This wouldn’t seem like a big deal to most, but I live in Los Angeles were “rain” is at a premium.
Anyone who knows me, gets that I hate to drive to begin with, but hate it even more in mist, rain, darkness, anything but perfect sunny weather at this point. If I won the lottery today, one of the first things on my list would be to hire a permanent driver. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. I’ve been saying this since I got my license as a teenager. I’ve just never been a fan of driving and I don’t care about cars at all. But, I do drive and yes, I drive well – just like everyone else thinks they do – it’s just not my thing. But, I had an appointment to meet with a client and since I’m a stickler for keeping my commitments, I went anyways even though when I started to leave, the rain was really coming down hard. I can’t lie, I thought about cancelling for a second, maybe a more than a few seconds. Yaaasss, because it was raining! I would have come up with another reason of course, like I was “sick” or something, but I truly considered canceling because of the rain. Hee!
Well, of course I went to my appointment. And in case you missed, I hate driving. I hate rain while driving even more.
I prayed in my car. I did. Honestly, I realized yesterday that I do that pretty regularly. I’m not religious at all, but prayer (wishes, hopes, whatever you want to call it) is a part of who I am. People don’t know this about me – well, maybe one person does, the one who taught me this when I was a little girl, but every time I go by an accident, or need to say a little prayer, or see someone in distress, or just have a fear or need, I do a small cross at the top of my forehead with my thumb. Yes, I know, how very Catholic of me, but I’m not. I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself a recovering Catholic and actually, truth be told, I can honestly say, I hate the Church and most religion any day of the week. But my faith in something “bigger” and “after this life” is on point and strong. I also believe that whatever keeps me hopeful, empathetic, considerate and in joy, is a good thing. Yeah, I pray most every day, maybe sometimes twice a day.
I prayed in my car that my journey on the 405 & 10 freeways would be easy, that people would be kind, that other drivers would use their directionals (we call them blinkers – or blinkahs – in Boston). I prayed that my journey would be safe and that my car would not slip or slide and that my tires would hold out (the guy who changed my oil this year told me I needed new tires because they were worn out and then showed me the worn tread to make his point. This is in my head every time I get in my car. Thank you, mechanic guy.) – I did my little cross on my forehead with my thumb and went on my merry way.
It was a lovely drive. I swear to God, or whatever you believe in, it was incredible! I mean EVERYONE used their “blinkahs” and even though there was one little mishap – where a car tried to get into the next lane during a slow in the downpour while the opposing car was trying to do the same, they both noticed each other and one let the other by kindly. No horn honking, no middle fingers or exasperated looks – actually, there was a “It’s all good” wave by the person in the first car to the other car. Seriously. In Los Angeles! Amazing!
Now, do I think my prayer made that happen? Of course not. I do not believe that’s how it works. The God I believe in, isn’t messing with my head that way. If that were the case, my “prayer” for a few million dollars would have already come true a long ass time ago! Hahahahaha! No, that’s not what prayer is for or about for me…
When I pray, when I do my little cross on my forehead when going past an accident or seeing someone struggle, that pray is a reminder of my compassion. Prayer for me is about hope. A wish that I be better than I used to be, no matter what happens. Prayer is what made me notice the best in people when a slight mishap occurred between two cars in front of me, in the rain on the freeway, instead of being angry and frustrated that it ever happened at all.
Any time is a good time to start changing how you THINK about money. Even around the holidays. Maybe especially around the holidays!
If you can grasp why you feel the way you do about money, you can start laying the groundwork to change your financial stress and/or stop living paycheck to paycheck.
Too many people have an identity that is tied to how much
money they have or don’t have. Stop it!
Imagine a day where you no longer fret over making enough money. Imagine making choices not based on how much you don’t have, but instead, on what you really want to do? It’s possible. You can even learn to save money for that special trip you’ve been wanting to take or buy those fabulous Tamara Mellon shoes you’ve been craving all year long (Yaaaaassss! You say trip, I say shoes, tomato/tomahto). The point is, it’s all possible.
But first, it starts with understanding it’s taken you “this” many years to develop your views about money, so it’s going to take time to work and change it. So, start today.
Understanding your backstory when it comes to money
specifically is the first step in making changes to how you feel about money.
We all have feelings about money. Those feelings are tied
into how we were raised. Our experiences watching adults deal with finances had
a significant impact on how we deal with money today. If you were raised in a well-to-do household,
you may have a distorted view of what it means to “earn a living”. Doing volunteer work because your dad
wouldn’t give you access to your trust fund is not the same as growing up
watching your dad work as a teacher, janitor, secretary or carpenter and never
knowing what a trust fund was/is. Some people never make enough just to put
food on the table, let alone “summer” in France regularly. It just doesn’t happen, it’s not even an
option for most folk. In the same respects, kids born to wealth are not
inherently ungrateful, selfish or unenlightened. Being born into wealth isn’t easier. It’s just different. Some kids born into wealth are raised by
nanny’s – children of wealth may have constant feelings of being shuffled off
and may feel like a nuisance to their parents. “Rich kids” may get everything
they want materially but may miss out on relationships with their parent, which,
let’s face it, is what every kid really wants.
The point is no one should feel bad about what family
financial situation they were born into.
No one has a choice how they come into this world. But we all have a choice in becoming better,
in everything we do when you have the opportunity. That includes understanding
what money is, what it can be and how we can be better about our emotional
attachment to it.
To be very clear: one story isn’t better or more evolved
than the other. Just because you grew up not “summering” or having private
lessons, doesn’t make you a better person.
But our past, matters. Having a
real conversation about WHY you feel the way you do about money is an
important first step to fixing your current financial ideas about money.
For most people whose parents worked regular 9-5 day
jobs, money may have always been a scarcity, always hard to get, felt like some
sort of relief whenever they had it, and easily spent away in one “important”
holiday or unexpected emergency room visit.
For others who may have been born into wealth, money is
hardly discussed but always shown. Children of wealth have similar but
different problems with money. Being given a Honda instead of a BMW for a
birthday gift is a real problem. The
status of driving a Honda among friends may be seen as “not good enough” when
your parents could have afforded a “Beemer”.
It may feel as some sort of punishment.
Again, to some people reading this blog, the idea that a car would be gifted to a teenager may seem unfathomable and many would dismiss the issue as the wealthy teenager being ungrateful. But you would be wrong. For the purposes of this discussion,none of that matters. What does matter is that the stories we personally have about what money means affects us into adulthood regardless of wealth. It can be detrimental to who we are as adults. Our past defines how we relate to money and how we feel about it today. In order to change our emotions about money, it’s important to acknowledge why we believe the things we do.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
When was the first time you remember learning that you were rich, poor, middle class or anywhere in-between? On page 26 of my book CANELA I discuss opening presents one Christmas morning and realizing there was no Santa. And although I always knew we weren’t rich, being poor was solidified for me that day. There was no Santa and when you write a letter asking for what you want and don’t get it, it’s because your mom can’t afford it. My first feelings of not having money is that being poor is bad. We must be bad people. I’m not worthy to have things I want, because we’re poor and being poor is bad. See how that works?
When you were a child and first heard adults talking about money, what were they saying? I remember mostly the bargaining and the begging from my mom needing another week to pay this or that. The negotiating. The hoping she could afford something. I remember her stress and reaction when I asked for something we couldn’t afford. I remember going without because she didn’t have enough. So, money to me has always been a negative entity. Money has always been associated with people with power being cruel to people with no money. I grew up not liking what money did to good people. And thinking that all bad people were mostly people with money. Now, of course today we know that power is a whole other animal and really what that was about. Nonetheless, my issues with money are associated with that experience.
Was money the main topic of discussion in your house growing up? Were there arguments about money you overheard? Money was always discussed in my childhood. Money was the reason for why things did and did not happen. Dreams were based on money. I couldn’t dance because I couldn’t afford new dance shoes or afford expensive “real” classes. Money and not having it was the reason for everything. It became the reason my mother died at 49. Not having enough money to get proper medical care and having to work while sick, is still what I maintain killed her. I absorbed that as a child. Money was cruel. Money was evil. People who had it were horrible to let my mother die. Again, none of this is really the entire truth, but at 11 years old, this is what defined my ideas about money and wealth.
When you wanted something and it cost money, were you made to work for it or was it given to you with a heavy dose of guilt attached or was it a simple transaction? I learned to stop asking for things because it was painful to watch my mother tell me we couldn’t afford it. After I lost my mother, I always felt a burden to other people, so I made-due with what I had and my only goal was to never be a problem. Wanting anything more than what I already had came with a heavy dose of guilt. Self-esteem and self-worth always in flux during those years.
Do you think you have a healthy relationship when it comes to money? Today, yes. But it’s because over the years, I’ve worked with and been around various kinds of people from so many different financial backgrounds – from extremely wealthy clients to individuals starting out with less than two rocks to rub together. I’ve learned from first hand experience how extremely similar all people are about money, regardless of their bank accounts and “net worth”.
The one common denominator that’s changed my views about money is that most people, regardless of the amount of wealth they have, can be very unhappy and struggling. And it usually has to do with how they define money in their lives.
It’s incredibly fascinating. Terribly sad. Totally fixable. And oh, so freeing! The best part: fixing how you feel about money, has nothing to do with how much of it you have or don’t have. Feeling good about who you are regardless, is…well, forgive the cliche, priceless.
Once you understand why you feel the way you do
about money, you can take steps to start deconstructing those ideas and get to
a better place.
Think about these truths/facts:
You are not defined by how much money you have in the bank.
When people meet you, they don’t know how much money you have or don’t have.
People with healthy relationships with money, don’t flaunt money or care about designer anything. Good people with healthy ideas about money value quality over quantity. Quality over cost. Quality over everything.
There are amazing people who have a lot of money.
There are horrible people who have a lot of money.
There are amazing people who have no money at all.
There are horrible people who have no money at all.
People with money have just as many problems as people without money – different problems, but just as bad, just as heart-wrenching, just as stressful (I promise you, this is true).
Poor people’s problems are just as valid as rich people’s problems. And just as important.
You are worthy regardless. Period.
Wanting more money is not a crime. Having money is not a crime. Not having money is also not a crime. Stop feeling bad about any of it.
Till next time. As always, thanks for stopping by.
(Carmen Suarez is an Adviser, Business Manager and Speaker to various start-ups and individual/wealth clients. For more information visit: carmensbusiness.com)
My head gets overwhelmed at times with too much noise when I’m writing – when that happens, I know it’s time to put down my pen – or close my laptop – and go for a walk.
About a mile in, I’ll start to exercise my writer brain by playing my “Describe the Character” game. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. What it does, is give you something else to focus on, while being a bit fun, easy – and if you’re lucky, you can actually develop the great beginnings of a character or scene out of the exercise. In my first book CANELA, this was how I figured out how to combine characters.
Here’s how to play: simply pick a random item in the area and then, without justifying or qualifying, describe it as thoroughly as possible. In this case, about a mile into my walk, I saw a shadowy figure approaching me…without staring too directly, I took in all that I could. Once I passed the person, I jotted down my thoughts in OneNote:
Tall, black running tights, white stripes, three.
Baseball cap, tight black shirt, pecs. Muscular.
Runner. Walking. Hurt. Long legs. Strong arms.
Smile, lots of teeth, white, capped. Bright blue eyes. Long lashes.
Brown hair, white, corporate, executive, Tesla.
Handsome, scruff, married, kids, forty-two.
Friendly, smirk. Head nod. Kind. Neighborly.
Deep. Fall. Cold. Confidence. Unafraid. Worthy.
Swimmer. Parent. Having a good day anyway. Nice.
When I’m having a tough time writing I see it as an opportunity to change things up a bit. As I mentioned in a past post about writer’s block, I like to think of these moments as opportunities. It’s as if the universe is conspiring to have me try something else to get a different creative result. And I have to say, after doing this, I’m hardly ever disappointed. At the very least, it always gets rid of the noise.
I sometimes practice this at my desk as well. I can’t always just go for a walk, especially if it’s the dead of night, so in this case, there are other ways to exercise the writing jewels (my brain). I’ll close my eyes, take a breath and let it out and whatever lands in my eye-line when I open them, that’s what gets described. Here’s what I wrote in OneNote about an ink cartridge:
Dirty. Complicated and expensive. Hate.
White, black, a mess of sorts.
Necessary. Important. Unavoidable, but useful.
Clear. Colorful. Toxic. Technology – Techy. Easy, home use.
Another way to do this is to put on any random song and describe how you feel immediately after listening… In this case, I listened to Lizzo’s Good As Hell.
Positive. Joyful with an attitude. Walking like a model. Freedom.
Happy. Smiling. Advising. Powerful. Elegant. Class. Proper with a touch of street smarts.
Beautiful. Fabulous. Building someone up. Feeling like you got more to do.
The point is, when you can, use tools available to exercise the creative juices. I know writers who use flash cards or just do free writing exercises. The more ways you can self-motivate your creativity and learn to “unstuck” yourself, the better! Now, with these three descriptive pieces of information, I can start writing a new scene or develop a character. At the very worst, I’ve had a little break and stopped the initial noise I had in my head. I can now get back to what I was working on. Win-win!
What tricks or tools do you use to keep yourself in that creative space?
A few years ago, I had to go to the doctor’s office because I was experiencing so much wrist pain I had to get it checked out. At that time, I learned everything I needed to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and because it sidelined me for quite a while, I decided to start making some changes quickly to avoid ever going down that road again. I developed some really easy habits that I do every day that I wanted to share with everyone who writes, stares at a computer all day or is on the phone regularly.
A lot of writers, and creative people in general, tend to
overwork themselves especially when they’re in that zone or experiencing that
ever elusive “light bulb” moment. We’ll write
for hours without stopping — we’re also prone to over-due it when we’re
experiencing some sort of block – we’ll keep grinding and pushing, not realizing
the possible physical toll we may be putting on ourselves, not to mention the
mental one, by hunching over our laptops and staring at the computer screen for
I believe that keeping ourselves physically healthy is
just as important as keeping our mental and emotional state in check. As artists, sometimes we faulter on all of
these in the hopes of creating that next masterpiece. But I’d like to offer the idea that if you
can implement some really simple habits now, it may help prevent you from unnecessary
injury and pain later. If you start now,
it will also become a seamless part of your everyday way of working and will not
impose on your creativity, but actually may help it!
So, what am I talking about? Well, please watch the video for a visual
explanation. But simply, start learning
to take 1-minute breaks throughout your day to do some small stretches with
your fingers, your wrists, neck and shoulders to give yourself a break from
sitting in a static position. Staying in
the same position for long periods of time can lead to cramping, stiffness and
in some cases, possible carpal tunnel syndrome.
Give yourself 30 seconds to a minute break every hour at least, to reassess your
body and stretch for just a bit.
I use the alarm on my phone for just this purpose. I set
it up to chime in one hour increments and the “ring” I use is a very subtle
soothing chime. The type of “ring” you use IS important – I learned this the
hard way – because sometimes you really are in that creative zone and you
don’t want something to jar you out completely.
But a soft notification is just a reminder to finish the thought and do
your quick stretches to take care of your fingers, shoulders, neck and overall
Please note: I’m not a doctor – so understand these ideas
are what work for me and I’m sharing them with you in hopes that it will help
you. I also think it’s important to
state that I don’t think these tiny stretches throughout your day should take
the place of what we all should be doing to have good and healthy lives – eat right,
work-out/be active, mediate, walk and make sure you hydrate with water regularly.
But adding these small moments
throughout your day will definitely help with taking care of the physical part
of you, the writer, the artist, the worker, so you can continue creating all those
beautiful stories the world needs to hear.
I hope this has been helpful. I’m curious what other people
do to prevent from getting stiff or cramping while writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post is also part of a great group of writers called
#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – please click on
this hashtag or the pic to find other great sources of tips and tricks that
other great writers use to keep on creating…
The only thing we are guaranteed the day we are born is
that inevitably we will die. We don’t know how or why or when, but eventually
we all do stop having “TIME” to do, to be, to live. It is an undeniable truth we all have in common.
I’m not going to say what you think next – I’m not going
to encourage you or try to inspire or motivate you to live your best life. I’m not.
I have faith that you try to do that every day. We all do the best we
can with what we have in front of us. And yeah, I’m tired of the constant
cheering on, the pushing and the loud screaming about all the ways for you to
succeed. As if you’re not already doing
your best to be better every day…
No, today, on this day of remembrance, this day that
reminds me of how precious life is – how we can lose a college friend like Cesar
Murillo, in a moment, for no reason at all except that he was in the twin towers
going to work – on this day when I reflect on time, on birth, on death – on this
thing we call life, the only thing I’m going to encourage you to do, is to take
a deep breath. Exhale. Take a moment to be grateful for all of it.
For the process, for whatever all of THIS is. Existence, possibility,
If you’re reading this be grateful for the good, the bad,
the mundane, the joyful, the sad. Reflect on this moment as a powerful one. As
a quiet one. Acknowledge that you are
here, you are worthy, lovely, and perfect just as you are.
Appreciate this moment in a time of grace. And never forget…