Archive | May 2014

Family Vacation Destination – Virginia Beach


Wondering where to take your family on vacation this year? Although you may be tempted to look for an all inclusive family package vacation, or a discount vacation destination, you may be better served to find a location that meets the needs and desires of the entire family – a la carte, and at a reasonable price.

Location – If your goal is a vacation packed with family fun with activities both parents and kids will
enjoy, consider Virginia Beach, Virginia. Located directly on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is an easy two day drive from the southern tip of Florida or the Northern tip on Maine. Minutes from the Norfolk International Airport in neighboring Norfolk, Virginia Beach is easily accessible to all, allowing your family to spend the maximum number of days relaxing in the sun instead of traveling to get there!

Beaches – Complimenting the sun and relaxing fun on its miles of free public beach, Virginia Beach offers three miles of boardwalk to enjoy. In addition to the well-tended pavement, benches, and amazing views of the ocean, the 28-foot wide boardwalk includes a separate path for bicycling and rollerblading. Bicycles and surrey rentals are available from local vendors conveniently placed along the way.

Resort – Atlantic Avenue is the main road that travels the length of the resort strip and is occupied on both sides with hotels of every cost and level of luxury; restaurants offering fine dining, fast food, step up window service, and every variety in between. Dispersed between accommodations and eateries are many attractions you would expect from a coastal resort – surf and gift shops, fun photo boutiques, a retro style amusement park; and some you may not expect such as haunted houses, fine jewelry stores, and an art gallery offering amazing local talent.

Attractions – Slightly off the main resort strip, Virginia Beach offers other family friendly attractions such as the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and Ocean Breeze Waterpark, Captain Jacks Pirate Ship Adventures, the Rudee Rocket speedboat thrill ride, and parasailing with Air America Parasail, and several large scale miniature golf courses.

In Season – Depending on the timing of your vacation, you and your family may enjoy one of several local’s favorite events including the Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival, the 55th Annual Boardwalk Art Show and Festival, Sandstock (think Woodstock but family friendly), Hardee’s Latin Fest, the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k and the East Coast Surfing Championship to name just a few. The boardwalk area is also host to many free concerts, wine festivals, and local art displays through out the summer months.

Off Season – If you prefer to plan your vacation slightly off-season, the Neptune Festival in late September is great fun offering something for every member of the family. Usually scheduled the last weekend of September, it includes an annual International Sandsculpting Championship (you have to see it to believe it!), the Neptune Art and Craft Show, and open-air concerts to meet every musical taste. The entire boardwalk and beach area is transformed with tents and kiosks offering a variety of foods, crafts, and entertainment.

Consider Virginia Beach for your family vacation this year. Truly something for everyone – newlyweds or new parents wanting to start an annual family tradition, parents wrangling unpredictable toddlers, or weary parents trying to get a spark of emotion from sulky teens – Virginia Beach will meet your family vacation needs!

Information on Virginia Beach, Va gathered from vbbound.com, VB Neptune Festival, ECSC 2014, and 30+ years of being proud to call myself a local.

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Meditation for Beginners: In 7 Easy Steps


Meditation is a term that is often misunderstood. Meditation is simply the act of purposely relaxing your body and mind to release stress to achieve a desired outcome, usually clear thinking, calm demeanor, and better health. Sound good?

Styles of Meditation – There are as many types or styles of meditation as there are people it seems, and just as many reasons to do it – purposeful imagery to draw positive energy to a specific outcome, opening the mind for particular insight or resolution, healing of a specific condition, and so on. We are not going to go that deep, rather simply learn to accomplish the basics. Once you become comfortable with this process you may want to research a bit on your own and try some of the styles and techniques that are popular these days. Our only goal in this process is to achieve focused relaxation, so feel free to accommodate any of these steps to your personal needs.

How to Meditate

1. Sit or lie on your back in a comfortable, secure spot. The floor is best, but an armchair will do as long as it is sturdy, comfortable, and you fit in it well – no chance of toppling out of it if you reach a completely Zen state.
2. Regardless of position, your goal is to expand your middle section, either sitting tall and straight or laying flat with your arms and legs gently extended.
3. Once comfortably seated (we will use ‘seated’ for the sake of this article) with your middle section gently expanded, quiet your mind. No heroic efforts needed here, it is difficult to do at first but try it. Pay attention to your breathing.
4. Place one hand gently on your stomach, the other lightly on your chest. Notice them going up and down with each breath you take. Just concentrate on feeling them, up and down, up and down.
5. Next, try to feel the air coming in and out of you. For the moment you can breathe through your nose or your mouth, which ever feels most natural for you. Once you feel a steady rhythm to your breathing, try to breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. Do this several times until it feels very comfortable, natural, and relaxed.
6. The next step is called belly breathing. Try to fill your belly with air as you breathe in, concentrate on your stomach rising on inhale, falling as you exhale. Do this for several minutes, until you are able to push every stray though from your mind and are concentrating fully on the breath entering and exiting your body. Feel your entire body relax. You may feel as if you are sinking into the chair or floor; or you may feel light, as if gravity has left you.
7. Continue to breath. Your breathing may slow and become deeper. Your heart rate will slow, and stress will simply melt away.

This is meditation in its simplest form. Try to do this for 15 – 20 minutes daily, each day for a week. You should notice a decrease in any feelings of depression, a significant improvement in stress level, and a general feeling of well being. It’s worth the effort.

The information above is gathered from Project-Meditation.org,StopandBreathe.com, and my personal experience. I began meditating a few years ago in an attempt to lessen negative side effects of cancer treatment. It has since become a part of my daily routine, can’t imagine starting a day without it.

Legitimate Jobs Are Free


I was just offered a writing job. For the price of $69.99. No, not paying $69.99, they asked me to pay them $69.99 to give me a listing of available jobs. Giant red flag.

I bought my first desktop PC back in the early 90s. I hooked it up, dialed it up, and minutes later was logged on to the World Wide Web for the first time. It was exciting and overwhelming all at once. I immediately started reading success stories of mothers with young children who had been able to give up their day jobs to stay home with their children – and still earn an income. It was the birth of the WAHM, the Work At Home Mom. I was excited. I was naive! I wasted no time filling out online forms, making plans, dreaming of finally spending some time with my kids and being financially secure. Time passed and I received no job offers. I dug a bit further and found websites full of work from home job listings. Turns out each of those listings took me to sites offering listings. At the end of each of these rainbow colored pyramids were brightly colored websites promising freedom from debt and freedom of time – for the low, low price of $39.99, or $169.99, or $19.99 if you order in the next ten minutes. I was disappointed when I learned that once you paid this fee, they would set you up with your own website and teach you how to advertise your service, which was to teach others how to set up their website and advertise their service…. See where this is going?

Prior to the days when everyone had internet access at their fingertips, employers advertised job openings in the newspaper. I remember several breaking news stories in my local area of ’employment agencies’ being shut down for fraud. It seems the trick back then was to enter a post in the Help Wanted section of the newspaper claiming to be an employment assistance agency. Unsuspecting job seekers would call the listed phone number, speak to a very enthusiastic job counselor who would gush over their skills and claim to have several openings that would be a perfect fit. The first step was to come in and ‘enroll’ in their service. For the low, low price of $69.99, you would have access to their exclusive employment opportunities. When the unemployed person, down to their last $69.99, went to the office and enrolled, they were handed a sheet of paper with a typed list of job openings. The same listings that were right there in the Help Wanted section of the newspaper, right next to the ’employment agency’s’ ad. Fraud.

Now I am not saying the offer I was made earlier today was fraud, not by any means. I am sure for someone just starting out or with little to no time, paying a fee for access to a prepopulated list of potential writing gigs may be worth it. From my vantage point, as a writer I am very well acquainted with the internet and am very used to doing my own research – I’m not willing to pay for this service.

My advice to anyone – you should never pay anyone to get a job. My many years of experience have proven that you should be able to apply for any legitimate job with out paying for the privilege.