Sunday, July 31, 2005

THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFTS OF ALL

Pauline Wallin, Ph.D.

IN THIS SEASON OF GIFT-BUYING, DON'T IGNORE THE MOST IMPORTANT GIFTS OF ALL

In this season of holiday gift buying, advertisers bombard us with messages, some of them contradictory. One ad tells us that the best way for men to show love is to spend three months' salary on a piece of diamond jewelry. On the other hand, MasterCard commercials remind us that there are some things ("Priceless" moments) that money can't buy.

"Oh, that's a sweet sentiment," you might say, "but can it really substitute for the latest videogame or hot toy?" Very few children raised in this materialistic culture would say, "Gee mom, thanks for making my favorite meal. What a great Christmas gift!"

Yet 20 years from now, these same children probably won't remember the items that they got for the current Christmas. They will, however, recall the special games that their family played together, the time that their older brother took them to a movie, or the way their parents tucked them in at night.

These are the little moments, which over time, have a huge impact. Unfortunately people tend to take them for granted. With so much emphasis on holiday shopping, and on buying the perfect gift, we can lose sight of the importance of the less flashy, but "priceless" gifts: gifts such as thoughtfulness and gratitude that we can give to one another all year round. A diamond may be forever, but its value is nothing compared to a lifetime of moments that money can't buy.

I'm not suggesting that you forego the presents this holiday season, but don't worry so much about how "perfect" they are. Go ahead and buy some gifts, but more importantly, resolve to focus your energy on helping others feel valued and appreciated. They will remember your acts of thoughtfulness and compassion long after the material gifts are gone.

Here are some examples of small gestures that can help people around you feel valued:

1. Show your appreciation with a thank-you, a smile or a hug (or all three.) It takes just a moment, but it can make a person's day.

2. Practice a random act of kindness every day. Make this your "gift" to a stranger. For example, let someone in front of you in line. Hold a door open for someone. Smile and greet people you pass at work. These acts take only a few seconds or less, yet they create a mood that can last for hours.

3. Call up someone you haven't spoken to in a while, just to catch up on how they are. You've probably been meaning to do this for a long time. Now is a good time.

4. If you have children, give one child at a time your full attention for an afternoon: Go for a walk; go to the library; or just sit and read or draw together. The activity itself isn't as important as sharing time and interacting together. Going to a movie or watching a video doesn't count.

5. Write a note of appreciation to someone who is important to you. Don't be surprised if that person keeps the note for years to come.

6. Think of the way you'd like to be remembered by those around you, and give of yourself accordingly throughout the year. The added benefit for you is that you'll be in a more positive frame of mind overall.


Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior" (Beyond Words Publishing, 2001)

Visit http://www.innerbrat.com for more information, and subscribe to her free, monthly Inner Brat Newsletter.



Help For Persistent Or Recurring Swelling
Dr. Rita Louise

Like the arteries, veins and capillaries that transport blood through our bodies, our bodies also contains an extensive drainage system that returns water and proteins from our tissues back to the bloodstream. Called the lymphatic system, it is part of our immune system and works to defend the body from diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.

The lymphatic system has two major functions. First, it works to regulate the amount of fluids within our bodies. Secondly, it is responsible for "taking out the trash", that is collecting waste products, such as dead blood cells and pathogens from the interstitial fluid (the fluid that fills the spaces around cells) and filters it before returning it to the bloodstream.

The lymphatic system is made up of lymph vessels that carry lymph, a protein-rich fluid that is transported through the lymph vessels, and lymph nodes which filter out germs and toxins. There are over 100 lymph nodes throughout the body, with the majority of them being located in the neck, groin and armpits. Lymphatic vessels contain valves that prevent the lymph from flowing backwards within the system. Within the lymphatic vessels, lymph is transported through the vessels and moves via the squeezing action of their neighboring skeletal muscles.

When the movement of lymph through the body becomes impaired, it will leak out of the lymphatic capillaries and cause the surrounding tissues to swell. This condition is called lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when the amount of lymph fluid in the body exceeds the body's ability to transport it. This causes the lymph fluid to accumulate in the tissues, where it causes swelling, particularly of the arms and legs.

There are two types of lymphedema. Doctors don't know what causes Primary Lymphedema, but it can be present at birth, or can develop later on in life. Fortunately, this condition is rare. Secondary Lymphedema is a condition that is not often talked about, but often affects individuals who have undergone surgery, such as cancer surgery where lymph nodes are commonly removed. It can also affect individuals who have undergone radiation therapy, which can damage lymph nodes and cause scar tissue to form ultimately interfering with the flow of lymph. It can also be experienced by individuals who have experienced a severe trauma or infection.

In the initial stages of this chronic condition, Lymphedema often begins with swelling in a hand or foot, particularly the one closest to where the surgery has occurred or radiation therapy has taken place. If left unchecked, the protein-rich lymph can continue to accumulate, leading to increased swelling and a hardening of the tissues. This increases your risk of developing an infection or may interfere or impair the function of the limb.

Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body. If you experience persistent or recurring swelling anywhere in your body, it is important to seek medical advice. Early intervention with this disorder greatly improves the long term outcome of the disease's progression.

Recommendations For Wellness

�Avoid rigorous, repetitive movements or heavy lifting.

�Women, if your arm is affected, get rid of extra 50 lbs that you carry over your shoulder and trade it in for a purse that has hand straps.

�If your arm or leg starts to ache, lie down and elevate it.

�Wear loose fitting clothes, jewelry, socks and undergarments that may restrict lymphatic flow.

�Wear a compression sleeve or stocking on the affected limb.

�Keep your "at risk" limb clean and avoid activities that may irritate or damage the skin. Careful skin care may reduce the risk of lymphedema by helping you to avoid infection.

�Massage, particularly lymphatic massage has been shown to help increase lymph drainage. You can do this yourself or work with a qualified massage therapist who has been specially trained in how to perform manual lymph drainage techniques.

�Begin a gentle exercise program. Exercise and muscle movement can help drain lymph fluid. (Consult with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program).

�Drink plenty of water. Water is critical for proper lymph drainage.

�Echinacea has a long history of improving lymph filtration and drainage.

�Garlic is known for being able to stimulate the lymph system to throw off waste materials.

�Oregon grape can be used to help reduce the inflammation of the lymphatic system and works to help cleanse the lymph.

�Poke Root has been known to help stimulate the body and aid its ability to remove waste materials that may be trapped in the tissues. It can also help improve the elasticity of tissues that may have experienced hardening due to congestion.

�Burdock, red clover and mullein are known to thin lymph fluid and enhance lymphatic drainage.

�Herbal combinations such as Nature's Sunshine's Lymphatic Drainage, Lymphomax or Lymphostim are designed to stimulate the immune system, fight infections and support the lymphatic system.


© Copyright Body, Mind & SoulHealer 2004. All rights reserved.
Dr. Rita Louise, PhD is a Naturopathic Physician and a 20-year veteran in the Human Potential Field. Author of the book "Avoiding the Cosmic 2x4", Dr. Rita Louise, Ph.D. a can help you identify what is really going on and provide you with straightforward guidance and advice. She can be reached by calling 972-475-3393 or visiting her website at http://www.soulhealer.com.

INFIDELITY ADVICE: How Gifts Can Expose Your Cheating

by Ruth Houston © 2004

INFIDELITY ADVICE: How Gifts Can Expose Your Cheating Husband

by Ruth Houston © 2004

Beverley was ecstatic when she discovered a box containing a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gold bracelet she'd been admiring at her favorite jewelry store. Thinking it was a surprise gift from her husband, Beverley said nothing about what she'd found. But the box soon disappeared. Several weeks later, at her health club, Beverley saw a woman wearing a bracelet exactly like the one she'd seen in the box. After making some discreet inquiries, and finding several telltale signs to corroborate her suspicions, Beverley learned that her husband and this woman were having an affair.

A cheating husband can often be exposed by the gifts he gives or receives. The wife who knows what to look for and where to look can usually find tangible evidence of her husband's infidelity.

Laura found a gift box containing a sexy negligee in the trunk of her husband's car. He then tried to convince Laura the salesclerk had mistakenly put the wrong size in the box. Since Laura had already found other telltale signs of a possible affair, his excuses fell on deaf ears.

The exchange of gifts between lovers can be your cheating husband's undoing. It can confirm your suspicions and provide you with proof that your husband is having an affair.

While going through her husband's pockets before dropping off his clothes at the cleaners, Susan discovered a jewelry store receipt for 2 identical pairs of earrings. Her husband had given her a pair of gold earrings for her birthday last week. But who had he given the other pair?

Whether your husband pays for his lover's gifts by cash, check, or credit card, there will usually be a paper trail. The type of gift or the amount of money it cost can also indicate an extramarital affair. If you suspect your husband of infidelity, be alert for the following gift-related telltale signs:

�Suspicious withdrawals from checking or savings accounts

�Unusual or unexplained ATM withdrawals.

�Credit card bills with unusual charges made at jewelry stores, boutiques, or women's specialty stores.

�Receipts for gift items that you didn't personally receive.

�Receipts or charge slips for two identical gift items.

�Hidden gifts obviously intended for someone other than you - too large or small for you, a color or style he knows you'd never wear, gifts with another woman's name attached.

�Giving gifts of an extremely personal nature to or from another woman.

�Receiving gifts of a personal nature from another woman

�Giving a disproportionately expensive gift to a woman who is supposedly a casual friend or business acquaintance.

�Receiving a very expensive gift from any female other than yourself or a family member.

Gifts are just one of the 21 categories of telltale signs which can expose a cheating husband. (visit http://www.IsHeCheatingOnYou.com to see a detailed list with descriptions of the 21 categories of telltale signs) "Is He Cheating On You? - 829 Telltale Signs lists dozens of other cheating signs. To find them, all you need are your eyes and ears, your personal knowledge of your husband, and the information contained in the book.

If your husband is giving gifts to other women and receiving gifts in return, your marriage could be in serious jeopardy -- especially if you find other telltale signs. The future of your marriage may depend on your ability to recognize the signs of infidelity in time.

© Ruth Houston All rights reserved.

NOTE: The information in this article is condensed from a longer article which appears at www.IsHeCheatingOnYou.com


About the Author: Ruth Houston is the author of "Is He Cheating on You? - 829 Telltale Signs." For more information about the book or to sign up for the free Infidelity Newsletter visit http://www.IsHeCheatingOnYou.com or send an e-mail to CheatingSigns@aol.com.


40 Days and 40 Nights in the Wilderness with Venus
Nancy R. Fenn

Venus, the planet, goes retrograde (backwards) less frequently than Mercury, about every 18 months, and lasts 40 days. Because it is less frequent, it is more difficult to understand and wreaks more havoc than a Mercury retrograde. Mercury affects communication. Venus affects possessions, relationships, women's issues and most of all values. Venus asks, "What is it that you really value?"

Many astrologers also believe that Venus affects the stock market. The next Venus retrograde period begins May 17, 2004. Also check back to October 10, 2002 to see what was happening in your life during the last Venus retrograde so you can draw some conclusions as to how you handle these transits.

A client wrote me during an earlier Venus Retrograde: "I've been reading your eZines and wondering what the 'difficult time' we are all having is. Then, I experienced it with a deep, fast plunge to the bottom complete with a few extra bumps to round out the full force of impact. Whew! I haven't been down here in awhile. "

A student in my ongoing Tuesday night astrology class wanted to know, "How can a dinky little inner planet like Venus cause so much trouble?"

Well, these are very good questions.

The answer is partly imbedded in the relationship of the planet Venus to the esoteric properties of the Number 5. Let's take a closer look at this planet, Venus and the Number 5!

The physical planet of Venus (in the sky tonight) is a strange amalgam. Named after the Roman Goddess of Love, nonetheless, she is surrounded by such a noxious yellow atmosphere that life is impossible (permanent greenhouse effect). It doesn't surprise us, then, to know that the Roman goddess herself had several epithets. One of them was "Venus of the Sewers". Venus also rules venereal disease.

The ancient Aztecs had a Venutian goddess who walked the earth as a man for the 40 days of the retrograde cycle. The warlike Aztecs declared war when Venus went retrograde.

These are some of our clues as to what lies beneath the surface of a Venus retrograde transit and why it can be so disruptive on a very personal level.

In transit, Venus goes retrograde five times over a period of eight years, coming back to the same sign in which she started at the end of five 584-day cycles (or eight years). This is Venus' cycle to herself. She is working her way in stations back through the zodiac, 2 to 3 degrees earlier in each sign, each time.

The stations of Venus form a quintile (five-ish) pattern against the backdrop of the zodiac. A diagram of Venus stations across a horoscope actually makes an image like a pentagram.

The quintile aspect reminds us of the other quin in astrology -- the quincunx aspect (signs that are 5 houses before and after one another). As every astrologer worth her salt knows, the quincunx is the most difficult aspect of all to reconcile within an individual's chart (psyche). It is also very difficult to "read" in a chart other than saying there are "irreconcilable differences". There are certainly good ways for the professional to interpret this aspect but that isn't within the scope of this article.

For a good grip on the qualities of the Number 5, take a look at the "fives" in the Tarot deck. The Fives are ruled by the Major Arcana V, The Hierophant, the Teacher of Hard Life Lessons.

One of the meanings expressed by the Hierophant is that apparently there are some things in life that can only be learned in the School of Hard Knocks. People with a #5 Birth Force learn through doing not by reading books or listening to lectures.

Five is also known mystically as the "Number of Man". It represents the ability of man to understand things of an esoteric nature and is most familiarly represented in the drawing of Leonard DaVinci showing a male figure with arms and legs spread against a circular background. I remember seeing a very dramatic presentation of Marlowe's Faust in San Diego where this figure was cast in stagelights across the floor of the Dr. Faust's study as the curtain opened and Our Hero"Everyman/Faust began his mythical struggle with his own nature.

There is a good book written for professional astrologers about retrograde cycles, including Venus Retrograde, called "Retrograde Planets" by Erin Sullivan, published by Penguin Books in 1992 which explains the basic characteristics of Venus as she "turns her back" on us. The effects of this transit are among the most difficult to predict (and describe) perhaps because it is one of the very most unique and personal to each individual. This makes generalities very difficult.

Here are some examples of things that have happened to real clients of mine during Venus retrograde transits in the past.

Retrograde Venus through the 1st house:
�widow moves out of 5,000 sq ft home to downsized residence and begins to realize that house and relationship were prisons and that she is well rid of both;
�elderly woman resolves long standing issue with IRS who removes lien on her house and frees up her CD.

Retrograde Venus through the 2nd house:
�husband gets self and wife new cell phone numbers after five years with the old ones (?)

Retrograde Venus through the 3rd house:
�walls close in on man as he realizes he might lose his wife, mistress and home, all in the same month!

Retrograde Venus through the 4th house:
�Consultant breaks up with woman 15 years older, moves to another city to start over with a woman 15 years younger;
�heiress' brother announces divorce, completely upsetting family power structure;
�married boyfriend goes back to his wife with no explanation;
�woman vacillates between declaring BK, selling house and selling heirloom family jewelry

Retrograde Venus through the 5th house:
�middle aged woman comes to terms with death of mother and estrangement from brother, releasing her own intense creativity

Retrograde Venus through the 6th house:
�obsessive love for a younger man triggers long repressed memories of tragic first love in manicurist;
�boyfriend who is in the Diplomatic Corps leaves for South America for a year, triggering deep depression and abandonment issues in young girlfriend

Retrograde Venus through the 7th house:
�PhD candidate stops studies when his girlfriend is almost killed by a hit-and-run driver and hover for weeks between life and death

Retrograde Venus through the 8th house:
�husband of college professor suddenly offered opportunity for work as interpreter with a government "provider" believed to be involved in undercover work in a foreign country if he will leave with two days' notice and without knowledge of exactly where he is going

Retrograde Venus through the 9th house:
�young housewife with 2 year old baby joins metaphysics class and finds terrific outlet for her social nature and brilliant mind

Retrograde Venus through the 10th house:
�young man has Tarot card reading, discovers reasons behind many of the mysteries from his painful past

Retrograde Venus through the 11th house
�gifted intuitive artist attends Jonathan Edwards demonstration and has experience afterwards that convinces her she is going completely mad

Retrograde Venus through the 12th house:
�elderly woman seriously considers selling her home (which is free and clear) to get really free and clear!

As you can see, many of these events have to do with the areas of life which are ruled by Venus, possessions and desires.

Another mystical thing about Venus Retrograde is that the cycle lasts for 40 days. It is as if we all wander in the wilderness with our Christlike selves, and return with greater conviction about who we are and greater dedication to our selves and our purpose, some through the act of denying temptation.

During this cycle, the creative and the destructive are so closely interacting with one another it may be hard to tell the difference as ridiculous as this sounds. Feedback from trusted friends or a professional astrologer can help if you think you might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

During a retrograde cycle, you may have no idea which end is up. But by the end of the cycle, a New Order is revealed, and order forms out of chaos. Venus retrogrades are intensely introspective and even anti-social transits that bring forth great bursts of personal creativity when complete. This is the kind of creativity which produces an art, the palette of which is life itself.

Nancy R. Fenn is a professional astrologer in the San Diego area.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"I Love Florence in the Springtime"

Sarah Anne Polsinelli

Shortly after landing in Rome's Fiumicino airport, it will hit you like a ton of cobblestones: You're in Italy.

Simply being in Italy is surreal. Walking around, the images that you've seen in photos and films literally come to life. The sites and people aren't extremely extravagant, but there is an abiding sensation that you are in a different world.

Last year around this time, York Italian literature professor Elio Costa told me about the annual trip organized by the Italian department.

"But it's too expensive," I thought immediately. I had been to Italy once before and three weeks of memorable travelling left me with serious credit card debt. Professor Costa told me to look into some bursaries and I did. When I was granted $1,500 in financial support, I started to stock up on film.

You land in Rome and take a coach to Florence, where you'll spend three weeks, staying at Instituto Gould, a hostel-like place that gives proceeds to needy children and orphans.

You'll have class from 9-11:30am, Monday to Friday, but calling it "class" doesn't do it justice, since most of these "classes" are walking tours of a city. The rest of the day is leisure time, as are the weekends (during which you can take a train to nearby Siena and to many other towns that border Florence). The three weeks spent in Florence will fly by, and you can spend the following three weeks in Italy's capital - and my favourite city - Rome.

Florence differs from Rome because in Florence, everything is within walking distance.
You will walk to everywhere - restaurants, churches, nightclubs, even trendy outdoor discotheques in the north riverbank Le Cascine district (walking there was easy, butwalking home in stilettos wasn't). We learned an important lesson walking alongside the Arno one night. Just a few feet away from us, over the river, colonies of pippistrelle, (or bats, which are pretty common in Italy) decided to give us some unexpected company. The bats were bold, generally flying within a few feet of us, and in large clusters. Every once in a while a single bat would swoop down and come face-to-face with us, startling us with its bravado. There are, I noticed, some striking similarities between Italian bats and Italian men.

But even if you opt for a cab, don't expect them to be readily available. Taxis in Italy don't speed around the city looking for passengers and if you happen to find one and flag it down, consider yourself lucky. Walking back to the hotel one night, strolling arm-in-arm with some friends, we noticed a police car stopped alongside the river.

"Let's ask them for a ride home!" suggested one of the girls. (For those of you that have never been to Italy, all of the police officers are young and gorgeous.)
So we approached the car and with big smiles plastered across our faces, tapped on the window. Our faces dropped when they rolled the windows down and we spied what they were doing in the privacy of their police car: Reading Italian comic books (we did not get a ride home).

It's hard to spend six weeks in Italy and not have dozens of adventure stories to come home with. Every day is filled with adventure: For instance, finding a cold drink.
On one occasion, I was at a train station and, seeking a thirst-quencher from the sweltering Italian sun, deposited 2 � (about $3) in a vending machine for what turned out to be a lukewarm can of Nestea. Determined not to dehydrate, I popped another coin into the machine and got yet another can of warm iced tea. A stranger that witnessed the disheartening event leaned over to say, "E normale" ("It's normal"). Ironically, nothing is normal in Italy - especially not in Florence.

Even though Florence, along with other Greco-Roman cities, was a sort of blueprint for Western civilization, it's difficult for North Americans to relate to the Florentine lifestyle. Italians linger over lunch, they rarely watch television and they never talk about money.

So why do tourists flock there? It might be the aesthetic appeal. Along with the handsome police officers, the city is an open-air art museum. The city is full of massive architectural marvels, museums, hundreds of intricately designed churches, not to mention the hand carved beauty that can be found on every street corner.

With street names like Via delle Belle Donne (Beautiful Women Street), one has to wonder how even the seemingly mundane details of this city are infused with loveliness.

The streets themselves are lovely. Designer boutiques like Gucci, Ferragamo and Prada line the extravagant Via de' Tornabuoni, a higher end stretch of shops ideal for window shopping. You'll get lost in San Lorenzo's outdoor market, rich with colourful merchants who will get on their knees and beg you (I'm serious) to try on their goods. You'll marvel at the glittery jewelry stores along the historic Ponte Vecchio, one of the many cobblestone bridges that cross the Arno.

But since Italy and Italian cuisine are so inextricably linked, I have to say that Florentine cuisine is probably the best and simplest cuisine that exists, using basic, fresh ingredients, most of which are grilled (alla Fiorentina) to perfection. If you decide to eat in some of the more touristy areas (in any of the major piazze, or town squares) you'll pay double, maybe triple, the cost of what a Florentine citizen would pay. San Lorenzo has some great, reasonably-priced restaurants and of course there are hundreds of cafes, bars and pubs. The pizza - in almost every pizza place - is mouth-watering.

And the gelato? Oh, the gelato ... It is suffice to say that La Paloma and other gelaterie that are scattered around Toronto simply pale in comparison to what Florence has to offer. But since I am not a talented enough writer to do it justice with words, the gelato mention here will be minimal.

Florence is ineffable, and with obvious bias aside, full of love. Yet, in the midst of all of this tangible beauty (including 60 per cent of UNESCO World Heritage Sites) many North Americans are disappointed with their travels to Italy.

"Because [North] Americans go all over the world," explains professor Costa, "and they expect the world to be a copy of the United States. They want to travel the world and have everyone speak English and serve you hot dogs in the street."

After completing our course in Florence, my friend Mariangela Tagliabue (a third-year Italian major) and I spent the next three weeks of our trip travelling along the Northern part of Italy, but first spent four days in Rome, la citt� eterna, ("the Eternal City"). Rome is much bigger than Florence, so most of our getting to-and-fro was spent squished into the backseat of tiny little cars, careening dangerously around a city where streets have no lanes and traffic lights are purely decorative.

While in Rome, Mariangela and I had the opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II. We sat through an outdoor mass in St. Peter's square, just four rows away from the now-ailing Pope, and when the mass was over we were ushered into a lineup of people for a brief encounter with him. We weren't prepared to meet him and quickly turned to the person behind us and asked what we should say to him. What, after all, do you say to the Pope?

The man, stifling laughter, gave us a formal phrase to repeat: "Sua Santita, prega per noi" ("His holiness, pray for us"). As we were approaching, the Pope was wearing red velvet slip-on shoes. When it was our turn, one of the Pope's aides that stood alongside him signalled us to approach quickly and kneel before him. Mariangela promptly stepped forward, but I stood just a few feet before him, transfixed by the majesty of this man, clothed in ornate robes and much larger than I had expected him to be.

Kneeling before him, a small cluster of papparazzi stood alongside us, snapping photos. In between all of the camera flashes and noise and the Pope's aides surrounding us, we were face to face with one of the most famous men in the world.

We were frozen. We held his soft hands (I actually wondered what kind of moisturizer he used, and whether or not he applied it himself) and he cupped our cheeks. We mumbled the ceremonial saying, unmoving. But when our time was up and his aide took my arm, I quickly added something that I knew my boyfriend would appreciate: "Luigi says hi!"

If not for the pictures, I doubt anyone would believe us.

Student writer, professional daydreamer. Go to www.pumpkin-face.com for a complete list of articles.

Planning Starts with the Basics
Jonathan Citrin

When developing a plan for your finances, the toughest question often is: "Where do I begin?" Before investing in stocks and bonds or buying life insurance, before implementing any change or making any decisions, you first need to analyze and understand your entire financial picture. Two documents allow you to do just that. A Balance Sheet and a Cash Flow Statement enable you to take an in-depth look at your current financial situation and make better decisions about the future. With a little work, you can develop these two tools and be on your way to a solid plan for your finances.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of your personal finances at one point in time. It contains two main elements: what you own (assets), and what you owe (liabilities). Your net worth is expressed as: Net Worth = Assets - Liabilities. That is, what you own minus what you owe.

A balance sheet clearly lists all assets and liabilities. Examples of assets include: house, investments such as stocks and bonds, savings and checking accounts, 401(k), IRAs, business interests, artwork, and jewelry, among others. Liabilities include mortgage balances, credit cards, education loans, and any other debt. Once you have created a list of everything you own and everything you owe, simply subtract the sum of the assets from the sum of the liabilities- this is your net worth.

The ultimate goal of most investors is to increase their net worth. The balance sheet is a very useful tool to identify strengths and weaknesses in your current finances, as well as to determine your goals for the future. Someone with a disproportionate amount of liabilities might set a goal to eliminate this debt. On the other hand, someone with a positive net worth (more assets than liabilities) might plan to save and invest towards retirement, college, or another goal.

Cash Flow Statement

After analyzing your balance sheet and determining your goals, you need to decide how to fund these goals. A well formulated plan is one not only with realistic goals, but also a sensible means of achieving them. That is, having goals is good, but you must be able to pay for them. Using a cash flow statement will enable you to determine how to pay for your goals.

A cash flow statement is a detailed look at all money coming in and going out over a period of time. It illustrates what you earn (revenue) and what you spend (expenses). Your net cash flow is expressed as: Net Cash Flow = Revenue - Expenses. That is, what you earn minus what you spend.

Some examples of revenue include: salary and wages, self-employment earnings, dividends, interest, and other investment income. Expenses may include: mortgage payments, rent payments, insurance costs, utilities, clothing, food, child care, alimony or child support, travel, entertainment, loan payments, education costs, taxes, charitable contributions, gifts, and gasoline. After listing all you earn and everything you spend, you can calculate your net cash flow by simply subtracting expenses from revenue.

By analyzing your cash flow statement, you can more easily cut expenses and identify excess net cash to use towards your goals. Generally, someone with negative net cash flow should first concentrate on cutting expenses to achieve positive cash flow before attempting to save or invest towards any future goals. Once positive net cash flow is achieved, excess money can be used directly for funding and achieving your goals.

In developing a balance sheet and a cash flow statement, it is important to remember one general rule-of-thumb- Quality in - Quality out. The more detail and care you put into your planning documents, the more effective they will be. A plan is only as good as the effort you put forth when creating it.

About The Author: Jonathan Citrin provides financial goal planning services. Go to http://articles.citringroup.com for hundreds of educational articles about Personal Finance, Retirement Planning, Investment Planning, and College Savings.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Gold Jewelry: the ultimate adornment for style, beauty and class

Angela Davis

Gold jewelry can never go out of style. It can look good on almost everyone. It is the ultimate amalgamation of classic beauty, wealth and style.

The value of gold jewelry depends not only upon the style or the designer who has designed it, but most importantly it is dependent upon the quality of gold used to make the gold jewelry. The quality of gold in the gold jewelry is determined by its percentage or by the karat. The higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of gold in your gold jewelry. The various karat numbers are 24K, 18K, 14K, 12K and 10K - 24K is pure gold.

Gold jewelry is also available in various forms. In some cases it is plated with gold, in some it is filled with gold and in some others the gold jewelry is made of pure gold. Gold by itself is very soft and isn't practical for daily wear which is why it has to be mixed with other additional metals to give it tensile strength such that it can be molded into various designs. Other metals are mixed with it to make it more durable (and to lower its cost).

Adding other metals to the mix also allows metallurgists to change the color of gold. Palladium or nickel can be added to create white gold. Adding copper produces a rose or pink tint, while silver gives gold a greenish cast. If you want jewelry which can be worn regularly then it is wise to get it made out of solid gold (Solid gold is a term that can be used to describe an item that's at least 10K (in the US) gold all the way through. Even though it's a gold alloy--18K, 14K, or anything down to 10K--it can be called solid gold.).

Gold has in a way always stood as a symbol for wealth, prestige and power. Through times immemorial gold jewelry has been the ultimate ornamentation for kings, queens and noblemen. At one point of time, gold jewelry was also seen as a status symbol and was not meant for the common man. It still is looked upon as a status symbol since not every one can afford gold jewelry. However because of the numerous forms in which gold jewelry is available to day (such as plated gold, gold filled, gold coated jewelry or gold jewelry of a lower karat), it can now be easily bought by anyone.

Gold jewelry does not entail very big or intricate designs, it can even be quite small simple and delicate. How so ever a piece of jewelry maybe, it immediately stands out. There is a timeless classic appeal surrounding it which can never go out of fashion. Gold jewelry is not only something which you can buy for yourself or as a gift to someone you love; you can also buy gold jewelry to keep as an asset. The value of gold jewelry does not depreciate, it only appreciates with time. It can prove to be a very valuable investment.

Gold jewelry is the timeless classic statement of personal style, beauty and sophisticated elegance.


Looking for information about Jewelry?
Go to: http://www.merryjewelry.com
'Merry Jewelry' is published by Angela Davis -
The Complete Jewelry Resource Directory
Check out more Jewelry articles at: http://www.merryjewelry.com/archive

Wholesale Jewelry Trade Secrets #1
Eugenia Bivines

The #1 trade secret that jewelry stores don't want you to know is that the
weight of the gold in gold jewelry makes up the majority of its cost.
This rule applies to all precious metal jewelry, including silver and platinum.
In the US, jewelry is weighed in grams. Some jewelry stores display the
actual weight of each piece, while others do not.

Why don't some jewelry stores want you to know the actual weight?
Because the easiest way to make gold jewelry cheaper is to use less
gold and make it lighter. The main problem with using less gold is that
the jewelry will usually be weaker and more likely to bend.
Some jewelry stores that do not display the weight say that "fine jewelry"
is not sold by the weight. Jewelry stores are not supermarkets, right?

How can this secret help you to make better decisions buying jewelry?
Whenever you are shopping for precious metal jewelry, the first thing you
should figure out is the price per gram. The average price per gram that
we have found at the mall is $28 per gram for 14k gold, $36 per gram for
18k gold, $3 per gram for silver, and $75 per gram for platinum.

Knowing the price per gram will help you compare apples to apples.
It is easy to compare prices for two gold bracelets if they are the same weight,
style, and quality. But this is hardly the case.

Most jewelry stores have very similar items that differ greatly by weight and
price. So in order to compare apples to apples, you must find the price per

gram at each store. As long as the quality and style are similar, the store with

the lower price per gram is always a better value. By negotiating with a sales

person based on price per gram, the sales person will know that you are a

knowledgeable jewelry buyer that cannot be duped.

The price per gram concept also applies to diamonds. All diamonds over $1000 should

come with a GIA certificate rating. When comparing two diamonds of the same rating,

the lower price is always a better value.

Trade Secret #1 Summary
[X] Weight of jewelry determines value
[X] Retailers purchase precious metal jewelry priced per gram, so should you.
[X] In order to compare apples to apples, always figure out the price per gram



Eugenia Bivines, MO USA
Publishing information to help increase your bottom line by
way of free resources.

Native American Indian Art Wood Carvings of the Pacific Northwest




Jewelry has been around nearly as long as human beings. The ability to trace the history of jewelry is due primarily to the custom, beginning with the earliest peoples, of burying the dead with their most valuable possessions. As far back as the Old Stone Age, people made and wore jewelry. Using their primitive tools, they fashioned necklaces of bones, animal teeth, pebbles, feathers, shells and leather. Although some were probably worn as adornments, others may have been worn to ward off dangers, evil spirits or sickness. Jewelry made of gold and silver is believed to have made its first appearance with the ancient Egyptians. Gold was used because of its warm, glowing color and its ease to work, being relatively soft and pliable.

The Egyptians were among the first to use precious stones in their jewelry using turquoise and lapis lazuli. Many tomb paintings show Egyptians wearing bracelets, brooches, headdresses, pendants and rings made of gold, silver and precious gemstones. Ancient Greek jewelry is noted for its elegance and grace. Many designs were used, but their specialty were adornments made from gold filigree of wire openwork in the naturalistic shapes of flowers, leaves and animals. Likewise, the Romans loved jewelry. As a means to show social status and wealth, rings made of gold, jet, and other materials were worn by both sexes. Sometimes many rings were worn on the same finger just as many people do today.

During the Middle Ages, styles and income levels rather discouraged the wearing of most jewelry. Brooches, however, became an important part of the wardrobe since they were practical in holding up tunics and cloaks. During this period rings were commonly worn by every social class. Rings were made of iron, copper, silver or gold with the metal often denoting the wearer's social standing.

During the Renaissance period more skin was shown with the new fashions and consequently more jewelry was worn. It was during this period that jewelry making truly became an art. Many Italian sculptors trained as goldsmiths and created stunning ornaments. Necklaces began to appear in large numbers and were worn by both sexes. Men's necklaces tended to be more like chains, while women's were more complicated with twists and beads added. It was the Elizabethan era where pearls became the rage. Earrings made their first appearance in Europe, where the most common were single pearl drops worn with a simple matching pearl choker.

The Georgian period of jewelry production began during the years when Great Britain was ruled by the four Georges, thus the name. The Georgian period encompassed most of the eighteenth century and into the first part of the nineteenth, through the American and French revolutions, and the development of a distinctive British identity after the Napoleonic Wars. Jewelry of the period was entirely handmade and consequently quite individualistic. Both men and women wore heavy, richly-jeweled chains, rings, shoe buckles, and hair ornaments, buttons and brooches. Gemstones were sewn onto clothing in an ostentatious display of wealth. Jewelry settings were designed to display the color and sparkle of the gemstones, particularly diamonds. The primary theme of the period was inspired by nature, including flowers, leafs, insects, birds and feathers.

The art of jewelry-making was refined during the Victorian period in Europe, and exquisite pieces such as lockets and cameos made their first appearance. Jewelry was being worn by nearly everyone by the middle of the nineteenth century. But, instead of being individually crafted, quality pieces could be stamped out and molded. Rather than unique pieces, jewelry could be created to a standard that was able to be duplicated. The new affordability brought quality jewelry to the middle-class consumer for the first time. Platinum came onto the jewelry scene at the end of the 20th century. During the early 20th century, industrialization, increasing job opportunities and rising family incomes brought jewelry within reach of the middle class. Large scale firms, created by jewelers such as Carl Faberge and Louis Tiffany achieved great success and amassed great wealth by making fine pieces for the newly wealthy.

The Roaring Twenties has been portrayed as a decadent era: the time of prohibition, gangsters, speakeasies and the Charleston. Women won the right to vote in 1920, and they asserted their new equality with radical fashion changes. Long dangling earrings, long strands of pearls or beads, diamond watches cocktail rings, and multiple bracelets on both upper and lower arms became rage. Platinum and precious stones, particularly diamonds, were wildly popular during this Art Deco period.

The Thirties were a decade of economic depression, both in the U.S. and Europe, and the Forties brought World War II. It was in the 1940's that flamboyant curves and bows in large pieces of jewelry became known as Retro Modern. Yellow gold regained prominence during these years, since wartime restrictions made platinum unavailable to the industry. Semi-precious stones and man-made rubies and sapphires became more popular due to the high wartime luxury taxes. Cocktail rings, bracelets, watches and necklaces were massive. Many of today's consumers would consider this style to be quite gaudy and flashy.

Platinum made an enormous comeback in the early 1990's and such pieces as the tennis bracelet and the diamond solitaire pendant made their first appearance at this time. Men began to wear bracelets, necklaces and even earrings in larger numbers as the Twentieth century drew to a close.

Today, jewelry is increasingly worn by both men and women. From bracelets and toe rings, to necklaces and tongue studs, jewelry continues to be a popular adornment for the human race and most body parts have been pierced to allow for the wearing of such.
Jewelry--All That Glitters Can Be Gold (A Brief History of Jewelry)
Larry Denton



Jewelry has been around nearly as long as human beings. The ability to trace the history of jewelry is due primarily to the custom, beginning with the earliest peoples, of burying the dead with their most valuable possessions. As far back as the Old Stone Age, people made and wore jewelry. Using their primitive tools, they fashioned necklaces of bones, animal teeth, pebbles, feathers, shells and leather. Although some were probably worn as adornments, others may have been worn to ward off dangers, evil spirits or sickness. Jewelry made of gold and silver is believed to have made its first appearance with the ancient Egyptians. Gold was used because of its warm, glowing color and its ease to work, being relatively soft and pliable.

The Egyptians were among the first to use precious stones in their jewelry using turquoise and lapis lazuli. Many tomb paintings show Egyptians wearing bracelets, brooches, headdresses, pendants and rings made of gold, silver and precious gemstones. Ancient Greek jewelry is noted for its elegance and grace. Many designs were used, but their specialty were adornments made from gold filigree of wire openwork in the naturalistic shapes of flowers, leaves and animals. Likewise, the Romans loved jewelry. As a means to show social status and wealth, rings made of gold, jet, and other materials were worn by both sexes. Sometimes many rings were worn on the same finger just as many people do today.

During the Middle Ages, styles and income levels rather discouraged the wearing of most jewelry. Brooches, however, became an important part of the wardrobe since they were practical in holding up tunics and cloaks. During this period rings were commonly worn by every social class. Rings were made of iron, copper, silver or gold with the metal often denoting the wearer's social standing.

During the Renaissance period more skin was shown with the new fashions and consequently more jewelry was worn. It was during this period that jewelry making truly became an art. Many Italian sculptors trained as goldsmiths and created stunning ornaments. Necklaces began to appear in large numbers and were worn by both sexes. Men's necklaces tended to be more like chains, while women's were more complicated with twists and beads added. It was the Elizabethan era where pearls became the rage. Earrings made their first appearance in Europe, where the most common were single pearl drops worn with a simple matching pearl choker.

The Georgian period of jewelry production began during the years when Great Britain was ruled by the four Georges, thus the name. The Georgian period encompassed most of the eighteenth century and into the first part of the nineteenth, through the American and French revolutions, and the development of a distinctive British identity after the Napoleonic Wars. Jewelry of the period was entirely handmade and consequently quite individualistic. Both men and women wore heavy, richly-jeweled chains, rings, shoe buckles, and hair ornaments, buttons and brooches. Gemstones were sewn onto clothing in an ostentatious display of wealth. Jewelry settings were designed to display the color and sparkle of the gemstones, particularly diamonds. The primary theme of the period was inspired by nature, including flowers, leafs, insects, birds and feathers.

The art of jewelry-making was refined during the Victorian period in Europe, and exquisite pieces such as lockets and cameos made their first appearance. Jewelry was being worn by nearly everyone by the middle of the nineteenth century. But, instead of being individually crafted, quality pieces could be stamped out and molded. Rather than unique pieces, jewelry could be created to a standard that was able to be duplicated. The new affordability brought quality jewelry to the middle-class consumer for the first time. Platinum came onto the jewelry scene at the end of the 20th century. During the early 20th century, industrialization, increasing job opportunities and rising family incomes brought jewelry within reach of the middle class. Large scale firms, created by jewelers such as Carl Faberge and Louis Tiffany achieved great success and amassed great wealth by making fine pieces for the newly wealthy.

The Roaring Twenties has been portrayed as a decadent era: the time of prohibition, gangsters, speakeasies and the Charleston. Women won the right to vote in 1920, and they asserted their new equality with radical fashion changes. Long dangling earrings, long strands of pearls or beads, diamond watches cocktail rings, and multiple bracelets on both upper and lower arms became rage. Platinum and precious stones, particularly diamonds, were wildly popular during this Art Deco period.

The Thirties were a decade of economic depression, both in the U.S. and Europe, and the Forties brought World War II. It was in the 1940's that flamboyant curves and bows in large pieces of jewelry became known as Retro Modern. Yellow gold regained prominence during these years, since wartime restrictions made platinum unavailable to the industry. Semi-precious stones and man-made rubies and sapphires became more popular due to the high wartime luxury taxes. Cocktail rings, bracelets, watches and necklaces were massive. Many of today's consumers would consider this style to be quite gaudy and flashy.

Platinum made an enormous comeback in the early 1990's and such pieces as the tennis bracelet and the diamond solitaire pendant made their first appearance at this time. Men began to wear bracelets, necklaces and even earrings in larger numbers as the Twentieth century drew to a close.

Today, jewelry is increasingly worn by both men and women. From bracelets and toe rings, to necklaces and tongue studs, jewelry continues to be a popular adornment for the human race and most body parts have been pierced to allow for the wearing of such.

Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business dedicated to providing valuable and accurate information and resources on a variety of topics. For a treasure chest full of additional information about jewelry please visit http://www.JewelryJaunt.com

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Staying safe from crime


Artists, craftspeople and photographers are successfully selling their wares everyday on the online auction site, eBay. According to a recent analysis of eBay sales, a crafts-related item is sold every nine seconds, a scrapbook item is sold every minute, and 40 cross-stitch items sell in an hour on eBay. Sales of craft items on eBay have grown almost 60 percent in the past year, according to TheBidFloor.com.
But, at the same time, many would be sellers are listing their pieces for sale on auctions and getting no bids, concluding that eBay just doesn't work.
Here are some tips from James Dillehay, craft artist, eBay seller and author of the new book, "Sell Your Crafts on eBay" (Warm Snow Publishers), on how to profitably sell your wares online:
1. A word's spelling impacts an item's profitability. For example, the word 'handmade,' spelled as one word, was part of 2,233 auction titles with an average closing price of $16.29. However, auction titles that included 'hand made' as two words were found in 1,358 listings, but with an average auction closing price higher, at $27.81, or $11.52 more profit per item.
2. Go to eBay.com and find the search box. Type in the word or phrase that describes your art or craft item. Then scroll down the links on the left side of the page and click on the link for "completed items." Here, you'll be able to see the demand for this type of product. Do searches for your items every two to three weeks
to chart buying patterns.
3. Find out how much people are willing to pay for your wares. Click on the link that says "highest price." This will give you a list of completed auctions from highest priced items to lowest priced ones. You want to know what people are willing to pay for items like yours. If you can't make and sell your product for a profit, eBay might not be your marketplace.
4. Determine how much money you'll make on your product. To determine your profitability, use the cost of your materials plus the cost of your labor plus the cost of your selling price, which should be the minimum price to recover your expenses. If it takes you eight hours to make a piece of jewelry and the highest priced similar item sells on eBay for $26, you won't make a profit.
5. Look at the elements of successful sellers of products that are similar to yours. Examine their winning auction titles. Observe how much detail they use to describe their item. See if the seller used any of eBay's special features such as gallery photos or a bold, featured listing. Evaluate the starting price, starting day of the week, and duration of winning auctions.
For more tips on how to sell your craft items on eBay, consult a resource book like "Sell Your Crafts on eBay," by James Dillehay. It offers-more than 200 easy-to-learn tactics and tips that help sell art, craft and theme-related items for a profit on eBay and on other online auction Web sites.

How to Sell Your Crafts on eBay
James Dillehay

Artists, craftspeople and photographers are successfully selling their wares everyday on the online auction site, eBay. According to a recent analysis of eBay sales, a crafts-related item is sold every nine seconds, a scrapbook item is sold every minute, and 40 cross-stitch items sell in an hour on eBay. Sales of craft items on eBay have grown almost 60 percent in the past year, according to TheBidFloor.com.
But, at the same time, many would be sellers are listing their pieces for sale on auctions and getting no bids, concluding that eBay just doesn't work.
Here are some tips from James Dillehay, craft artist, eBay seller and author of the new book, "Sell Your Crafts on eBay" (Warm Snow Publishers), on how to profitably sell your wares online:
1. A word's spelling impacts an item's profitability. For example, the word 'handmade,' spelled as one word, was part of 2,233 auction titles with an average closing price of $16.29. However, auction titles that included 'hand made' as two words were found in 1,358 listings, but with an average auction closing price higher, at $27.81, or $11.52 more profit per item.
2. Go to eBay.com and find the search box. Type in the word or phrase that describes your art or craft item. Then scroll down the links on the left side of the page and click on the link for "completed items." Here, you'll be able to see the demand for this type of product. Do searches for your items every two to three weeks
to chart buying patterns.
3. Find out how much people are willing to pay for your wares. Click on the link that says "highest price." This will give you a list of completed auctions from highest priced items to lowest priced ones. You want to know what people are willing to pay for items like yours. If you can't make and sell your product for a profit, eBay might not be your marketplace.
4. Determine how much money you'll make on your product. To determine your profitability, use the cost of your materials plus the cost of your labor plus the cost of your selling price, which should be the minimum price to recover your expenses. If it takes you eight hours to make a piece of jewelry and the highest priced similar item sells on eBay for $26, you won't make a profit.
5. Look at the elements of successful sellers of products that are similar to yours. Examine their winning auction titles. Observe how much detail they use to describe their item. See if the seller used any of eBay's special features such as gallery photos or a bold, featured listing. Evaluate the starting price, starting day of the week, and duration of winning auctions.
For more tips on how to sell your craft items on eBay, consult a resource book like "Sell Your Crafts on eBay," by James Dillehay. It offers-more than 200 easy-to-learn tactics and tips that help sell art, craft and theme-related items for a profit on eBay and on other online auction Web sites.


James Dillehay is a 20 year crafts veteran and nationally recognized expert on craft business. Author of eight books, his articles have helped readers of Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Almanac, Working Mothers, The Crafts Report, Sunshine Artist, and many other magazines. For more information, see http://www.craftmarketer.com.

Monday, July 04, 2005

RossBoxing.com

Sunday, July 03, 2005

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