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Money: 10 things every woman should know

imageRecently a new college grad asked me if I had any advice on “getting rich”.

First thought, getting rich, seriously?  What does “rich” even mean anymore?

Second thought, getting rich has never been a goal of mine.  My goal has been to be financially secure enough that I can make life choices based on my values.

Then I thought, there are many things wise women have shared with me that changed my view of money and forever changed my life for the better.  So I will change the question and answer…

What should every woman know about money:

1. Money is a tool (it is not inherently good or bad).

2. Know yourself and make choices based on your values.

3. Every loan or credit card purchase has to be paid back, ensure you only borrow for investments in your future (useful degree, affordable house, etc. not  clothing-vacations-cars).

4. Live below your means (starting out this might even mean roommates, a bike instead of car, used furniture, learning to cook cheaply).

5. Let others pay the retail price (ebay, consignment, craigslist are your friends, even today my designer wardrobe is mostly ebay.  I will not pay $500 for my DVF dresses when I can buy them with no sign of wear on Ebay for $100).

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6. Save first.  From my first paycheck out of school I maxed my 401k contribution.  I also set up direct deposit for my savings (which is how I bought my first house at 22).  The trick is, if you never see the money, you can’t spend it.  My budget (house payment, car choice, entertainment budget) is based on the post-savings income.

7. Don’t waste money on taxes.  Max your401k, look into a Roth IRA, Flex Spending Account (FSA), donate items and keep the receipt.

8. Read the fine print. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, always read the fine print before signing something with a financial component.

9. Don’t procrastinate.  Too often procrastination costs us money.  Read the fine print, know the deadlines and take action well ahead of time (to allow for errors and delays).  Keeping one calendar and to-do list helps.

10. Don’t rely on someone else to meet your financial goals.  You need to know your financial picture whether on your own, married, or with billionaire parents.   There is no knight in shining armor to rush in and save you financially.        Knowing what is happening with your finances and making decisions puts you in position to use money as tool and not be caught surprised down the road.

So none of my advice is flashy or ground-breaking.  It doesn’t have to be, money is in reality pretty simple and I love simple.

 

Beauty; my mission and it is not what you think

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Beauty.

Bring beauty into being, simplicity into lives, the realness and rawness of beauty.

Not the cover girl version, or the sexy or manufactured images of beauty we are sold.

Real beauty, beauty in words, books, images, truth, loves and friendships.  As in the innocence of a little babe exploring this great world, the beauty in the cry of a mother facing loss.  The real-ness, the authentic beauty of what is real, sacred and imbued with spirit.

The beautiful strength that comes from facing fears and growing through them.

The acorn is not afraid of the massive oak it might become, it just is, and grows as it is able.  So do I.

Beautiful, strong, growing, giving and filled with love.

So, come here when you need beauty, or have beauty to share, the world is simply us, the more beauty we create, the more beautiful it is.

Before I pick up my pen- writing routine

image I was once told that Jamie Kirkland (one of my favorite painters), does not pick up her brush until she has reached a meditative state.  Given that my attraction to her paintings is for their serene quality, I believe this statement, whether true or not.

I have since employed the same technique before picking up my pen to write (or my camera to shoot).  I feel a heightened mental and sensory state occurs after a bit of meditation.  My words and purpose seem to vibrate at the surface of my awareness.  My work has greater clarity and concludes with greater satisfaction.

I’ve written before about writing and Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron).  I still employ the technique of daily, 15 minute, uninterrupted, stream-of-conscience writing.  However, as the mother of toddlers, I have had to modify the practice.

The idea of setting an alarm for before they awake, to write for 15 minutes in bed before anything else, is great.  The reality with toddlers is they wake up on their own schedule.  I recognize that this season of my life is dedicated to needs.   The needs of the boys, work, hubby, and my own needs.  I often need to sleep until they awake, to catch up on the missed sleep of previous days, weeks, years.  Yet the creative side of myself cannot be put on the shelf,  so I modify and find a space for creation in my life.

Writing Routine

My routine begins when I step into my studio for the day. First, I space clear (put away anything out of place).  Since I usually do this before leaving in the evening, this doesn’t take long.  I am one who has difficulty ignoring a mess.  I find the mind keeps returning to things left undone.

Second, I do a few yoga postures to release any tension and quiet my mind (reach my meditative state). Third, I set my intention for the day.  Typical intentions are: health, strength, listen, love, respect, calm, centered, open.

Next, I light a few candles (repeating my intention each time), turn on some centering music (Deuter and Takenobu are regulars), and set my phone timer for at least 15 minutes.

It is then that I pick up my pen and write uninterrupted until the timer goes off.  I write continuously, stream of conscious.  It is important to not self-edit, to not worry about a reader.  This way one can really see where they are and what is needed in ones life that day.

This morning, my entire focus was on sharing my routine with others.  It has helped me greatly in my life.  I share in case it helps someone else.  So here it is, Namaste.

Mountaintop Retreat Part III- what didn’t work?

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Maybe some of you have perfect days and vacations where everything goes smoothly, all of the time.  I don’t.  Actually, I am thankful for the hiccups, but more on that later.

I am finally getting back to the outcome of our couples retreat. Remember the one from two months ago, high on Telluride mountain (Mountain Village, that is)?

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With a gorgeous suite upgrade, fantastic dining, kids happy at home with Nana, and my beloved hubby at my side;  how could it not be perfect?

One word.

Expectations

always my Achilles (coincidentally, that is also my physical ailment).

I thought I had mastered the art of no expectations.  I finally learned how to enjoy a date night, hotel, restaurant, trip; by have zero expectations on how things will go.  Unfortunately, I forgot to do the same with regard to the outcome of our couples retreat.

I had expectations that I didn’t recognize beforehand.  Such as, no work,no tv, and (a bit outside my comfort zone to mention) praying together.  Of course I was disappointed when my unspoken expectations were not met.  That disappointment was a buzz kill and wasted precious time that we had together.

So, whether you are doing a date night to discuss your direction or a full on retreat like we did, I highly suggest setting ground rules well in advance of heading out together.

Thankfully, we worked through them and (silver lining) found out new things about one another. Refreshing that can still happen after fifteen years.

Now, let’s get back to the topic that makes me uncomfortable.

Prayer.

I have been a Christian for as long as I have memory of and for the first time enjoy going to church. We happen to have found a wonderful one in our new hometown. I also have been raised with prayer, as a family, in church, and internally all my life.  While my husband is also a Christian, he has not been raised with the same use of prayer.  Our comfort levels regarding praying together were very different.

This was new territory for us.  While I consider myself Christian, I believe that we, as humans, have very imperfect knowledge.  I do not claim to know that my version of Christianity and spirituality are the one way to God.  He gave us different languages and cultures, why would he not give us different ways (prayer styles, beliefs, even religions) to reach him?

So this hiccup, resulted in my opening my mind to my husbands way of communing with God and opened him towards my way.  It turned into a critical moment of practicing non-judgement.  Once we each saw past the words we were using to describe connecting with God, we saw how similar our ways really were. It was yet another moment in my life where I learned to listen.  What I heard was not only my partner but also, my own core beliefs. I do not know everything.

What I do know, is what works for me.

And that is, Prayer.

It has always been the one thing that works for me when nothing else does.  Whenever life feels like too much,  pray these words:

“Lord, forgive me.  I accept your love, I accept your forgiveness.”

 I repeat them until I have the strength to start again.  It has never failed me.

Please share, what works for you?

The conclusion of our retreat and the big life changes resulting from our soul-searching will be posted in the next week.  Stay tuned!

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