art work, fine wine, and more.  Again, our community is very generous with its donations.  Our hope is to raise $30,000 dollars this year.  The last two years we raised $28,000.

The on-going core of our Auxiliary has to be the Other Shops in Honesdale and Hawley that sell used clothing and goods and our Gift shop at the Hospital.  The shops are run by volunteers and their commitment is extraordinary. We also have vendor sales throughout the year and most recently had a Bake Sale, featuring cookies made by our members, at the hospital which generally makes about $3000.  On September 17th, we will host our 4th concert at Woodloch Pines.  This year we will have the Mahoney Brothers performing tributes to famous singers.”

Tickets for the Mistletoe Ball are $85.  Call (570) 226-9750 for more information or to make reservations.