Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Get your finances straight... Overall I think we Americans struggle most with the money piece. We're not really taught practical money management in school, and as adults we can feel intimidated by all the economic jargon and we get the idea that financial savvy really belongs to a special few. That's why getting educated about your money is so important. Capital One, for instance, has some terrific tips and resources on their website: these are easy to understand and they yet provide the information you really need to know. Here are some of their tips:
Create a spending plan – Having a spending plan is the easiest way to stay on top of your spending. Once you have a budget, remember to track all of your spending against it and review it every few months to make sure you’re sticking to it.
Save – Save as often as you can. Start by establishing a few small savings goals and incorporate them into your budget. Remember that even small amounts can add up over time.
Get a copy of your credit report. Making sure it’s accurate is one of the best ways to protect against identity theft and consumers everywhere can obtain a free annual copy by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
Capital One offers a host of free consumer information available at
capitalone.com/financialeducation - just click on Financial Education Partnerships.
Update your look. Take some of that Christmas money and get yourself some wonderful clothes. Don't wait till to lose weight or the styles get more flattering or whatever it is that's been holding you back. You deserve to look magnificent. And if wear glasses, new ones can spice up your whole look. I'm finding LenCrafters is like a fashionista's candy store. They have some stunning new styles from Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Versace -- having some of these terrific glasses is a way to wear something from a designer every single day without spending a lot. It spices up your whole look -- you know, people do look at your eyes first -- and you can look at 2008 with new eyes and a new attitude."
LensCrafters.comto find out the latest trends or visit the store near you so you can start the year off right!
Come closer to a vegetarian diet. For your body, the animals, and the planet, eat green. Put more fresh vegetables and fruits, satisfying whole grains, and legumes (beans, lentils, split peas, soy products) in your diet, and double the number of vegetarian entrees you enjoy each week. Here are some stats to ponder (from EarthSave International):
Number of people who could be fed using the land, water and energy that would be freed up from growing livestock feed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100,000,000
Activity that accounts for more than half of all water consumed for all purposes in the United States:
Risk of heart attack for the average American man: 50%. Risk of death front heart attack for the average American man who consumes no meat, dairy products or eggs: 4%
Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week: 3.8 times higher
Health status of pure vegetarians from many populations of the world according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences: Excellent
Have quiet time every morning. Nothing will change the way you see the world, your life, and yourself more than making contact every morning for ten to twenty minutes with the highest and best that's in you. Use the time for prayer, meditation, journal writing, inspirational reading or some combination. Here are some of the benefits of meditation:
Decreased anxiety (meditation lowers lactate levels in the blood)
Decrease in muscle tension and muscle pain, including some headaches
Supports immune system (it increases the activity of natural killer cells that attack bacteria and viruses)
Increased serotonin production which can lead to an improvement in depression
Stems overeating (this may also be a serotonin response)
Improves quality of sleep and can be part of the treatment for insomnia
Brings about happiness as an internal state not dependent on external events
A classic book for new and seasoned meditators: How to Meditate, by Lawrence LeShan
Enjoy something every day. We're so serious that I see our society suffering from a great lack of joy. Oh, we have ease, and recreation, and entertainment, and diversions, but joy is different. It comes from letting your inner kid out to play. Find ways to enjoy the little things. Stop a moment of pleasure. The e-mail can wait. So can the laundry. Your heart and soul and self have been put on hold too often. Here are some of the simple joys that please the heck out of me:
Snow! Even with global warming, it still snows sometimes and it's absolutely gorgeous.
My cat: he'll follow anything with a tail (ribbon, string, shoelace, the cord from the phone charger)
Afternoon tea (get a whole new appreciation for the brew and its herbal associates at www.teagarden.com)
Watching a movie in the middle of the day, either at a theater or in bed under the covers
Having breakfast for dinner (my menu: Scrambled Tofu [I used Fantastic Foods Tofu Scrambler mix], toasted spelt English muffins with flax oil and all-fruit jam, grilled veggie-Canadian-bacon [Yves is a good brand, at natural foods stores], and fresh o.j. Yum.)
A hot bath with Dr. Kneipp's bath oils---there's an array to choose from if I want to relax, perk up, feel less stiff or sore, or clear my nasal passages and my thinking.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Hi, everybody. U-Haul has as their slogan "Adventures in Moving" and, heaven knows, I've had an adventure. I did the move from New York City to Woodstock on my own. I figured William was in so much grief over the death of his son that he would not do well with the stress of moving so I bought him a nonrefundable ticket to visit his mom in Kansas so he couldn't say no. Then I proceeded to pack, transport, uproot, redecorate, and reestablish our domestic life.
I had some terrific packing help in NYC from a wonderful professional organizer named Liani Greaves. If you're in the NYC area and in need of establishing some order, I highly recommend her. You can reach her by phone at 917-561-9814. On the day of the Big Move, however, everything went wrong. I hired movers from craigslist---major mistake. For starters, they were six hours late. For finishers, although they advertised themselves as legitimate movers, they weren't. They were instead some guys in the restaurant business in Albany looking to make a buck when their truck is in New York City. Big problem: small truck. They ended up having to make two runs and charging me double.
And after all that, they forgot our clothes. No kidding: on the second run when they were by themselves, they didn't look in closets and I realized that all my business clothes and all my husband's suits and sports jackets and overcoats were in garment bags back in Manhattan - 2 ½ hours away. The moving guy promised he'd pick them up on Monday. He didn't. I ended up driving there myself Tuesday morning. It was rough: I was not ready to see the city only four days after leaving it. I cried so hard in front of my old building that the morning doorman, a devout Muslim who would never ordinarily touch a woman who wasn't his wife, felt so bad that he hugged me!
There were also snags of every sort on the apartment. The painter was skilled but went well over budget. The movers managed to lock my desk (I didn't know it had a lock and I certainly had no key) so I had to call a locksmith. The electrical outlets in my husband's office weren't grounded so I had to bring in an electrician. The windows are odd sized so getting shades and blinds was trying. The Roadrunner cable still doesn't work for our Internet (Dear Verizon: You cost a lot but we're coming back...) and the TV cable doesn't work at all. And yet, with every day and every challenge I felt stronger and more up to the job. I had to create a warm, welcoming home for William, no matter what. As I result, I matted pictures, hung curtains, painted woodwork, and did a host of other things I've never done and always said were outside my area of interest or expertise. The way I feel today: I can do just about anything. I guess that's what the word empowerment is about.
You know what I thought of through this time?---those military recruitment commercials that basically say, "Give us your scrawny, good-for-nothing kid and we'll give you back a soldier." Ten days ago I was, figuratively, the scrawny kid. Now I'm strong and brave in a way I wasn't before. Who knew they held boot camp at Home Depot?
WHERE I'LL BE...
TOPEKA, KS: January 6, Sunday, 11 a.m., Sunday service, "The God-Shaped Hole," book signing to follow; Unity Church of Christianity, 9126 SW Tenth Ave., www.wingsunfolding.com
KANSAS CITY, MO: January 13, Sunday, 9 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday services, "The God-Shaped Hole," book signing to follow; Center for Spiritual Living, 1306 W. 39th St., 816/931-2395, www.cslkc.org
NEW YORK CITY: January 15, Tuesday, The Learning Annex , workshop entitled "How to Have a More Spiritual Life"
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
And happy Monday. This is the last day Joya and I will be working together in person. She'll stay on as my virtual assistant after I move (at least until she takes off for a Masters program in directing) and the Minute will go out every other Monday as usual.
William and I went up to Woodstock this weekend to take care of preliminaries like getting a car. I must say, that was tough. I never thought I'd ever have to deal with owning a car again. Well, you know the old saw about never saying never. We got a Honda Civic hybrid---automatic for William, although I've always been fond of manual transmissions myself. This week, we finish packing and the movers come Friday. We'll go out with Adair and Nick (my daughter and son-in-law for those who don't know the names) on Thanksgiving and come back and keep packing.
We've moved a lot and don't have nearly the "stuff" most people do, but I was reminded how much stuff accumulates when William's daughter Siân moved back to Canada a few months ago. She'd only lived with us for a year, and all her Stateside possessions fit nicely into a mid-sized bedroom. But when she moved she had to pack so many boxes, letting me know there's lots more here than I want to think about. All this brings me to...
The book of the week!
This book was a gift from my friend Cynthia Fellowes. Cynthia is a fascinating woman in her own right - a gifted actress, a prosperity coach, and an animal psychic. She's the official animal psychic for Commerce Bank- no kidding! Take a look at her site.
Anyway, back to the book:
It's Scaling Down: Living Large in a Smaller Space, by Judi Culbertson and Marj Decker (Rodale Press, 2005). It is the most humane and practical organizing book I've ever read. I loved that they said "90% of what's put in a file is never looked at again." My sentiments exactly. Scaling Down is great if you're moving, downsizing, clearing out, moving your parent(s) to a smaller space, or if you just want to get closer to only having around you things you use and things you love. The closet section alone is worth the price of the book. While I can't say that I'm looking forward to packing up, the suggestions in this book are making it seem more adventure than agony, and I know that I'll get to Woodstock with clarity and open space and things around me that lift my spirits. I give this book five stars, two thumbs up, cheers and accolades...
Take care, and all good things -Victoria Moran
Monday, November 05, 2007
I'm so glad it's November. My astrologer friends tell me that October was largely taken up by a "Mercury retrograde" (when things are prone to go awry, communications are difficult, and tensions are high). I'm pleased to report that Mercury has straightened out and we have a new month for being grateful and going forward.
I would be lying if I said that things here were not difficult. We'll be dealing with the ramifications of James's passing (for those who don't know, my 16-year-old stepson made his transition in September) for as long as it takes. There have also been a series of losses, disappointments, and detours for my husband and me that have been going on for a bit more than a year, and with our move to Woodstock coming up the day after Thanksgiving, I'm also looking at the loss of Manhattan island (and not living two miles from my daughter), which is huge for me.
Nevertheless, I feel a great deal of peace most days. I feel James's presence and that's a blessing. (If you noticed that I used clumsy wording about him in the previous paragraph, it's because I feel strongly that he told me, "Stop saying I'm dead. I'm not dead. I'm just somewhere else, like if I went away to college.") I also have the great gift of being able to write the sequel to Creating a Charmed Life for HarperOne. It will be called Living a Charmed Life and it will be my Woodstock work through the winter and spring. In addition, there are very good things happening with my husband's screenplays. A producer we admire and trust is now involved. I can't say more till things are more solidified, but William has never been closer to his dream's coming true, and that makes me happy, too.
I'm also really eager to see what delicious surprises await in Woodstock. Even though I'm a city girl and am going with the attitude of a temporary regrouping, not a permanent exit, I look forward to living in this village that has such high consciousness, so many people who think as I do, and so much to learn and experience. If you want to know more about where I'm headed, you can visit their Chamber of Commerce's website. (I love it that there's a link on the Chamber of Commerce site for "spirituality." What a town!)
Take care, and all good things -Victoria Moran
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Hi, everyone, and welcome to new readers -
I'm on the plane en route back from the Girlfriends' Getaway Weekend in Bermuda. It was a lovely event and I met some amazing women, notably the conference planner, Nadja Piatka, founder of Nadja Foods and Donna Voll, a co-presenter who is an expert on angels. Donna has an Internet radio show that's worth knowing about.
Bermuda is like a jewel in the sea with hibiscus blooming everywhere. It's very British (they drive on the UK side of the road) and laid back. The speed limit is 25 mph and life is like that, too. I had the privilege of visiting a longtime friend, Lane Martin, whom I met through the homeschooling community in Connecticut way back in 1990. She's since moved back to her native Bermuda and gave me the chance to see the island from a local's point of view. She also gave me a tour of her backyard orchard - banana, avocado, guava, cherry, peach and fig trees, plus a grape arbor. (Lane is a raw foodist and just returned from the Raw Spirit Fest in Sedona.)