I’m in a class where we’re exploring our story with money.
And rewriting it.
Quite an eye-opener.
Here are my earliest memories of money:
Dad spending all his time at school, working on his graduate degree.
My mom clipping Green Stamps at the kitchen table, pasting them in the little booklet to save money on groceries.
Mom selling Tupperware at our house to the women from the neighborhood.
Mom mixing in Carnation Instant Milk with the regular to stretch it.
Eating Spam for dinner. (I still like it! Crazy, I know).
Mom sewing our clothes for three girls. Hand-me down clothes from my cousin Kathleen in Florida.
Here was my revolution:
In the 7th grade I HAD to have that pair of pastel plaid elephant- leg hip-huggers AND the red and black plaid wool coat with the fake fur trim around the hood.
Those were not on sale at Kmart. They were at Lerner’s. It was time to up my game.
To get what I wanted I needed M-O-N-E-Y.
So I took whatever jobs I could – spending hours scraping off dried food from the neighbor’s dishes (a single mom in med school) and cleaning her house.
Babysitting for my parent’s friends.
Selling parking spaces on my friends front lawn to the out-of-towners coming to the University football games.
And the list goes on from there.
Here’s what I learned: Money = Freedom.
I could buy what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted.
The catch? I’ve been working hard ever since. Really, really hard.
(Well, except the year I took off to South America with a backpack, but that’s another story).
What I didn’t realize is working for your freedom is a cruel and heartless joke, like that sign over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp that says "Arbeit macht frei" translation: Work Will Set You Free.
This system I adopted to set me free has become my prison.
Over 4th of July weekend this summer I read the 4-Hour Workweek. Cover to cover. I was mesmerized, spellbound. It was like someone had found the secret code for true liberation. Sentences like “de-couple time and money” “take a mini retirement now instead of waiting until you’re too old or too tired or too sick to enjoy your actual retirement” and “you can work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and a cell phone” called off the page to my weary soul with promises of a brighter, freer, stress-free future.
Since then I’ve been like one of those men imprisoned at Alcatraz who felt it was in some ways worse than any other prison because it was so painfully obvious how close and yet far away they were from freedom.
I hear the laughter wafting off the boats in the Bay at sunset, the champagne glasses clinking in the starlight, and see the twinkling bright lights of the San Francisco skyline. I'm no closer to freedom, just more acutely aware of how far away it is.
Until now. Today I’m re-writing my money story. Today I am trusting that the universe will support me to follow my dreams.
That money comes abundantly and unexpectedly, especially when I’m not paying attention and simply doing what I love with all my heart.
That by doing what I love I will be paid my worth and I can then be uber-generous with those around me in need.
And that yes, when I love my work, it will set me free.
What’s your money story? Does it hold you back? Go rewrite it. Now.
(PS Here’s the class I’m in)