Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Live the creative life you want

When she was a little girl, Elaina Loveland dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina. The graceful waif of a woman was a dynamic dancer, but after attending the dance program at Goucher College to study for a few years, she realized the reality of her choice might not make for an ideal career.

“It became clear that I should have gone straight to New York City to dance instead of going to college to study it,” she admits. “I also realized that my dance career would probably only last as long as my body held out—and that seemed like a bit of a gamble.”

So she opted for Plan B and became a writer—and ever since hasn’t let anything get in her way. Elaina firmly believes anyone who wants to have a creative career can do it. All they need to do is plan, prepare, and be brave enough to take the leap.

In fact, before turning 30, she penned two books on a subject:

Creative Colleges: A guide for student actors, artists, dancers, musicians and writers,was published in 2005 when Loveland was 27. She followed it up in 2007 with a sequel entitled: Creative Careers: Paths for aspiring actors, artists, dancers, musicians and writers. Both softback trade books were published by SuperCollege LLC, and are chock full of how-to-get-where-you-want-to-go information.

Creative Careers: Paths for aspiring actors, artists, dancers, musicians, and writersoffers details about types of 200 arts-related college, including suggestions on how to evaluate them, sample resumes and curriculums, and inspiring / realistic profiles of people who are living the dream. And Creative Careers dives deeper into life in a variety of fields, offering real options other than the most obvious and glamorous.

Loveland’s takeaway: “Given all the pros and cons each profession, I’d still recommend a career in the arts to anyone who truly wants one,” she says, but warns that the key to success is a willingness to sacrifice and be flexible.

Take show business. “This is not a profession for the faint hearted, or someone who can’t deal with rejection,” Loveland advises, adding that those who dream of being fashion designers are also destined to spend years in the Big Apple, “unless, of course, you are willing to just open a little boutique in your hometown or maybe a favorite seaside town.”

“You have to really know yourself,” she explains. “Finding the right career—and career path—is truly a process of elimination. What I try to show in the book is that there are a lot of ways to accomplish the goal of having a career in the arts.”

And when it comes to helping parents deal with a child who wants a career in the arts, Loveland’s advice to is to simply be supportive.

“Parents should be open-minded if their kids are interested in pursuing a career in the arts,” she says. “While there are 'starving artist' stories, not all jobs in the arts are financially unstable. The arts aren't usually a path to riches but aspiring artists can find career fulfillment and financial stability if they explore many options in the arts and carve out a niche for themselves. Ultimately, that will help them achieve both professional and personal happiness.”

For more information visit: http://www.elainaloveland.com/creative_careers.htm

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bratproofing Your Children

When college professors Janet and Lew Solomon were raising their son Michael, now 33, they were determined to teach him the value of money. On the morning of his 10th birthday, they got their chance. Young Michael came bounding down the steps and announced it would only be 6 more years until he could get a car. Lew (a lawyer who taught taxation and trusts and estates at George Washington University Law School), and Janet (a business school professor who specialized in human resources management) gave each other a sideways glance and sat Michael down for breakfast and a taste of reality.

“We didn’t want to burst his bubble—but we did want to set him on the right path for financial solvency,” Janet says today. “So we told him that we’d pay for the auto insurance on that car he was dreaming about, but that he’d be responsible for saving enough money to actually pay for the car.”

From that day forward Michael became the consummate saver. At last, on his 19th birthday, he had enough cash to buy a brand new Nissan Altima—a car he drove long after he’d made a career as a successful hedge fund manager and could have bought himself a finer ride. (When he finally did pass it along to a young man he was mentoring in the Big Brothers organization, it had more than 200,000 miles but Michael had taken such good care of it that the car was still in good working condition.)

Getting a financial grip

“To say we are proud of Michael is an understatement,” says Janet, who with Lew recently published a new book based their own experience and observations of other families in relationship to money. Entitled, Bratproofing Your Children: How to raise socially and financially responsible kids, the book is a guide to help parents get a grip on discipline and fiscal solvency.

“As a parent, you want your children to grow up to be productive, motivated, financially responsible adults,” Janet says. “But that is sometimes easier said than done. This book helps parents raise thriving kids who will grow up to become emotionally and financially mature adults by teaching them to stave off potentially negative influences of affluence from our consumer culture.”

Teaching your children well

The 200-page paperback—which is part common sense, part financial advisor, and part parenting coach—is divided into halves.

The first chunk provides insightful ideas and ideals from Janet, who offers advice on how to protect children from the potentially negative influences of wealth, including:
ß Imparting four personal character traits (high self esteem, joyfulness / optimism, serenity, hard work / thrift),
ß And three interpersonal character traits (loving kindness, forgiveness, integrity).
ß She also offers a handful of strategies to help parents successfully deal with outside influences.

The second half of the book, “How to protect your wealth from being destroyed by your children and grandchildren,” was penned by Lew and outlines some tough love financial strategies.

“Do not expect every one of your children to become a financial wizard,” Lew explains on page 85. “However, all family members need to be responsible for leaning basic financial concepts. Even if a child never develops much facility with finance, he or she should learn the big picture and feel comfortable raising questions and discussing financial matters with your (and later, their) advisors.”

Lew’ advice:
• Talk about money with your children
• Give allowances
• Have them set aside a portion of their allowance for charitable giving
• Don’t give them a credit card or ATM card
• Encourage and promote their entrepreneurial spirit (something that shows up naturally in most children between the ages of 10 and 12)

He also outlines how to better understand and communicate with an attorney, accountant, and financial planner, and how to use trusts to transfer wealth to you children and grandchildren. Additionally, he offers suggestions for handling family business succession.

Accomplishing your real goals

“Our goal in writing the book was to provide specific, practical strategies that parents can incorporate into their everyday parenting to help them raise financially fit youngsters,” Lew explains. “But the simple truth is that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent—or a perfect child.”

However, by using a little common sense and developing our instincts and expertise about spending and saving money, the authors believe they can teach all of us to raise a generation of financially savvy people.

Speaking for all the parents I know—we hope so, too.

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Bratproofing-Your-Children-Financially-Responsible/dp/1569803455

Friday, August 8, 2008

Obesity in Kids: What Parents Can Do

"Nearly every single possible combination of the children's meals at KFC, Taco Bell, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chick-fil-A is too high in calories," according to Margo Wootan, Nutrition Policy Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who released a new report, "Kids Meals: Obesity on the Menu" on Aug. 4 at a press conference at the National Press Conference in Washington, DC.

Wootan explained that 93% of 1,474 possible choices at 13 top chains exceed 430 calories—an amount that is one-third of what the Institute of Medicine recommends that children aged 4 through 8 should consume in a day.

The problem, Wootan explains, is that kids are eating out more than ever and when they do they consume twice as many calories as when they eat a meal at home due to the extra saturated fat, less fiber and calcium in fast food meals vs. home-cooked ones.

Here are some other scary facts:

• Chili's has 700 possible kids' meal combinations, but 94% are too high in calories (including country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples and chocolate milk for 1020 calories; and cheese pizza, homestyle fries, and lemonade for 1000 calories).
• KFC has a variety of side items, but their "Laptop Meals," consisting of popcorn chicken, baked beans, a biscuit, Teddy Grahams, and fruit punch has 940 calories.
• Most of the kids' meals at McDonald's and Wendy's are also too high in calories, as are the those at Burger King (92%), Dairy Queen (89%), and Arby's (69%).

Subway's kids' meals came out on the top of the study, and only a third of its Fresh Fit for Kids meals, which include a mini-sub, juice box, and apple slices, raisins, or yogurt, exceed the 430-calorie threshold.

"People may not get a heart attack until their 50s or 60s, but arteries begin to clog in childhood," explains Wootan. "Most of the kids' meals appear to be designed to put America's children on the fast track to obesity, heart attack, or diabetes."


• Wootan and the CSPI suggest that chain restaurants reformulate their existing menu items to reduce calories, saturated and trans fat, and salt.
• Chain restaurants should also reformulate their existing menu items and add healthy options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• They should also provide nutrition information on menus and menu boards, as is required by menu labeling policies passed in New York City, San Francisco, and Portland.

For more information visit: www.cspinet.org/kidsmeals.