I too Have a Dream…

July 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm (Art, Letting go, LoVe, Relationships, simple frugality, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

I have been reading a lot lately and have come to the conclusion finally that I am not alone in my anti-marketing philosophy. I have always believed in meeting people’s needs and not selling them on something whether it is a belief or a product.

We all have too many people trying to separate us from our money, time and resources.

If it is true that when we give advise we are really talking to ourselves in the past then I have a lot to say to a younger me! I will start with STOP spending so much money on crap you don’t need and won’t want soon. I once did a sickening exercise in money blown and how much it really is and it blew my mind. I spent more money on pointless items and eating in restaurants when I was young and struggling to earn than when I was making a very healthy living… I would also say to her dare to take more chances in love and career. I stayed where I didn’t belong too long for reasons I am still not quite able to reconcile. Looking back the chances I have taken and the leaps of faith have paid off. The times I was living in fear and passed on taking those leaps ended up not panning out quite as well. I would have to say living within your means is highly under rated in our culture and yet it is the passport to freedom. Staying in a job because you support the good folks at American Express cuts your options in life. Not owing anyone but the landlord and the gas and light company each month equal more opportunity to change your life as you see fit and act on opportunity as it arrives.

Saving money has many implications. Am I saving money on a purchase or saving because I didn’t make a purchase and put the money aside for bigger dreams? Either way save it, stash it, make it and appreciate what it can do for you. Opportunity cost is that which you missed out on because you couldn’t backpack across India with your friends because you spent all your cash in clubs, restaurants and Nordstrom. You can only spend it once despite what the commercials for credit cards want us to think. I was looking over my last year’s credit card summary (I paid this off last month) and I paid over $1750 in interest alone! That is a roundtrip ticket to anywhere on the planet! Talk about opportunity cost?! I am now saving the amount I used to pay in on my credit card and have set aside a portion of that for international travel. I am now able once again to do little things I put on hold during the payoff period. I have bought a few books and am spending some on sailing lessons a life long dream. I plan on spending some time sailing while traveling so getting my certifications is important to me. I never regret money spent on personal education and training.

Health and the debt illness. I believe the stress from debt is very hard on health. It was for me. I spent too much energy on worrying and coming up with money in tight months to pay them first. I now have a huge weight off my shoulders and it feels great! Now I can buy healthier organic food and again that is an improvement for my health. Not getting sick is a whole lot easier than getting well. Sounds like double talk? No, not really when you stop to think about the cost of stress and cheap food on your health.  Even the cost of the gym membership which financial gurus will try to convince you must be given up is money well spent when used. Exercise has a lot to do with reducing stress and overall health. Something I should mention to my younger self and remind my present self.

Travel is high on my priority list as I did not travel much in early adult life. I made a rather quick decision to move to France in 2007 as part of a study abroad for my business school. I attended a private university in the Calanques outside of Marseille. The natural environment was so stunning I could not gather the words to tell my family back home how incredible it was to go to school and live in a forest on the sea. I spent my weekends in Paris and Nimes and Arles and the surrounding countryside. I spent my week-long breaks in Amsterdam. My boyfriend came to visit for two weeks and stayed two months even traveling to Italy during my mid terms to check out the Angel Academy of art where he hoped to one day study.  None of this would have been possible had I not saved for years and gone without lattes at school (I brought my own tea bags and commuter mug) and planned ahead. I was able to pay cash for my life abroad and incurred no debt. I was free to travel and explore the French countryside as no tourist ever could. My boyfriend and I had discussed traveling to Belgium and Holland in the first year of our relationship and in the second I went to France. Although we are no longer together our shared experiences in Europe are a tie that binds and is full of memories of trials and fun and discovery.

My most recent journey into debt involved helping out a family member which again I have no regrets except that I could have planned and managed it all better on my part. My mother taught me never to loan money you can’t afford to gift so I always see these things as just that. Now that I am debt free for a third time in my life (the last time lasted 13 years) I am older and wiser. Money is just a tool and nothing more so spend it like your time…wisely.

 

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Too Many of the Wrong Things

July 13, 2012 at 5:55 am (Letting go, simple frugality) (, , , , , , )

It occurs to me as I continue down the path of minimalism that the problem is too many of the wrong things in my life and not enough of the right stuff.

By right stuff I mean bras that fit, tools for the jobs I do and not boxes of tools for jobs I will never tackle myself. Shoes which fit my lifestyle versus my sex-goddess alter ego’s. So I have dropped off a box of purses, designer shoes and belts at the local consignment store. I also dropped a bulging bag and box at the thrift store of short tees, scratchy, un-breathable “travel wear” and more empty picture frames so ugly  wouldn’t even put a picture of someone I don’t care for it them….where did they come from? Mom perhaps?

I already have another pile for the consignment shop of bags and shoes that no longer fit my lifestyle. Someone else will be happy to get them at an affordable price.  I found an online donation place for old phones, cameras etc. where I choose who the donation money from the sale of my electronics goes. I like this idea. I placed an ad on Craigslist for a solid maple bed made in the USA and offered it for a very reasonable price. I have had people email me with ridiculous offers. I will donate the beautiful bed before I give it to someone who fails to see the value when it is already priced at %10 of what I paid.

I also have a little Hitchcock style black maple desk with stenciling also made in the USA I am going to list for sale. I used to use it but now it is too small for my desktop needs so I want to find it a good home.  I used to be so attached to fine furniture and antiques and now it all seems so silly when a dresser is a dresser as long as it does the job and looks reasonable I am happy.  I currently have an empty drawer in my china cabinet…I intend to keep it empty for a while…

Now if I could only get the garage cleaned out completely I would know what I have and don’t have …or need in the piles.

Oddly of all the things I have let go off I still have the gym bag from a favorite boyfriend and a butterfly Zippo he gave me and a dozen other items because he had the gift of giving useful…I really appreciate that trait in him, that and his generosity. So I hope that as others clean out their lives I will have given useful and beautiful items as well and that the owners cherish them…and if not the next lucky owner will.

 

 

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Fifty Shades of Blue

July 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm (Letting go, LoVe, Travel) (, , , , , )

Is how a beautiful man once described my eye color. More recently it has come to my attention there is a book of a similar name. Grey instead of blue…which may also describe my eye color when I am angry (rare.)

I am currently reading “Love in the Time of Cholera” and have just seen the beautiful movie which I had somehow missed these past five years since its release. This is the story of love and its many permutations. Love which waits forever never knowing the outcome, love which resides despite pain in an often difficult marriage and the discovery that love, although we age love perhaps does not. It distills and grows and becomes something more pure in time when left on its own.

Love is a topic with which I am well acquainted. I have known it and I have known love’s shallow sister lust. That desire which once satisfied, loses its appeal. Love on the other hand cannot be dismissed no matter hard you try. It has a way of reminding you of itself just when you think you have moved on and found peace with not being in love…Love conquers us in a way we cannot control.

I used to try to hide that fact that I am still very much in love with someone from my past, but I no longer concern myself with what others may think. My love is very far away and yet tucked in close to my heart. I need no formal communication to know it is very real and has a heart beat all its own. I may not ever have the opportunity as our hero did in Marquez’ beautiful story but, I hold my love close in my heart and head all the same. I pray for his health and happiness and wonder what he would think of my paintings, but I do not contact him to ask his opinion although I paint with his voice in my head reminding of why I am painting. Do I have a story or message to share with the viewer?

I continue to date men who will never hold my heart the same way or kiss me in that moment which stops time…I live each day knowing that I have had the kind of love which is written of and yet rarely experienced. The short time I had was enough to enrich me for a lifetime. I have learned so much about myself by being loved…I have learned to trust myself and him. I have learned that I do not need a map in a foreign city in order to find myself…or as Francis in “Darjeeling Ltd” says “We haven’t located us yet”!

ImageFrancis has planned every detail of this train trip through India right down to laminated daily itineraries made by an assistant who is in another car and is theoretically never seen…It is not until they are “lost” and their plans unravel ingloriously that they find themselves and each other. Ultimately we must all drop the excess baggage which slows down our journey and allow ourselves to just enjoy where we are at each day.

The irony here is while traveling I had that wonderful boyfriend who insisted upon carrying all our bags…if only I could have seen through  to the obvious metaphor percolating beneath the surface and appreciated that more. I would have bought less and traveled even more. The things I bought while traveling are for the most part gone, used up, given away, or lost but the memories of even the getting lost are deeply ingrained in who I am…in my core.

I petulantly resisted some of the wisdom of losing my attachment to where I was going while we were together in foreign lands and so in the moment did not appreciate the bigger picture and how it would change me and I would grown in ways I could never have imagined. I could not understand why he tore up my map of Paris as we wandered the streets. I get it now…and how.

Many people after becoming a certain age feel that they are no longer in the game or are on the sidelines in a game they have only ever watched. I feel like I am the pitcher in the World Series game of my own life. I am also the batter and in all that has gone on before has brought me to this place of understanding and strength…of knowing who I am so that I might recognize others as they truly are in their grace and love and craziness and all that is wonderful about them.

So my story is not about subservience or control but rather letting go of control and just accepting the love regardless of the physical distance…of moving ahead in each moment as if it were my last and I will live forever. I may never see him again or I may be with him again…it is not for me to know but just to hold his place in my heart.

So when I wonder what brings me to this place I can say that I started out on a spiritual journey, and I am still on it and my baggage is only carry on…

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