For a long time, I’ve left money out of the conversation about celebration and gift giving. It’s likely that the only context you’ve heard me talk about money is in my “spend less; give more” campaigns in which I encourage folks to make gifts or create experiences for loved ones instead of buying material things.
I do believe that many of the most unique and impactful gifts are ones that don’t cost anything, but are ones born out of pure creativity and love. I believe what people want most in the world is to be seen and loved. We want to know that who we are matters. We want to spend time with family friends. We want connection.
And we can give those kinds of no-cost, all-love gifts as often as we are able! It is important for us as a culture to separate gift giving from materialism. It’s pretty darn likely that this will be a focus of my work for years to come because it is fun for me and I’m always excited about crazy, wonderful gifts people think up for one another.
And. (I know “and” isn’t a sentence, but it just needed to be on its own right here.)
And. (There it is again. It wants to be emphasized, I guess!
Recently I’ve been bringing more consciousness to my relationship with money and I’ve realized that a lot of my creative life, including one-of-a-kind gifts, grew from a scarcity mentality. I started making one-of-a-kind gifts for people because I often didn’t have extra income to go out and buy someone something. Instead I would make a photo gift, write a funny poem, or plan a special adventure day.
I’m not ashamed of this or regretful. I love that something so meaningful to me grew out of a place of lack. As many of you know, I was very depressed and anxious for years. Making creative gifts of love for people not only helped me financially, it was a huge emotional stepping-stone for me. Creating those pinpricks of light for others shifted my whole experience of life. (But that’s another story; one many of you already know!)
So it has felt like a win all the way around.
And yet, there is a dark corner of all of this that I am shining a light into lately. It’s this: all this time I’ve held the belief that I’m someone who just doesn’t have a lot of money-making capabilities and so it is good that I’ve found all these other paths to joy.
I’ve kinda just shrugged my shoulders and assumed that it is an either-or: either we live a creative, artistic life or we make a lot of money and are free from financial stress and woes.
Some of you may have read the article I wrote for Mabel Magazine a few months ago that was all about my money mishegoss. There was something about exposing that confusion and shame that made it dissipate. I can’t explain it. It was like clearing a field so I could plant something new.
After the article ran, I was invited to create a bi-monthly column for Mabel called “Money Talks.” I get to interview all kinds of folks about making money and living the creative life. Wow-oh-wow have I learned a lot from all these writers, musicians, visual artists, and entrepreneurs.
As often happens when we turn our attention to something, all kinds of similar things start showing up. One friend invited me into her amazing Mastermind on the book, The Science of Getting Rich. Another friend introduced me to the world of tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and gave me a new money script to tap to. My Zen teacher taught a mindfulness class on money. Everywhere I turned, it seemed as if I was being offered new ways of seeing my relationship with money.
And then I met two new Aussie friends, Cara Rogerson and Dr. Tony Pennells, when they were visiting San Francisco over the summer. I instantly fell in love with their vibrant energy, generous hearts, and big mission in the world. And yep. They’re all about money, too! They are out to teach ordinary people the truth about how to get financially free.
Tony told me his story about becoming a doctor because he thought that was the way to help his family and to create some financial stability for himself. He had seen his parents struggle and he wanted a different reality for himself and his future family. Tony also told me how he wanted his parents to be proud of him because they had sacrificed a lot relocating twice to give their kids a better future. He didn’t want to let them down.
But instead he started to learn that even having a high-paying profession didn’t offer him the kind of life he hoped for. There was still so much money-stress and he longed for more time to be able to spend with people he loved. He started teaching himself all about the world of financial freedom.
It is kind of crazy that what we’re taught about money — “get a good job and save for retirement”— doesn’t really help us create a sustainable life.
Tony and Cara tell me that 96% of the people in this world are regularly stressed about money. That even people we think seem really well off financially often have tons of money stress and debt. That’s crazy, isn’t it? Why weren’t we all taught a different way?
I’m just beginning to follow what they’re teaching + to believe that it is never too late. I don’t want to have to worry about money. And I really want my teenage son to learn this stuff so he doesn’t have to struggle over money. I want him to have lots of time in his life to really do the things he wants to do. I want him to feel like he has choices.
Tony + Cara are just starting a financial freedom series in which they are giving away a lot of how-to content. I want to share this with you because I think it might open up a lot of possibility for all of us. I love sharing my own journey with you and it helps me a lot to try to verbalize what I’m going through. (Like now!)
Tony says that 4% of the wealthiest people in the world live by an entirely different (but easily adaptable) set of principles. The other 96% of us have been taught these myths about finances. We follow what we think is the best path to take, but most of the time it leaves us going around in circles — and running out of gas!
When you download the free book, you’ll have access to a short video from Tony sharing more of what he has learned about money and freedom. I wouldn’t be sharing this with you if I haven’t already delved into the work Tony is up to. I have had a number of conversations with him and I know that he has a huge heart for wanting to help people with all their money stress.
Download his free ebook (The 5 Lies That Keep You Time And Money Poor In The Wealthiest Country On The Planet) + video message: Get the free book now.
I’m not exactly sure where this journey will take me. But I like that I’m being challenged to see possibilities where there weren’t any before. Just like a few months ago, when I was in conversation with you about end of life, this one, too, feels like unexplored territory. It’s exciting. I’m downloading the book along with you. And I’ll be sharing other money stories and resources, too.
I don’t want any part of life to be left out of celebration. How about you?
Here’s to riches of all kinds, including monetary ones,
P.S. I think it is going to be great fun to be on this journey with you and to continue talking about gift giving and amazing experiences we can share with people we love — whether those gifts and experiences are free or whether they cost money. If I had a lot of money, you can bet I’d still be making Love Lists for people. But I’d also be thrilled to create awesome experiences for people that I can’t afford right now. I’m thinking, for example, how much I would LOVE to surprise my friend Suki with a trip to Paris since that city is so dear to her and we both enjoy cafes and old bookstores. Imagine! (Suki, if you’re reading this … sorry I ruined the future surprise!)
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