Stop Saying “I’m Broke”


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For years it was my mantra. “I can’t do that, I’m broke.” If friends wanted me to do things with them, it was assumed they’d pay. I tracked every penny to make sure I had enough money to pay my bills at the beginning of the month. I always did, and yet, I insisted on repeating it: “I’m broke.”

But I wasn’t broke. If I were truly broke, why did I have an apartment? A car? GAS for that car? Food? A computer? Games to play on the computer? A TV? DVDs to watch on the TV?

I wasn’t broke. I was choosing where to put my money.

I didn’t see it that way, though. Money was tight. I had to be careful. I spent so much time worrying about money that I didn’t see how much I really had.

Then, one day (after yoga, incidentally), I had an epiphany. If I keep telling myself I’m broke, how am I ever going to get un-broke?

Worrying about money I don’t have is a waste of worry. If there’s nothing to be done about it, the best thing for my sanity would be to just let it go. I can’t tell you how many miracles have occurred when I give myself permission to not worry about money.

One time, I was fretting about how I would cover the cost of something. I realized there was nothing I could do about it immediately, so I gave myself permission to let go of the worry. Later that day, I got a phone call from a former employer telling me they had an un-cashed payroll check in the system from two years prior, made out to me, for $200, and did I want it?

I never could have predicted that could happen, but the point is, every time I’ve ever let the worry go, something happened (usually un-planned or unexpected) that got me out of whatever pickle I’d been worrying about.

Not worrying is one thing. Breaking out of the lie of “I’m broke” is another. For me, forcing myself out of the habit of saying those two words has been the next step in truly letting go. It seemed contradictory at first, so I needed a new mantra to re-program myself. I can’t remember where I read it, but a blogger suggested that instead of saying “I can’t afford that, I’m broke,” replace it with, “I’m choosing to spend my money elsewhere.”

That takes care of two problems: 1) The implication of lack disappears. It’s not that you don’t have money, you do. 2) Lack of control disappears. It’s no longer a situation out of your hands, you are making an active choice. Money, and how you spend it, is a choice like anything else. Constantly giving your perceived “brokeness” the upper hand is willingly foregoing that choice.

Next time you’re feeling “broke”, try and reverse the feeling. Look around you. What do you have? Do you have clothes on your back? A roof over your head? Food in your belly? Can you read these words? That means you have a computer or a smart phone, and Internet access. How broke can you possibly be if you can log on? The truth is, your life is abundant! Try making a list of all the things you have. You probably have more than you even realize.

I started actively changing my thoughts on this at the beginning of the year, and I feel that I’ve successfully broken the “broke” mantra. Now, hearing someone else say it grates against me, like sandpaper on my skin. It sounds like a lie. Stop feeding into the lie. Give yourself permission to feel abundant! Give yourself permission to not worry about money! Change your mantra. The money always comes. Trust that it will, and it will.

So, I Quit My Job Again.

In all honestly it’s been coming for a while. Definitely since the Store Director changed to a woman who came in for two weeks last October and managed to get on every single employee’s bad side. I even texted Green at the time that happened warned him, essentially, I may not be long for this job.

The last straw came in a series of write-ups. Not write-ups for the purpose of correcting me so that I might better do my job, but write-ups in the form of upper management puffing their chests up and saying, “You can’t do that because WE SAID SO.”

I tend to get a lot of flack for quitting jobs so frequently. I have never held down a “day job” for longer than three years. Many people argue I should find a new job before I quit my old one, or at least save up a cushion before I quit.

All of this is very logical and probably, to some degree, very true. Unfortunately, it goes against my nature.

The moment I feel that a job is trying too hard to control me, that is when I begin to rail against it. And if pushed too many times, I feel it’s my duty, out of respect for myself, to leave.

I can find peace with day jobs if I’m allowed small personal freedoms throughout. If those personal freedoms get picked away, and I’m enslaved with the task of stripping my personality and joy away for a set amount of hours while I pretend to be someone else for the benefit of others, that I can’t do.

Quitting is my way of reminding myself that at the end of the day, I have the choice to go to work and I have the choice to not go. I have the choice to do anything I want. I forget this a lot. I let myself fall into the commonly held idea that having and keeping your job is the be-all, end-all of existence. You are unstable and driftless without one. Your world devolves into chaos.

The truth is, that’s only true if you believe it is. In the grand scheme of things, jobs like the ones I’ve had are just jobs. They’re not who you are. They’re not why you wake up in the morning. They pay the bills. But there comes a point when the amount on the paycheck does not equate the amount of personal sacrifice it takes to walk through the doors every day.

I’ve slowly been watching my non-paycheck income grow. I know that I have the capacity to earn for myself if I just trust that I am capable of it.

What sealed the deal is when I realized that the amount of money I earn, going into this place for 18-20 hours a week and subjecting myself to the corporate rules and regulations that make upper management sleep better at night, is equal to the amount of money I’d earn from selling four or five hoops.

Let me reiterate that: I can make the same amount of money doing something I enjoy, providing people with a product I am proud of and that brings joy to people’s lives, as I can doing something lifeless and soul-crushing.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do. Sure, there will be some struggling, cutting back, and close calls. But it’s in exchange for my freedom to follow my bliss unhindered. I just have to DO IT.

The money always comes. I’ve always trusted in this and it has never once failed me.

Sometimes You’ll Have Off Days…That’s Okay.

It’s a new year, and everyone’s making (or possibly already breaking) resolutions to improve their lives, become better people, really make a lasting change this time. The full-speed-ahead attitude that comes with a new year’s resolution is great, but we all know that feeling wears off and you are soon left to face the music: Making a change, especially a lasting change, is really hard.

I never bothered with New Year’s resolutions, even as a kid (I think even then they felt sort of phony), but I have made several attempts at sweeping life change. Sometimes they take, sometimes they don’t. But here are a couple of things to keep in mind while you work through your goals, no matter what they may be; to lose weight, to quit smoking, to travel more, to get a new job, anything.

1) Change takes time.
Real, lasting change does not happen over night. You’re breaking through years of bad habits and ingrained thought patterns, so creating new ones will take persistence. Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect rock solid abs by January 7th. Allow yourself the time to let the change happen.

2) Off days happen. It’s okay.
Some days you’ll get up and start in on your exercise routine or sit down at your keyboard to write your daily word goal and you just won’t feel it. You’ll plod through your routine thinking things like, “This will never work,” “I’m a hack,” “I don’t know why I decided to do this in the first place,” “I want to go back to bed,” etc. Give yourself permission to have days like this. Not every day is going to be fantastic, but bumping up against this sort of thing is what causes a lot of people to fail. They convince themselves during those off days that they really ARE a hack, or this really WILL never work.

It’s not true. When you’re working toward a positive change, the brain will try all sorts of tricky tactics to keep control over the sameness and comfort it is used to. Work through it. Get up tomorrow and try again. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on your off day. Accept it for what it was (a natural part of the process), and move on. Besides, the off days are what make the really GOOD days seem even sweeter!

Happy 2011!

It’s Okay to be Good

There’s been several times in my life when I’ve held myself back from something, not for fear that I wouldn’t do well, but rather because I feared I might do too well. I used to take voice lessons, and I can remember countless times in practice when I would hit a note perfectly, and then tell myself that I wasn’t allowed to have that perfect note because I’d never hit it before. Which is an insane thing to do to yourself, until you think about the fact that once you’ve done something well, you have no excuse to not do well from that point on. It’s easier, and arguably safer, to hold yourself back and stay in your comfort zone.

Don’t. You are not doing yourself any favors this way. I have lost out on so many chances because I didn’t want to let myself be as good as I could be. In my yoga practice, I’ve cheated myself out of so much progress and benefit by holding back in a posture that I felt unfit to move forward in. “I feel like I could go further today,” my body might tell me, and then my brain kicks in, “But you suck at this posture. So stay where you are.”

I really started to experience freedom from this fear of being “too good” when I started hooping. There were plenty of times, especially in the beginning, when I would hold back for one reason or another. Typically, because I didn’t want to appear to be better than the friends I’d been learning with. I would cheer their moments and discount mine.

If you catch yourself doing this, especially with something you are passionate about, take steps to break yourself of it. Start in private. Carve out some time and some space where you are completely alone, and go for it. Push your limits, push your comfort zone, try something that you don’t feel like you “should” be able to do because you’re not at “that level” yet. Forget that levels exist. No one is watching, no one is judging, be good. Be amazing. Get comfortable with the feeling.

The next step is tougher, but important: When you’re ready (and maybe even if you’re not), be good in front of someone else. You can start small here, too. I did it by going out to the park to practice my hooping. Other people could see me, but they weren’t my main focus. It usually took about fifteen minutes of warm-up to get to that place where I felt confident enough to be good. But eventually, people started approaching me and telling me they liked watching me. Don’t let this scare you, and don’t humble yourself. If someone approaches you while you are openly being good, say “thank you” and smile. They may ask you questions. Don’t be afraid to share. But don’t ever say, “I’m not that good” or “It’s really nothing”. You’ve been working hard. Let it show.

From here, you can take your goodness anywhere. If you want to, you can share it with your friends and family, you can branch out and find communities of people who support the goodness of their members, or you can just stick to the park. But take steps to strip away that fear. You’ll be surprised how much else unlocks for you when you let yourself be good, and ultimately, that’s what we’re after. A small jumping off point, an opening to let the good things in your life that you are worthy of rush in. Embrace it, enjoy it, and do not be afraid.

Eliminating Crazymakers

One of the toughest things to do when you are working to improve your life or start out on a new path is to learn that your friends might be holding you back. Not all of them, mind you. Good friends will support you, stick with you, maybe even be inspired by you to change their own lives. But the odds are good that you’ll have at least one crazymaker among your midst trying to sabotage you.

The problem with crazymakers is that they are usually people we care about (or at least want to care about us), and they can be tough to identify and easy to get involved with.

The idea of “crazymakers” comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and reading about them in black and white was a revelation to me. I had just gotten out of a pretty intense crazymaker situation, and it was eating me alive, I felt like I was a horrible person for distancing myself from them, like I was letting them down or something. And then I read the description of crazymakers in the book and it matched up so exactly…I knew that if I hadn’t broken ties, it would have been very toxic for me.

Here’s a bulletpoint list for how to spot a crazymaker:

-Crazymakers break deals and destroy schedules.
-Crazymakers expect special treatment.
-Crazymakers discount your reality.
-Crazymakers spend your time and money.
-Crazymakers triangulate those they deal with to remain the center of power.
-Crazymakers are expert blamers, nothing is ever their fault.
-Crazymakers create dramas, but seldom where they belong.
-Crazymakers hate schedules, except their own.
-Crazymakers hate order.
-Crazymakers deny that they are crazymakers.

If there’s someone in your life that fits this description, it may be time to break ties. This is difficult. Usually these people have their hooks so deep in you, you don’t have much time to step away from the situation and look at it from an objective eye. The way I’ve managed to realize who in my life is a crazymaker is when I try to explain a situation going on with us to a person who does not know the crazymaker in question. Nine times out of ten, as you describe whatever drama or situation seems so serious and normal to you at the time, you’ll start to notice holes in the story or have difficulty describing it in a way that makes sense to an unbiased third party.

Keep an eye on things like this. My crazymakers had me trapped in a house, only leaving when the head of the house deemed it okay, and only for as long as he was comfortable with it. The house revolved around bringing this person whatever he wanted. Whenever I mentioned that I was trying to eat healthy, or picking up a new hobby, or investigating somewhere to travel, his response was always the same: “What for?” Everyone in the house had a slew of addictions and bad, unhealthy habits that they justified endlessly and never made any actions to change. The dynamics of this house were complicated, confusing, and only made sense to the people who lived there (which, for a time, included me). And I actively chose this life. It seemed normal to me.

It wasn’t until I started spending time away from the house that I noticed how destructive it was, and realized I had to make my move to get away. It took a long time for me to finally own up to myself, much less to them, that I didn’t even want to associate with them anymore. These people had become my whole life, I had myself convinced that they were my family, and that they would take care of me as long as I continued to care for them. You can imagine how they railed against me leaving, made me feel like the problems in my life were unfixable and if I left them I would only continue to spiral in my own lack of self-worth.

These are lies. If anyone is trying to keep you involved with them because you’ll be worse off on your own, that should be a HUGE warning signal. You are better than that. If you have even an ounce of suspicion that a person may be destructive to your health or well-being, you owe it to yourself to get away.

If the idea of leaving sounds too challenging or stressful, find someone you trust (someone who is NOT a crazymaker, someone drama-free and non-invasive) to talk to and help you break away. Start slowly. Distance yourself from them one day at a time. Start to notice the difference between life with them and life without them. DO NOT let yourself wallow in any guilt about your decision to break ties.

You can do it. You are worth it.

For more information on crazymakers, who they are, and why we attach ourselves to them, read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.