Choose the right attitude

 

By SHANE RICHARD BELL

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Magnetic people live with a young heart.

They light up your life. They draw you in with their presence. Naturally you crave what they already possess.

They’ll tell you it’s not a secret, though.

They are aware of but not defined by their age. They rise above their bodies and fill their weathering temples with all of the gifts of a young child.

My dad is one of those people. He is the perfect person to start off our 2013 Young at Heart publication, which includes articles and local event calendars for seniors striving to live with a younger heart.

My dad was born in 1946 but he acts like he was born in 1989, the year I was born.

When he fell off a roof and broke his leg in five places, he recovered by training for a marathon on a three-wheeled, hand-operated bike. He won that race, placing first at the Tucson Marathon with a time of 1:53.

He then completed another marathon on foot, and then another.

When he got skin cancer, he received treatments and invested in giant sunglasses.
When probed about his condition, he made jokes. He laughed. He told people he’d been in a bar fight. He told one woman a wolf had attacked him.

Some strangers believed him. They laughed together.

When he had eye surgery, he laid low, read dozens of books, and caught up with friends. When he could see well again, he went skiing and played his guitar for children at the Kroc and for elderly folks at Ivy Court.

His secret is choosing to live with a young heart, every day of his life.

Advertisements

Minimum wage, maximum debate

Image

Christopher Paul shows Sue Williams of Coeur d’Alene an opal ring for sale at the Golden City Loan and Pawn shop.

By SHANE RICHARD BELL

North Idaho Business Journal writer 

As millions of Americans watched the ball drop in Times Square, 10 states and two cities officially raised their minimum wages on January 1. 

Idaho was not one of those states.

In fact, Idaho’s state minimum wage matches that of the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour. A tipped employee in Idaho makes $3.35 per hour.

Washington and Montana, Idaho’s neighbors, pay their tipped workers more than twice as much per hour than Idaho.

In Montana, for a tipped employee, the minimum wage is $7.80. In Washington, a tipped employee earns $9.04 per hour, and a non-tipped employee, $9.19 per hour– the highest minimum wage in the nation.

“I would not be in favor of an increased minimum wage, but I would be willing to have discussions about increasing the minimum wage,” said Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Malek acknowledges North Idaho’s economic troubles, unemployment, underemployment, and the obstacles small and big businesses face.

“Some people are stuck in minimum wage jobs that have more potential than what the market is currently offering them, but I don’t think putting a stranglehold on businesses is what’s going to solve the problem,” said Malek.

Steve Wilson, President and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, follows a similar school of thought as Malek and does not follow the logic of lawmakers in Washington state who voted to raise their minimum wage.  

“They somehow artificially decided that nine dollars an hour [$9.04] is the minimum wage for a restaurant employee in Liberty Lake. I would rather have the government stay out of that and have the marketplace set it’s own wage at the prevailing rate,” Wilson said.

Wilson describes himself as a “pure and laissez-fare economist.”

“Across the board, to throw more money at a workforce and expect productivity to go up, is an invalid assumption,” said Wilson. “I might as well tell you, the less government involvement in business, the better. You’re going to legislate people out of business.”

Idaho has maintained federal minimum wages since 1991. “Since then, the minimum wage increased in three 70-cent increments — to $5.85 in July 2007, $6.55 in July 2008 and $7.25 in July 2009,” wrote Alivia Metts, a regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor, in her January 2011 Idaho Employment Report.

 

The question remains: Is the Idaho legislature’s reluctance to enact a higher minimum wage preventing a more prosperous future for Idahoans or curtailing a strain on an already trembling sector of business owners?

Christopher Paul of Coeur d’Alene knew exactly how he felt in response to this question. 

“You have all of Idaho servers making an hourly wage of $3.35 per hour,” said Paul, 21. “If Idaho raised the minimum wage, waiters would stop commuting to Washington for work. We’re losing workers and money. If you don’t have thriving workers, you don’t have a thriving economy.”

Paul got his first job in Coeur d’Alene when he was 18. He’s worked his way up every rung of the North Idaho service industry––– bagging groceries, collecting carts, bussing tables, and serving meals.

Now Paul is managing Golden City Loan and Pawn of Coeur d’Alene and devising a plan to open up his own business.   

“If you were to raise the bar on our minimum wage, you’d see productivity and quality in the work force increase,” he said. “Any lawmaker has to consider the fact that the Idaho worker is not motivated because we have such a low minimum wage.”

Darius Ross, contributor to the American Forum and managing partner of D Alexander Ross Real Estate Capital Partners, cites an intriguing fact on the history of minimum wages in the U.S.

“The year 1956 is so long ago that most Americans, including me, weren’t even born yet,” writes Ross. “Yet, our federal minimum wage is just $7.25 while the value of the 1956 minimum wage is $8.46 in today’s dollars. That’s no formula for economic success.”  

Raising Idaho’s minimum wage has yet to become a legislative conversation or priority.

“Of course, we have yet to do that,” said Jimmy Farris, a Democrat who lost to incumbent Raúl Labrador for the U.S. Representative for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat last November. 

“My question, what exactly is their reason for opposing it?”

Image

Jimmy Farris.

Farris, who “definitely plans to run again in 2014” for political office, considers opposition to an increased minimum wage moot, when Idaho’s per capita income in 2011 ranked 49th in the nation at $32,881, according to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research.

Only Mississippi ranked lower.

“I really encourage us to think about why Idaho lawmakers are satisfied with the bare minimum, across the board,” said Farris.

Farris rejects any notion of increased wages damaging businesses and the economy.

“What Idaho lawmakers are telling you is that they are willing to protect the business owner but they are not willing to protect the average Idaho citizen who spends money in those small businesses, which keeps the doors open and in return, helps the overall economy,” said Farris.

Farris argues wages determine our economic competitiveness.

“Could we at least get competitive? As all of these states around us progress, we are falling behind,” he said.

Farris is dismayed by Idaho’s poor rankings in the most pertinent categories.

“Given the fact that our education system performs pretty poorly,” said Farris, “do you think companies are going to bring their business here and put their kids in our public schools?”

“How can we say that we are trying everything we can to make life for Idaho citizens better? That should be our goal. That should be the goal of our lawmakers,” said Farris. “And a simple thing we could do is raise the minimum wage.”

Metts, the regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor, said higher wages provide benefits across the board. 

“If Idaho could become more competitive with its wages overall, not necessarily just minimum wages, it would help attract an even more skilled work force, gain competition with neighboring states, reduce labor turnover, and increase productivity, which will overall increase economic activity,” said Metts.

 

Building the American Dream

How one young professional’s vision impacts North Idaho’s housing market

By SHANE RICHARD BELL

North Idaho Business Journal writer

StephenNovotny

THE NOVOTNY FILE

Age: 24

Job: Mortgage loan officer at Goldwater Bank NA Mortgage Division.

Family: “Wife, Robyn Novotny, 22. She is so loving and passionate. Mom and dad, Bruce and Christine. Brothers: Richard, Lance, Tristan, and Nathanael.”

What’s a great book you’ve read recently? “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”

What’s your favorite weekend activity? “Snowboarding at Lookout or Silver Mountain.”

Who do you look up to most in the Cd’A business community?
“My boss, Josh Martin.”

What famous person do you look up to?
“Bill Gates. He’s been so successful and so generous.”

 

Steve Novotny loves to make his clients’ dreams come true.

“The American dream is to buy your own home and own a piece of real estate,” he said.

“And that’s what I do. Financially speaking, I walk people right up to that American dream and say, ‘Here you go, here’s the keys to your first home.’ It’s just the greatest feeling in the world,” said Steve Novotny, a mortgage loan officer of Goldwater Bank NA Mortgage Division, located in the Riverstone Village at 2065 W. Riverstone Drive.

While in the market of the American dream, Novotny’s found a big dream for himself and an even bigger dream for his hometown.

His dream, one loan at a time, one person at a time, is to build Coeur d’Alene’s housing market into a vibrant and profitable industry, benefiting the region’s economy and every individual willing to work toward buying a home.

As soon as Novotny could work, he did. He mowed lawns in his neighborhood, made house repairs with his dad, and soon got his first job busing tables. He worked his way up by being a server and eventually became a car salesman.

In the whirlpool of a floundering economy, while also attending NIC as a business major and working at Coeur d’Alene Honda as a car salesman, Novotny pinpointed the ideal job that fit his interests and needs.

“I like sales, I like people, and I wanted to be involved with the real estate community in some way,” said Novotny. “So I kind of winged it.”

‘Winging it’ led to an interview with Branch Manager Josh Martin and a job at Goldwater Bank as a mortgage loan officer.

Despite a cut of 145 mortgage and non-mortgage loan officers in Kootenai County between 2007 and 2011 according to the Idaho Department of Labor, Steve was hired right on the spot at the end of 2010.

“It was a great moment for you to come in if you’re willing to work hard and do the job right, with honesty and integrity, and to stand out from your competitors,” said Novotny.

“In order to stand out, you have to let everyone know how good at communication and customer service you are. You also have to be honest. I want everyone to have a reason to come back and do business with me.”

Novotny was named the top volume producer in 2012 for Goldwater’s Coeur d’Alene and Priest River branches.

“He is a great lender and leader,” said Debbie Inman, a longtime North Idaho real estate agent. “I have nothing but great words for him. I’ve been a Realtor for 15 years and he is the best lender I’ve ever had help me with my clients.”

“He is going to go far. He answers his phone; he returns phone calls, and he is very knowledgeable, professional, and caring.”

Karen and Jerry Schomer, customers of Novotny’s, can attest to Inman’s comments.

“I highly respect him,” said Karen Schomer.

One instance really impressed her. The Schomers needed to sign time-sensitive documents but were in the middle of a family get-together. “Steve just drove right over so we could sign the documents,” Karen said. “He then read all the paperwork upside down, sitting across from us, so we could read along, and make sure we were aware of every detail.”

“To me it doesn’t matter what size the loan is– I treat every customer the same,” Novotny said. To me it is not the size of the loan but that they are my customer.”

Novotny is drawing out-of-state customers as well.

Recently he received a phone call from a couple in Kansas wanting to buy a second home in Boise.

They were worried about the overall process, but the same day they called Novotny about the loan, he got back to them with an end to their worries. Here’s how Novotny recalled the conversation:

“Great news: I’ve got a clear-to-close on your loan, so we can close tomorrow afternoon,” Novotny said.

“If I were there, I would kiss you right now,” the woman said.

“Oh, thank you,” Novotny replied, laughing. “It’s been a pleasure working with you.”

 

Time to smell the beans: Compelling links between coffee and anxiety

 

By SHANE RICHARD BELL

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

It’s time to wake up and really smell the coffee.

If you’re a one-cup-a-day kind of coffee drinker, you’re probably fine. Now if you habitually down three cups of joe every morning, order a latte at 11 am, and then to avoid a meltdown, chug another round for an afternoon caffeine happy hour, coffee might be the culprit behind a host of other problems.

Excessive caffeine usage, analyzed in more than 40 research studies, can cause a litany of side effects: rapid heartbeat, restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, twitching, trembling, distracted thoughts and speech, nausea, diarrhea, and mood swings.

Do you consume immoderate amounts of caffeine, experience these symptoms, and cannot determine why?

Interestingly these reactions are symptoms of the fight-or-flight response, triggered by excessive amounts of caffeine released into your bloodstream.

The caffeine tells your body to prepare for battle, even though there are no enemies in sight.

“’Caffeine can trigger and worsen anxiety and panic disorders,’ said Roland Griffiths, PhD and professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Caffeine can also cause jitters, headaches, nervousness and irregular heartbeat.’”  (“Caffeine and Coffee,” http://www.LiveStrong.com)

Even so, coffee continually pours into American culture, rooting itself in Starbucks, local coffeehouses, social circles, trendy coffee mugs, punch cards, and at-home espresso machines.

At least 80 percent of Americans drink coffee, according to the National Coffee Association.

Coffee consumption also rose by 6 percent in 2012, adding around 18 million new coffee drinkers.

Panic and anxiety disorders are also on the rise. “Panic and other anxiety disorders have become the most common mental illnesses in the United States.” (“Brewing Trouble,” www.MedicineNet.com)

The impact of coffee on the nation’s portrait of mental health is profound.

“The American Psychiatric Association has officially added three new disorders to its list of official diagnoses: caffeine intoxication, caffeine-related anxiety, and caffeine-sleep disorders.” (“Brewing Trouble,” http://www.MedicineNet.com)

As a stimulant, coffee stimulates the body’s central nervous system while temporarily increasing metabolism. Caffeine suppresses a chemical in the brain called adenosine, which slows down nerve cells and causes drowsiness. When caffeine reaches the bloodstream, the body cannot differentiate between caffeine and adenosine, and thus creates a surge of cellular interaction and energy.

“’Caffeine is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world,’ says Roland Griffiths. People often see coffee, tea, and soft drinks simply as beverages rather than vehicles for a psychoactive drug. But caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and panic disorders.’” (“Brewing Trouble,” www.MedicineNet.com)

Every one responds to caffeine differently. Some reap the benefits; some reap the side effects.  But “the National Institute of Mental Health recommends that people who suffer from anxiety disorders should avoid caffeine, as it can worsen anxiety.” (“Caffeine and Anxiety,” www.LiveStrong.com)

Psychologist Norman Schmidt concurs.

“’If you tend to be a high-strung, anxious person, using a lot of caffeine can be risky,’ said Schmidt. ‘Whereas some people may feel more focused and energetic with caffeine, those who are prone to anxiety often feel nervous and a sense of impending doom.’” (“Caffeine and Anxiety,” www.LiveStrong.Com)

To obtain a copy of this article, pick up today’s Coeur d’Alene Press, January 17, and refer to the “CDA Fit and Health” publication.

Outdoor enthusiast overcomes injuries to climb Mt. Everest

By Julie Lilienkamp and Shane Richard Bell

Image

Julie Lilienkamp celebrates reaching an elevation of 18,500 ft. on Mount Everest. “At one point I was climbing a 200-foot tall ice shelf with only crampons and an ice axe. It was a free climb. I was the closest I’ve ever been with God in that moment. I had to put all of my trust in him,” said Lilienkamp.

My trip to the top of the world changed my life forever.

Once you get to the top of the world, Mount Everest, everything looks different. You’re in awe of how small every single thing looks, even your struggles, and you almost forget about what you’ve been through. Almost.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest made me a year-round outdoor enthusiast.

In September 2000, my love for the outdoors was tested. I was 4-wheeling at 4th of July Pass, and I blew out the ACL in my right knee. I checked into urgent care and watched my knee swell so much that even a diagnosis would have to wait.

Two weeks later, I tore my MCL [same knee] challenging my high school daughter’s friend in a one-on-one basketball game.

As soon as I visited Dr. Adam Olscamp of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, he recommended surgery. Immediately.

I’d heard Dr. Olscamp and his team were the best in the industry and I would soon discover how true this is.

On surgery day the orthopedic team realized that I also had a vertical fracture in my femur, right above the knee.

Recovery would be twice as long.

I told Dr. Olscamp that I would recover to my original state.

He believed me.

For that entire winter I found my physical therapy playground: Canfield Mountain. I admit how difficult those months were, but with Dr. Olscamp, physical therapy, hiking, and snowshoeing, I made a fast and whole recovery.

Since that injury, I’ve become a certified Mountaineer and climbed Mount Everest, as well as the highest peaks in the Himalayan mountain range.

Image

Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet.

Throughout this journey I realized that I was never alone. There was always someone at my side. That’s when my climbing cohorts and I decided to raise money for Chyangba, an impoverished and third world village near Mt. Everest.

We built those kids their very own school and library.

Those kids will now receive an education. They will know there’s someone on their side and at their side.

Thank you, Dr. Olscamp, for being one of those people to me.

With eternal thanks,

Julie Lilienkamp

To read this story and others in print, refer to the “Coeur d’Alene Fit” publication in the Coeur d’Alene Press on Thursday, January 17.

Image

Julie Lilienkamp with the children of Chyangba, Nepal.

Taking the next step

By SHANE RICHARD BELL/Coeur d’Alene Press

I recently read a brilliant passage from the New York Times bestseller, “God Never Blinks,” by Regina Brett.

Her idea is countercultural. She says we achieve goals not all at once but rather by simply taking the next step toward that direction.

I think she’s profoundly right, especially with health and fitness goals.

The 2013 Coeur d’Alene Fit publication is chalk full of simple steps you can take to really achieve your goals for this year.

You’ll find an article on excessive caffeine usage and anxiety, tips on actively becoming pain-free, and a massage therapy studio that has taken those small steps toward the greatest of returns.

I challenge you, what will be your first step?

 

P.s. To read this publication, look inside the Coeur d’Alene Press on January 17.