Febuary 2009

Andrea de Michaelis, Publisher

Hello and welcome to the February edition of Horizons Magazine. Most of the news I get comes from whatever AOL flashes before me as I check email. They ask provocative questions like:

"Recognize This Singer? Even Country Fans May Not Know Her Without Blond Locks." I note immediately that it's Taylor Swift since it looks exactly like her and the only way I even know who she is is that AOL has been flashing her name and pic on the main screen for the past few months. So, as a journalist, I recognize this is just promotion at work, designed to look like news.

Kind of like articles that are really advertorials; they pay to run the ad to look like an article, or it's simply a news/press release. There's nothing wrong with that. I just take notice how the media is designed to manipulate my perception.

Some major stores and franchise chains are closing and filing bankruptcy. The headlines are written as though it's a crime. The Cash In the Attic host just filed bankruptcy. The media faults Lorne Spicer, known as a BBC debt expert, for not following her own advice "Make a budget and stick to it. Putting the numbers down on paper will show you just where all the money is going. Set a limit on how much you are going to spend and stick to it."
But, like anyone else, just because Lorne knows the constructive thing to do, doesn't mean she does it. I know a lot of things that I don't put into practice. I am not one to budget, but I am not a prolific spender. I am not a recreational shopper. I learned years ago to use credit cards only for emergencies. Having said that, I usually have a hundred dollars or so on my Office Depot and Home Depot accounts that I pay on each month. I always pay 2 - 3 times the minimum payment. I have one business card that has about $5,000 on it but that is all the business debt I have to deal with. I did that on purpose.

Several years ago, working at the law offices, clients began asking for referrals to file bankruptcy, so I got to hear a lot of their stories. Granted, most of them had wives who were recreational shoppers, but some of them were just regular under-educated folks who just couldn't manage to earn sufficient income to provide for their family, so things like weekly groceries would be charged to their Visa. And it added up.

I had the good sense to think, "there, but for the grace of God, go I" and made a conscious decision to not use my cards for incidental purchases. If I need a water heater, yes. If I need bagels, no. If I need eyeglasses, maybe. If I need a book, no.

I use my debit cards instead. This was a real yoga for me in the beginning because it then meant that not only did I have to keep track of how much I spent, I had to actually make sure I kept enough money deposited in the account to draw on.

This meant I had to sit down and make a list of what my monthly bills were and when they were due. That meant I had to put a note on my calendar when I would need to have X amount of dollars in the account on a regular basis. That gave me a goal to work toward.

The biggest change for me came when I made the decision to use my credit cards only for big and necessary purchases and emergencies. Some other decisions were:

When I bought my home at age 31, it was the first time I'd thought about "how old will I be at the end of this 30 year mortgage?" I'd be 61. I wondered if I'd still be working for law offices at age 61. My mom was working full time at 62 with no thought of retirement, so I figured I would be, too. I wondered how much money I'd be making. I looked back on my vast 13 years in the professional workforce and noted that my income was constantly on the increase. I figured I would make at least what I was making then, in 1983, when I was 61.
I recalled a client who told me her mortgage payment was $185. I loved the idea of that. So I liked the idea of my mortgage payment being under $500 a month.

I hadn't thought about it before contemplating the 30 year mortgage - just what I would be doing 30 years later. So that also gave me some goals, to be able to keep working at a good paying job until I at least paid my mortgage off. I didn't have too many goals at age 31 other than day to day living and working, so it felt good to have a goal.

Then several years ago I got a second mortgage, which I purposely kept separate from the first mortgage. Instead I opted to pay it off in five years and the payment was again under $500. And my car payment is also just under $500. There is something, for me, about being under that $500 mark that makes it feel so easily manageable. Like, I know that every few days I will need $500 to pay for one thing or another, and so I need to earn $500 every few days.

Now, sixteen years later, it's down to a formula and practically on autopilot. I know that's both a blessing and a challenge. But I also know that no matter what changes come about, in the world or in the economy or in my life, that I will without a doubt be guided to do something that allows me to meet my financial commitments and gives me supreme personal satisfaction as well. I could, frankly, happily do what I do now for the next 20 years and love it, but I am also not so na�ve as to be unprepared for change as it comes.

I like looking ahead and feeling hopeful about my future, even if I don't know how it will play out. I know, I know, I say that every lifetime, but it's true. I've learned to be prepared for change. To pre-pave into my future that I will feel hopeful and have deep faith, belief and expectation so that my happy tomorrows will be there waiting for me.

Now if I listen to the media spin on the economy, that doesn't give me thoughts of a hopeful future. So I don't watch it. I don't listen to it. I don't read it. I don't want to vibrate there for a moment. Which is what you are doing when you watch the gloomy news. Let's put it this way, to the extent you want to attract into your today and tomorrow a financial downswing, to that extent you should watch the news.

The media is smart. They know if they can draw enough attention to a particular thoughtform, that thoughtform becomes strengthened and takes on a life of its own. What this amounts to is self fulfilling prophecy. The weatherman talks about gloomy skies and rain and we all get bummed out and attract more gloomy skies. The news anchor talks about everyone pulling out of the stock market, so everyone starts pulling out of the stock market. Someone publicly proclaims a certain ethnic group as terrorists and� you get my drift.

Everyone has their own agenda for how they want the world around them to work. The media knows the best way to get people to think and act a particular way is to proclaim publicly that people already think and act that way. Let people hear it and see it often enough in print that they begin to believe it's true. An amazing number of voters believe that what they see in print is true and accurate.

So I've learned to stay away from the news, simply because I don't vibrate there. As a journalist, I recognize the hype. Journalists, by definition, put information in their own words and make it creative in their own way so it will draw attention. Personally, my attention is never drawn to doom and gloom.

My attention is drawn by the most hopeful "what if?" My attention is drawn by demonstrations of unwavering faith in the face of adversity. If, as a journalist, it is my choice as to what I wish to drawn the reader's attention to, then this is it:

What I'd like is for everyone to realize you are a soul encased within a body, a body which is your vehicle to use for this lifetime, This means keep the vehicle running efficiently. You'll save on repair costs and get a longer run.

A soul encased within a body also means you have control of the mind, and it is yours to use and command. Your mind operates outside the physical brain and survives it after physical death of the body.

What I'd like is for everyone to realize is keeping the vehicle running efficiently also applies to keeping your mind active with interests, goals and curiosities.

What I'd like is for everyone to realize they participate in creating the reality they experience.

This means you. You create and attract into your own experience. Not that of your mother or your father or your ex or your mate or your children or your coworkers. Just you. Stop wasting energy thinking about what's going on with them and begin to delve deeply into getting your own act together. They will then miraculously also fall into place.

What I'd like is for everyone to realize is that no matter what is going on with anyone around you, you can have a different experience.

No matter what the media says is happening to the economy, you can have a different experience.
What I'd like is for everyone to realize is that if you simply keep your attention focused on what is going RIGHT in the world, in your community, in your neighborhood, in your home, you will bring more of that to light and you will help it increase and grow.

This is what is meant by participating in creating the reality you experience. Look for the positive aspects, think the more hopeful thoughts, daydream the most fanciful, fun "what if" best case scenarios. Don't worry about what anyone else is thinking or doing. It's a tall order but you can do it You're up to it. You have nothing to lose and a great happy life to gain. The best is yet to be.

Enjoy our offering this month.
Hari Om.

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