Spotlight: “Will GoFundMe Become America’s Largest Private Insurer?”

Stories of healthcare issues abound, and I’m seeing headlines that continue to pop up. People are suffering, and their insurance—if they even have it—doesn’t always provide all needed financial support. Enter online crowdfunding campaigns, where people ask everyone from friends to strangers to help them pay for expenses, including those for health care.

I recently reported on this topic for Playboy, and medical crowdfunding campaigns continue to mount even into the early days of 2019. These campaigns are helping people who are fighting for their lives or dealing with health complications and bills. GoFundMe, for instance, is one of several crowdfunding platforms that helps people raise funds for personal causes. And with a giving community of more than 50 million people worldwide, it’s reportedly the largest social fundraising platform.

But what’s the future of these fundraising platforms? And who’s really vulnerable to having unexpected medical expenses?

Please click through to see what health care experts and GoFundMe users told me about this situation and its potential effects.

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Health Tip: Why Adults Should Go Out and Play

Why, yes, I will frolic in the snow. 😉

We’ve just had our first snow of 2019 in DC, so I had to go out and play around. It was incredibly nice to venture out into the fresh snow as it fell. I laughed a lot and was glad I didn’t stay inside.

So, when is the last time you acted like a kid and played in the snow, or sand, or grass? (Whatever is seasonal in your part of the world!) As grown-ups (ahem), sometimes we can get caught up in the monotonous, day-to-day tasks of life. But playing is actually good for us, even when we’re older.

For instance, if we regularly go out and get physical (think walking, or running, or jumping around in the snow like I did), it can improve our moods, help lower our blood pressure, and strengthen our muscles.

And if we really have a good time, and start laughing, the laughter itself can help reduce physical symptoms of stress and—over time—laughter can help relieve pain and even improve our immune systems.

Still going…definitely got to 30 minutes.

So adults of the world, go out. And play! A little free time may be just what you need.

Are you getting in enough happy time out and about? P.S. Come see more of my adventures on Instagram at @lesliequander. 

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3 Festive DC Destinations to Visit Year-Round

This month, I thought about booking a flight out of town. The travel bug almost bit me again. But then I thought about the fact that I live in the nation’s capital. And there are tons of things to do here—many of them free—and I can keep myself busy at home. Every. Single. Day. And save my money for another big trip abroad. (More on that later.)

The good thing about the destinations I visited this December? They’re also good bets year-round. Though, as you’d probably guess, the events and décor will vary.

CityCenterDC
For instance, in mid-December I dropped by an ice sculpture exhibit at CityCenterDC. This complex of 10 acres in downtown DC includes a plaza, luxe shopping, restaurants, pedestrian walkways, and a hotel, along with living spaces for those who want to make a home there.

Channeling Cruella de Vil at CityCenterDC’s visiting ice exhibit. (The coat, however, is faux!)

We had to wait in line to get into the event tent, but the reward was seeing sculptures that rose up to 12 feet tall and that were carved from 50,000 pounds of ice. The exhibit has since departed, but it’s an example of the cool events that sweep into this space. (Literally and figuratively cool, in this case.) Not seeking any event in particular? The shopping and dining options are worth a stop, too.

A pedestrian walkway by CityCenterDC shops. The archway look changes during the year.

The Warner Theatre
I also bought a ticket to The Nutcracker ballet at DC’s Warner Theatre, which first opened in 1924. The theater design is lovely and intricate, and the location is metro accessible. So convenient. If you want to visit at other times of year, check out the events calendar, which includes everything from comedy to concerts.

Look at this ceiling at the Warner Theatre. Gorgeous.

The stage before The Nutcracker started. No photos were allowed during the show, but I can tell you the scenes were whimsical.

The Willard InterContinental Hotel
As Christmas approached, I decided that I wanted to have a grand décor experience. So I ventured over to The Willard InterContinental hotel, which is just blocks from The White House and also accessible via metro. Since 1818, this hotel has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. But my focus was on the decorations—including the super tall, decked out tree in the lobby.

At The Willard, pretending like this tree belongs to me. 😉

This year’s décor also included a gingerbread display that weighed almost 400 pounds and contained more than 100 LED lights, 306 pieces of gingerbread, and 30 pounds of fondant for the runway. The hotel’s pastry team is serious. 

Construction on this gingerbread display honoring Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) began in November 2018. It took more than 350 hours to complete.

Planning a stop outside of the holidays? You can go to Café du Parc, the hotel’s restaurant, and dine on traditional French food (including pastries by those hardworking chefs) at any time of year. Or have tea or a cocktail on the lobby level.

On the way to Café du Parc.

The Take-Away, Plus More on Instagram
These are truly entertaining times in DC. I haven’t even mentioned the museums I’ve visited and all of my dining and social activities. (I heard live music, too, and I definitely followed my own tips for hearing protection.)

Want to see more of my adventures, including scenes from my last big trip to Taiwan, Japan, and Hawaii? Come follow me on Instagram: I’m @lesliequander.

And, no matter where you are, I hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday season and that you can look ahead to happy moments in the new year.

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5 Tips to Protect Your Hearing

So I love getting out to events and listening to live music. But these fun activities can have a down side. Sadly.

If you’re around loud sounds, you should know that you could be at risk for tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, too. These sounds can show up anywhere, from your favorite sporting events to concerts and bars.

Because this topic is so important, and because it can affect so many people, I wrote about how to avoid hearing loss and damage earlier this year for Men’s Health. Even now, the topic keeps coming up in my everyday life. Maybe because I know so many other music lovers.

The facts: Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Those higher than 85 dB can permanently damage the hair cells in your inner ear with extended exposure, leading to hearing loss or actual damage. And it can be years before you start to notice the effects.

Please check out my story for five tips on how to protect your hearing. I do these things myself. Then tell me what you think!

Have you ever had a hearing scare, or noticed when sounds were too loud? Taking action now can help you later.

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Training for Surgery? Yes, You Can

These days, Americans train to get in shape for marathons, weddings and backpacking trips. So why not train for surgery? Tens of millions of surgeries are scheduled each year in the United States, and each can result in complications such as shock, infection or pulmonary issues: A 2012 study citing hospital data from the American College of Surgeons on 551,510 general surgery patients found a complication rate of almost 17 percent.

I recently wrote about training for surgery for The Washington Post, and interviewed several doctors to explain why it can be helpful. Posting about the topic here in the name of blog updates. (I promised I’d be back.)

Providers at several hospitals believe better preparation could help patients awaiting elective surgeries—those planned in advance, such as hip replacements or cosmetic procedures, rather than done in an emergency—avoid those problems. They designed programs to help ensure that patients enter surgery in the best condition possible, with preparation including physical and mental components.

If you’re planning a surgery, or know someone who is, please check out the story online. You’ll see the four training steps to consider and discuss with your surgeon, even if your facility doesn’t offer a formal program.

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Yes, I’m Updating My Blog. Yes, It’s Taken 5 Years (!)

Just casually lounging on a table at a luxury rental in Molokai, an island of Hawaii. 😉 SEE, these are the fun, non-bloggy things I’ve been doing.

The last time I was really here was 2013. Wow. With reference to my last (beyond old) blog post, clearly Halle Berry is no longer pregnant. But I do still think sheer fashion can be chic. And the clothes in my closet still support this theory.

Not sure why I was away from my dear blog for so long, but I’m back now. I was busy during these intervening years. Thank goodness.

I mean, I’ve been freelancing for outlets from Playboy and The Washington Post to AARP The Magazine and Men’s Health. 

My day job also changed; I’m now a health writer, so I’m no longer at the luxury lifestyle magazine where I had been senior editor. But I still live in DC, so I can still give you the details on events around town.

And I’ve been on several, big amazing, trips abroad in the years since, including to France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and more.

So, I mean, there’s a bit of an excuse to have been gone so long. But I’M PLANNING TO DO BETTER.

Please stick around and visit to see my thoughts and writing on all things health, lifestyle, and travel. And of course, please keep an eye on my website’s other pages, which I have been updating.

Also come say hi and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’m @lesliequander on both (though more often on Instagram, I admit).

Talk soon! Definitely before another five years, I promise.

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Spring Fashion Goes Sheer (and Chic)

Nha Khanh sheer polka-dot-sleeve dress ($525); buy via Neiman Marcus

Nha Khanh sheer polka-dot-sleeve dress ($525); buy via Neiman Marcus

The very pretty (and pregnant) Halle Berry was recently spotted around town in a see-through lace dress, and she’s not the only one rocking the peek-a-boo trend. It’s one of my favorite looks to hit stores this spring, and I own several pieces. I actually just highlighted a few of these on-trend styles for Capitol File magazine, including a pair of striped peek-a-boo pumps by Christian Louboutin and the elegant frock by Nha Khanh pictured above.

These items can incorporate lace or mesh panels, and they’re a great style compromise. You can show off a little skin and still look sophisticated. I’m definitely a fan.

What do you think? Are you a fan, too?

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Inauguration 2013: I’ve Got the Scoop!

Leslie Quander Wooldridge on Fox 5 news for inauguration coverage (DC)

Last year, I became senior editor of a luxury magazine in DC, and have since been covering a variety of events. (For instance, I did red carpet coverage when Ellen Degeneres received the 15th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center.) This weekend, the city is hosting tons of parties and events in honor of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, and I’ve been keeping up!

I was delighted to appear on DC’s FOX5 morning news to chat about inauguration events, visiting celebs, and the First Lady’s style. (Isn’t she a fashion maven?) View this video from the newscast for more on inaguration festivities.

I also wrote a fashion roundup for DC’s inauguration events, so if you don’t know what you’re wearing this weekend, have a look at my luxe picks. (I think these options can work for other occasions, too.) Happy celebrating!

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Are Your Shoes Hurting Your Health?

If you wear (fab) shoes like this, it’s all about the timing. B Brian Atwood Fredrique platform pumps via saksfifthavenue.com.

I’m an admitted shoe fanatic, but I also love writing about wellness. So the recent health story I wrote on 9 Footwear Do’s and Don’ts for USNews.com was really fun.

The truth is, our feet withstand lots of abuse (think long jogs and super high stilettos), and we need to take care of them to avoid pain, injury, and other ailments. Check out the story to learn the best time to go out in high heels—and if you should be wearing those flip flips.

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2011 Trends That Are Still Hot

Can you believe 2012 is here? (Happy new year!) This date change has me thinking about trends. I’ve always believed that if you like something, and it flatters you, you should wear it. Doesn’t matter if it was popular two months ago or two years ago. So, on that note, here are three trendy items from 2011 that I’ll be wearing into 2012.

Colored skinny jeans
I loved my cherry red and popsicle blue jeans in high school, so I was happy when they were easy to find again. In 2011, I scored emerald-colored skinnies (so fun), and I’ll definitely go green this year, too.

Current/Elliott The Ankle Skinny via RevolveClothing.com

Animal print
I’ve been wild about cheetah print, leopard print, and snake print for years (years), and I was thrilled to see it appear on everything from shoes to sweaters. I already had scarves, flats, cardigans, and…well, let’s just say I had a few things (ahem). This year I added cheetah print pumps and leopard print skinny jeans and have no plans to stop wearing them. (Don’t know the difference between cheetah and leopard? It’s easy.)

Majorly important note: Of course, I’d never wear this stuff together. Best to leave head-to-toe prints to the actual animals.

Vivienne Westwood silk-chiffon scarf via net-a-porter.com

Sparkly shoes
Calling all 12-year-olds: We have something in common. My obsession with shine is well documented, so of course I love sparkly shoes. I already had some in silver but added another pair in 2011. My opinion hasn’t changed: glitter is good.

Kate Spade New York Licorice Too via Zappos Couture

So what will you keep wearing in 2012? And do you always wear what you like no matter what’s popular?

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