Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why You Need a Savings Account

My marriage ended a decade ago.  While my ex's work benefits covered it,  I saw a therapist.  She suggested I keep a journal.  Being very much at a "now what" point in my life, I was highly motivated to make changes and whatever the counselor said to do, I did.  Recipes, artwork, clippings from magazines, anything and everything about me stuffed the pages of my scrapbook-ish journal.  The last page had a photo from a magazine.  A man and his cat.  The man's head was tilted back slightly, extending his neck.  The cat sat in front of him, held in his arms, his head tilted back as well, nestled against the man's neck.  I fell in love with that picture.  It would be a couple of years before I heard about the Law of Attraction, but I spent nearly every day loving that picture and wishing I had a cat who would spoon my neck.

Four years later,  a young ginger male with a collar kept showing up at my doorstep.  That little cat flirted like he knew he had come home.  I didn't want to resist.  I thought he was the cutest thing I had ever seen and I wanted to snatch him up, adopt him and bring him inside my house before someone else did.


You already have a cat.  

That's somebody else's cat.

It's wearing a collar.  You would be stealing someone's cat.

The voices in my head, as well as some of the one's coming out of my friends' mouths, were resistant.  Finally one person, who had just witnessed Peabody performing the feline equivalent of a headstand on my front step, gave me permission by saying, "That's a great cat.  You should adopt that cat."

It was then I discovered a horrible truth.  In an attempt to "do the right thing," I had avoided petting or touching him. When my fingers stroked his fur for the first time, I realized the collar around his neck had probably been placed there when he was little more than a kitten. I couldn't fit even a tiny bit of my finger underneath it.  Afraid to cut it off him, I tried not to think I was choking him as I pulled the collar even tighter to release it.  He sat calmly in my lap and purred.

Even then I resisted.  Someone had put the collar on.  Maybe he was lost and a family was missing him.  A talk with neighbors led me to a house a few blocks away.   Everyone's choice for my visitor's most likely absentee owner.  A man was working on his car in the driveway when I arrived.

Do you own an orange cat?

I only pay attention to cats when I've hit them on the road .....  and then I scrape them out of the way.  

OK......  well ... if you're ever looking for your cat, he's at my house.  

It still took me until the first time Peabody spooned my neck for me to realize.  The Universe had manifested a cat like the one in my journal!

It's all well and good to post affirmations and tell yourself we live in a world of abundance, but you can't tell The Law of Attraction "Do as I say, not as I do."  

You can't just say you believe.  You have to believe.  Trust me, I resisted my way out of believing I deserved a cat.  I also resisted my way out of believing he deserved me.  I resisted until the Universe finally had to practically get rude about it.

So ..... to think about .....

1. Can you believe in an abundant world where your vision of financial freedom is possible if you don't have a savings account and you know it?
2.  Did you notice I went to therapy, but only while my ex's work benefits paid for it?  Yet I considered myself highly motivated to change my life.  Audit yourself to see if you can discover any behaviors that contradict or undermine your affirmations and desires.
3. Could the Universe actually have manifested some of the things you dream about, but you never answered the call because you kept believing it was for somebody else?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Buying Happiness

I tried to buy happiness for the very first time because I am a problem solver.

I was eight.  It was 4th of July week and the county fair was in town.  My parents, certain I would meet up with friends when I got there, dropped me off at the fair gates alone with twenty dollars in my pocket and a set time they would return to pick me up.

Number of friends found:  none.

There were no cell phones, no internet.  I could feed a pay phone and ask my parents to come back and get me.  If they were home.  The fairgrounds were hot and dusty, but I wasn't ready to leave.  Not right away.  Besides, I had this underlying buzz telling me I had done something wrong.  A weird damned if you do, damned if you don't, anxiety.  Here I was, by myself, at the Calistoga Fair with $20 in my pocket.  I didn't think my parents would approve.  Yet, my parents had put me in this position.

After one pass, I kept my distance from the midway.  The barking carny's creeped me out.  I decided to position myself where I could keep an eye on the main gate, but where I could sit out of the way, attracting as little attention as possible.

I waited at least an hour before I saw someone approximately my height walk through the turnstiles.

I knew her, but she wasn't a friend.  In fact, she had called me names.  Recently.  I'd fallen off what we used to call "the monkey bars" right onto my face.  "She" had called me "skinned nose" for at least a week.  Not exactly a profanity, but I was eight.  I didn't like it.  I wasn't a big fan of "her" either.

I sat there, undecided, when our eyes met and she walked over to me.

How bad could it be?  Carnival rides were still fun, I rationalized, even if you weren't thrilled with your riding partner.

"She" was not carrying a twenty in her pocket.  According to her, she had no money at all.  Nothing more than what it took to get in.  We walked the fairgrounds together.  The carny's were a little less creepy now that I wasn't alone, but I was having only marginally more fun that I had been earlier.  As we walked, my mind thought it out.

Call home?  Now that I had stayed there an hour by myself and would be choosing to leave just when another kid showed up, I felt hesitant about explaining myself to my parents.

It was then I had my brilliant idea.  Twenty dollars was a lot of money in those days especially when you are only eight and what you are buying is carnival rides.

"We could ride the Zipper."

"I told you, I don't have any money."

"I could pay."

A ride on the Zipper and the Tilt-a-Whirl later, she wanted a soda.  I couldn't see how I could refuse, but now that my twenty was broken into smaller bills, I felt the anxiety of knowing when it was gone, it would be gone.  Like any new husband whose wife just spent a large portion of his paycheck, I was worried what she might ask for next.  Or if she had friends show up and I ended up paying for everybody.

"I've got to go now.  I have to meet my parents soon.  They're picking me up."

She shrugged.  "Ok.  See you."

Truthfully I still had the better part of an hour before they would arrive.  As I approached the gate, I glanced back to see if she was following me.  She wasn't.  No thank you and she didn't bother walking me out.  The whole thing made me feel kind of dirty.  Really.  Whenever I would think of that day, I'd feel oddly guilty, like I had done something wrong.

I was eight and everything was measured by whether or not it would get me into trouble.  Once it was over, I really couldn't see how any of it could get me into trouble.  It was only years later when my father told a joke about a boy who was so ugly he had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get his dog to play with him, that I realized.

I had tried to buy a friend, at least for the afternoon.  It was my first lesson on the hollow emptiness that accompanies trying to buy what can never really be purchased.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Financial Freedom

People act like financial freedom only happens for the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or a Rockefeller.

Let's get a few things straight.

The world, life, the universe and everything else is about me ..... just like yours is about you.  We can't understand the world, taste it, see it or anything else ... without ourselves.  The world ends every day for someone, but it begins for someone else.

At first blush, that seems a very lonely isolated place to be, but it really is the key to something wonderful.  YOU define your world.  You decide what is important to you.  You decide what you want to include in your life as well as what you want to exclude.

Which means ....

You define what financial freedom is.  If you decide it is only something the 1% can have, you have painted yourself into a corner where you will need to make a six figure income or marry one of Buffet's kids to feel free.  For me, financial freedom came down to $150 I could give away without missing it.

Near the end of my marriage, while fears and figures performed a conga line in my brain keeping me up nights, I went to the vet to pick up some flea medicine for my cats.  At the same time, a woman, who I was pretty sure was a single mom, and her son were there.  Fear and sadness chilled their side of the room.  I sat down quietly, waiting my turn, and pieced together what had happened from bits and pieces mumbled.  The family owned a dog who had been hit by a car.  I witnessed the moment the vet told them his diagnosis, "He will need an operation that costs about $150 and he'll be ok."

I can't remember what the operation was for or what type of dog they owned, but I will NEVER forget the look on the woman's face as she heard the verdict and heard her son say, "Well we're going to do it.  Right mom?  We're going to have the operation."  I will NEVER forget how it felt inside my chest as I recognized that the answer was going to be, "No, we can't afford it."

I wanted to walk up and say, "Here, let me get that" more than nearly anything I have wanted in my life.  It was important enough to me that the first Christmas after my divorce, even though I wasn't exactly bathing in money, I gave $100 to that same veterinary hospital's charity fund and I continued to give to them for a few more years after that.  Honestly, I think the only reason I stopped was because it became plain they didn't really have a charity fund, just one bleeding heart woman who kept giving them money to help out other people's animals.  I still give.  I just don't try to create a charity where there isn't one anymore.

So to recap  ... lol ...

1. You define your life.
2. Never ever imagine yourself OUT of what you dream about having or doing.
3. Mansions and sports cars would be nice and fun, but money can also buy you the very good feeling you get from simply having done something nice for somebody else.

It just depends on you.   Have you thought about what would make you feel financially free?