Trading Caps and Gowns for Mops; Why Go to College If There Are No Jobs? Chasing the American Dream

Posted on August 25, 2012. Filed under: Editorial, Lifestyles |

A pair of interesting articles on MarketWatch highlights the plight of those graduating from college deep in debt and little prospects of landing a good job in their field.

First consider Why go to college if I can’t get a job? by John Pelletier.

A recent Economic Policy Institute study reports that the unemployment rate is 9.4% for college grads ages 21 to 24 (not currently seeking a post graduate degree), and the underemployment rate for this group is 19.1% (this includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs). In 2011, those grads lucky enough to have a full-time job earned an average of $35,000 a year, a 5.4% inflation adjusted decrease from 2000 average income. Finally, it is estimated that nearly 4 of 10 grads are working in fields that don’t require a college degree (the college-grad barista syndrome).

Why you must get that degree

Despite all this gloomy data, getting a bachelor’s degree is still worth the cost and effort. Why? For one simple reason — the alternative of not having a college degree is so much worse:

Recent high school grads’ unemployment rates are frightening. The Economic Policy Institute study shows that the recent unemployment rate for high school graduates between age 17 and 20 who aren’t enrolled in additional schooling is 31.1%. And their underemployment rate is 50.4%.

Some People Do Not Belong in College

Pelletier perpetuates the myth everyone belongs in college. Many don’t. Arguably at least half don’t. In Portland Oregon, ACT scores show less than half of test-takers are ready for college math

ACT scores from the class of 2012 show about 58 percent of Portland Public Schools students who took the ACT college entrance exam aren’t prepared to pass college-level algebra courses.

You really want to send those kids to college? To get a degree in what?

Useless Degrees

Pray tell what good is a degree in English, history, PE, or political science other than teaching English, history, PE, or political science? And how many of those teaching jobs are even available?

Yet colleges churn out thousands of graduates, year after year, with perfectly useless degrees.

Is a College Degree Required? Why?

Consider things from the perspective of the employer. With so many college graduates available, why not make a college degree a requirement for a job?

Many companies do just that (or at least prefer those with degrees). Are the results satisfactory?

I was discussing the futility of this situation with a friend, Claude, yesterday evening. Claude tells me of an entry-level position she knows of that requires a degree in chemistry. The main function of the job is to clean test-tubes for the primary researchers.

Cleaning test-tubes does not require a degree in chemistry. Indeed, the position does not seem to require any degree at all. Supposedly, there is room for advancement down the road, but it never happens. People with chemistry degrees get fed up cleaning test-tubes and quit. They cannot keep the position filled.

Notice the waste. A disabled person, perhaps even a severely disabled person may be able to do the job very well, be very happy to have the job, and be very dedicated in performing what others would consider menial duties.

Other companies will not hire those who are over-qualified, and this leads to a setup where PhDs dumb down their resumes in hopes of landing a job.

Trading Caps and Gowns for Mops

Next consider Trading Caps and Gowns for Mops by Quentin Fottrell.

After commencement, a growing number young people say they have no choice but to take low-skilled jobs, according to a survey released this week. And while 63% of “Generation Y” workers — those age 18 to 29 — have a bachelor’s degree, the majority of the jobs taken by graduates don’t require one, according to an online survey of 500,000 young workers carried out between July 2011 and July 2012 by, a company that collects data on salaries.

Another survey by Rutgers University came to the same conclusion: Half of graduates in the past five years say their jobs didn’t require a four-year degree and only 20% said their first job was on their career path. “Our society’s most talented people are unable to find a job that gives them a decent income,” says Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science and public policy at Rutgers.

The jobs that once went to recent college graduates are now more often going to older Americans. Over the past year, workers over 55 accounted for 58% of employment growth, says Dean Baker, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. Why? Employers think older workers are a safer bet and more likely to stay, he says. Unemployment hovered at 6.2% in July for workers over 55, according to the Labor Department, but was more than double that rate — 12.7% — for those ages 18 to 29.

As a result, college graduates are finding themselves locked into lower-paid jobs. “The shaky economy has forced many of them into a world of underemployment,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. The starting salary for a graduate is $27,000, 10% less than five years ago, the Rutgers’ study found. “Unlike those who graduated five years ago,” Zukin says, “the long-term expectations of this generation are not being met.”

Older Workers Safer

Some may be surprised to learn that those over 55 have an easier time finding a job. I am not. It makes perfect sense for businesses to hire people with no dependents and even more so those on Medicare so they do not have to pick up health insurance costs.

Please consider Demographics of Jobless Claims written May 1, 2008.

Structural Demographics Poor

Structural demographic effects imply that prospects in the full-time labor market will be poor for those over age 50-55 and workers under age 30. Teen and college-age employment could suffer a great deal from (1) a dramatic slowdown in discretionary spending and (2) part-time Boomer reentrants into the low-paying service sector; workers who will be competing with younger workers.

Ironically, older part-time workers remaining in or reentering the labor force will be cheaper to hire in many cases than younger workers. The reason is Boomers 65 and older will be covered by Medicare (as long as it lasts) and will not require as many benefits as will younger workers, especially those with families. In effect, Boomers will be competing with their children and grandchildren for jobs that in many cases do not pay living wages.

Chasing the American Dream

I commend Quentin Fottrell (or the editor) for putting in that link to the Rutgers’ study. Far too often, writers cite studies or the work of others without putting in links. In this case, the Rutgers’ study, Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession is well worth a closer look.

click on any chart that follows for a sharper image

The report describes the findings of a nationally representative sample of 444 recent college graduates from the class of 2006 through 2011. The authors claim the survey has a sampling error of +/- 5 percentage points.


Mish Comments: Note that 35% of graduates land in a job that is not related at all or not closely related to what they studied. However, even if they did land a job in their field, did their job require a degree? The question is an important one. Someone studying to be a chef and landing a job at Wendy’s flipping burgers is in a related job.



Mish Comments: Only 30% think they are in a career. Of those who think they are in a “stepping stone”, I have to ask, how realistic is that view?

Progress in Paying off Debt

The article notes … One to five years since graduation, most of the students in our survey have made very little progress in paying down their debt. Only 13% have paid off all of their debts for their college education; one in four has not paid off any of it, thus far. Four in ten who graduated in 2009, 2010, and 2011 reported that they had yet to pay off any of their debt. Compounding their financial challenges is the fact that nearly half (46%) reported that they also have other financial debts, such as credit cards.


Mish comments: Note that 40% delayed buying a house or making other major purchases. 27% moved back home. If you are looking for a reason for a weak housing market there you have it. Graduates deep in debt with a job not in their field, or no job at all are unlikely to be buying houses and cars. Boomers facing retirement want to downsize, but there are few capable buyers able to make purchases. Housing is going to be structurally weak for years to come as a result of student debt and demographics.

Debt Slaves

President Obama promotes education as the answer to the unemployment problem. Other presidents have done the same thing. However, throwing money at the problem has done nothing but raise the cost of education for everyone, leaving many graduates debt-slaves for life, with totally useless degrees.

Here are some charts and comments from my post What Role Does Government Play in Price Inflation?

Inflation Comparison – Select Components Since 1978

Inflation Comparison – Current CPI Components Since 2000

The above charts are from Doug Short at Advisor Perspectives. Doug creates excellent charts every month on various CPI components. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I asked Doug for a set of custom charts.

Specifically, I had asked Doug to go back to 1971 for both charts.

Unfortunately, data for components in the first chart only goes back to 1978, and in the second chart not even that far.

The reason I asked for a starting year of 1971 is that’s when I started college.

Tuition at the University of Illinois in Fall of 1971 was $250 a semester for engineers (My degree is in civil engineering). Current University of Illinois Tuition is $8,278 per semester for Illinois residents, $15,349 for non-residents.

Note that tuition difference: $250 in 1971 vs. $8,278 today.

Note Areas of Highest and Lowest Price Inflation

The least government interference is in apparel and recreation. The most government interference in the free market is education and health care.

Education is rife with “no child left behind” madness, free tuition for veterans, and for-profit school scams that flourish only because student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. The student loan and Pell Grant  programs should be abolished.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock



Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Is Your Supermarket Chucking Foods Before They Expire?

Posted on June 4, 2012. Filed under: Health, Lifestyles |


| Mon Jun. 4, 2012 3:00 AM PDT

I am a recovering food-expiration-date zealot. Until very recently, I poured milk down the drain if it was even 24 hours past the date printed on the carton. Then, when I was trying to kick my restaurant habit and reduce my food waste and spending, I learned that the very expiration dates that I had so faithfully adhered to were mere suggestions. Even the FDA admits this: “‘Use-by’ dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates,” the agency says in its expiration-date FAQ. “But even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly and kept at 40° F or below.” The only product that the FDA requires expiration dates for is infant formula.

Given all this, I’ve been looking for foods nearing their expiration dates at supermarkets: If I can save a yogurt from an early death, I reason, I’ll be cutting down on food waste at the supermarket. But I’ve noticed at my local stores that it’s close to impossible to find food that’s less than a week away from expiring.

So I reached out to the corporate HQ of several major supermarket chains. Of the five chains I contacted, only Whole Foods responded, assuring me, vaguely, that team members “are consistently reviewing products on our shelves, and removing anything that that has reached its expiration date.”

Frustrated, I decided to call the stores I shop at directly, using yogurt as a test case. How long before a container of yogurt expires, I asked, would it remain on the shelf? As a whole, employees seemed fairly foggy on store policy. “I think we keep it out up until the day it expires?” said a guy at Whole Foods. “Wait, no, that sounds kind of sketchy. I’d like to think we do better than that.” He connected me with an employee in the dairy department. “For the little ones we leave them on the shelf up until about three days before the expiration dates,” he said. “For the big ones usually we take it out of the shelf like five days before.” Some of the usable product gets donated to charity. A manager at Lucky told me he thought that employees left yogurt out until two or three days before its expiration date, then threw it away. Trader Joe’s did the same, though the employee I talked do said she thought that some items were donated.

Lastly, I had this conversation with a manager at my local Safeway:

Me: What happens to yogurt that doesn’t get sold before its expiration date?
Manager: It gets distressed.
Me: Distressed? What does that mean?
Manager: It gets distressed, company policy. We scan it and then throw it away.

Oof. Of course, the employees I talked to were only speaking about practices at their individual stores, not chainwide policies. But grocery store food waste is a well-documented problem. A 2006 study (PDF) found that the average supermarket sends close to 5,000 pounds of food per employee to the landfill every year.

So what’s a waste-hating consumer to do? For starters, find out if your supermarket donates near-expired goods to charity. You can also hunt for bargains. Some major supermarket chains have discount shelves and bins, and discount chains like Grocery Outlet sell food that’s nearing or just slightly past its prime. Once you get your goods home, treat expiration dates as guidelines. In most cases, you can use your eyes and nose: If something looks off-color or smells unappetizing, that’s a good sign that you shouldn’t eat it. You can also refer to this handy FDA chart.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Shifting Goal Posts

Posted on May 29, 2012. Filed under: Editorial, Lifestyles, Psychology |

English: AFL goal posts

English: AFL goal posts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alok Sachindra Bhattacharya

You achieved the dreams you had before. Now new dreams arises for you to achieve
  • Life is dynamic not static ever
    Goal posts keep shifting on reaching them.

    Life is not the same as you saw it earlier,
    Here too the needs change as time goes by
    Like hunger gets satisfied once you had your feed
    That’s the goal post you had to reach and reached
    Now you get ready for your next feed, new goal post

    Prepare for new needs with changing times
    New goal posts will have to be set and achieved
    That’s the life we all are ordained to live
    Needs like life is dynamic not static as some tend to believe

    Happiness is a state of mind
    Highly unstable, susceptible to change at any moment of time
    Never lay back saying I achieved all
    Which you have not as there is no end to that
    The human needs are all encompassing
    Material, psychological, mental. and emotional

  • ALOK
    17 04 12

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Health Benefits of Grounding (Earthing)

Posted on May 18, 2012. Filed under: Earth, Environment, Health, Lifestyles |

14th May 2012

By Jordan & Kyla Miller

Contributing Writers for Wake Up World

Alongside good food, we often value relationships and communication as essential elements for the nourishment of our mental health and well-being. Undoubtedly, these are important facets in our continued drive for optimal wellness – after all, we are social beings.

On the other hand, they are not the only components we should apply in the realm of communication. We currently live in a time were communication is ever-increasing; tools such as the internet and social networking programs have revolutionized the way we interact. Without a doubt, this new age of communiqué has brought people together from many reaches of the world; however, as we have increased the use of such tools, other communication elements have withered.

With the advancement of social media technologies, our connection to Nature has dwindled considerably. Our fundamental understanding of earth has been displaced as a result of the increased use of artificial intelligence. Essentially, we have disconnected from the natural elements that surround us. Considering the elevated use of such technologies, we are being exposed to an ever-growing amount of electromagnetic fields (EMF). Coupled with our positive charged environment, exposure to EMF increases the amount of free radicals being produced in our bodies. In the book Earthing the most important health discovery ever? Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra M.D. and Martin Zucker study the relationship of being grounded to the earth as a means for alleviating pain and inflammation in the body. In essence, the book discusses the importance of drawing negative energies from the earth (free electrons) to neutralize the impact of positive forces on the body (free radicals and electromagnetic fields).

Neutralizing Inflammation

Contrary to popular belief, quantum physics has us believe that the human body operates under an influence of energy; nothing can be closer to the truth. Energy is what regulates our homeostatic control mechanisms. If these mechanisms become unstable – as a result of the perpetual consumption of nutrient-void foods, constant exposure to harmful chemicals or not being grounded (among many other factors) – our body begins to oxidize at an accelerated rate. Similar to the acid-alkaline theory, when the body becomes too acidic (acidosis), inflammation and/or pain is bound to proliferate. For example, when someone consumes a diet rich in commercial meats, pasteurized dairy products, refined carbohydrates, drugs, alcohol, isolates, etc, with little consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole foods, the immune system breaks down and the body becomes acidic because it’s not receiving the proper alkaline nutrients. As a result, it struggles to maintain a proper pH balance (7.2-7.4). With this, inflammation, pain and subsequently disease will ensue. As Hippocrates once said, “”Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”

Today, humans are developing disease at a much greater rate than any other time in our history. Among the many things that contribute to poor health (i.e. drugs, chemicals, poor diet, lack of exercise), being bombarded with electromagnetic fields is by far the most pervasive. You see, we live in a world where our environment is dominated by a positive charge. If we combine this with our body’s inability to neutralize free radicals (because of not being properly grounded to the earth), we end up with accelerated aging, inflammation and subsequently, disease. As a consequence of being perpetually exposed to this type of environment, sever cellular (DNA) deterioration/mutation develops. Seeing that we would treat acidosis with alkaline rich foods to neutralize acidity, it would only make sense that a similar offsetting mechanism be applied concerning our exposure to positive energies. In this case, getting connected to the earth would be the ideal practice.

How to Get Your “Vitamin G”

In considering a method to minimize our exposure to electromagnetic fields and inflammation, we need to look no further then what is directly under our nose, or more appropriately, our feet. Yes, direct contact to the earth will instantly minimize inflammation and shield us from electromagnetic energy. Much the same as a lightning rod, electromagnetic energies are re-directed into the ground – thus reducing inflammation and symptoms of malaise. Getting grounded is as simple as brushing your teeth. All you need to do is get outside and connect any part of your skin to the ground. Once the connection is made, an instantaneous flow of free electrons enters the body. Fortunately, many of us are being grounded on a routine basis without even realizing it. The simple habit of having a shower every day instantly connects us to the earth through the copper piping. Through this, many often experience feelings of Zen or exuberance and in most cases creativity is often operating at a higher level. Getting outside and exposing your skin to the surface of the earth may seem impossible for some do in part to our busy schedules and/or climate.

Essentially, by getting grounded to the earth, it neutralizes free radicals. Simply put, grounding nourishes free radicals with the missing electron(s) it so desperately needs to become stable. You see, in a case where someone is not grounded, free radicals “steal” electrons from other healthy atoms in order to stabilize. As a result of this process, a new free radical is therefore created, perpetuating a snowball effect. In essence, this is what ages us! By getting connected to the earth, the free electrons that enter our body in effect neutralize free radical propagation and for that reason minimize aging and decrease inflammation. Basically, getting grounded is your greatest source of antioxidants for reducing the effect of free radical damage (oxidization). The best part of it all is that it’s absolutely free!

The Shoe Problem

Over the last few hundred years, humans have increased their dependence on shoes. Sadly, it would be hard to find anyone without a pair today in the developed world. Unfortunately, by wearing rubber or plastic soled shoes most of our lives, we are creating a shield from the earth. By doing this, we are limiting ourselves from untapped resources and thus restricting our exposure to the greatest antioxidant source in the world. As a result of this, inflammation and consequently disease are steadily on the rise.

Watch the below video of David Wolfe discussing the problem of wearing shoes and the importance of getting grounded.

Regardless of how conscious we are about our health, we are all oxidizing at varying degrees. The difference is we can, to some extent, control the degree at which we oxidize by tapping into the energies of the earth.

Your question(s): How often do you get grounded in a day? (post your comments below)

1. Earthing the most important health discovery ever? Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra M.D. and Martin Zucker

About the Authors

Jordan & Kyla are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist. For more information, please visit the following sites; guidinginstincts.comFacebookTwitterGoogle+, or Pinterest

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

That’s the way the Indians do it…

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Americas, Lifestyles |

by Red Road Warriors walking this sacred path on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 7:44am ·

by Daniel Crowfeather


In today’s mainstream society, there is a growing interest in Aboriginal culture and spirituality, and in a return to simpler ways and times. However, as people begin to search out information about these cultures, many have a tendency to take any facts they learn and apply them to all Aboriginal cultures, as though there was only one universal Aboriginal culture across all of North America and Meso-America.


In truth, there was and is a rich variety of Aboriginal cultures. From the peoples of the Northwest coast with their distinctive art and dependence on the sea, to the Plains peoples and their tipis, to the Innu people and their kayaks and igloos, each Nation developed in a way that suited their location and resources. In addition, each Nation received from the spirit world those ceremonies and traditions that they needed in order to live their lives in the best possible way for them. While there are many common threads that connect these cultures and traditions, there are many small nuances that make them special and unique to each people.


As an example, consider the simple Medicine Wheel. Here is a symbol that is found in the traditions of many First Nations, and which has come to be a generally-recognized symbol of Native cultures. The concept is simple: a circle divided into four quadrants, each with one of the four colours of man: Red, White, Black and Yellow. However, there are nuances: in the Mi’kmaw culture, whose traditions I follow, the colours are placed as follows: White to the East, Yellow to the South, Red to the West, and Black to the North. Other Nations, however, place them in a different order; still others add Blue and Green for the sky and earth; and some nations do not have the Medicine Wheel symbol at all. In each case, the tradition (or lack of it) is appropriate for that Nation, and is not considered incorrect by any other Nation. In my experience, each culture honours the differences of the others, and enjoy comparing beliefs as a way to understand and appreciate each other more deeply.


In a way, it is surprising that we can be so quick to paint everyone with the same brush. Consider Europe: it occupies a much smaller area than North America, yet we know that it is full of vibrant and distinct cultures. We do not expect people from France to be the same as people from Norway or Germany or Greece; we know that they have their own cultures and traditions. By the same token, we should not expect the Sioux to be the same as the Cree, or the Nootka to be the same as the Hopi; each is its own culture, with its own traditions and practices.


The main problem, of course, is that much of mainstream society bases their understanding of native cultures on movies and television. We must remember that most of this material is intended purely for entertainment, and usually very little effort is devoted to ensuring that the culture is being portrayed accurately. As I have said on many occasions: any resemblance between the Hollywood First Nation and real life is purely coincidental!


Unfortunately, this problem even extends into many of our First Nations. Here in Canada, many Nations lost much of their traditional knowledge thanks to the infamous government boarding schools. Now, as these Nations try to reclaim their heritage, many are adopting ceremonies and practices that rightfully belong elsewhere. This can lead to further loss of their own culture, and to a great deal of confusion caused by potentially conflicting beliefs.


As an example, there is a growing circle of Mi’kmaw people who have adopted the Sundance from the plains Nations. The Sundance was originally intended to honour the buffalo, which we have never had here in the Maritimes. Because the Sundance tradition is not strongly rooted in the Mi’kmaw culture, it is also being changed by the adoption: I have heard a Mi’kmaw Sundancer claim that nobody can become a Medicine Person for the Mi’kmaq unless they have completed a full commitment to the Sundance. Apparently the Mi’kmaq have been doing it wrong for over ten thousand years. However, in the Plains culture there is no such belief attached to the Sundance. In this case, the adoption of someone else’s tradition has created confusion and, worse yet, has created rifts between different segments of a Nation.


Thus, we must always remember that each First Nation had its own unique culture, and we should not assume that any other Nation had the same beliefs, traditions or practices. The desire to learn is wonderful, but we must treat each facet of each culture as belonging to that culture alone, unless we know for certain that it applies elsewhere. We must learn to deliberately look for and celebrate our differences, so that we learn to appreciate the uniqueness of our own cultures, and those of others. If we can all do that, we will never again hear someone say, “That’s the way the Indians do it.”

All my relations!


If you would like to learn more about the Mi’kmaw culture, please visit Mi’kmaq Spirit


Copyright 2005 Daniel Crowfeather



Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Obstacles to Practice: Time Management

Posted on March 19, 2012. Filed under: Lifestyles, Psychology |

by Dr. Arnie Kozak | 10:23am Monday March 19, 2012

Today, I’ll look at the obstacle of time management in more detail. Time Management is not just about time, it’s about energy too. The present moment works when an openness of time coincides with good available energy. There are many moments where I have the time but I don’t have the energy and vice versa. It often seems that I have a blossoming of energy just around the time I have to be doing something else. We’ll explore energy in a different post.

Time management may require engineering–or a reengineering of your habits to support practice. My students often complain they don’t have enough time to practice. Everyone has the time to practice because if you are breathing then you can be practicing (and if you are not breathing, time management is the least of your concerns). What do you do when you wake up on the morning? Chances are you engage in a number of rituals. You brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed, walk the dog, feed the cat, et cetera.

Mindfulness practice could be no more of a big deal than brushing your teeth. It’s just something you do as you start your day. Perhaps your morning practice is just ten or twenty minutes. Perhaps it’s just a three minute breathing space — one minute bringing awareness to what is happening now within and without, one minute focusing on the breath and then expanding that awareness to the whole body in the final minute. Just three minutes. You can repeat that brief practice throughout your day.

If you are particularly pressed for time, as many of you are, then you can make your other habits the focus of practice. Mindfully attend to brushing your teeth, taking your shower, and getting dressed. Give these activities your full attention. Resist the tendency to go on auto-pilot where that time will be used for planning your day. Let the future be in the future. Have confidence that you can deal with that future moment when it is the present moment. Attend to what is happening now. Every activity in your day can become a meditation when you make a choice to give it your attention.

My cat is stalking a chipmunk. Suddenly, he went into a crouch and oriented himself to the stone wall where the chipmunks live. He started doing what looks like a walking meditation: Deliberate, slow movements. The difference between his attention and the attention that you’d strike with walking meditation is that he has a particular goal in mind–capturing the chipmunk.

If walking practice is your primary activity, you would not be as goal-directed as my cat. You can walk without any particular destination–just back and forth on your living room rug. You may not have the time to just do slow-walking. You can, however, piggy-back practice onto the normal walking activities of your day. When you are out moving in the world and have a destination, like getting to work, you can permit that goal but make your primary focus the process of walking. Since you walk everyday, walking practice can be a great time saver. Walking practice undermines the mind’s resistance of “no time” to practice.

You can do commuting practice too, whether you drive or take public transportation. Mindful driving means no radio, no eating, no fantasy–just the sites, sounds, and feelings of driving. Actually paying attention to driving–what a concept! (And I imagine a safer one).

Even on the busiest of days, by the time you get to work you may have engaged with quite a bit of informal practice. Based on my typical morning I can get nearly two hours of practice before I get to work: grooming rituals (fifteen minutes), mindful coffee and  eating of breakfast (ten minutes), mindful yoga (thirty minutes), and mindful driving to town (twenty minutes). What does your morning look like?

Waking up earlier is another option. I don’t have any scientific studies to reference, but anecdotal wisdom suggests that we can exchange minutes of sleep for minutes of practice. Wake up and sit. See how you feel. Notice how starting your day with mindfulness affects the arc of your day. Early morning is a traditional time to practice. The world is asleep (or it used to be so before the 24-hour society, but it is still relatively quiet) and more importantly, your children may be asleep. Practicing before the hustle an bustle of the day gets in full swing can help to start your day off on a less frenetic note.

Read more:

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

It Doesn’t Interest Me

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Lifestyles, Psychology |

~ It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain; I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness, and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes, without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.~

—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Living Through Loss

Posted on May 18, 2011. Filed under: Medical, Psychology |

Usually words can’t comfort the grieving. Just being there in silence or listening is comforting. Nothing can change what has happened but being with the bereaved is the best we can do. The bereaved need companions who will truly listen and perhaps do some of the small, everyday things that need doing–mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car, preparing a meal– any number of things.

Grieving is normal and unavoidable–it is a part of life, and it takes time. We don’t get over it, we get through it. Going through grief is a series of stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance, which is the first step. You must come to terms with your loss and accept that it is real and permanent.

The stages of grief are not necessarily in this order, but it usually takes one or two years, or sometimes 4, 5 or more years for a person to work through the loss of a child or spouse, as well as a divorce. The loss of a job, home, health, all require a significant amount of time to work through. There is no time frame. We can’t control the process and this makes us feel vulnerable and sensitive to outside stimuli. It needs to takes its natural course because if we try to deny our grief and keep our emotions bottled up inside, this can lead to chronic depression or physical illness.

Recent research indicates that some kind of ceremonial farewell is helpful in aiding the bereaved to adjust to the death of someone close. We must acknowledge publicly and formally that something significant has happened or we may find more difficulty in the grieving process. During the grieving process, it’s normal to cry, lose your appetite, and withdraw socially. Eventually instead of living moment-to-moment with our deep feeling of sadness, we will experience these feelings intermittently. Then we can think about getting back to work, resuming our social life, doing our routine daily tasks again, such as cleaning house, paying the bills, caring for the children–even if we sometimes have to ask for help from a friend or relative.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal of one’s thoughts and feelings, or write letters to the one who has died, or write a story of your memories, or write poetry. Grief can be expressed through painting or sculpture, or by participating in whatever you are proficient in doing. Perhaps sewing or woodworking–perhaps starting a project that will help others. Spend time outdoors in a park or at the seashore. Being in touch with nature can be both healing and restorative. It’s important to retain our friendships because feelings of alienation and abandonment are part of the grieving process.

The best method of fighting these feelings is to look for others to console. The person who has gone through the loss of a loved one is uniquely qualified and best able to understand others going through the same pain. Spending time with people who have undergone a similar loss can be very therapeutic. You discover how natural your emotions are that you go through during the grieving process. You can receive moral support and learn from the experiences and the ideas of others. Support groups are not for everyone but many people swear by them.

Taking care of your health is an important part of getting through your loss. Some physical problems, such as insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle tenseness, are to be expected. Avoid becoming overly tired, get enough rest and sleep, eat nutritious meals, find support, hope and comfort from something you have faith in or are interested in, and life will be better. Avoid making major decisions and changes in your life, as routine and familiarity with your surroundings give you a feeling of stability and permanence when you feel in chaos.

The scriptures state; A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. The time of weeping and mourning will be over. When we are able to form new relationships, perhaps love again, we are on the road to recovery. You can pick up the pieces and go on, the wound heals but the scar remains.

Margot B

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Priceless Financial Advice For Recent Graduates

Posted on May 8, 2011. Filed under: Business, Lifestyles |

If you could rewind your life to graduation from high school or college, what would you have done differently with your money?

Confession: I’m a financial voyeur. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the unique relationships people (and especially women) have with their money. So when I was recently asked by my Alma Mater, Wellesley College, to serve as a Financial Fellow in residence and create some unique personal finance programming for students and alums, I jumped at the chance.

One of the most popular events we held was called ‘Powerful Women & Their Pocketbooks’. In this session, I asked three VERY successful Wellesley alums (C-suite level, corporate board member, business founder, etc.) what their best and worse financial moves were right out of college.

By design, we did not compare notes before-hand. Alums were from the classes of –”68, –˜73, and –˜90 ’“ so spanning various stages in businesses receptivity to women leaders. What struck me the most was how incredibly similar our best tips (& worst trip ups) were despite very different ages, career choices, and life experiences. The top three pieces of advice every one of us gave were:

Learn to live within your means right out of the gate – and understand that means your life likely won’t look like mom & dad’s right away.
Bow down and respect the incredible power of compounding – start saving right out of school no matter how hard it hurts & how unpleasant the tradeoffs.
Be an advocate for your own financial security – whether in the workplace or on the home front.

The biggest mistake all four of us –˜fessed up to, had to do primarily with points 2 & 3. In my case, my dad had to drag me kicking and screaming in my early 20s to move my hard-earned long-term savings into equities (I’m incredibly risk adverse). My other big mistake was thinking that if I just kept my head down, was a “nice girl”, and worked my backside off”, my work would speak for itself and there was no need to proactively negotiate my salary.

So, if you have a young grad in your life –  I’d like to ask you a favor. Please share with them some of your best and worst financial moves. The more intergenerational dialogue we have about the basics of personal finance the better off this country will be. And if you are looking for a practical graduation gift, I highly recommend GENERATION EARN, written by Kimberly Palmer, Senior Editor of Money & Business for US News & World Report. To get your mind marinating about possible topics you can talk about with the young grads in your life, Kimberly kindly shares below some very powerful tips. Note the common themes! [For more of Kimberly you can follow her on Twitter at @AlphaConsumer, visit her book’s website, and read her column in US News & World Report]

7 Money Mistakes Today’s College Grads Make (and how to avoid them)
by Kimberly Palmer of US News & World Report

This year’s college graduates face a particularly daunting array of financial challenges: Hefty student loan debt. A tough job market. Complicated financial options, from Roth IRAs to consolidating student loans. It’s overwhelming, but not insurmountable. These seven mistakes and their solutions, adapted from my book Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back,are designed to help college grads bypass common hiccups and take control of their financial lives.

1. The Problem: Taking on too much debt – or not enough. Too much debt can weigh down recent grads, forcing them to spend more money on interest and fees than on fun and other goals. The new credit card regulations make it harder for anyone under the age of 21 without their own income to take out cards of their own, which could make post-graduation overspending even more tempting and as intoxicating as frat parties are to college freshmen. At the same time, the recent recession has led many young people take the debt-is-bad message too literally. Avoiding loans altogether, however, can hurt college grads. Sometimes, student loans for graduate school or a mortgage are good investments. Being responsible for credit accounts also allows 20-somethings to build their credit history, which is required if one day they want to take out a mortgage, auto loan, or other type of loan.

The solution: Build your credit history slowly and steadily, by opening up accounts in your own name and then paying them off on time.

2. The Problem: Becoming victim to rapid lifestyle inflation. You’re a recent college grad, so that means you probably need a new car, new apartment, new sofa, and a new…¦ Wait a minute. Not only do you not need all those things, but you probably won’t appreciate them much, either. A little theory called the ‘hedonic treadmill’ explains why. We adapt all too quickly to improvements in our lifestyle. That 60-inch television that you drooled over at Best Buy will soon start blending in with the rest of your furniture, along with your top-of-the-line coffee maker and pillow-top mattress.

The solution: Instead of using your first paycheck to make your new digs look like a sitcom set, spread out your purchases over time. Maybe you need a bed right away, but that embroidered duvet cover from Pottery Barn can wait.

3. The Problem: Falling into bad money habits. Bi-weekly $20 happy hours, daily $15 lunches, and nightly take-out are just a few of the bad habits that eat into new grads’  bank accounts. While the occasional lapse isn’t a problem, repeatedly wasting money on a weekly basis for years will cost you big-time.

The solution: Learn to cook, by enlisting the help of friends, family members, or your favorite celebrity chef (via the Food Network). The habit can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year, and turn your home into a popular destination for friends. It’s a skill that lasts a lifetime.

4. The Problem: Waiting to save and invest. Sure, you don’t feel like you have an ‘extra’  money yet, and you’re still getting used to seeing your name on a paycheck. But that makes it the perfect time to start saving at least one-quarter of your income for your future goals, including retirement. The first priority is to establish an emergency savings account with at least three months of expenses that can get you through any unexpected bumps, from unemployment to a car accident. Then, start saving for retirement. If your employer offers any type of 401(k) matching program, take advantage of it –  – passing it up is like saying no to a pay increase. Then, open an after-tax savings account for your other goals, from traveling to homeownership.

The solution: If saving any money seems daunting, then start by funneling a modest 2 percent of your income into a high-yield saving account or money market fund. Then, slowly raise that percentage. Once you have your three-month emergency fund stored away, then consider investing a portion of your longer-term savings in low-fee index funds and other more aggressive investment vehicles.

5. The Problem: Failing to negotiate for a higher salary. Even in this economy, employers expect some haggling over salary and benefits. In fact, doing so is a sign of professionalism shows that you, a recent college grad, understand how the working world works. A simple request after expressing enthusiasm and appreciation for the job offer can eventually lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars more in lifetime earnings. (Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University calculates that not negotiating your first job offer can result in a loss of up to $1.5 million in lifetime earnings.)

The solution: Practice your job offer conversation in advance of receiving any potential offers so you’re ready to land a better deal and research your field ahead of time so you know what to expect. If the salary really is fixed, then consider focusing on other benefits, which can be worth as much as a third of the salary but job seekers often overlook. What are the health care benefits? Retirement account perks? Vacation days? Work-at-home flexibility? Decide what’s important to you and get ready for some professional haggling; it usually just takes one round of back-and-forth.

6. The Problem: Thinking you’re done studying. Sure, you have your degree, but unless you attended one of the few schools that teach personal finance, you probably know relatively little about how to build wealth. That makes the post-graduation period the ideal time to take matters into your own hands.

The solution: Look for ways to learn more about smart personal finance strategies, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Dozens of blogs, websites, and books make learning about money fun, and many local community colleges and universities offer personal finance courses for local professionals. You might also want to consider forming a money club with friends, where you meet up once a month to talk about your money questions, goals, and research.

7. The Problem: Getting buried in paperwork. There’s no avoiding the fact that being an adult comes with some secretarial duties. Suddenly, you have pay stubs, health insurance forms, tax documents, and credit card statements to keep organized. It’s easy to let them build up until you just want to shred the pile and toss it in the trash.

The solution: Take advantage of modern technology by going paperless whenever possible. Online accounts are easier to manage (and, bonus, better for the environment). New websites such as keep your receipts organized online, which is especially helpful at tax time. makes it easy to track your spending and establish a budget.

A big thanks to Kimberly for sharing these seven tips.

Is there anything you’d add to the list to help recent grads learn from your past experiences? If so, please leave a comment and share your wisdom!

[This post originally appeared at] Want more financial love? You can follow Women’s Financial Literacy Initiative founder, Manisha Thakor, on Twitter at @ManishaThakor, sign up to get her email updates delivered right to your inbox here, and enroll in her innovative new online personal finance course called ‘Money Rules’.

Manisha Thakor is the founder of the Women’s Financial Literacy Initiative and co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books for women: ON MY OWN TWO FEET and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED. Manisha blogs about personal finance at Forbes, teaches an innovative online personal finance course called “Money Rules… For Women,” and is a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha’s financial literacy advocacy work for women has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Reuters, Smart Money, Huffington Post, Glamour, Real Simple and Women’s Day. Manisha’s national TV appearances include CNN’s Weekend Newsroom, CNBC’s Power Lunch, PBS’ Nightly Business Report, and The Rachael Ray Show. Prior to this Manisha spent 15 years working as an analyst, portfolio manager and client service executive. Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, her BA from Wellesley College, and is a CFA charterholder. Manisha’s website is


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Wronging the Crow — A Teaching of History and of our own Lives

Posted on May 3, 2011. Filed under: Lifestyles, Psychology |

by Luc Majno on Monday, May 2, 2011 at 7:24pm
A young boy had a problem with angerand was always judging everyone, and being mean

to all his friends, and could not understand or even bear

to be alone, and never understood why all his ‘friends’

always left him out of all of their activities, cast him out!

He went to see his mother about this

who, in turn, said that she could not help him

but she knew who could, the Old Man at the end of the Village,

in the White tent, over there…

When the Young One arrives at the tent, he is distressed and angry,

resentful and anxious, knowing it all full well, and being completely

conscious of all this, all the time…  He advanced on the Old One,

who is smiling at him already, as if he had already sized him up, in the less than

thirty seconds he had been in his tent…

“Let me tell you a story”, said the Old and Wise One,

to which the Young One’s eyes rolled.  He knew he would

remain there for a while!  He hadn’t even said a word!!

“Son”, he says in a shaking voice, “every time you speak or do anything in anger

you make a hole in that person’s heart, no matter who they are.  And you can never

take anything back, for it has already left your heart and been spoken and thrust out.

The Old Crow Spirit no longer sees me, He does not even look at me anymore.

I have lost him through my own arrogance, and now, I have to live this error out,

for the rest of my days, and there is nothing I can do about it.  Nothing.

You see, when I was young, I knew little.  And still, I am old now, and I know very little.  But back then, when I was a whipper-snapper,

I would act and speak like sparks and flames, coming out of a fire, not realizing what I was doing.

The Crow, I told everyone, is mean and cruel!  Look at him, everyone!  Look and see for yourselves, the cruelty of this animal, stealing from little ones,

diving down at them, and attacking them without mercy, over and over…  It hurts my heart to see this!  And every time the Crow would fly by me,

and do this spectacle, I think once a year, I would curse and wave my fists at him amd scream at him out loud:

You mean being!  Shame be brought on you! Cursed shall you be all your Life from your actions!  Never to be pardoned!!  Never!”

To me, he was diving down on the other little birds, and (others told me that) he was stealing other birds’ eggs…   What a horrible life to live! This had to STOP!

One day, the Crow managed his own trick.  After hearing me year after year, say those cruel and punishing things at him, he decided to show me Truth.

He showed me his ancient ritual as I stared on…

You see, Brother Crow was always Teaching others, especially the Young, how to dive for prey and how to survive, and nothing could be more Honorable.

Crow was serving as an example to all, preparing the Young, preparing the Youth, his species’ own survival!  Nothing could be more exemplary!

Suddenly, the roles had changed, and there was nothing I could do. I had become the VICTIM of my own Judgment…

You see, I had a Choice then, as you do now, my son, the Choice was given to me then to do Good and not Evil by hearsay…

I chose to be mean and to believe without living and learning.  Now, I am a living example of my own beliefs and actions back then…  A curse was put on me…

Exactly the same curse I put out there, into the Universe.  One that said:

“You mean being!  Shame be brought on you!  Cursed shall you be all your Life from your actions!  Never to be pardoned!!  Never!”

A big Silence came over the White tent

The boy looked pale, as if he had seen a ghost

He ran out of the tent and the Old One sat there

laughing and smiling…



Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...