I don’t often write while I’m on vacation, but I’m not on vacation even though I’m traveling so you’re getting a blogpost! AWIP (Another World is Probable) is a very introspective blog, obviously. I’m an introverted person, so usually I write about things we can do individually to make our lives better and make the world better. This week I’m taking more of an outward focus.
When I interviewed for a potential sublet the woman asked me what is most important to me in terms of living with someone else. My immediate answer was, “being considerate.” That’s really the heart of it for me. Being considerate means thinking of other people, means selflessness instead of selfishness. My absolute pet peeve is when someone is being inconsiderate. I’m getting up in arms just thinking about it.
It occurred to me this week just how important it is to think of other people. We (in the West) often have this view of the world and how it’s “dog eat dog.” There’s this idea you have to take what’s yours, be selfish, get your own needs met. That’s true to a degree but it’s imbalanced. You know where “dog eat dog” gets us? Just watch this video on the distribution of wealth in the U.S.
I covered my eyes for parts of this video. I couldn’t even look at the infographics. I am so horrified, I can’t even tell you. ONE PERCENT of Americans have FORTY PERCENT of the nation’s wealth. ONE PERCENT. And 80% of the nation has to split up 7% of the wealth. Guys, that’s messed up. And you know how we got that way? Because everyone was looking out for themselves.
There’s a concept in yoga, a social norm, called aparigraha. It means living with the minimum necessities. I’ve struggled with this concept for years. My parents and I would talk about what it meant. Does getting a flat-screen T.V. fall under a minimum necessity? We would agonize over this, somehow believing it was an internal thing to live by. It’s not. What I mean is aparigraha is a way of ensuring everyone gets their needs met. It’s the opposite of hording. It’s freeing up resources. When aparigraha is not followed we end up with the inequitable distribution of wealth in the U.S.
I’ve been hesitant to talk about this because I don’t want to offend anyone, but part of the problem is this law of attraction idea that if you think about becoming a millionaire then you will. Well, yes, you may attract all that money to you, but the idea everyone can be a billionaire is a load of phooey. Energy is unlimited but money is not. Money comes from trees, or silver, or gold, or nickel, or whatever, and that means it’s finite. There is a limit to how much money can be printed. So no, everyone cannot be a billionaire. And everyone cannot be a billionaire because while someone is practically wiping their butt with money, there’s someone else who’s scrimping for change. That’s just the way it is.
Other people far more intelligent than me have written about solutions to all this, but a great place to start on the individual level is with the notion we live in a dog-eat-dog world. We don’t have to you know. We blame society but we forget we are society. We change all this. Sure, we change our policies and the like, but it’s also important to change the underlying mentality. There is enough for all of us but it starts with being considerate of other people. Of noticing what’s going on around us. Of compromising to ensure not only my needs get met but those of the people around me as well. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather live in a dog-help-dog world.
I dream of a world where every single person gets all of their needs met. A world where there is a more equal distribution of resources. A world where we think about the people around us, which means you’re thinking of someone else, but they’re also thinking of you. A world where we share what we have without differentiation as we all move as one together.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
It’s Day 13 of my spending and sugar fast. I’m knocking the spending fast out the park, the sugar fast… well that’s another story. Not easy to give up sugar although it should be since it’s reported as the source for so many of our ailments here in America. Obesity being the biggest dis-ease that we’re currently facing. Yesterday I had, not one, but TWO chocolate chip creme pies and some peanut bar kinda thing. But I won’t dwell on that or the fact that I had hot chocolate with whipped cream and…uh a shot of rum Thursday night. Nor will I mention…I had fruit punch with a shot last night as well…ummm… twice. I blame boredom and bad habits! I couldn’t help it I tell you! And on top of that, a guy friend told me something I SO did not want or need to hear and it was just a wrap after that. Hello, my name is Emitting Love and I eat my feelings.
But doggonit I refuse to focus on those few infractions, because overall, I’ve done a damn good job. I’m reading The Power to Prosper consistently, along with, Secrets of Six-Figure Women which is the BOMB (review coming soon)! I’ve had the latter in my library for close to four years and never so much as read the introduction. And now I’m realizing that a part of me never considered that a six-figure salary could be a possibility for me. Hellooooo! How on Earth could I, a teacher, earn THAT kind of money?!
Well, now that I am grabbing my life by the horns and have pledged to live my best life, I am beginning to open myself to possibilities that I only imagined or fantasized about. Getting the adjunct faculty position and the gift of living mortgage and rent free has definitely had a profound effect on my outlook of my dreams, goals, and thoughts. I remember thinking what I needed to get out of debt almost a year ago and to now have received BOTH of those things is overwhelming – in a GOOD way. So with the attainment of those blessings, how can I limit myself in anyway?
And that’s pretty much where I am right now. I’ve got to love myself enough to not only imagine the life of my dreams but also know that I can achieve the life of my dreams. And in that life I travel extensively. I’m debt free. I make six figures. I own property. I can afford pay for my daughter’s college education so she won’t be in debt. I am a published author. I am a consultant. And I am financially prepared to retire at the ripe age of 55.
It took some serious soul searching and brutal honesty to admit that many decisions that I’ve made don’t represent my thoughts and beliefs about the life I say I want. I had to admit that a part of me is uncomfortable with success and responsibility. And I also had to admit that a crucial part of demonstrating self-love means making sacrifices that work toward achieving LONG TERM goals and not immediate satisfaction.
I’m a work in progress, but I’m getting there. I’ve stayed on track with spending. I’ve set up automatic savings transfers. I’ve calculated all debts. I have spreadsheets for everything under the sun. And I’ve analyzed my spending on my Mint.com account. I’m going to show myself just how much I love me by getting out of debt, saving and traveling this year. All the while, creating a plan to become a high earner because I am totally worth it. The sky is truly the limit.
To aid in successfully implementing and maintaining the financial portion of Operation F-Cubed, I read a book titled The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life by Natalie McNeal. It was an interesting read for the most part, but I noticed something that I felt made it slightly less difficult for her to do spending fasts. She had a large group of professional and GENEROUS friends. I think it’s a lot easier to go on spending fasts when you have people who will treat you to lunch and dinner or the occasional movie or other form of entertainment. Moreover, for me I owe wayyyyy more in student loans than Ms. McNeal. That’s actually one of the reasons why I haven’t included them in Operation F Cubed. My student loans are a mortgage and unless I hit the lottery or write a bestselling novel real soon, they are going to be around for a while. Meh! Anyhoo…back to the book.
I’m not suggesting that there is no value in the book. She gives quite a few good, solid nuggets of advice: 1. Spend significantly less than you make. 2. Cut out non-essentials (cable, salon trips, eating out). 3. Closet shop (I really like this one). 4. And find ways to increase or supplement your salary.
Unfortunately, items 1-3 are where I am the most challenged.
Ms. McNeal also has a website: http://www.thefrugalista.com/ which offers valuable tips on living within your means and you can even sign up for her newsletter. I believe those of trying to get out of the debt rabbit hole need all the help we can get! My next book is Michelle Singletary’s book – The Power to Prosper. That book is more of a workbook though so I need a couple of other books to read this month. Of course,… I can’t buy them so… looks like I will be bookshelf shopping. LOL! How about that?!
I didn’t think I would blog this week because on my normal day, Sunday, the place where I’m housesitting was broken into. I wasn’t exactly shall we say, feeling inspired or hopeful about the future? This is going to sound incredibly narcissistic, but what changed my mind was me and my actions, and also knowing there are others like me in the world.
As you know, I’m moving (again), which dictates I put my stuff in storage at least for the month of October. Some friends kindly offered me the use of their discount at a storage facility under the false pretense that I lived at their address. At the storage facility my stomach was in knots, I felt so uncomfortable being dishonest, leading the facility to believe I live somewhere I don’t.
My friends reassured me it was fine because they were technically liable for the unit but I couldn’t go through with it, I felt awful about not being completely upfront. I told myself it was OK because I’m experiencing financial insecurity and I could really use the money, but my feelings were not assuaged. I called my recovery mentor and he said, “Rebekah, it sounds like you’re justifying.” Ding, yep, way to call me out. I totally was.
I called the facility the next day and fessed up, telling them I wasn’t being completely truthful. They thanked me for my honesty and still gave me a discount, albeit not as much as I could have gotten. I felt relieved about coming clean because the truth is I was giving into my fear. I was exclaiming to myself and to the universe that I didn’t believe that I would be taken care of, that I needed to take matters into my own hands, and that to get what I wanted it was OK to be dishonest. I was allowing myself to be swayed by desperation.
This is all to say to thieves who broke in on Sunday, “I get it. I understand feeling desperate and wanting to make sure you get yours but it’s not OK.” It is not OK that some neighborhood hoodlums have deprived me of my peace of mind. It is not OK that I’m worried for my safety. It is not OK that I startle at every little noise and my sense of home and security has been disturbed.
Furthermore I am pissed off. I am pissed off that people are feeling desperate in the first place. I am PISSED OFF there are no safety nets in our country. That we’re living in a greedy, selfish society where people feel pushed to lie, cheat, and steal to get their needs met. I am pissed off that some people are hording all the wealth to such a degree they are practically wiping their butts with money while others are dying on the street. This is NOT OK.
Capitalism is not working. It’s just not. We seem to think basic necessities like food, education, clothing, shelter, and medical care are privileges and not rights. People, that is messed up. It is time to say no. It is time to say this is not right. It is time to give daring measures like local economies, wealth caps, and cooperatives a chance. Because if the local economy is thriving, if people have all their needs met, how likely is it they’ll break into houses or mug people on the street?
I obviously can’t control other people, all can I do is control myself and change the things I can. All I can do is continue to choose faith over fear. All I can do is act with integrity in all areas of my life. All I can do is employ new measures because desperate times don’t call for desperate measures, they call for daring ones. So let’s be daring.
I dream of a world where everyone everywhere has all their needs met. A world where people feel safe in their homes. A world where wealth is shared and people are taken care of. A world where universal rights are granted and people are happy, joyous, and free.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
Dr. Jeanine with the boys who helped salvage a few of her belongings after an apartment fire
Some of us have a great deal of discretionary income; others of us have very little. In any case, if we want to make an impact on the planet with monetary “energy” we can use our money to make a better world.
Throughout my life, I’ve noticed the spiritual adage, “Whatever we give we get back threefold” to be remarkably true in my life. Several years ago, I experienced this truth in action. Before I left Arizona for a California vacation, I gave a white baby shirt my children had outgrown to a friend. I also wanted to give something to her 4 year old daughter so I brought along something for her, a faux silver ring with a smiling “Hang ten” foot.
During my California trip, my Grandma took me shopping; she really wanted to buy me something. I settled on a white blouse. Later that weekend, my relatives and I went to the Laguna Arts Festival. The whole group got toe rings, I’m not a big toe ring person, but I went along with my Aunt’s urgings. I selected a silver one. When I came home I was very surprised to realize that I gave away two things in a form I could not use and was given two similar items in a form that I could use!
This is not the only time I’ve noticed this principle at work and I am sure it won’t be the last.
Sometimes people are fearful that if they let things go they won’t get “more” or even that they will lose a piece of their identity. However, those of us who have had the opportunity to lose all of their personal belongings (like yours truly due to an apartment fire) have an amazing opportunity to dis-identify with their possessions.
Recently, I worked with a client who desired to make monetary changes and to stop buying things she didn’t need. There are many hidden costs to accumulating stuff: we have to store it, clean it, move it (uggh!), we have to insure it and take care of it. There are emotional costs as well: we need to be able to find it and we may be preoccupied that someone will break it or take it.
Having material things takes time. The more we have the harder it becomes to find what we want. It is difficult to be proactive when we are weighed down by stuff. If we are an artist we may find we can’t find our paint brushes, we don’t have any empty spaces to put canvases and we can’t find the time because there is so much “stuff” to take care of. We all know people who don’t follow their passions because they always have to organize their house.
We can use the money we don’t spend on useless things on things that don’t leave a “footprint” such as a nice meal, a donation to a charity, a life coaching session or a massage. This way we don’t get stuck with hidden costs.
If you need to clear out, start now. My friend Michele has her children donate all the toys they don’t play with any longer to the charity shops. Her children will get to pick one toy from the charity shop when they are done. This is a wonderful way to teach our children the power of giving and the principle of abundance.
If you have had the experience of a fire or natural disaster you can appreciate this truth: In times of disaster, people could really use the things that you no longer use. If you feel you don’t have money to donate, this could be a powerful way for you to make a huge impact for yourself and those in need.
As I grow older the list of things that I think are essentially useless is growing. Because I am an avid reader, I used to buy books constantly. Now I mostly use the library. I have since donated the vast majority of my books to my local library (my friend Reggie reminds me that books acquire dust mites if you keep them too long).
I don’t want to be a Grandma who can’t have children in my home because I am afraid my chotchskies are at risk. I don’t ever want things to keep me from participating in life.
We can be deliberate with our spending and be conscious about what we buy (or buy into!!) thereby voting with our money. One of the sensual pleasures of being a human being is enjoying things. However, upon reflection, maybe we will or won’t buy a track mansion, a four carat ring or a Hummer. If we want to make an impact, we might buy things that will support the environment, support our favorite charity or charities, or something that is a choice that honors who we truly are.
In any case, for most of us conspicuous consumption is out. Living deliberately, passionately and with a powerful and loving legacy is in (hopefully, here to stay). If you are ready to make an impact with what you have streamline, donate, dis-indentify with your material possessions, consider spending on that which doesn’t leave a footprint and consciously “vote” with your money.
Remember, you can’t take it with you.
(c) 2007 Jeanine Austin, Ph.D. , C.Ht.Jeanine Marie Austin, Ph.D., C.Ht.
Doctor of Life Coaching, Certified Hypnotherapist
Simply Divine Solutions
Life Coaching and Hypnosis Worldwide
I have never in my life been as financially poor as I am now. I know many people believe that by writing that statement I’m only making my financial situation worse, so in order to counter that sentiment I’ll also say I am increasing my financial abundance and that all of my financial needs will always be met.
Lately I’ve had tunnel vision when it comes to money. I feel like I’m forever saying, “No” to things because I don’t have the financial means. A friend suggested I needed a vacation and my first response was, “I’d love to take a vacation but I don’t have the money to fly anywhere,” which was true. However, the universe is creative and there are infinite ways to accomplish what I desire without involving money. In this case I used my frequent flier miles to head up to Seattle to stay with my parents.
Hallelujah! A vacation!
That may sound like the most obvious solution in the world but it was not because I didn’t have enough frequent flier miles and neither did my parents. But the universe always provides, as I’ve written about before. I stumbled across the website points.com, which allows you to shift loyalty points from one program to another! I didn’t have enough miles in any one program but I certainly had enough when I combined points! Thus I was able to take a much-needed vacation after all. (By the way, does anyone want to donate points to me so I can fly to my friends’ wedding in New Hampshire?)
Also, my current apartment is driving me crazy. I write that with only a touch of trepidation that my landlady will see it, but I’m banking on the fact she doesn’t know my blog exists nor have I ever sent her an e-mail in order for her to find the link. The place is fine at night after everyone goes to sleep, so yes, I’m sleeping through the night, but at other times I’m going out of my friggin’ mind. Last week her little rat dog BIT ME and DREW BLOOD. For the record, never in my life have I been bitten by an animal until last week; usually animals love me and beg to sit on my lap. So I’ve frantically been looking for new places to live and have been pretty depressed about it actually. (Moving AGAIN?!?)
But the universe provides and life can be lived without money. My dear friends announced they are going out of town for two weeks and I asked whether I could housesit. They said yes so for two weeks I get to have peace and quiet in a gorgeous San Francisco condo. Halle-frickin-lujah. The whole experience reminds me all of my needs will always be met and it doesn’t have to involve money even if at the onset I think it will. I am loved by the universe and will always be provided for.
I dream of a world where all of our needs will always be met. A world where we understand money is not the be-all, end-all we think it is. A world where we realize the universe is listening and it’s up to us to continue to ask and be open to what comes back. A world where we know life can be lived without money.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.