Friday, January 13, 2012

List of Free Annual Miami Events - Winter 2012

Each annual event shown below is either entirely free or has a free event as part of a larger event.  Either way, you can have fun, fun, fun, without pulling out your wallet.


1/13/12 - 1/15/12 - Art Deco Weekend
This festival celebrates the National Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach; art exhibits, musical performances, lectures, street theater, parades, antique and auto displays.

1/16/12 - Martin Luther King Day Parade
The annual parade travels along Northwest 54th Street, beginning at 10th Avenue in Liberty City and culminating in a festival at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 6101 Northwest 32nd Court. Festivities include a children's cultural area, food booths and a vendor marketplace. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1/29/12 - ING Miami Marathon and HalfMarathon
Come to the marathon and cheer on the participants!  A 26.2 mile marathon and 13.1 mile run through Miami and Miami Beach. The marathon draws more than 15,000 people for the event. The course starts at American Airlines Arena, follows the most beautiful parts of Miami and Beaches for amazing panoramic views and ends at Bayfront Park.


2/18/12 - 2/20/12 - Coconut Grove Arts Festival
An annual fine arts festival during Presidents Day weekend with more than 350 artists from around the world and an average attendance of 150,000 people.


3/1/12 - 4/30/12  - Dade Heritage Days
A celebration of Miami-Dade County's architectural and cultural heritage with several events, including open houses, historic tours, lectures and performances.

3/4/12 - 3/10/12 - Miami Sailing Week
Miami Sailing Week gathers the national and international sailing community together in a fun-filled week of regattas, awards ceremonies, parties and cultural exhibits.

3/2/12 - 3/11/12 - Miami International FilmFestival
The Miami International Film Festival, the premier U.S. showcase for films from Spain, Portugal and Latin America, presents 100 films from 30 countries during 10 days at venues across the Magic City.

3/11/12 - Calle Ocho Festival
A grand celebration of Hispanic culture. Known as the world's largest street party, the festival spans 23 city blocks, filled with musical stages, youth sites, folkloric sites and food vendors.

3/15/12 - 4/1/12 - Miami-Dade County Fair &Exposition
The county fair offers nearly 50,000 exhibits, concerts, a circus, strolling entertainment, food, games, shopping and a 100-ride midway.

3/16/12 - 3/25/12 - Winter MusicConference
One of the most acclaimed music industry gatherings in the US, with more than 200 artists, DJ and record company receptions and parties, panel discussions, new product premieres, technology demonstrations, and the premier international awards show for the dance music industry.

3/28/12 - 4/1/12 - Women's International Film& Arts Festival
The Women's International Film & Arts Festival promotes the dreams, visions and voices of women globally. It is now one of the world's premier film festivals by, for and about women.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Launched a New Website -

Yesterday I pushed the "publish" button on a new website I created.

When I moved to South Florida from Washington, DC last year it was challenging for me to find rich, cultural events that were free.  In DC, it seems, everything is free - the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, festivals, art shows.... so I guess I was a little spoiled and my entry into the world of palm trees and amazing year round weather was a little jolting.

Although I'd managed websites for Fortune 100s, I'd never created one myself.  It took hours to wade through long lists of activities to find the "free" but that's what I did.

I think that art and music are beautiful expressions of the spirit and inspire people to create. After all, when  you're living your dream, you inspire others to live theirs.

The site is definitely malleable; it will be transformed by user comments.  I can't wait to see what's created next!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free Adventure - Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens

 Just South of Miami Beach is a quaint, old village known as Coral Gables.  It’s home to an extraordinary tropical botanical garden that is simply breathtaking.

In the month of August, the Garden offers free entry on Sundays.  The entry price is usually about $20 per adult, per visit so this is indeed a treat. 

If you arrive in the morning, you can take advantage of a free yoga class at 11:00am.  Yoga mats are provided so, just bring your open, positive energy and enjoy. 

There’s usually a jazz quartet that plays right after the yoga class, in the same location.  So you can continue to reach your place of bliss without moving. 

The gardens themselves sit on more than 80 acres.   If you take the free tram ride, the guide will tell you all about the tropical plants that are cultivated on the property. 

There is also a butterfly garden, a bird watching section, and a tropical fruit tree pavilion.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you’ll want to explore the grounds on foot.  And, pack a lunch and picnic near one of the small lakes or under the 8 story tall palm trees.  It’s quite romantic and  relaxing, so bring a special friend or a good book. 

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables. Phone (305) 667-1651.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

5 Easy Steps to Finding the Peace Within

I love Monk!  The TV show.  It’s a series about a neurotic germaphobe who happens to be an amazing detective who can’t seem to solve the case of his own wife’s murder.   Funny thing is….the clue he needs to solve the case is sitting on his fireplace mantel.  And, it’s been there for at least five years.  In the season finale, he realizes he’s had the answer all along - but didn’t know it.

That’s not unlike our own lives, isn’t it?  The peace we seek outside ourselves is really within.  But, why on earth don’t we see it, experience it, know it to be true for our own selves?

I suppose most of us figure it out, right before we forget again.  Knowing that the peace, in any circumstance, is just one step closer to the God spirit within.  But, instead of listening intently, we get distracted.  The more advanced of us - remembering and forgetting over and over again, sometimes in the same hour.

I see the (real) monks at the ashram I visit every year hold the truth and glide through life so effortlessly.  But, they’re in the mountains, living together, practicing yoga every morning, having a vegan diet, in the peace and quiet of a sacred place.

While most of us lead very busy city lives.  Being stimulated every six seconds by the seeming  importance of something.  So, we often get distracted from the truth.

So, how do you go within and find your peace in the midst of the agonizing stress of life?

1.  Let It Go.

Take your focus off whatever is bringing you stress and focus on what brings you joy.

My favorite song… “I release and I let go, I let the spirit run my life, I am free in the spirit and I’m only here for God.”

Remembering (or trying to remember) the purpose for which you were born - releases the non-sense.

2.  Purge.

Remove everything  from your life that you do not need or that does not serve you.  Everything - shoes, purses, people, files, phones.   No attachment - no stress.

3.  Seek  Silence.

Try operating in silence in the morning - no radio, no television, no anything.  Listen to your own thoughts. Since thoughts create reality - monitor them to see what you’re creating.  Give yourself a chance to make a conscious choice.  And, if you’re really seeking bliss - find at least 10 minutes each day - sitting in silent meditation -  no thoughts, just focus on your breathing.  Center yourself.

4.  Pray for Them.

I had a co-worker once who created havoc wherever she went - and she landed on my team.  My mother said, “Pray for her”.

“Why should I pray for her?”, I said with frustration.

“It’s not what it will do for her, it’s what it will do for you.  It will release you from the experience”, she replied.

I did, and it did.  Days later she was reassigned.  I rarely saw her after that.

5.  Don’t Forget The Fun.

So, when you’re old and gray and lying in bed reminiscing about your life, will you even remember what you’re worrying about today?  If not, got back to #1 - Let It Go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

5 Investment Tips: Buying Real Estate in South Florida

The South Florida real estate market is showing signs of re-bounding. Companies are hiring again and bank foreclosures have slowed down. So, demand will be increasing and the inventory will be smaller, and prices will rise.

This is an excellent time to buy and hold properties (rentals) - although, prices may not bottom out for another six to eight months.

But, if you wait for “the bottom”, it may be too late. The upswing will be swift.  So, focus instead on creating a profitable cash flow….NOW.

Five (5) things to consider when buying in this market:

1. Location, etc.

Choose an area that has a lot of real estate activity. If a sub-division has properties that are sold regularly, that is a fantastic sign. It means the community is in demand and will likely be the first place buyers or renters look when searching for a home. Communities with limited sales activity are considered “bad” by investment standards.

2. Stay away from gated communities.

They may seem appealing from a security stand point, but the myriad of restrictions in these communities will impede progress (i.e., limited access when showing the property to potential renters, restrictions on renovation schedules…).

3. Title insurance: critical condition. 

Title insurance is the most critical part of the transaction now. Standard Florida Association of Realtor contracts state that the seller must provide clear title in order to transfer ownership. However, buyers must purchase title insurance in order to protect their asset. There are more and more challenges to the validity of lender foreclosure sales (e.g., new Florida Attorney General inquiry, irregularities in lender’s foreclosure processing, etc.). It is critical that a stable, well financed title company is selected.

4. Permits are not optional.

Thousands of homes in South Florida have illegally built additions (e.g., bathrooms, garage conversions). When writing contracts, please allow for an inspection period. During that time, contact the local permitting office to confirm that the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are accurate. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a house and then having to tear out a bathroom or bedroom to make the house code compliant.

5.  HOAs are out.

Just recently the Florida legislature passed a law giving HOAs (home owner's association) more authority to collect dues and limit access to community amenities  for delinquent homeowners.  Unfortunately, this action has created rifts in communities across the state.  The legislature tried to help fix a very real problem….banks and homeowners were neglecting to pay dues on houses that were in the foreclosure process and that created an undue burden on homeowners who were paying their fair share.  As a landlord, it would be easier to manage a property without the intrusion of a HOA Board. And, since buyers are trending away from HOAs, when you eventually sell the property, it will more desirable.

This is a great time to buy investment property in South Florida. Just make sure you do your homework.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The First Rule in The Law of Prosperity

I’m often perplexed by people's pronouncement that having "more" would make their lives better somehow.  Seems that most Americans have an excess of what they don’t want.  And, the stuff they want seems right outside their grasp.  Like the folks on the show, "Clean House”.

The show begins with a shocking look at the home of hoarders.  People with so much clutter, junk, stuff, trash, that they can barely clear a narrow path to navigate their way through their own house.  Inevitably, the sofa is always overflowing with things from past years that do not belong to this present time.

And, most have carved out a tiny space in the house where they exist; usually a single chair or one cushion on sofa.  The lucky ones – the people who haven’t become completely engulfed in their hoarding can actually still find their beds so they can sleep horizontally at night.

Mid show, the junk is hauled out to the front yard where a gaggle of bargain-hunters pounce on their prizes and the homeowners receive 10 cents on the dollar for their treasures which is enough for the Clean House team to completely transform the former hoarder's residence into a beautiful oasis.  

But, is that at all like your own life?  Do you fill our space with the “don’t wants” thus denying yourself of the very things that you desire so deeply?
Is it a matter of money or just choices?

I used to date a highly successful, certified financial planner and I’d often talk about the life I was creating and he’d say, “What are you willing to give up?”

My first thought was, “nothing”.  I wanted more.  I didn’t want to give up anything.   It took a couple of years before I really understood what he was saying.

What I needed was readily available to me, I just needed to give up the stuff I didn’t want in order to receive it.

When I decided to move to Florida earlier this year from Washington, DC, I thought it would be a breeze.  My house was always spotless and I abhor clutter so it was just a matter of packing up my things and selling or giving away the stuff I didn’t want.  Or, so I thought.

It was what was lurking in the closets (queue the horror movie music) that was so frightening.  Things long past their useful life, remnants of what was or could have been, boxes and boxes of neatly stacked “I don’t want that anymore”. 

Mid-way through my move, I was shocked at how much stuff I had in my four level colonial.  Why did I hold on to all that dead energy and what had I denied myself in the process?

Of course, if you watch the show, you realize that hoarders are completely delusional.  They make excuses for holding on to the stuff when the deep truth is that there has been some trauma that has paralyzed them, altered their thinking, and driven them to get rid of nothing –for the fear of losing everything.

But, the first rule in the Law of Prosperity is to release everything that you do not want or need.  It creates a vacuum and the Universe will return to fill that space with the very thing you are focused on, which should be your good.

My Baptist minister preaches about this very thing – it’s the principle of tithing.  And, at the Buddhist ashram where I find my sanctuary, it’s called “karmic yoga”.  Giving.  It creates a cycle of receiving.  It’s counter-intuitive isn’t it? 

Giving creates the “get”.

The principle works the same way with all things including thought.  I mean, you’d have to give up the idea of poverty to accept the concept of wealth, right? 

So, you have to ask yourself…. Is it really about having more?  Or, is it giving up what you don’t want in order to receive what you do?

Don't Put His Name on the Deed, Girl

I remember the very first house I listed for sale as a realtor. It was an all brick 2 bedroom 1.5 bath house with a one car garage. It had an un-finished walk up attic that would be perfect for a future master suite. As I recall, it was listed for about $95,000 and the year was 1987.

I remember that deal so clearly because of the lesson I learned…. Do not put a man’s name on the deed unless he’s on the mortgage!

The buyer was young paralegal at a big law firm. She’d worked diligently saving the funds necessary for the down payment and closing costs. And, she was about to take out the biggest debt of her life, she was happy and she was also in love.

He worked in construction and had bad credit. I can’t remember what he looked like but I do recall what he asked. He wanted her to put his name on the deed since he’d be living there with her and paying half the mortgage. From his perspective it made sense because he was also going to be making improvements to the house – like finishing that attic.

But, her attorney/boss became incensed when he found out the plan. And, for good reason. She would be giving up control of her biggest asset to someone who had not committed much to her. He could control what happened to her life, with no risk to him.

After all, what would happen to him if he decided not to pay half the cost of the house? Nothing.

Or, what if, ten years later, they broke up and she wanted to sell the house and he said, no. She’d be caught.

Today (even with the recession), that house is worth more than $300,000. What if she wanted to sell now and he’d moved out after year one and paid nothing? She might be forced to give him half the proceeds ($100,000+) with the sale of the house.

The whole situation begs the question….. Why would you give someone control over your biggest asset when they aren’t responsible for the liability?
Don’t do it, Girl. If he can’t manage his finances, don’t give him yours.