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The Problem:   America was robbed blind by the Big Banks – we bailed them out; the perpetrators got big bonuses.  AND they nickel and dime you daily still.

The Solution:  Move your money!

As noted in my previous post, my focus this year is on creating positive change.  Change in my own life.  Encouraging YOU to make change in your own life.  I believe that together, we can change the world – one little change at a time.  I’m always heartened by the Margaret Mead quote:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

As my outrage over the big banks grew, my friend Liz Kirkham alerted me (via Facebook) to a site called Move Your Money.  It suggested that the antidote to outrage and despair was action.  Move your money, it said, move it out of the banks that are robbing us and to a credit union or a locally owned bank.  That sounded a bit daunting to me at first – I’m an electronic type of gal – so I had all sorts of bank-related things automated.  Eesh! where to start?

No worries!  They had thought of that and laid out 7 Simple Steps to Move your Checking Account.  Oh! That was easy.  But where should I move it?  Ah, they have that covered too with the Find a Bank/Credit Union page – just put in your zip code.

Plus the site is filled with information about WHY you should do this (don’t just take my word for it!) and other useful tools.

If you are on Facebook you might consider following not only Move Your Money, but also Bank Transfer Day – both have great updates that will reinforce your decision (and which you can share with friends and family).

Facebook – Move Your Money page

Facebook – Bank Transfer Day page

Oh – one of the things people ask me about is ATMs.  I know I was a bit worried about that given as how my old bank (Chase) had an ATM about every 100 feet.  I’ve been with my credit union several years now and this has NEVER been a problem.  Here’s why.  Credit Unions and small banks (at least where I live) have reciprocal agreements – so I can go to the community bank in my town and use their ATM.  Or I can go to any other credit union in Illinois and use theirs.  But what do I do in real life?  When I need cash I use my debit card, ask for cash back and get it that way.  Truly, I have not missed Chase’s zillion ATMs once.

I also wanted the ability to do electronic banking – use Quicken, set up auto payments and deposit, transfer funds electronically.  Yep, they’ve got that.  I could even do text banking if I wanted (I don’t).  All the modern convenience. No robbery.

I’ll finish with an interesting anecdote.  Every year at New Year’s time I review all my money and home administrative things.  As part of that cleanup I decided to close out an account I had set up to help a family member (I was the treasurer – siblings and cousins contributed and I wrote the checks) since our aunt died last year.  I had that money in a community bank – nothing wrong with that bank, but I didn’t need this account.  The personal banker asked why I was closing it – I told him – then he asked if I’d consider opening an account for me there.  I said “No, thank you.  I like community banks – hate the big banks, but you guys are okay, but I prefer credit unions and that’s where my money is.”  He asked me why and I said “they’re not for profit, locally owned, friendly and besides have great rates.”  He asked which CU I was at and I told him BCU (for my NW suburban friends – http://www.bcu.org ).  He then told me in a lowered voice “That’s where I bank, too!”

So you see – even the bankers know the right thing to do.

I promise you – this is a change  you can make that WILL change the world.  It’s WAY easier than you thought.  This could be a GREAT January project for you!  And hey – spread the word, okay?  Send this post to your friends, or send the links in it.  Let’s get this handled!

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It’s Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets

I promised you more about Judith Schor’s thought-provoking book, “Plenitude” and though a day later than I had hoped, here I am.

The book’s premise is that we’ve turned a corner economically and ecologically (not in a good way) and we need to find a new way of being if we are to survive.  As the book jacket proclaims “Our usual way back to growth – a debt-financed consumer boom – is no long an option our households, or planet, can afford.  Responding to our current moment, Plentitude argues that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure.  Sustainability is at its core, but it not a paradigm of sacrifice.”

As regular readers of this blog know, I embrace many of the principles of Buddhism, with one that particularly appeals being “the Middle Way”.  As someone very prone to black and white thinking, it’s nice for me to always remember that there is a third way. This book presents just such a sensible solution.

The first part of the book outlines in a manner both academically dry (why ARE economists so very dry?) and simultaneously enormously alarming that the sky is indeed falling.  It’s filled with charts and numbers and footnotes about all the things those who stand to gain by what Schor calls the BAU economy (Business As Usual) don’t want you to think about.  What we’re doing is NOT sustainable.  Not even close.  This bus is headed off a cliff and picking up speed fast.

Just when you are beyond the “oh, shit!” moment she switches gears and in Chapter Four, “Living Rich on a Troubled Planet” begins to lay out her plenitude plan: “It is time to reclaim hours, build skills, invest in people, save more and perfect the art of self-provisioning.”

If you read the types of blogs and books that I do – on simple living, minimalism, sustainability, economics – these themes are familiar.  What’s unique is that Schor, a former Econ professor at Harvard, now at Boston College, has a clear understanding of the laws of economics, economic history – and she has a very broad worldview.  Her reasoning seems very sound and her argument is compelling:

BAU is not going to work (or, as Bruce Springsteen puts it “they say these jobs are going, boy, and they ain’t coming back, to my home town….”).  The alternatives presented (pretend that it will work and thus accelerate the apocalypse OR living a life that feels penitential in it’s ‘hair shirt’ denial) are unappealing.  But there is this third way of plenitude. And we can all do it. And we can start now.

I used to tell my colleague Marc, in our cut-throat corporate culture “act or be acted upon!” and I think of that now.  Schor’s first dictum – time wealth – is another way of looking at underemployment and unemployment.  She argues that working less not only makes for happier people, but frees up time to do the other things she suggests:  improve your “social capital” (non economists might use the words “friendships”), “self-provision” (i.e., gasp! cook your own meals, fix your own house, maybe grow your own food).

But this isn’t the hippie back-to-the-land movement of my era.  It’s back-to-the-land marries technogeek as I said in my last post.  As she says “Self-providing is great, but it needs advanced technology to be liberating.”

I like how she advocates a quilt approach (my words, not hers) to life – a bit of a mainstream job, patched to a bit of self-provisioning, patched to a bit of an entrepreneurial enterprise. 

She also takes on big banks (I love that about her!) and argues that by having more small enterprise and less debt, we can self-fund and not have to be backed into a corner by “too big to fail” (and i might add, seemingly too big to jail, though not if I ran the joint).

In her discussions of social connections and sustainability she touches on cohousing, near and dear to my heart.

In fact, this whole book seemed to codify and give academic credence to a way of life many of us are already embracing.  I remember back in the insane 80s and 90s I had a few colleagues from My Fancy Corporate Job over to my wee hippie house.  Seeing my tiny house, my old, modest car and knowing my “rank” at work I could see their heads spinning (“where DOES her money go? Up her nose? Is she just DUMB?”).  I am grateful for my wise father from whom I learned so much about money and life for helping give me a headstart.

Like so much of life, I think if people try to force-fit life to go back to BAU Economics there will be a lot of stress and negative emotions – a sense of lack, of unfairness, of missing out.

That’s so not how I see it.  I agree with Schor when she says that the time from 1980-2008 was the true aberration.  A lot of what she proposes would not have seemed innovative or radical to my grandparents – much of it was the norm WAY back in the day.  Think of it as a return to sanity but with better coffee and the Internet – I mean, really? That sounds delightful to me.

She questions the economic “physophilia” (Love of growth – ah, these academics – where DO they come up with these things!) and cites all sorts of writers and thinkers to say “this is NOT a given, folks, that growth is good.”

The whole book was thought-provoking, but Chapter Four “Living Rich on a Troubled Planet” is, I think the best.  I’m already plotting how I can move more quickly into my OWN life of plenitude.  So maybe not back to my grandma’s time, but “going back to the ways of my youth, I’m gonna go back and be how I want to be” (Jethro Tull) – hang out with friends, live simply, do things on our own.  Be our own bankers.  But with good coffee. And the Internet.  I’m there! — You?

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It’s Ideas/Information day here at Taking it to the Streets

One of the tenets of my hippie youth that I very quickly outgrew (as did most of my peers, albeit in perhaps differing ways) was a distrust of and disdain for money.  I’m a fan of money in the same way I am a fan of other tools – it is a means to get things done.  Much as I may enjoy bartering, money has always struck me as a particularly efficient means of exchange and meaningless in and of itself.  I’m always befuddled by people who would sell out for money (love, for sure, but money – you kidding me?). And equally befuddled by people who seem to embrace poverty as more holy or pure – nah, it’s just more —- well, poor!

My pastor talked about this book at church two weeks ago and it reminded me that I had the book but had not read it – so I remedied that.  Wow, am I glad I did! Very thought-provoking.  the heart of the book is revealed in the chapter titles for chapters 3 and 4:

Scarcity: the Great Lie
Sufficiency: The Surprising Truth

“greed and fear of scarcity are programmed; they do not exist in nature, not even in human nature.  They are built into the money system in which we swim.”  And “Adam Smith’s system of economics could more accurately be described as the allocation of scarce resources through the process of individual greed.” – those quotes are her take on a book by Bernard Lietaaer called “Of Human Wealth”.  She sums up the Scarcity myth as having 3 components:  1) there’s not enough; 2) More is better; and 3) “That’s just the way it is”

What if we DIDN’T believe any of these?  What would life look like then?

Well, check out the chapter lead-in for the Sufficiency chapter:

“When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.  When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.”

She talks about an indigenous South American tribe, the Achuar, for whom “wealth means being present to the fullness and richness of the moment and sharing that with one another.”  Or, as she says later in the same chapter:

“I suggest that if you are willing to let go, let go of the chase to acquire or accumulate always more and let go of that way of perceiving the world, then you can take all that energy and attention and invest it in what you have.  When you do that you will find unimagined treasures, and wealth of surprising and even stunning depth and diversity.”

Her three truths of sufficiency  to counter the three lies of scarcity are:

1) Money is like water
2) What you appreciate appreciates
3) Collaboration creates prosperity

My brother taught me that first law when we were young wild hippies.  Our friend Kate got stuck in Denver (don’t ask!) and he sent her a plane ticket.  We were young and poor and I wondered how he had the money – well, he didn’t really – that was his rent money, but what he said stuck with me – “that’s how it works, you know – you have to give it away to get it, then it just flows to you.”  He was right.  I think I’ve written before on the power of tithing and/or generosity so let me just say here – it works.  And as Lynne Twist says “The happiest and most joyful people I know are those who express themselves through channeling their resources – money, when they have it – on to their highest commitments.  Theirs is a world where the experience of wealth is in sharing what they have, giving, allocating, and expressing themselves authentically with the money they put in flow.”  Agreed!

For Maxim 2 she invokes Buddha, who ” told his followers that whatever they chose to give their attention, their love, their appreciation, their listening, and their affirmation to would grow in their life and in the world.”  So when we focus on lack and on stuff  – well, that’s all we get.  That’s not where I like to place my focus.

As for the third maxim “In reciprocity there is a nourishment and joy: I am there for you and you are there for me.”  I’ve recently had several friendships that were NOT reciprocal – and I know what that feels like. But virtually all of my close relationships are wonderfully reciprocal, collaborative and joyous.  Lynne Twist also says ” We find sufficiency and sustainable prosperity when we think of our resources as a flow that is meant to be shared, when we put our full attention on making a difference with what we have, and when we partner with others in ways that expand and deepen that experience.”

Wow – I am looking at both the book and the clock – I’ve only written about HALF of what is in this very thought-provoking, action-producing, passionate book (and it’s getting late and this is already wordy enough).

So let me end with a Mary Oliver quote:

“What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And think about that.  Shop? Kvetch? Spend more time at work? OR, make a Kiva loan, buy a family a bunch of chickens through Heifer, help your neighbor shovel snow, spend time with your precious children, write your book, help out at your church —– and on and on and on.  All we have is love and time and health people.  Let money be your enabler, not your god.  Do good rather than seeking goods.  And read this fabulous book!

Now tell me – is “money a conduit, a way to express your highest ideals”, a “currency of love a committment, expressing the best of who you are” or is it “a currency of consumption driven by emptiness and lack and the allure of external messages” in your life?  What do you want it to be?

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Building on yesterday’s post here’s my initial proposal to start a TRUE revolution in this country.  The America I grew up in was the leader of the world in virtually all measures – not a plutocracy, with people’s day-to-day quality of life falling behind. I think we can use the Army of the Unemployed to turn this ship of state around.  Please dialogue with me – this is simply an initial offering.

FOUR-PRONGED APPROACH TO RECLAIM OUR LIVES, COMMUNITY AND COUNTRY

  • LifeSchool – learning what we REALLY need to know; each one teach one
  • BodyShop – real HEALTH with CARE – taking back our bodies, not turning them over to BigPharma
  • Earth Forces (the REAL “Green {Hats}”)
  • S.O.S. – Save Our Society

Program overview

We all have talents and abilities.  The unemployed, the retired and the generous have time to donate.  There are ghost-towns of empty buildings available.  Instead of “wasting time in the unemployment lines, standing around waiting for a promotion” (nod to Tracy Chapman); instead of waiting for the government or (imho, worse yet) the corporations or the rich – let’s roll up OUR shirtsleeves ala Greg Mortenson and turn this ship around.  So this is all about things regular people could do by, for and with each other (remember the Gettysburg Address).  OUR country – not the rich people’s or the corporations (or, to give a nod to my friends on the right – of the government).

LifeSchool

Let’s set up free schools with volunteer teachers and administrators (or – someone who can write grants, write a grant to get money for building space and a SchoolMom/SchoolDad – someone to organize the thing).  “each one teach one” – people who know things can teach people who want to learn those things.  I see 5 initial curriculum:

  • Strengthening your Self (personal skills, including a tie-in to BodyShop)
  • Strengthening your Relationships – relationships of all kinds:  parenting classes, negotiating skills, marriage-strengthening, getting along at work, etc.
  • Work and Money Skills – Create your own job, find a job, job skills, money 101, investment classes, frugality, buying a house, anti-foreclosure classes
  • LifeSkills – cooking, plumbing, fix your car, write a grant, gardening, etc.
  • Save the World – getting beyond yourself to help your community, the world, how to make a difference, setting up your own Grameen-Bank-like skill/money co-op, etc.

BodyShop (REAL Health CARE – taking charge of your own health)

  • Natural Healing classes of all kinds (herbs, Chinese medicine, ayurveda, first aid)
  • Fitness Camp – personal training you can do at home with very little equipment or info about cheap gyms, etc.  Free classes (spin, aerobics, circuit training)
  • Food & Nutrition – cover basics, nutritional defense for specific diseases, build your immune system, fast and easy nutritious meals, eating healthfully when you’re broke, good food for people who don’t like to cook, etc.
  • Cooking classes – beyond just educating – big kitchen, group cooking, hands-on fix a meal.  Use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution idea – learn a meal, then teach your neighbor.  Eating healthfully, inexpensively with meals that are tasty and easy/fast to prepare.
  • Emotional Health – things YOU can do to help with what ails you – EFT, support groups, exercise, nutrition, mentoring

EarthForces (Green Baseball Hats? – smile and nod to the other Greenhat guys…)

  • Classes on sustainability
  • Green your home
  • Habitat-for-Humanity like group to focus on weatherizing homes for the poor, elderly, infirm, etc.
  • Johnny Appleseed Corps – tree planting  – help people, public spaces, unused land – fill it with trees
  • WaterWorks – water conservation – from in your house to in your country – water action!
  • Garden Guerrillas – turn this land into food  – teach gardening, encourage community gardens, ask to put gardens in unused land, etc.

S.O.S. – Save our Society

  • Take back Food:  localvorism, CSAs, food co-ops.  Move AWAY from the industrial agriculture that is killing us and is outrageously inhumane to animals.
  • Take back Money:  Buy local! Say no to Big Box stores
  • Take back Money, Part 2:  barter economy, skill banks, stop outsourcing your life

What’s Next?

Your “yes, we can” ideas.  I’m sure some of you have 100 “that will never work” ideas, which you are welcome to ponder while we move into action ala Greg Mortenson.

What I’m interested in:

  • Feedback on these ideas
  • YOUR ideas – what else can the army of unemployed, under-employed, retired or generous folks do with their ‘spare’ time?
  • Interested folks.  You don’t have to be local.  I somewhat suspect Chicago is not the only town that could use an initiative like this.  Start a school/movement/group in YOUR town!
  • But if you are local and would be interested in seeing what we could collectively create let me know – send an email to lifeschool.chicago@gmail.com

“We can change the world.  Rearrange the world.  It’s dying.” (nod to CSNY for lyrics, nod to YOU for wanting to change the world).

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Facebook, besides being a nice place to connect with friends, has been a source of new ideas and a ‘finger in the wind’ indicator of social/cultural trends for me (and maybe you too if you’re ‘fans’ or ‘like’ groups/businesses).  Through Facebook I came across the Move Your Money project started by Arianna Huffington last year – and I subsequently did just that – moved my mortgage (had been Wells Fargo) and bank accounts (Chase) to a credit union near me (www.bcu.org ).

Yesterday the Move Your Money Facebook page had a great article called “Is Mainstreet Ready for the Second Wave of the Recession?” which I highly recommend.  Don McNay makes three suggestions, which I’d like to discuss with you:

  1. Move your money
  2. Be 100% debt-free
  3. Create your own job – don’t rely on Big Business

So I can hear you now:

  1. I don’t want to – it sounds hard
  2. Not realistic! Come on, debt is an American way of life and besides, i”m not rich – I can barely make it as it is
  3. No way!  What could lowly little me POSSIBLY do on my own…

To which I say the following (grab a cup of coffee and please join me in this conversation).

Move Your Money

I heard about this idea through my friend Liz on her Facebook page.  So I checked it out.  Thought “this sounds hard” and “It will take too much time” and “are the littler banks really safe”.  But as I continued being Mad as Hell at being robbed by the banks & the rich my resistance quickly wore away.  It did take a bit of time for me – I believe if you are respectful to Money and pay attention to it, it rewards you, so I meticulously went through the steps very clearly outlined on the website:  http://moveyourmoney.info/resources – the 7 easy steps.  It really WAS easy.  And very clearly laid out on the site. Not sure about which local bank/Credit Union? No problem there’s info on that site or at www.bankrate.com or various other places as well.  I LOVE my Credit Union – wonder why I didn’t change decades ago.  It’s a not for profit – no rich bankers profiting off of me there and the rates are better, service is friendlier – everything about it is easier and better for ME as well as for our community (keep the money local!).

Be Debt Free

I’m reading that this is becoming more of a trend now in America – to which I say — it’s about time!  I’m lucky – part Scottish, part Dutch with an incredible Dad who started teaching me about money and frugality when I was still a kid. My grandfather (dad’s dad) and great-grandfather owned a hardware store that went bankrupt in the previous Great Depression – and that experience so freaked out my grandpa that he never borrowed money again.  At all.  That is – he never even had a mortgage or car loan.  I have had one car loan in my life (paid cash for the rest of them) and DO have a mortgage, but I have a plan to ditch that in a few years by aggressively paying down the principle.  That may not be realistic for you but I believe everyone can be debt-free other than a mortgage.  I actually believe we can all be totally debt-free but I won’t promulgate that til I can do it myself!  I’ll do more writing on money in some follow-on posts (it’s a topic in which I’ve always had a great interest) but for now let me say that just as you don’t own stuff, it owns you, having debt makes you a slave.  Do you want that?  No, I didn’t think so.  Conversely, NOT having debt gives you a whole lot of freedom.  Please tell me all your objections to this idea (or agreements!) so I can cover them when I write in more detail on this point soon.

Be Your Own Boss

Are you sick of layoffs?  Of not knowing when the other shoe will drop? Of everything that CAN be being outsourced to China and India?  Had enough?  Just say no!  Be the Boss of You.  You’ll have a kinder, more humane employer, working conditions you like. Well, you say – what about JOB SECURITY, Diane???  Yeah, I say – what about it? Feeling safe and cozy and secure right now?  I have been self-employed for the past 14 years.  My income has fluctuated with a $100k difference between low and high over that time (hmm, if I count the first year even MORE than that) – so being debt free and able to live simply helps a lot in this regard. If you are depending on US business to keep you employed I say better be prepared to move to Mumbai.  Or work for minimum wage. 

I wrote recently about Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (https://dianescholten.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/shop-class-as-soulcraft/) – and Matthew Crawford suggests working with your hands (he has a PhD from U of C….).  As I told my hairdresser, I guess they can’t outsource YOUR job to India…

So – please weigh in! What are your thoughts on these three ideas?  And which would you like me to write more about?

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I’ve written a few posts on some of the things on which I spend money – great food, books, art.  So where does that money come from?  What am I NOT spending money on?

– TV (watched Obama’s inauguration, my pal lived with me during the Super Bowl & she turned that on, turned on last 15 minutes of Black Hawks Stanley Cup win).

– Movies.  This is an area I feel I ***should*** spend more money on, to be not such a cultural loser (!) but in truth I go to one movie every year or two whether I need it or not.  No Netflix, etc. either

– Cars.  Yes, I have one.  And the one I have now, Molly Moonroof, is the fanciest car I have ever owned.  Got her used in May – a 2006 Subaru Forester with 40,000 miles. My first used car.  I buy cars with cash, and then drive them for 10 years or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first.  Molly was $15,000 and that was with the fancy stereo I added.

– A Too Big House.  My house, built in 1948 and cobbled on to since then, is about 1600 sf not including the partially finished basement.  3 little bedrooms.  2 little bathrooms.  Family room, kitchen, wee living room, 2 car garage, 1/4 acre suburban lot. 

– Clothes. Another area I’m SURE I underspend in and need to do a better job with (if only I cared more, sigh).  I DO buy really expensive shoes but not many of them.

– Anything meant to impress anyone other than me.  I like to buy things that have high cultural/aesthetic value to me (mostly original art) but not to impress anyone but me.  In fact my pal who thought I was insane to buy the cranes also had a strong opinion about the folk art ‘angel’ (table legs, license plates, Scrabble tiles are involved) in my living room.  I love it! But she thought I was truly deranged for spending $200 on it.  Not me! It makes me happy every time I see it.

– Much stuff.  I’m not one to buy a lot of knick-knacks or seasonal decorations or any of the things I think people who watch TV see on TV and think they need (though, because of that, I miss out on innovations that really can be useful – but luckily people tell me about things like Swiffers or Oxiclean or whatever!).  One of my mantras is that we don’t own stuff, it owns us – so I’m a ‘less is more’ person! 

These are just my peccadilloes – and not worthy of mention, but it occurred to me that in my discussion of food, then buying my $50 cranes it sounded like all-spending, all-the-time, which is so not the point (and so not me).

I think the point of it all for me is “does my spending align with my values?” — if the answer is yes for me, then I feel I am being conscious about the tool of money.  that my life is congruent.  And that seems good.

What about you?  What do your money and buying choices say about YOU?  And do you have areas, as I do, where you UNDERSPEND and it’s probably not a good thing?  I really want to know!

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I promised more from The Great Reset by Richard Florida, and this is a part I found quite intriguing, from page 111:  “At the hear t of the current crisis is a fundamental confusion about the nature of wealth,’ writes the Economist.  ‘Were an extraterrestrial to be shown a room full of gold ingots, a stack of twenty dollar bills or a row of numbers on a computer screen, he might be puzzled as to their function.  Our reverence for these objects might seem as bizarre to him as the behavior of the male bowerbird (which decorates its nest with shiny objects to attract a mate) seems to us.’  Real wealth is based on the  goods and products we wish to consume or of things (factories, machinery, an educated workforce) that give us the ability to produce more such goods and services.’  Finacial assets, on the other hand ‘arise from the desire to postpone consumption so that money can be saved, either for precautionary reasons or to invest so that more goods and services can be consumed in the future.’ ”

He goes on to say “It’s time we stop confusing the practice of moving money around with generating real wealth.  If we want to prosper again, we’ll need to move the economy away from finance capitalism and back toward the aptly dubbed real economy – investing once again in technology and human capital along with the new infrastructure that can make long-term economic growth possible.”

I heard a joke/story once about a rich guy who goes to some latin American country and is impressed with the cab driver.  He excitedly tells the cab driver that he could help him build his own taxi business – he could have other guys working for him – he’d be rich!  He goes on to tell him that once he’s rich he can do whatever he wants! But the cab driver tells him “what I want is to be with my wife and my children and to be able to take my little boy fishing.  And—- I do that now.”

We work more and more at jobs we like less and less – and even if we don’t then buy stupid stuff to make us feel better – we are often postponing joy.  I didn’t work from 20 November til 1 March – and while I DID go to Pennsylvania to visit part of my family for New Year’s I could have also gone to LA to visit my brother .  Or even taken up the generous offer from some Irish friends and headed over to Cork – Chris & Mark said if I supplied the plane ticket they’d supply everything else.  But I didn’t want to touch my savings, being a frugal type and all….

One of the blogs I read, which I mention here is Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” and it reminds me that life is short and to be here now.  To seize the day.

wealth, I believe is, in many ways a state of mind.  One of my heroes is Peace Pilgrim.  She didn’t have money or stuff, but I think she was pretty rich.

I’m very rich in what matters – health, family, friends, a dear wee cat, work I mostly enjoy, LOTS of creative pursuits lately.  Oh my happiness bank book could use a girlfriend/partner – but even if Ms. Right never stumbles into my life I’d have to say I’ve got a good thing going.  The happy part is knowing that.

Maybe this “great reset” as Richard Florida says will wake more people up to what matters.  “life is short” is a fact, not a bumper sticker. We truly have to seize the day. 

I always think of how people who spend lots of money on useless crap are missing the point, but writing this post helps me to realize that in situations such as I was in this winter – not travelling to see family or friends because i was unemployed (even though I had a year of living expenses socked away) I’m being just as nutsy, but on the other end of the scale.

Maybe the Great Reset (the event)/ or Uranus entering Aries (I keep promising I’ll write an astrology post soon…) are just clarion calls.  Inviting us all to ‘dream another dream.’ 

My favorite novel of all time is Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. It’s the story of Siddhartha Gautama whom we call Buddha.  Every time I read that book the ending just blows me away.  Siddhartha, having been a prince, a mendicant monk, a rich merchant becomes a ferryman (if it were in the current era he’d be a taxi driver…).  The joy and completeness he gets from “Being Here Now” (as Ram Dass wrote, back in the day) is exquisite.

So when you read the doom and gloom crowd who seem to be echoing Bruce Springsteen’s “My Home Town” in their cries of “these jobs are going boys, and they ain’t coming back…” remember, real wealth is something different.  And nature abhors a vacuum – I do believe that’s true.  So there’s something else coming.  And if Richard Florida is right, what follows a Big Depression is a period of rampant creativity.  I’m in!

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