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Carlsbad, CA 92008

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The Restorative Practice of Gratitude

As a kid and —let’s be honest—often even now, I tend to send out thank you cards later than propriety demands.

Frequently I’ll even write them and never get around to sending them.


While this is not a good way to maintain friendships, it turns out even just doing that has a salutary effect on one’s mental health.

In “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain,” written by two Ph.Ds from Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, they quote a study done on 300 adults receiving mental health counseling at the university. Compared to those who didn’t write at all as part of their health regimen, or those who focused their writing on sorrowful topics, people “who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended.”

Here’s the kicker (and encouraging part for me):  even though only 23% of those who wrote thank you letters sent them, both the group of “senders” and “non-senders” still experienced greater positive emotions and longer-term, faster-acting effects on their mental health.

While I don’t advise writing a heartfelt thank-you note and not sending it, it’s noteworthy to recognize that the simple practice of being grateful and expressing it may actually improve health.

Sounds good, right?

Many of us have our parents to thank for teaching us about thank you notes. Unfortunately, because of that, they have the potential–for example, for me–to initially feel like a chore rather than a joy.

However, my response to this internal argument is two fold: they bless another person AND they affect your health positively. Booyah, I’m into it.

Thank you notes are not the only way to get the benefits of practicing gratitude, though. Whether written, verbal, or simply internal, practicing gratitude will likely affect you positively, during a season, which many will admit, is supposed to be all warm and fuzzy but really yields much anxiety and heartache for many.

Care for yourself this season by instituting small moments of gratitude through encouragement of others, in prayer, affirmations, and/or living mindful of things in life you enjoy and appreciate.

A new holiday is coming up, too, Giving Tuesday.

Check out the stories and get involved here!



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A Day in the Life of an Intern (Glamorous)

I am the marketing intern at Alta Vista Insurance.

Those photos on social media you see? I post those and record every “Happy Birthday” song sang at 1020 S. Santa Fe. (My voice is the extra loud one since I’m always closest to the microphone. Embarrassing. Worth it.)

Here is a curated collection of my photos I edited using one of my favorite apps, VSCO.


A cloudy day at my school, California State University San Marcos.

The day my friends and I went to an escape room in Oceanside. Would recommend the School of Hard Locks, truly.

One morning after a short shift at my old job, I went to the local pier to watch the waves.

The office in Vista, California.

Why VSCO Is The Bomb

If you’re wondering about VSCO, it’s my favorite app for a few reasons:

It makes high quality photo editing accessible and easy.

I love how many elements of the photo I can adjust and that one doesn’t want to spend much time editing, using their free presets improves the quality of the photo drastically.

Also, I really love the editorials they post, which make a melody of beautiful and interesting photos with thoughtful words.

Check out this one they posted on World Photo Day which details some tips on how to take better photos and displays some awe inspiring photos of people around the globe.

Here are some examples of photos I thought were good (left) but not great before and after editing:












A fisherman and newfound friend.

Taken on iPhone 5s.


Thank you for taking this moment to learn more about me. I hope you picked up a tip to set your photos apart and get more joy from the creative process!

Send us your photos from your various lands. Please.

We’d love to see what daily life in your city looks like for you and, with your permission, your photo could be included in our newsletter.

Send ’em over!




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Going On Vacation? 10 Tips To Prepare & Protect Your Home

The season for a sunny vacation is on the way! If you plan on leaving your home unattended for more than 24 hours, consider these tips.

1) Turn off your water

This one only applies if you are not hiring a house sitter. We have heard many stories of our insureds coming home to two weeks of water build-up and months of rebuilding they need to start.

2) Stop newspaper delivery

A pile of yellowing newspapers on the doorstep is a movie cliché for a home that’s unoccupied. Stopping the newspaper when you leave town for a while is an easy detail to forget and one that will make you a sure target. If you’re still reading newsprint, make sure you stop service when you leave on vacation.

3) Keep eyes on your property

Even if you stop newspaper delivery and mail service, there are still some gotchas that can make it obvious that you’re not around. How about those fliers that peddlers leave on your doorknob, or those periodic yellow page book deliveries? Because you can’t plan for every contingency, have someone in the area check your house periodically. Whether it’s a neighbor or relative, nothing beats having a person check the premises every day or two while you’re gone. Hey, while they’re there, they can water the petunias.

4) Make your home look lived in

An occupied home looks lived in. Lights go on and off, and cars come and go. When you’re away, everything stops. To help create the illusion that the residence is still occupied, invest in timers that turn on the interior lights for a few hours every evening. If you can get a neighbor to take out your garbage and put the cans back after the garbage pickup, it’s another way to send the message that everything is proceeding normally at your house.

5) Keep landscape trimmed

If you’re a diligent homeowner who mows his lawn every week, and things start to look overgrown and neglected, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you’re not around. If you plan on being away for an extended period of time, hire someone to take care of the landscaping chores in your absence.

6) Hire a house sitter

The best way to make sure your house is safe while you’re gone is to have someone you trust still living in it. You may be lucky enough to have a tidy and conscientious relative who’ll move in temporarily and water the plants, feed the pets and pick up the newspapers. If not, there are services you can use for house-sitting and pet-sitting while you’re away. This can be a pricey option, but it’s a solution that touches all the bases.

7) Don’t project your moves

Show some caution when you talk about your trip. Your blog isn’t the best place to announce that you’ll be away from home for a month. Being aware of who’s around when you discuss your trip in restaurants and even at work isn’t a great idea either. Make sure your children are discrete , too. No one is saying that you should be suspicious of everyone you meet, but even a chance remark has the potential to lead to unintended and unfortunate consequences. The less information you put out there, the less likely it is to reach the wrong ears and eyes.

8) Pull the plug on electronics

Disconnecting the power to some of your electronics, like your desktop computer, coffee pot and television can save you money while you’re gone and eliminate the worry that you’ve accidentally left them on by mistake. Turning off your garage door is also an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote. Oh, and don’t leave a portable GPS in your car when you use long-term parking at the airport. It’ll alert thieves that you’re not home and give them a convenient map to your house.

9) Hold your mail

When you’re leaving for more than a couple of days, call your local post office to stop mail delivery until you get back. They can hold mail from three to 30 days. In many locations, you can even submit a stop mail request online. Just enter your address and stop and start dates. This is a free feature courtesy of your friendly United States Postal Service. #murica

10) Install added security features

Installing a home security system or even just exterior lights that run on timers is a good way to ramp up security around the old homestead and make your house safer whether you’re around or not. One of the nice things about these features is that they’re working when you’re awake, asleep, on vacation or hosting an outdoor barbecue. They fade into the background as far as you’re concerned, but still make your property less attractive to opportunistic thieves.

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How Clean Is Your Pool?

No, I’m not talking about your swimming pool.

I’m talking about your insurance pool. Insurance has become increasingly complicated. Many people do not understand why there are different rates on insurance. How can one insurance company offer substantially lower rates with better coverage than another? The answer can be found in how insurance pricing works. Insurance basically works by pooling risk. The pool you want to get in is the one where there have been the fewest claims, therefore allowing the company to offer lower prices, better coverage, and make a profit. On the surface it makes sense. But in practice it becomes somewhat difficult to accomplish. Do you call seven or eight companies that collectively spend billions of dollars on advertising? No great shock, the rates they offer are all about the same, they are competing for the same customers. The ones that respond to tireless advertising. But there are other pools, that are a little more private and particular about who they let in. It sounds like discrimination, and it is, but the insurance companies call it underwriting – so it’s legal. Many people ask why the insurance company wants so much information to offer a quote? Can’t the insurance company just look at my house and figure out how likely it is that I may file a claim? The answer is no! Surprisingly to many people, claims severity and frequency are more often a factor of the owner than the property. If you have a history of filing claims, you are more likely to file more claims in the future. If you have not, or do not file a claim, that too is also likely to continue. The same is true to credit scores and payments. People with better credit tend to pay their bills on time and file fewer claims than people with poor credit. Often times it is because when something needs repair, they repair it or replace it before it breaks and leaks and causes property damage. Likewise, they are more likely to have the trees trimmed, and therefore avoid having them fall on the house. Also by showing they are responsible and have good credit, it is likely that they are responsible in other areas and aspects of their lives. They probably remember to turn off the stove, lock the front door, have the chimney cleaned, and other risk avoidance behaviors that go hand in hand with being responsible. In other words, they keep their pool clean! Both the pool in the back yard, and the insurance company pool they put their risk in. And everybody enjoys a clean pool. If you are responsible, and you think you might like to save money on your home or auto insurance. I invite you to dip your toe in our pool, and see if you like the water better. We are an independent California Insurance agency, offering personal lines auto and home insurance to our clients. We specialize in finding the right fit for our customer, and making a good match to protect your assets from risk at an affordable price.

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Offering a variety of solutions for Southern California’s diverse needs

At Morgan Hege Insurance, we know Southern California real estate. One of the major concerns here is fire hazards. Most of the regions in the Southern California are in a high or high brush area, and that poses several challenges when it comes to insurance, especially since insurance has recently become a more important part of the real estate transaction than it used to be. Recent changes have made the insurability of a property one of the most important things when it comes to ownership. Agents and insurers must be aware of brush hazards and certain additional hazards in low-lying areas. Morgan Hege Insurance assists agents by providing them with not only our knowledge and expertise in regard to doing specific underwriting—we will work with agents and their clients to provide them with the proper policy they need for the property. We are a full service, independent brokerage. We work with most of the top companies here in Southern California, so we can provide clients with the best coverage and also find them the best rate for their premium dollar. We also have the ability to find the carrier that has the proper coverage to fit areas with very specific challenges, like high brush or mountain hazards. We can accommodate luxury homes and elegant homes, and we also have other specialty markets for properties in farm areas or with prior loss history. Working with Morgan Hege Insurance gives you the advantage of our expertise in real estate transactions. We have the available markets to offer clients a variety of solutions for to cover all types of risks and lifestyles found in Southern California.
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Disaster Preparedness- Keep your property safe!

Many people in America don’t consider the occurrence of a disasters happening in their life. Then, when disaster strikes, we are left flabbergasted by the damage done to our property. Here are three tips to help secure your property before disaster strikes:

1. Calculate the value of your belongings! Most people don’t think to add up the cost of all of their clothing and other minor things, but every little bit counts!

2. Note your electronics serial numbers! Televisions, gaming consoles and tablets, amoung other things, are a major target for burglaries today. One in every 36 homes in amaerica will be broken into this year. Record your electronics serial numbers. This way, if they are stolen, the police will be able to find your stolen property.

3. Secure your documents outside the home! Today, digital filing is the way many insurers prefer to store their documents. These files are just as vulnerable as any analog files kept in a home or office. In case of a natural disaster, secure your valuable documents on a flash drive or another storage device like a security deposit box.

4. Photograph all of your belongings! The truth is, we don’t know every little thing that is in our closet, and it is hard to always keep filing the price and brand of shirt or a new piece of jewelry.Along with filing your documents, keep a file on your flash drive and on your computer with pictures of the brand and price tag of each item. This will provide an accurate amount to keep on record in case of disaster.

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Do You Hear What I Hear…. The FIRE ALARM!

Christmas trees are one of the most iconic staples of the holiday season. As beautiful and festive as they are, they also bring a major safety hazard to your home; fires. To ensure your home stays safe this holiday season, here are some preventative steps to help keep your home safe this season.

1. Picking your tree.

Make sure your tree isn’t dried out!! When selecting your trees make sure the needles are green and not easy to remove when pulled. This will indicate your tree is well watered and not drying out. Also, before selecting  your tree, bounce it on the ground. If an overabundance of needles fall to the ground, the tree is drying out, which could cause a fire if placed in your home.

2. Caring for your tree

Don’t leave your tree up for longer than two weeks. After being chopped down, the tree immediately starts to dry out. The longer you leave it up, the more risk there is for a fire to be started. NEVER place your tree near a fireplace, a heating vent, or another heating source. The heat caused by these sources could cause the tree to catch fire. Remember to keep your tree watered AT ALL TIMES!

3. Disposing of your tree

Never use your Christmas trees as firewood!! Pine trees burn like tinder, and ignite in a flash creating HUGE sparks. Just a few embers and a fire is started. Instead, take your tree to a recycling center or hauled away by a pick up service. 240 house fires are caused by Christmas trees each year. These fires could cause injuries and even death. It also causes an estimated $16.7 million in direct property damage. Make sure you have fire insurance and are taking all the necessary precautions to keep your home safe this holiday season.

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Insurance and… Hoarding? 3 Things Hoarding Could Affect.

Although glamorized by popular T.V. networks, hoarding is very dangerous. Hoarding affects every aspect of your life; even your insurance. Here are three risks hoarding has on your insurance.

1. Home: Although rare, an inspection on your house could occur. If your home has any safety hazards, and you do not fix them, your insurance policy could be cancelled.

2. Health: Cleanliness is important! When there is extra debris build up in your home, it could cause mold and other harmful bacteria’s to grow in your home, which could cause dangerous health problems. If this is found during an inspection, it could cause your insurance rates to climb.

3. Fire: Having too much clutter around a stove, power outlet or even a heating vent, and this is brought up to inspectors, you could be at risk of not only a dangerous fire, but also a higher insurance rate.

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Sitting is Deadly!

You may not know it, but sitting down, idle, at a desk all day greatly affects your health. Being in the sitting all day increases:

  • Organ damage
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Leg disorders
  • Neck and Brain complications
  • Serious back issues

To avoid this list of complications, here are three office-friendly exercises you can do to keep active at work:

  1. Wall Sits: Lean up against the wall and squat down as if you’re sitting in a chair. Hold this position for 60 seconds.  Wall sits put releases stress on the knees, hips and back.
  2. Leg Extensions: Sit strain up in your chair and extend your legs for 15 seconds, holding them in place. After, lift your legs together up and down. Do this about 15 times. This sends more blood flow to your head and releases energy.
  3. Desk Push Ups: Place your hands on the edge of your desk, shoulder width apart. Push away from the desk with your back and legs aligned.
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