From Welfare to Empowerment
I was raised by a single mother on social welfare. We got food stamps. My dad left when I was two (or my mom left my dad, I suppose I should say.) We lived in a duplex home and my mom worked, put herself through school, went to night classes, and became a special education school teacher. Growing up, she always said, “Don’t buy anything unless it is on sale.” I watched her, year after year, clip coupons, find deals and then bathe in the euphoric rush of a shopping high. I heard her say, over and over, such phrases as, “Save your money.” “You can’t afford that.” “That’s too expensive.” “I would never buy that.” Her parents said such things as, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Or, “It is just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man.” Ouch. That one kinda hurts, especially since I have always fallen in love with poor men. Thanks, grandpa, and by the way, if you are listening, and you still believe that from the after world, could you send a rich man my way? 😉 I’ll try it out for a change. Any of these phrases sound familiar? They are the conversations many of us were born into.
My father’s side of the family, the Haynes’, came from Paynegap, Kentucky. They were straight up Hillbillies of the first degree. My grandmother lived in a small home with no running water. Her father worked in the coal mines until it paralyzed and then killed him. Her mother worked at the post office, and so she felt rich, as they actually had old Sears catalogue pages to use as toilet paper. My grandma, Jackie, would bathe the neighbor kids and then after all eight had finished, she was able to get in and bathe. Gross. Grandma Jackie, may she rest in peace, only had an eighth grade education. She married my grandpa, and settled in for a life of abuse.
My mother’s side of the family comes from French bourgeois, and was traced back to Kings and Queens in Europe. I am part Hillbilly and part royalty. 🙂 I come from a long line of confusing messages about money.
Today, I am a career woman. I did what was expected of me by my elders. I earned a higher degree, then a Masters Degree, and went to work. Seven years into a full-time teaching career as a public educator, I make about 45,000 dollars a year. (I’m rounding up.) This sounds pretty good, and my mom tells me it is the average income in America, so apparently I am doing well. It looks a little worse when you know that I am 40,000 dollars in debt as a result of my Graduate Degree and Masters Degree. So, given that I work hard and make a good income, one might think that I could buy furniture, right? My home is my security, my haven, sacred space. I love having it be beautiful. I have been loving myself a little better recently by buying some “big” purchases. These include the following: an earring tree for my jewelry. A nice basket for my hats. Song bowls. Crystals for my home. My first expensive pair of sunglasses in over ten years. Nice clothes that are not on sale (but they are hand-stitched, or organic, or sustainable clothing.) My mother would cringe. I shop at Whole Foods. On purpose. Regularly. My mother says, “Oh, have you recently come into money?” The way I see it, I am supporting organic farming, local farmers and businesses and investing in my health now, instead of in health care when I am old. I feel good about spending my money at health food stores. Today, I bought myself two new dining chairs for my living room. They are beautiful. I suffered and felt guilty and irresponsible and almost walked out without them because I don’t need them. I think of starving children. I think of what would happen if we all lost all our money tomorrow. I should save. I can’t really afford these chairs. I have debt. And yet, feels good to me to live in a home that is aesthetically beautiful. It feels good to surround myself with pieces I love. After I bought these chairs, I realized they were the only pieces of furniture I have bought for myself. Every single piece of furniture in my home has been inherited from deceased grandparents, given to me, or is old stuff others no longer want. And yet, I still feel incredibly guilty and vulnerable in sharing publicly about money.
My mom will retire in three years. She has worked hard for the last 25 or so years as an 8th grade Science teacher in Denver Public Schools. After a great-aunt of mine passed away, my mother inherited a quarter of a million dollars. She invested the money. With the economic crash, she lost a bit. Story goes, she’d be a millionaire now if the market had not crashed. Bummer. However, regardless of the amount of money she has, she still has the same old inherited conversations that run the show. So, though my mother has way more money than she ever imagined, she still stresses over money. She still gets worked up, worried, and desperately attempts to hold on to the money. So, hundreds of thousands of dollars sits in a bank. Maybe Janis Joplin was right, freedom really is just nothing left to lose.
I am of a different generation. I believe she should enjoy her money now. I think she should retire, travel, do whatever she wishes with it. I also think she should share it a little more with me, but hey, I’m only human. She thinks if I had it my way, we’d spend it all and then we’d have none. Point taken. I get it. And, yet, I hope that she lives long enough, and the current way of the world and banking stays stable long enough, for her to enjoy the money. Carpe Diem.
All this to say, I want to have fun with my money. Now. While I have some. I hear the echos in my mind of generations of the past that tell me to save and hold on to the money. I hear people say how bad the economy is, how hard it is to find a job, how I should hang on to mine, save, invest.
I cultivate faith in my heart that my source is my God. My source is the one, eternal source. I am not sustained by my pay check. I am a child of the universe and I believe in possibility and that I can attune my vibration to one of attracting resources. I am not a master at this, and yes, I am employed. I look at my family, who were all so poor as I was growing and I remember the suffering and the sadness in my heart that I wanted to help and take care of them. I wished so much for money for my mom. Now, she and her siblings are taken care of for the rest of their lives, and when they pass, I will be taken care of for the rest of my life; but I don’t bank on someday. I live on today. Today, I want to say, may we all let go of these old paradigm conversations that we have to slave for our sustenance, that corporations or companies are our source of livelihood. May we come to know in our hearts and our minds that we are, and always have been, sustained by the love of God, whomever or whatever you deem your God to be.
And while we do live in this world of money and jobs, let’s enjoy our money! I work hard, I earn a good amount, and I easily spend it on bills, but do I have fun with it? My new practice of buying myself some wonderfully new, fun things has me meet the inner critic, my sub conscious, the inherited conversations of deceased loved ones, who live on in my mind and find their way into subsequent generations, effectively keeping us chained to false beliefs that paper money is what it is all about. I say we are spirits in human form. I say we are infinite, amazing, creative, talented beings. We need not be ruled by fear.
My ideas about money today come from many wonderful sources which help me to break out of the chains of yesterday’s thinking. Have you checked out the Zeitgeist Movies? Click here, or give a listen to Abraham Hicks, or A Course in Miracles.
Here are some pictures of beautiful spaces I am creating in my home using money!
I leave you today with a couple of quotes, as I am a quote lover. 🙂 May we all appreciate, see and experience the abundance that is all around us right now and may we excitedly anticipate the richness of all that is to unfold.
Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.