Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 338 - Nightly Roundup

Dwell in Possibility. Emily Dickinson

1. Happy marriage to Greg - Check. The man is walking on air due to Iowa's current 9-0 record. While I can't take credit for this, I will take full advantage of the general happiness aura;-).

2. Enjoy and nurture the kids. - Trekked several miles with Kirk who was DETERMINED not to miss a possible handout of sugar at any home....

3. Publish the Frugal Millionairess in 2010 - A wee bit more reading in The New Writer's Handbook.

4. Found and grow my successful dual use educational company - Looked up potential names on My trademark friend suggested I look at variations of different names and see whether they are active or dead and also who holds them. Einstein Cottage, my original choice, when searched, led to a lot of Einstein trademarks owned by Disney, who she said fiercely protects them, not a good thing. If you're looking into names for your business, this is a very easy, user-friendly site.

5. Complete the four sides and center of the back yard to create a beautiful, groomed bird sanctuary. -Cut back some gardens in the front. In the back I leave most things standing through the winter as bird food.

6. Be and feel healthy and beautiful. - 30 minutes of cardio.

7. Achieve FI in 2010 - Turned down the thermostat two degrees.

8. Spirit/catchall. Experience and share joy, be in the moment, and laugh at least 20 times a day. Planning to read just a few pages of the Power of Now. Goodnight!

9. Create an organized and beautiful home that adds happiness to our lives. Took down the Halloween decorations tonight and put up the Thanksgiving ones.

10. Build my business knowledge by expanding my business vocabulary. Equal time, exposure, eye tracking, FCC.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finding Inspiration All About.

Tonight I was at a loss for something to write about. I was feeling just a tad melancholy for no reason. In fact, all is well in the world. The envelope quietly arrived in my mailbox saying I'm good to go in the mammogram arena and my mom had similar good news from hers, just this past week.

Considering I posted last night that half the world's population is getting by on $2.50 a day, I figured I could come up with something to be grateful for! And ten seconds later I had a quick flashback and yet another reason to appreciate this wonderful year.

Maybe six months ago or so, I was in our basement treadmilling through twenty minutes and skimming channels to make the sluggish time go faster. I came across a show called something like Fashions, Designers and Runways. Various designers were being interviewed. The first, whose name escapes me, was perched in her office surrounded by bulletin boards jumbled with swatches of flowered and striped materials, ribbons, and photos.

She talked about how nothing brought her more joy in life than to wake up with an idea and then eventually, see that idea through to something you could touch, a perfect linen dress or a swishing silk skirt.

Another designer spoke of how he was always finding inspiration throughout the moments of his day. It might how the color of a desert rock changed when it became damp after a rainstorm or a woman walking down the street in N.Y. with her own special flair. It was all food nourishing his imagination.

For once, not checking how many minutes were left on my elliptical, I thought, "I WANT THAT!!!" I want to be inspired by everything I see. I want all those tiny details of life to have a purpose or serve a use. I want to be excited to wake up and be full of ideas that I will see to fruition.....I need to become a clothing designer!!!

As I don't have an eye for color or style and can sew a button on a good day, this was a bit of a long shot. But I did go upstairs and google fashion designer classes. Needless to say, I'm not on Project Runway, but I think I DID accomplish my goal.

My blog, my book project, my business, my goals for myself as a mom and wife, my garden, house, FI and spiritual goals mean I do in fact now always find myself scanning the horizons for something inspiring. I wake up with ideas that I try to slip onto paper in the spare minutes through out the day and LOVE to see something become tangible, whether it is a blog in print or the last of the new auction shrubs planted along the south border.

So if you too couldn't sew a straight seam, but are drawn to the idea of a life full of fleeting, creative thought bubbles about your head that you then solidify in some way, I wish you well. Get out your dreams and goals list or make one if you haven't yet. And I'll be racing you to the best priced giant bulletin board at Goodwill;-).

Toasting you with my mild, slightly flowery tasting chamomile tea in a charming sea green mug....maybe that color could be the border of my new book?? Best wishes! Eileen

Day 339 - Nightly Roundup

Another milestone to be in the 330s!
1. Happy Marriage - check.
2. Enjoy and nurture kids - Kids still not feeling up to par but getting a lot better. We went on a short walk, played trains, napped, and Kirk helped me come up with names for the company.

3. Build a successful company of dual use educational products. - Emailed friends with a plea for more company name suggestions.

4. Write and publish the Frugal Millionairess in 2010. - About 10 minutes reading The New Writer's Handbook.

5. Create a beautiful, groomed bird sanctuary in the back yard by completing all four sides and the center. Brought in a big pot of begonias. Garden is not getting a lot of time these days.

6. Achieve FI by 2010. Had a no spend day.

7. Spirit/catchall. To experience and give joy and be in the moment and laugh 20 times a day. Will read the funny book on historical comebacks tonight.

8. Be and feel healthy and beautiful. 20 minutes yoga.

9. Create a beautiful and organized home that adds enjoyment to our lives. Put out some fun, old photos of Greg as a kid.

10. Increase my business acumen by increasing my business vocabulary. Earned rate, eighty-twenty rule, end-user, nonperforming asset.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help me name my company - please!

Dear friends, I need help! I am trying to come up with a name for my company and not having a lot of luck. Let me explain the concept and see what your thoughts are.

The company will be a portal of dual use educational products - the concept being that everything a child has to interact with anyway, from bath towels, to nightlights, to cereal bowls, could also being teaching tools. Rather than be "branded" with Elmo 365 days a year while eating cereal, a child can be learning the planets. The company will bring together both those widespread, random existing products like the Company Store's letter quilt, the Pottery Barn's Spanish verb bowls, and the independent artist in CA who is doing a series of tee shirts with math get the idea. In addition, I have about 50 products I would like to create as well. Each item will have to have two uses, both a practical one and an educational one.

I loved the idea The Einstein Cottage and bought the domain name this morning for $15. I really liked "Cottage" (think Mary Engelbreit) because I want a warm friendly image - not a backlash against some vision of a pushed, unhappy child with education obsessed parents doing flashcards until midnight;-). I want the idea to be non-threatening. And of course, I liked Einstein because it connotes education, creativity, and knowledge.

But then a friend wondered if it's too close to Baby Einstein and would get into trademark issues. And Greg thought Einstein is maybe a bit cliche in the education field.

Committed Recycler suggested Simmering Apples, with the explanation that like apples simmering on a stove, the company would be creating something that is "subtly consistent in the background, but influential in the forefront." And I like it, but worry it doesn't capture the products concept enough that a random consumer would be able to put it all together. A side note, Greg loves this name and thinks the apple part of the name captures the education issue.

I read in an article that professional namers (for around $35,000) start with 800 possibilities and narrow it from there.

I would be thrilled to have 50 or 100 options to start. The only criteria is it must have .com available after the name. Sarah from Posi-Pair said that is a must so I went on today to find out names that still had this available.

So any help is appreciated. And thanks Antoinette for getting the ball rolling;-).


If you make $30,000 a year, you are in the top 7% richest people in the world!

I stumbled across this calculator today and found it quite eye-opening. I was trying to find the statistics from a poster I once saw demonstrating how much Americans have in comparison to the rest of the world. I found this and the other two article excerpts quite humbling.

Then I came across this other article below from 10 Reasons You Are Rich

Even in times of financial uncertainty, it’s always important to keep things in perspective.

1.You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.
2.You didn’t go to sleep outside.
3.You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.
4.You hardly broke a sweat today.
5.You didn’t spend a minute in fear.
6.You have access to clean drinking water.
7.You have access to medical care.
8.You have access to the Internet.
9.You can read.
10.You have the right to vote.

And finally, from
Look Around You, Not Just Above You
Instead of looking upwards towards the ‘higher rungs’ of the society and people around us who seem to be doing financially and materially better, let’s take on a global world view. The figure you retrieved using the counter (referring to the one at the top of the page) reflects where you stand with your wealth, in the entire world of 6.7 billion people. That figure gives you a broader perspective than what you originally encapsulated yourself in.

Before I used the counter, I estimated I was in the top 30~40% percentile. Turns out that I would be in the top 1% when I use my annual salary before I quit my job. While it came across as surprising initially, it quickly made sense when I thought about the people in the third world countries. Think about India, China and Africa, three of the poorest places in the world which house over 50% of the world’s population. The really poor people have difficulty meeting just the basic necessities for survival, such as food, water, shelter, clothing.

Some quick facts:

•Over a billion people live on less than $1 a day.
•Almost half the world (over 3 billion people) live on less than $2.50 a day.
•At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
•Around 25,000 people die from hunger each day.

While I will still enjoy watching the show Beautiful Homes and Great Estates, I
will also endeavor to realize how fantastic my 1970's bi-level would be to a great majority of the world and be grateful for a warm house with clean water and abundant food. Best wishes! Eileen

Day 340 - Nightly Roundup

1. Happy, passionate marriage to Greg. Check.

2. Enjoy and nurture kids. - The kids helped hang the hat rack I got several weeks ago shopping with mom at an antique mall in Kai's room. Kirk had his first experience using a stud finder and hammer. He's feeling very Bob the Builder;-).

3. Publish the Frugal Millionairess in 2010. - Created my "invisible writing counselors" poster- yes I know this sounds a bit whacky;-). In the book Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill wrote about employing invisible counselors. He would "meet" with his group before bed each night - Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napolean, Ford, and Carnegie. Hill's purpose was to "remake my character to represent a composite of the characters of my imaginary counselors". He would try to draw from each of their strengths. I thought it sounded like a creative idea and saw an outdated calendar of great writers at a thrift store so I took five of the women writers and cut out their bios and photos and hope that I can draw ideas from Emily Dickinson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Jane Austin, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Quite a good group to have tea with;-).

4. Found and build a successful dual use educational company - Spent a lot of time today working on the perfect name for my company.

5. Complete all four sides and center of backyard into a groomed, beautiful, bird sanctuary. In about 15 minutes I finally got the blueberry bush from Grandma in the ground, the bird feeders filled and the cannas dug. Not a bad quarter hour!

6. Spirit/catchall - To experience and share joy, be in the moment, and laugh at least 20 times a day. Had a lovely long chat with my friend in CA.

7. To be and feel healthy and beautiful. Ten minutes of pilates.

8. To achieve FI by 2010. -Big crockpot lasagna to help out with some upcoming meals.

9. To create a beautiful and organized home that adds happiness to our lives.- Organized one drawer in our big hutch.

10. To continually build my business knowledge by increasing my business vocabulary. Day after recall test, demographics, direct response, common stock.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 341 - Nightly Roundup

The kids were not feeling well today. We spent most of our day in pjs reading and napping on the couch.

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg. Check.

2. Enjoy and nurture kids - We read 14 books today, two at a shot, throughout the day.

3. Publish the Frugal Millionairess in 2010 - Did a bit more reading in the "New Writer's Handbook".

4. Found and build a successful dual use educational company - Set up a meeting with a former entrepreneur and sent him a one page summary of my idea. It doesn't rise to the level of a more traditional executive summary, but it should be enough to start a conversation over lunch next week.

5. FI in 2010 - Today was to be another no spend day until about 4:54 when pizza cravings hit our infirmary. So today will have to be posting an item on Craigslist.

6. Create a beautiful, groomed bird sanctuary by completing the four sides and center of the back yard.- Spent about three more minutes cutting back perennials by the dim light of the yard lamp while waiting to walk the dogs with my friend.

7. Be and feel healthy and beautiful - Did 15 minutes of belly dancing from the Shimmy show on Fit t.v. If kick boxing brings out my inner GI Jane, belly dancing brings out my inner Cleopatra, at least until I get a glimpse of myself in a reflecting window of my "belly rolling walk forward" which looks distinctly like I tied one on right after dinner.....One more reason to make sure the drapes and blinds are drawn before practicing my inner Egyptian Queen.

8. Spirit/catchall - be happy and in the moment and experience and share joy each day. Planning to read a bit tonight out of a funny book I picked up called Viva La Repartee, which is a compilation of funny historical comebacks.

9. Create a lovely, organized home that adds happiness to our lives - Worked for 30 minutes on the kitchen, which has taken a backseat to just about everything else the past two days.

10. Continually increase my business knowledge by building my vocabulary. I've now also signed up for a free email service called, which sends me one new business term each day. Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), creative strategy, creatives, DAGMAR

The Power of Now

I was reading The Power of Now last night at at timely juncture. Earlier in the day I had met with Posi-Pair's CEO and had come home full of dreams and ambitions and fears. Part of me was fairly vibrating with excitement at the image of myself in a power suit, meeting with some future board of directors and making such money that my dream style French country house on 20 acres with a pond and sun room and large attached greenhouse wouldn't impair our FI journey.

These grand schemes twirled about while at the same time I had the moments of panic, even during lunch with Greg when he was suggesting my meeting this or that person, and I was secretly thinking, "Okay, this isn't real right? We're just sort of playing with an idea; we don't really think I can pull this off?"

And betwixt the two highs and lows was a rather exhausting place. It was all just monkey chatter in my brain. Rather than enjoying the lunch or the meeting, part of my mind was far off in its own make believe world.

A few pages of Eckhart Tolle's book brought some quiet. His theory is that we have all we need in the now. We are at most peace in the now. The brain wants to escape the now into the future or the past, because in the now it has no power. In the now we are experiencing life, not planning, plotting or regretting.

And calm once again, I had to remind myself, there is no magic land. NOW is the magic land. I have a husband I love dearly, two beautiful kids I adore, a warm, happy home, a great dog, wonderful large gardens, parents I think the world of who are still around and healthy enough to play with and enjoy my kids, friends, extended family, saved money in the bank, plenty of food to eat and enough good books to see me through many a winter's night.

If I'm not happy and content with all that I have, which is a LOT, why would I think I would be happier with even more? And this is not to say that I don't think I would enjoy those things, I will. But what I want to do is to enjoy the journey, to enjoy the hours and the problems and opportunities.

I haven't been able to think of a name for my company and late last night that was getting me stressed as the Posi-Pair woman suggested I should have business cards ready for the November 11 conference. How can I have a business card if I don't even have a name? And this sort of angst is part of the reason I postponed building a company for so long. But now, with reminders all around that it is the journey, not the French style country home or the CEO title that will finally make me content, I take it hour by hour. I hope those of you building a business or a book or a career or a family this year enjoy that journey in each moment as well. Best wishes!!! Eileen

Are you marketing to your own happiness this annus mirabilis?

When I was pregnant with my second son, my acupuncturist, who is a doctor from China, said it was important to surround myself with beauty to make the pregnancy successful. She suggested I look at things such as lovely pictures, listen to beautiful music, and have flowers in as many rooms as possible.

I thought is was an interesting concept at the time, but didn't really heed it as advice. Lately, however, during this annus mirabilis, Latin for miraculous year, I've started reading more and more about the subconscious and how it picks up cues from your surroundings constantly through all of your senses. Even when "you" are not looking, your subconscious is.

This is why you are instructed to have the smell of simmering apples if you're trying to sell a house. That smell cues the subconscious with feelings of home and warmth. Marketers have learned certain music affects you while shopping and television ads of perfect people makes one associate beer with health and vitality.

It has been estimated that we see an average of 5000 ads a day. And it occurs to me that much of this is somewhat negative. The message is often you are not quite good enough as you are and need to buy this or that product to fit in or be accepted or admired.

So the question then occurs, can we market to our own happiness in our homes? If everything we see sends the conscious or subconscious messages of health, wealth, happiness, love, gratitude and joy, would we be adding to our own happiness?

I don't know the answer, but considering the millions McDonald's and Coca Cola spend on having us see their logos and advertisements, there must be some effect surely. My goal now is to put positive "marketing" in each of the rooms of the house. I already have inspiring messages on the refrigerator and along the upstairs hall and in our bedroom, but I'm moving on from there.

I liked my acupuncturist's idea to speak to the other senses and am starting to burn more candles and play music more often. I've also started collecting things from nature, like pine cones, sea shells, and interesting rocks as I always find nature soothing. This may be part of what Oprah is referring to when she says our homes should "rise up to meet us."

Since some inspirational posters and pictures can get pricey, I've been getting them at thrift stores. And recently for 85 cents, I got an old address book that had a lot of Mary Engelbreit's art work and pithy, positive quotes. I just cut these out and thumb tacked them to the walls.

I'm not sure I'll match the 5000 marketer's ads, which include posters on the back of the bathroom stalls, but I'm working on it. Speaking of the back of the toilet, there's still some white space there.....;-) Possibilities, possibilities...And if it starts to look a bit kooky to visitors, I can always say I read about an experiment on the Frugal Millionairess and am giving it a try;-). Best wishes. Eileen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 343 - Nightly Roundup

I hope some of you are doing a nightly round up and reaching to your goals. I am amazed at what progress I've made, often in five minute increments in all ten areas that I've chosen to work at. I'm never at a loss for what to do as that daily chart is right there waiting for every spare three minutes. And I go to bed now with a sense of enormous accomplishment, even if it was just being in the moment with my kids while we played blocks because I've taken the time to identify this as a goal.

There are no aimless minutes or hours, and no sense of "I should be doing x instead of y," because both x and y are getting me closer to my goals. There is something peaceful about feeling I'm always using my time to its best advantage, as judged by my own set of priorities.

But I also must admit the one year time limit is very helpful. More than once, by 9:30 p.m. I've just wanted to take a shower, put on my pajamas and to heck with that list of goals. But I remind myself 5 minutes per goal and I can still be done by 10:30 and have made progress on each goal. Baby steps, baby steps. And best of all, I'm just pushing myself for a year, now only 343 more days. And at the end, I can go back to any type of life I prefer.

Wishing you well on whatever you're striving for. I'll probably ask for an update on day 300, so be prepared;-). Eileen

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg - Check. And thanks Greg for the lovely lunch today. You're my favorite person in the world to spend time with.

2. Enjoy and nurture the kids - Kirk isn't feeling well, so we snuggled and read books. Then Kai got to have Mom and Dad all to himself, a rarity, for a rousing game of football.

3. Publish the Frugal Millionairess in 2010 - Still reading the New Writer's Handbook. Got in about five minutes today.

4. Found and run a successful dual use educational products company - Had a GREAT meeting with Sarah Manski, CEO, Posi-pair today. Very helpful.

5. Complete the backyard, creating a beautiful, groomed bird-sanctuary. About three minutes cutting back perennials while waiting for the school bus. This is offset by the fact I spent close to five hours in the yard on Sunday. Each area seems to have its ebbs and flows.

6. Achieve FI in 2010 - Sold a garden arch on Craigslist for $35. That brings my total Vanguard Star account to $566.39. That includes the cancelled trip, the money from Greg's uncle, etc. of $531.39 + 35 (today's arch sale) = $566.39. Not bad!

7. Spirit/catchall of friends, family, spiritual life. To experience joy and give joy and be in the moment. Read a bit of the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

8. To be and feel healthy and beautiful. Did about 20 minutes of yoga.

9. Create a beautiful, organized house that adds happiness to our lives. Spent about ten minutes organizing the family room and the kids' toy box.

10. Constantly seek to improve my business knowledge by improving my business vocabulary. I signed up for a free service called that emails me one new word a day. And I'm continuing to go through the list of marketing terms from for the other three. Cash asset ratio, cost per rating point, cost per thousand, counter advertising,

Never Eat Alone, The Simple Dollar, PosiPair, and Building Your/My Company.

For awhile now I've subscribed via email to the free newsletter called "The Simple Dollar". The author Trent Hamm is, as I am, learning constantly about how to live on less, what in life is most important, and how to write well. You can see why I find his site helpful.

He's also done a series of book reviews that I've found really useful. His most recent, "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi sparked my interest enough to get the book from the library. The main point of the book is that people are your main source of success, whether personal, professional, community, family, or other. And the larger the network (the sincere type, not the sleazy type) you can create, the more success you will have.

I heard this echoed in person today, when the CEO of PosiPair, Sarah Manski, agreed to meet me for an hour at Ancora to discuss my business idea, which started as the nightlight and has grown to create a portal for dual use educational products. She was a MAJOR help in the next set of steps I should take. She is launching an internet company, an online marketplace for the green economy, and is about a year ahead of me, so I'm able to sort of walk in her footsteps.

We first met because she wanted feed back from potential customers about her idea. I told her everything I could from my perspective, then came home more excited than ever to start my own business. About the same time I attended the All Things LIfe Sciences venture capital forum and decided to take the leap.

Let me share with you some of Sarah's advice to me today in the hopes it might also help those of you who are starting a business this year. These are the ideas she suggested.

1. For the past year, much of her work has been building a network of business owners, investors, potential customers, etc. She has set a goal of three one hour meetings a day and says nothing else she has done could match how helpful that's been. She gets new ideas from each contact. She suggested I make a list of people that might help, such as some of the baby/learning stores in the area and ask the owners what sells, what doesn't, and what some of the voids are in the market.

2. I should consider entering the Governor's Business Plan competition, for which she was a finalist last year and got free office space as her award. The initial entries, just 500 words, is due in December, so I am going to look into that. Many states have something similar so even if you're not from Wisconsin, a quick google search can give you some leads.

3. I need to get a URL with some sort of .com address soon. I'm still stuck on a the perfect name - suggestions?

4. I should be CEO (which was my plan) because there are many CEO breakfasts that are networking events that only CEO's can go to. She also said when you call someplace and identify yourself as a CEO, you're much better positioned to talk to the CEO of that company.

5. There is an early stage company symposium coming up that will have a number of venture capitalists. She suggested I have business cards by then and try to attend.

6. I already have enough to submit my application to the mentor program. She said they don't expect a full out business plan and the a 500 word summary is enough. There are lots of these mentoring programs, so look into this if you haven't already. Two heads are better than one, and if one has already built a successful company, that's like having three or more heads;-). SCORE has a lot of mentor programs and the Small Business Administration can be a great source as well. So I will have this sent off by next Tuesday

7. Starting a website can run around $2,000 for a basic website with a shopping cart, but to start getting custom work gets into numbers like $20,000 to $100,000. And even the $20,000 would not include user testing and scalability if you need to be able to have hundreds of thousands of people checking your site after an article in The New York Times comes out.

8. I should build the website using drupal as it has a good security track record and most of the programmers I might eventually hire would be familiar with it. It's also very standardized. She mentioned Obama may be switching many government programs to this system.

9. I should have a media tab on my site- so I can do press released on anything from the launch to any grants or presentations or other news. She highly recommended getting a media list to email all the press releases to. She's been on television and radio and she said much of this was having a well-put together story that makes it easy for media to slot you in.

10. I will need to do a lot of consumer research and ask parents what they want to see in the the dual use educational market, what they would buy and what they wouldn't and why.

11. The hardest part is to get people to come to your site. What else do you offer other than buying the product? Here there could be educational news, interviews, blogs, early childhood studies, etc.

So in closing, I have a lot of homework for the next few weeks. Thanks Sarah from Posi-Pair for all your time and suggestions. And thanks Trent for the book review, which helped me find a book I probably would never have otherwise.

Best wishes! Eileen

Monday, October 26, 2009

A NEAT and easy way to lose weight.

I was at Vermont Cottage's blog the other day, looking at her wonderful home interior design ideas and she had posted about French women staying fit. One simple thing they do is walk more.

I rummaged through my dresser drawer to reclaim my pedometer and then did a bit of research on an old theory I had used about a year ago, before I got busy with other things. Now I'm going to recommit as it is a simple, effective way to be productive and healthy.

The NEAT idea comes from endocrinologist James Levine of Mayo Clinic and stands for "non-exercise activity thermogenesis." These are activities such as standing or walking during the day, not cardio exercise, which accounts for much of your movement and therefore caloric expenditure. A sedentary lifestyle robs people of 1,500 to 2,400 calories a day, says Levine.

And I have to agree. There have been many a Saturday when I woke up after lying down eight hours, sat down for breakfast, sat in my car to drive errands, came home and sat down for lunch. Sat at my computer doing work, then sat down for dinner. Sat on the kids' beds to read stories, then laid down to go to sleep. Not a whole lot of calorie expenditure going on there;-).

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Dr. Levine from USA Today.

Q: What do you mean that we have "sitting disease"? What can be done about that?

A: A desk-bound man or woman takes only 5,000 to 6,000 steps a day. That compares with about 18,000 steps a day for the average man and 14,000 for a woman in an Amish community.

On a typical weekend, it's possible to use many of 40 different NEAT-squelching devices: alarm clock, cellphone, BlackBerry, home computer, microwave, remote controls, electric toothbrush, snow blower, lawnmower.

We need to move more throughout the day. The key is to find what you enjoy doing.

Simple examples include a quick walk around the block before your morning shower; a 30-minute walk at lunch; having a couple of walk-and-talk meetings during the day (research shows you'll think better); pacing when you're talking on the phone; taking a 15-minute catch-up walk after work with your partner; walking with your children and listening to their music with them; doing some active volunteering such as taking a stressed mom's children out for a walk or bringing a meal to an elderly person.

If you incorporate some of these ideas into your day, you burn an extra 500 to 1,000 calories.

He concludes by noting that it only takes 21 consecutive days for your brain to adapt to a change.

So if you work more NEAT into your life for 21 days, it becomes a dynamic and energized way of living that naturally flows through your day.

As you can see from the photo, I've put my computer up on a big cooking pot so I can stand while I type. I will also make it a goal to sit a lot less the next three weeks. Twenty one days is November 16. So if you want to move about a bit more until then, your body should be a more active machine! Best wishes and thanks to Daryl for your post which made think to dig out the pedometer and dig up the Levine article.

Day 344 - Nightly Roundup.

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg. Check.

2. Enjoy and nurture the kids. Lots of time snuggled up reading nursery rhymes that I had gotten as posters.

3. Publish my book, The Frugal Millionairess, in 2010. I'm really enjoying The New Writer's Handbook, though I'm only to page 22. I had thought it was a list of editors and agents, but it's a compilation of inspiring essays from published authors. Here's a passage that spoke to me and hopefully you too if you're also using this year to write a book.
For the next week, sit down with a kitchen timer for five minutes without lifting your keys from the matter how busy you are, devote five minutes. Most people can write about 250 words in five minutes. That's about one page of a double spaced manuscript. Do that every day for a year and you'll have a book.

4. Found and build a successful company of dual use educational products.

Found another business plan template at This is terrific and in HTML, not PDF so I was able to start right in. There are 150 questions and I got through page 10 of 32 in about half an hour. Some of these questions will need to be flushed out with further data, but this was MUCH, MUCH, MUCH more effective than just trying to write it from scratch. If you too are building a business this year, I can't recommend it highly enough. From the SCORE website.

The real value of creating a business plan is not in having the finished product in hand; rather, the value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It takes time now, but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later.

It typically takes several weeks to complete a good plan. Most of that time is spent in research and re-thinking your ideas and assumptions. But then, that’s the value of the process. So make time to do the job properly. Those who do never regret the effort. And finally, be sure to keep detailed notes on your sources of information and on the assumptions underlying your financial data.

5. Complete the four sides and middle of the back yard to become a groomed, beautiful, bird sanctuary. Brought in another geranium to winter in the comparative tropics of our kitchen...

6. FI in 2010 in part due to new revenues from book and business and in part due to reducing living expenses. Big, cheap, crock pot casserole that should get us through several meals.

7. Spirit/catchall. Be in the moment. Experience and give joy each day. Laugh a lot. Nice chat on the phone with a friend today.

8. Be and feel beautiful and healthy - 30 minutes cardio.

9. Lovely organized home that rises up to meet me and adds enjoyment to each day.- Spent about 10 minutes on the front foyer and front stoop to make them a bit more festive. The kitchen, on the other hand, is a disaster full of dirty dishes and food that needs to be put away, but it looks nice in the entry hall;-).

10. Continuous advancement of my business knowledge through a strong and growing business vocabulary. Supply elasticity, chief information officer, cost efficiency, cost per inquiry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 345 - Nightly Roundup

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg. Check

2. Enjoy and nurture kids. We did a few extra stories to make up for the fact the kids took backseat to the yard today;-).

3. Publish a book. Did a fun, ten minute exercise from The New Writer's Handbook, which I picked up from the library Friday. It required taking 10 random words from the dictionary, then writing a two paragraph story in five to ten minutes to work on creativity.

4. Found and build a successful company of dual use, educational products- Completed the SBA computer tutorial. Was delighted to see they also have a business plan template, but it is in PDF format and I always have problems with those on this computer.

5. Complete the four sides and the center of the big back garden into a lovely, groomed, bird sanctuary - Got everything in the ground that I'd gotten at the auction. Did lots of fall clean up. Spent LOTS of time out there today and I can see oodles of progress.

6. Be and feel healthy and beautiful - Ten minutes kick boxing - definitely makes you feel tough!

7. Work on my spiritual life, friendships, extended family, the environment, etc. A sort of catchall to be and have an even happier, more fulfilling life. Spent some time chatting with the neighbors. Started reading the book "Never Eat Alone".

8. Financial Independence as early as next year, 2010 - rather a stretch, but you know what they say about aiming high.;-). Put a garden arch on Craigslist. Hoping between this and the snowsuit to clear my daily $2.74 for the week for the Vanguard Star account.

9. Lovely, organized home that "rises up to meet me" in Oprah's words. Worked five minutes on my second closet. It never ceases to amaze me lately how much five minutes can do. So often I've left projects undone because I didn't have the time to finish them. I can see more and more that even a tiny bit of progress quickly adds up. It's not unlike the saving pennies idea.

10. A strong, solid knowledge of business by increasing my business vocabulary -
Comparative advertising, competition-oriented pricing, cooperative advertising, copyright.

Dry Skin Brushing - Cheap, easy, healthy.

I've done dry skin brushing for years and while I can't claim to be cellulite free, it has helped the general texture of my skin and I like to think it's made me feel better. I fully acknowledge this could be some sort of placebo effect, but if it works, does that matter? Sometimes just doing little things for yourself make you feel better about yourself. And if you take 30 seconds to take care of your skin daily, I think that inner glow of self-care shows up in other areas. Here are the other benefits of dry-skin brushing. This is from the website I originally read about dry skin brushing in a health magazine and got my current brush from Walgreens for maybe $6.00 about three years ago.

Did You Know?

The skin is the largest most important eliminative organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body’s detoxification each day?

The skin eliminates over one pound of waste acids each day in the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands?

That the skin is known also as our third kidney?

That the skin receives one third of all the blood circulated in the body?

That the skin is the last to receive nutrients in the body, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiency?

Detoxification is performed by a number of organs, glands, and transportation systems, including the skin, gut, kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, and mucous membranes. The dry brushing technique deals with detoxification of the skin.

Dry brushing is a way to stimulate all the above organs of detoxification because it provides a gentle internal massage.

Dry Brushing was recommended by the Finnish Dr., Paavo Airola for his patients 30 years ago and is still popular in European spas and many cancer treatment centers today. The Russians, Turks and Scandinavians have used this treatment for centuries. Dry brushing is promoted as a preventative for dry skin and a way to exfoliate the skin, thus stimulating skin renewal that is super soft to the touch, but there are many other benefits as well:

Benefits of Dry Skin Brushing Explained:

1. Removes cellulite

2. Cleanses the lymphatic system

3. Removes dead skin layers

4. Strengthens the immune system

5. Stimulates the hormone and oil-producing glands

6. Tightens the skin preventing premature aging

7. Tones the muscles

8. Stimulates circulation

9. Improves the function of the nervous system

10. Helps digestion

11. AND it’s easy, inexpensive and invigorating!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

You, me and Nelson Mandela!

I have this quote up on the refrigerator. It is from Nelson Mandela's 1994 Inaugural Speech. In it he quotes Marianne Williamson. A nice thought to start each day.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightening about shrinking so
that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just for some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we consciously
give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence
automatically liberates others.

So when you brush your teeth tonight, look straight into your own eyes, give yourself a big thumbs up and and declare "You ROCK baby!!" And do all you can to be all you can;-). Best wishes! Eileen

Day 346 -Nightly Roundup

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg. Check.;-)

2. Enjoy and nurture kids. Had a lovely long hike in the woods.

3. Publish a book. 30 items brainstormed as chapter ideas.

4. Found and build a successful company of dual use, educational products- Found the Small Business Association website and it had a great online program to help with my business plan. My original thought to write a several paragraph executive summary is apparently all wrong. The summary is to be written only after a very thorough business plan has been completed. So it's back to the drawing board on that, but the tutorial looks like it will be very helpful.

5. Complete the four sides and the center of the big back garden into a lovely, groomed, bird sanctuary - Attended a plant auction today, my first. LOTS of fun! Got some Annabelle Hydrangeas for $2 each, some hardy geranium, turtle head, and painted fern. Spent $37 for everything. Can't wait to see it all in bloom next summer.

6. Be and feel healthy and beautiful - Five minutes pilates.

7. Work on my spiritual life, friendships, extended family, the environment, etc. A sort of catchall to be and have an even happier, more fulfilling life. Emailed my aunt to arrange a visit.

8. Financial Independence as early as next year, 2010 - rather a stretch, but you know what they say about aiming high.;-). Started my chart to reduce costs by at least $2.74 each day for my Vanguard Star account challenge. It turns out we spend $165.26 per month on electric, which was not something I'd checked into a long time. As I type we have lights on in four rooms and Greg's big screen t.v. showcasing the Hawkeyes....;-). Definitely room for improvement here.

9. Lovely, organized home that "rises up to meet me" in Oprah's words. Five minutes tackling a second closet. Proud to report one upstairs closet is done!!!

10. A strong, solid knowledge of business by increasing my business vocabulary, Card rate, channel distribution, circulation, classified advertising.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nightly Roundup - Day 347

1. Happy and passionate marriage to Greg. Check.

2. Enjoy and nurture kids. We had a fun time at a school Halloween party tonight.

3. Publish a book. Will have to count my blog time for today.

4. Found and build a successful company of dual use, educational products- Worked five minutes on my executive summary focusing on three areas:
•Why my business exists
•What its goals are
•How I will achieve those goals

5. Complete the four sides and the center of the big back garden into a lovely, groomed, bird sanctuary - Just emptied out the back of my mini-van as tomorrow is a big plant auction that my neighbor said I'd love. It's a local nursery and they auction off all the left over trees, shrubs, and perennials - thus I know I'll need at least some space back there tomorrow....

6. Be and feel healthy and beautiful - Five minutes of pilates.

7. Work on my spiritual life, friendships, extended family, the environment, etc. A sort of catchall to be and have an even happier, more fulfilling life. Had a nice long chat with my father-in-law when I called today to tell them we'd cancelled our CA trip and would be there for Thanksgiving.

8. Financial Independence as early as next year, 2010 - rather a stretch, but you know what they say about aiming high.;-). As of 7:45 it was to be no spend day. But they were serving pizza at the Halloween party and it smelled SO GOOD. By the time we got to the front of the line, they were sold out to a sad mom and kids. So I called in an order in town and swung by and picked it up. $16 for the pizza and another $3 for drinks and so long no spend day.... - but so good..... I knew I needed something for this category, so I just ran down the basement and dragged up the big glass insert that needs to go in the front screen door for winter, thus hopefully cutting down on heat bills.

9. Lovely, organized home that "rises up to meet me" in Oprah's words. Topped off the water in the small, indoor fountains, gave my houseplants a drink and set out some additional candles to give us a bit more of a festive feel this weekend.

10. A strong, solid knowledge of business by increasing my business vocabulary. Brand manager, business to business advertising, caption, car card

Birthdays, bread wrappers, the earth and wealth....

My older son was recently invited to a birthday party. It was held outdoors at a neighborhood park and despite a cold wind and damp air, the kids raced down slides, hung on monkey bars, and played tag.

The birthday girl's mom and dad had recently moved from a house to an apartment and were in a bit of a tight financial situation. As a result, the mom baked a simple box cake in a pan, frosted it and put on six candles to serve with a jug of lemonade. They brought assorted plates and glasses from home and had one big Happy Birthday balloon tied to a picnic table. We all belted out happy birthday while Alyssa made her wish.

After the party, the clean up consisted of the wrapping paper from the gifts the guests had brought and nothing else.

The kids had a blast and it occurred to to me this party could not have cost over $15. It was fun and served its purpose - to celebrate with friends. AND it had been quite light on the earth.

I notice this connection between costs to the pocketbook and costs to the earth more and more as I try to not only save money but live a more environmentally friendly life. When I use a bread wrapper rather than using a ziplock gallon freezer bag, I save 10 cents and there is less plastic waste going to a landfill.

Every mile I choose not to drive according to AAA saves me 52 cents and my carbon footprint is a tiny bit smaller. Each time I shop for my kids' toys at a garage sale or thrift store, there is less packaging to toss and more money in our savings accounts.

And it's always so satisfying when one choice can go toward accomplishing two categories of life goals! Have you found this as well?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off to a great start on the Vanguard Star Account! Maybe you can save a $500 a day!

Through a series of happy coincidences, known as serendipty, my Star account is off to a roaring start. Today in the mail, we received $200 from Greg's uncle as a thank you for some football tickets we'd gotten for them. They were meant as a gift, but his uncle and cousin sent a note insisting they wanted to show how much they appreciated their 50 yard line seats!

Then Greg and I were finalizing our plans for our short November trip that I mentioned earlier. We had planned to go to Los Angeles over the Thanksgiving holiday because there was a client Greg needed to see. Since his air fare and hotel were already going to be paid, we decided I would go too and that would be our winter vacation. Greg's family were thrilled to get the kids for the four day trip.

And we were just finalizing the flights when it occured to me that maybe we should "staycation" instead and Greg could reschedule his client meeting. He was not a hard sell on this. The savings involved are considerable. My flight at the cheapest was going to be $240. Since this was going to be our vacation, we were staying four nights instead of the two planned for client meetings. At a minimum, this is easily another $300, at $150 per night for an L.A. hotel.

Some of the savings will be offset by two round trip 320 mile trips to Iowa. We now plan to go there to celebrate Thanksgiving (which we will enjoy) then drive back that night and let the kids stay until Sunday, when we will pick them up. So 640 miles at the AAA quote of 52 cents is $332.80. We were originally going to meet halfway the day before the flight - 160 miles so $80 and my awesome beyond belief mother-in-law was planning to drive the kids back Sunday so Kirk wouldn't miss school on Monday.

Then there was my email reminder today from Amazon that the sale of DVDs meant $52.19 would be deposited into my seller's account. I paid eight in shipping so that leaves $44.19 in profit (less than the $50 I'd estimated).

So my Star account looks like this:

$200 unexpected payment for tickets.
$240 flight we will not take
$300 two nights of hotel we won't use
$ 44.19 Closet items
LESS -$252.80 extra driving costs
$531.39 toward Vanguard Star Account.

Nightly Roundup - Day 348

This nightly check in on achieving a bit of progress, even five minutes a day on each of these 10 goals this year is going well. Anyone else finding success at this?
1. Marriage - Check!

2. Kids - Used a card table and old sheet to build a fort. Kids found this way cool.;-)

3. Book - Blog

4. Business - Worked another 15 minutes on my resume. I'm not sure why I so loathe that job, but it's getting done a bit at a time. I want everything ready to send off to the mentor program on Friday, after meeting the fellow entreprenuer for coffee on Tuesday.

5. Spirit/catchall - Made a card and gathered some of the decorative gourds my mother-in-law had brought to share with a teacher who is getting her first home.

6. Health/beauty - Walked with the dogs and my friend tonight. Five minutes of pilates.

7. F.I. - Worked to continue updating our accounts. Since our Money program is about to be defunct, we switched to Quicken, but we're having a terrible time transferring accounts. Also posted a WI Badger snowsuit on Craigslist as it's now too small for Kai.

8. Garden - Brought in my hibiscus from the garage to winter over in our room.

9. Business Vocabulary - Banner ad, brand, brand identity, brand image

10. Organized, beautiful home - Tossed more than 10 pieces of paper/mail when I attacked a giant pile on the counter.

Challenge is out - Can you save 34 cents an hour for the next 365 days???

I just got off the phone with Vanguard. I explained to the representative that I wanted an account that could depict the small increments of savings, reducing our grocery expenses or selling books on Amazon. I didn't want it rolled into our other funds, but I needed one that would have a small minimum. And it turns out they have a fund that fits just right!

Let me stress here that I have NO connections to Vanguard and any other fund or even a savings account would work. I am only using them as the example because they tend to have low expense ratios.

The representative told me about the Star fund, which has been around since 1985, and up through September, has had a 9.6 percent annualized return (though she hastened to add that is not a guarantee of future returns.)

The great part about this fund is that it only takes $1000 to open, unlike their various $3000 limit money market and tax managed accounts. The breakdown is 60 percent stocks, 40 percent bonds and you get a very diversified portfolio with exposure to eleven different funds. She said part of the reason they started this fund was that they realized many people would have a hard time coming up with an initial $3000.

The Star fund is not designed for liquidity so if you would need the cash sometime soon, this wouldn't be a good fund. There are no redemption fees, but if you were to sell, it would be a taxable event and of course, we've all seen the wild fluctuations in the markets. And there is a .32 percent management fee that is slightly higher than some of their money market funds at .28 percent or tax managed accounts at .17 percent, but industry wide, this is very reasonable.

The account to me is a nice way to make my goals of reducing our expenses very concrete. To get to $1000 in 365 days (a bit over our original cut-off date), you will need to save or earn an extra $2.74 per day. That breaks down to 34 cents per hour over an eight hour day and that's such a lovely, specific, doable goal for me! I think I'm more apt to note the lights burning upstairs while I type downstairs and the food that could be eaten rather than tossed if I am looking to save at least 34 cents per hour.

My thought is to take our average costs in electric, gas, food, clothing, gifts, personal care, haircuts, furniture, cleaning supplies, etc. and find a monthly average. Every dollar under the average will be set aside for the account. In addition, anything sold on Craigslist or Amazon will go right into the kitty. And my garage sale and plant sale in the spring will go there too.

It would be great if you want to join me in this. I'm going to start as of today. If you can do it before 365 days, that's even better. So start looking around, that quarter you find on the sidewalk this morning means you just need to get another nine cents for that hour.;-).

Best wishes and see you at the finish line. Watch those pennies! Best wishes. Eileen

P.S. A disclaimer - I am SO not a professional financial advisor. Remember I'm the one looking up economic terms each day to build my knowledge. So this may not be the best investment for you. Clearly a savings account could work too. I just liked the fact that the Vanguard Star account was NOT liquid because it will be fun to watch it grow.

Watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves!

I was skimming through some finance books at a local thrift store awhile back and came across a similar message in each: Skip the whole penny pinching stuff like reusing tin foil, that's NEVER going to make you rich. Focus instead on the big stuff- getting a good deal on your mortgage, your cars, and concentrating on your investments.

I fundamentally disagree with this idea. I think you MUST focus not only on the big picture but also the nickles and dimes for several reasons.

People often brag how much below sticker price they got their car. And that is great - let's say you saved $1000. But if you're telling that to friends over dinner at your once a week trip to Olive Garden, where you drop $45 with tip a week for pasta and salad, that $45 sounds like peanuts after all the money you've saved. But at the end of the year, you will have dropped $2340. If you'd decided to cut back eating out to every other week, you'd have saved $1170, more than the car savings.

I use the car example for two reasons. First, saving so much at one swoop does make you feel rich and in so doing, you can lose track of how much the little expenditures are adding up. It's hard, other than buying a car, to "save" $1000 in a day. The flip side of this is when you buy a car and they offer you floor mats for $200, you may think, "well I've already spent $16,000, what's another $200?" But if you walked into Walmart and saw floor mats for $24 and floor mats for $200, you'd likely think the $24 ones were fine and $200 for floor mats was kind of crazy. Getting caught up in the "big numbers" can be misleading.

Also, to accomplish a major goal, you need to start somewhere. Coming up with $3000 to open a Vanguard money market account may seem daunting, but saving $57.70 a week seems more doable. And if you can cut $30 off your weekly grocery or takeout or fast food expenses, you realize you only need to come up with another $27.70 per week or $3.95 a day, and all of a sudden, that latte effect concept seems to make a whole lot of sense.

Another point to keep in mind is that sometimes the more tangible our savings, the more "real" they seem. And that can keep you motivated. You can see the tin foil that you've reused five times, you can see the potatoes you did not toss out, but instead used and just cut off the bad parts. You can touch the coins you picked up off the sidewalk and the tea mug you brought to work so you would by-pass Starbucks. Unless you're hauling your mortgage papers out each day, that initial $20,000 you got off the asking price is pretty abstract, though also valuable.

My English roommate in graduate school had a phrase I loved. Hers involved pounds, but using American vernacular, "Watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves."

So start with the little things and gain confidence. Start with the little things and realize how much they add up each day. Start with the little things and get a true grasp of your cost of living. Start with the little things, and you'll be opening your Vanguard account and have enough for the down payment of your house and the cost of your car. And all those days of watching your pennies will put you in a good place to realize it's worth your time to negotiate and read the fine print when you do. All that practice will serve you well!

Best Wishes! Eileen

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 349 - Nightly Roundup

Another milestone to be in the 340s!

1. Marriage - Check.

2. Kids - We had a great time picking apples at an apple orchard with friends and Kirk will bring in 23 of these for his class treat tomorrow. Kai spent most of his time trying to break into an antique car parked on the property....

3. Book - Will have to be the blog for today.

4. Business - Brainstormed for 30 additional ideas for about five minutes (today was a hectic day).

5. Garden - Got more carpet strips from the neighbors.

6. Beauty/health - Managed 45 minutes of exercise.

7. FI - Sold some of the things I'd cleaned out of the closet and shipped it today. After shipping we will clear $50, so not a bad clean out!

8. Spirit/catchall - Will do some more light reading at bedtime. Reading a funny book by David Sedaris, which is not something I usually would have picked, but it came highly recommended.

9. Organized, beautiful home - Tackled an upstairs linen closet for about 20 minutes and easily threw out more than 10 items, especially outdated medicines like cough syrup and Pepto Bismol. Sadly, I likely trashed $40 worth of old stuff, making a big dent in the $50 made from the closet sales.

10. Vocabulary - Continuing with the marketing terms. Today's were affiliate marketing, affiliate directory, affiliate network, and agency commission.

Could that penny you pick up on the street today be worth $5,368,709.12?

My husband once had a client that ran a metal recycling company. My son was eager to see the car crushing part of the operation and I came along as I'm always interested in seeing how businesses run and had visions of wrought iron antique garden gates just waiting for my eagle eye to spot them in the piles of rubble.

As it turns out, for insurance purposes, I wasn't allowed to scavenge - how sad as there was a LOT of interesting looking stuff out there. When we got to the crusher, the CEO demonstrated how they also use a magnet to clear out loose change that had fallen under seats or into the trunks. He also showed us the metal detector the workers had to walk through when they punched out for the day. I questioned whether there was enough change to be worth installing a metal detector and he told us they recover over $30,000 in loose coins each year. Wow! Talk about some spare change.

In Kath Kelly's "How I Lived a Year On Just a Pound a Day," she quotes an English article about the great lost tribe of penny pieces nobody bothers to pick up.
They estimate that sofas across the nation contain 5.9 million pounds worth of pennies, drains 650,000 pounds and streets, mind-bogglingly, may hold 26 million of dropped pennies.

Let's look at what a penny doubled each day would be within 30 days.

Day 1 - $.01
Day 2 - $.02
Day 3 - $.04
Day 4 - $.08
Day 5 - $.16
Day 6 - $.32
Day 7 - $.64
Day 8 - $1.28
Day 9 - $2.56
Day 10 - $5.12
Day 11 - $10.24
Day 12 - $20.48
Day 13 - $40.96
Day 14 - $81.92
Day 15 - $163.84
Day 16 - $327.68
Day 17 - $655.36
Day 18 - $1,310.72
Day 19 - $2,621.44
Day 20 - $5,242.88
Day 21 - $10,485.76
Day 22 - $20,971.52
Day 23 - $41, 943.04
Day 24 - $83,886.08
Day 25 - $167,772.16
Day 26 - $335,544.32
Day 27 - $671,088.64
Day 28 - $1,342,177.28
Day 29 - $2,684,354.56
Day 30 - $5,368,709.12

Obviously, it is pretty tough to double your money in a day at 2.6 million. But the enormous power of getting the ball rolling in savings is right before our eyes in this example. Some refer to the power of compounding interest as the eighth wonder of the world. Money, well invested, often doubles in seven years. So be patient and don't think it's not worth your time to stop and pick up that penny on the street. Even Oprah says she does this. Who knows, that lucky penny you just found may be worth $5,368,708.12 in days to come;-).

Best wishes. Eileen

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nightly Roundup - Day 350

Should you wonder about how the kids feel about all these photos, to date they love it. And should they grow up to become rock stars or actors and find themselves questioned on Letterman about stalking paparazzi, I'm sure they'll respond, "Paparazzi - no prob! Mom, however, was bringing cameras into my dentist appointments!"

1. Marriage Check.

2. Kids Kirk and I spent some one on one time at Panera Bread as a treat after his dentist appointment and Kai and I had extra snuggle time during stories.

3. Book I am reading a very helpful blog called Guide to Literary Agents -
This new series is called "Successful Queries" and I'm posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

Then I spent about 10 minutes writing up a draft of a query letter.

4. Business Five more minutes plugging away at my resume to attach to the mentor program application.

5. Spirit/catchall Had two lovely chats on the phone with good friends.

6. Garden Brought in a big, lovely begonia that I'm hoping to overwinter.

7. Health/beauty 30 minutes cardio.

8. FI Found quite a few items when cleaning out the closet that are winter wear which I forgot I owned. This will hopefully dampen my desire to go get new (consignment shop) cold season clothing.

9. Business Vocabulary - Continuing with marketing terms. Advertising research, advertising specialty, advertorial, affiliate.

10. Beautiful, Organized Home Managed another ten items to toss/put in garage sale pile from the closet.

To Live Like You Were Dying....

I was sitting on the hard plastic bench in just a thin blue-green cotton gown, feeling rather exposed, when the technician knocked on my changing room door at the mammography unit and told me they would like to do some more views. My saliva got a sour taste and my breathing got more shallow.

My mom has gone through two bouts of breast cancer and now if she has a mammogram looming within the next four months or so, she'll put off dentist appointments or getting new eyeglasses until, as she says, "I get through that." When she gets a thumbs up from the radiologist, she feels like she was given a new lease and is once again able to look forward.

A year ago October, I was told to come back for addition views. As I walked back to the x-ray machine with my dressing gown flapping open behind me and my heavy breasts with no bra flapping along in front of me, the technician attempted to encourage me, saying at least one out of ten women need to do this and it's usually nothing.

It turned out there were some calcifications that they wanted to monitor. Some are benign, and some can be precancerous and they asked me to start coming in every six months to keep an eye on everything.

Today was the third of those six month checkups. I asked to see my original October x-rays, my April x-rays, and today's, but I'm not a doctor. Now I wait. They told me no phone call in the next few days and instead, a letter quietly arriving in my mailbox is the ideal.

Tim McGraw has a song entitled, "Live Like You Were Dying." And in some ways, it echoes why I'm in this year of goals and challenges to not only be a better mom and wife, but to reach out a bit more, to challenge myself a bit more, to experience a bit more.

I fully hope and plan to live to 100 plus, but we really don't ever know that and I'm trying hard to live more directed, not to waste time or pass time or spend too much time in my head. I'm trying to figure out how to get the most joy and give the most joy in each day rather than simply getting through the day. And I'm seeing some little successes at this.

It goes back to the idea of working toward goals and enjoying the journey, not waiting to accomplish them to then be happy. Any one of us could be hit by a car tomorrow or more likely, we will live to a happy old age, but surely it's a good idea to plan for the latter but live as if the former were possible. I think in the end, it's not what we accomplish, but what we become in our attempt to accomplish. And that deep thought was brought to you as I finish up my Dr. Pepper and nacho lunch - planning a more nutritious dinner. Best Wishes. Eileen

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anatomy of a meal.....

Growing up, past second grade or so, I could count on one hand the number of meals we sat down to during weekdays in any given year. My dad often worked past 8 p.m. and somewhere along the line, even the fish stick and french fry or a can of tomato soup over spaghetti meals got lost along the way. We became "grazers" of the first sort. And that is really how I've been ever since and until recently, how I was raising the kids.

At some point when everyone seemed hungry, I would open the fridge and start asking the kids what sounded good (Greg is often not home in time for dinner). It might be peanut butter or cheese or apples. We'd sit at the counter and chow.

Then one day last year my husband dropped something off at my friend and neighbor Cathy's house and came back with stars in his eyes as he'd actually seen her kids setting the table for dinner with plates, glasses, napkins and cutlery! Greg, who grew up in a more traditional farm family, had this desire that we might actually use our kitchen table for family style meals.

As you can't pick up a parenting magazine without stats jumping out at you that families that sit down and have meals together do all sorts of good things, I thought I'd give this a try. And so, for about the past six months or so, the kids and I and Greg when he can make it sit down.

Now I'm expanding that to try and get some sort of balanced diet. My friend Cathy not only has kids that set the table, they must eat at least one vegetable with each meal. We're not there yet.

But I did read you sometimes have to offer kids a new thing (spinach) twenty or thirty times before they finally learn they love it! Thus far they've shown little interest in the healthy stuff, but just letting me put it on the plate is progress. So I've been ladling on at least one or two veggies and a fruit with threats that if they fuss about just having it on their plates no Curious George show after dinner and this not surprisingly has made them quite acquiescent to at least the sight if not the taste of vegetables.

In time, it will be Curious George for at least a taste of everything on the plate. Hope their obsession with that monkey remains strong.....

My mom, after seeing Jessica Seinfeld (married to Jerry), on Oprah touting her book Deceptively Delicious - Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, went out and bought it new, full price at $24.95 (unheard of). She is hoping her daughter is going to become the sort of mom who will bake brownies with pureed zucchini snuck in or cook spaghetti pie with 1/2 cup of broccoli puree invisible to protests. A noble effort all around.

It is now after dinner and the kids are watching their television show, Greg just came in toting a take out box with his restaurant lunch leftovers and mom is facing a pile of dirty pots and pans and plates full of uneaten produce, and thinking "grazing" really isn't so bad.......

Nightly Roundup Day 351

1.Marriage Check.

2. Kids Had a nice half hour at a new park.

3. Business - I spent ten minutes doing something called "image streaming" which was suggested in the audio book The Einstein Factor. The idea is that your subconscious can more easily "talk" to you in images (think a picture is worth a thousand words). This was used a lot by Einstein himself. The author suggested you get in the habit of sitting quietly for a few minutes and verbalizing what you see. He insists you must do this aloud to another person or a tape recorder. As I have no friends or family that are just waiting around for me to chat about random pictures in my head, I've opted for the tape recorder. And I continue to hope the meter reader won't be coming by as I sit with my tape player rambling about the scenes being invented in my head....

4. Book- Looked into agents and publishers. See today's blog.;-)

5. Garden - GREAT day at the town compost pile. In addition to dirt for next year's flower pots, and two HUGE hostas, I discovered over 60 iris. Can't wait to see them bloom next year!

6. Spirit/Catchall Looking forward to reading something lighthearted at bedtime.

7. Health/beauty Went on-line at Coach and used my refund. I ordered Patent Brooke 358 in ivory/silver. This may not be the BEST color for running about with a toddler and kindergartner, but I liked the lines and wanted to get the job done. In the end I owed $10.05 over the credit costs and it will be shipped this week. I gave myself 10minutes to go to the site and make my decision as I keep reading over and over in various self-help books that most successful people make decisions quickly and change them slowly, if at all. And people who are slow to make a decision and then change it often, have a much harder time accomplishing their goals. So this is the year of the no-dither woman! ;-).

8. FI Posted some unused items on Amazon.

9. Business Vocabulary Decided to look into marketing terms. There's a site on with marketing terms and definitions. Learned to distinguish advertising allowance, advertising budget, advertising plan, advertising elasticity.

10. Organized, beautiful house - Tossed another 10 things from the closet. Six books and magazines into the garage sale pile and even more than the balance of four magazines that I'd cut out ideas from into the trash.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balancing this act of life.

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. - Crowfoot, last words.

Today, when I told my husband Greg that I had added a house organized category to my list of daily goals, he reminded me that most businesses learn early on to focus on a few things and do them well rather than being too scattered.

And the guy has a point. And a good track record of advice. He was the one who suggested this blog, which I long refused to consider telling him if I did that, I would run out of things to say pretty quickly and then not have any material for a book. Who knew just how chatty I could be.... He was also the one who suggested that I should try to think beyond the night light because it can be hard to build a business with just one product. And in time, with my 30 ideas a day of brainstorming, I've now expanded that idea considerably.

But I'm not so sure on the desirability of being too focused. Naturally you can think of the person who spends so much time building a business, that he neglects his health and dies a very rich man at age 40. Or the person who is a health fanatic that ends up living to 120, but never took care of his finances and is the oldest person in the homeless shelter. Or the woman who took great care of her health and finances, but didn't nurture relationships with friends or family and now has only her cat to talk to. You get the idea.

I think it is possible to focus on each of the various aspects of life in a way that is very effective. If I only spend 20 minutes a day as I do now developing my business idea or 15 minutes in the garden, but during that time am truly in the moment, focused on just exactly what I want to accomplish in that quarter or third of an hour, I find I can get a lot done. If I spend twice or three times that amount but am scattered, not sure what my priorities are or if being in the garden is even the best use of my time, then I find I'm much less productive.

I also have discovered that days in which I made some progress in all the main areas of my life, even if some areas got five minutes or less, I feel more centered. It's like building a block tower with the kids. My younger son still hasn't figured out that if he uses the biggest blocks on the bottom, to build a strong and wide base, he can go a lot higher. That pithy little metaphor just came to me as I was eating my reheated pizza and sipping a Diet Coke on ice and it occurs to me belatedly that this isn't the most "balanced" of meals....but I digress;-).

So for now, I will continue focusing on my marriage, my kids, my book, my business, my garden, my goal of financial independence, my spiritual health, my personal health/beauty, my growing business vocabulary and now my uncluttered, to be beautiful home. And on days where I may only be able to spend five minute on each for a total of 50 minutes a day, I'll still be seeing those tiny steps toward the ideal in each area. And hopefully, growing more balanced by the day.

P.S. The second picture from earlier this summer when the kids were at the grandparents and Greg and I were out looking at the stars....Greg content to do so for all of about 90 seconds. I insisted we try to be in the moment for ten full minutes. As his lawyer's mind must bill in six minute increments, this was not easy for him, but he succeeded;-). Kudos Greg!

Nightly Roundup - Day 352

Luck is not chance-
It's toil-
Fortune's expensive smile
Is earned. - Emily Dickinson, poem no. 1350

Marriage - Check

Kids - Thirty minutes of balloon volleyball with the left-over birthday balloons. Mom in the moment for at least 83% of the time;-).

Business - I continue to expand and develop this idea of dual use items. I think it could also be expanded to adults like me that hope to inundate themselves with positive thoughts each day. I've written about my kitchen counter covered with tape players feeding my subconscious happy thoughts each day;-). And of the posters and magnets and books. I think the same concept could also apply to the dishtowels, plates, tea mugs and toothbrush I use.

I read in a 2007 New York Times article that we see 5000 ads a day!
Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today.
And if advertising is essentially a way to get a person to feel they need to buy a ABC product to make them happy or that without XYZ product they are somehow lacking, unfulfilled or not quite up to par, that's a lot of heavy duty subconscious programming. By using the same concept, but turning it on its head, so that in your own home, you are SURROUNDED by positive messages whether from Emerson, Lincoln, Plato, Aristotle or Descartes, particular messages that you chose for yourself, rather than a group of marketers, it seems this would help balance things out a bit.

And I also thought how cool it would be to expand the concept to the great works of art. If a child or adult went to sleep with a quilt showing 20 of the greatest works of Monet or Picasso or Renoir, would this also provide a bit of visual education and sense of well being?

The action step for today was to email a woman who is starting an internet company that involves doing a environmental footprint for items purchased. I met her for coffee to discuss her idea as she was looking for feedback from potential customers and she told me about the mentor program that I'm applying to. I am hoping we might meet again for tea to get her feedback on my business idea. Updated to add we are on for next Tuesday.

Book - Blog.

Garden - Got in a bit of time weeding the big south border. That is one of two big borders/gardens that I plan to have done before winter sets it. (I originally typed in "hoped to have done" but my Dennis Waitley tapes have been admonishing me to avoid hope and may and I wish for more affirmative words;-).

Spirit/catchall- My 30 brainstormed ideas for increased creativity.

FI - Was successful in not spending a dime today.

Health/beauty- Dry skin brushing. Will do a blog on this later.

Organized, beautiful house - A new category. Daryl, from Vermont Cottage has this wonderful web site of dream ideas for a perfect home and it made me think of Oprah's idea that your house should rise up to meet you - that your surroundings impact you on several levels and you might as well make that impact as positive as possible. Also, with cold weather coming on, my nesting instincts kick into high gear so I had Greg help with hanging a wonderful shell light that I'd gotten for $30 early in the summer at an antique store and had stuffed in a closet. I also tackled one of our closets with the goal to get rid of 10 items. I was successful. I put five things in my growing garage sale pile and five things in the donate box.

Business Vocabulary - Check - Looked up Hedge funds, net asset value, portfolio managers and commodities.