I want to talk to you about money. Actually, I want to talk to you about your real bottom line. Because if you’re like most of us, you may be trapped in an equation that doesn’t equate. Yes, money is important. But there are pearls of greater price. Take this little journey with me-- because I want to talk to the common sense of your uncommon maverick heart.
First, let’s just acknowledge: It’s expensive to be unhappy. You have to continuously prop up a life that cannot and will never stand on its own.
Way back in my lawyer days, I remember rushing back to the office from a therapy session, sixty minutes of honesty with myself, wiping away tears, then slumping back into my zombie existence. I was crawling on thorns to survive my life. Then I had a realization. I make good money. But it costs too much.
Lately, I’ve had another revelation. My real bottom line is more than a sum-total of shekels. I’m paying attention to where I come alive. Yes, when you choose meaning over money in your lifetime, you may earn less dollars initially or maybe always. But contrary to what you’re trained to believe, money isn’t security. And it’s security you really want and need and crave.
I’m going to share with you some of what’s on my unconventional balance sheet. I hope it opens your mind to yours.
1. I’m not only living more fully, I’m likely to live longer. Kale, schmale. It’s healthy to do what you love. Medical studies show that people pursuing their passions are more engaged in their lives and often healthier. I once read a story about a 90 year-old man, told he only had a few weeks left to live. “Oh, but I have to take care of the roses,” he protested. Apparently, he went on to take care of those roses for years.
More people die on Monday morning than at any other time. Their hearts give out. Believe me, I’ve seen people with pasty faces and flat eyes tell me, “I’m saving for retirement.” And I want to yell, save yourself! And I think about the woman years ago, who rushed up to me after a talk I gave in Albuquerque. “You have to tell your audiences,” she said. “Tell them what?” I asked. “Tell them about me,” she said. “I did everything right. I worked so hard. I hated my life, but I didn’t want to be stupid or reckless. I didn’t run off to Paris. I didn’t even take a painting class on the weekends! I just kept deferring and deferring. I told myself I couldn’t take the time. But now I’m dying,” she said. Her voice cracked. Then she practically yelled at me. “I’ve been preparing my whole life for the future. Now I don’t have a future. Tell people. Tell them about me,” said this strident messenger in a GAP sweatshirt. I promised her I would. And I have.
2. I love the impact my life has on others. I often receive copies of paintings, books, and CDs in the mail as well as tales of travel adventure, expanded coaching businesses, and happy marriages. “For years, I’d abandoned my songs. I hid them a drawer,” says Jenna, a member of my Inspired & Unstoppable Life Tribe. “But you got me excited and I recorded those songs and now I’ve met someone who is going to market me!” I think to myself, oh, you can take me now. It thrills me that my work stirs others to claim their talents, experience the power of their own magnificence, be role models to their children, and benefit humanity. This is part of my compensation package.
Some years ago, a woman told me that her friend Sarah read my first book This Time I Dance! as she lay dying in a hospital bed. I was moved, startled, and a bit confused. “Why would she read a book on creating the life and work you love?” I asked her friend. “Oh, she wasn’t working on her career. Your book made her feel loved. She wanted to deepen her self-love. So, she read her favorite parts of This Time I Dance! again.” I looked at this woman as though she had handed me a bouquet of orchids, a “Get Out of Self-Attack-for Life” free pass and a Nobel Peace prize. I felt blinded by gratitude and tears. Trust me, I never had this feeling when I was writing legal briefs establishing limited jurisdiction.
3. I can breathe. I don’t feel like a hunted animal anymore—feeling like time is running out and I’m supposed to be doing something, but I don’t know what it is or how to do it, and apparently buying all kinds of crap that I really don’t need is not the answer. It’s not like I have it all together. But I know I’m on the right path. I’m asking the right questions. I’m taking the risks that matter to me instead of unconscious ones that don’t. I sleep at night without wine, Ambien or a club to the head. Peace of heart is a powerful drug.
I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to hold my breath. I don’t have to force myself to go somewhere I don’t want to go to be with people who diminish, bore, or irritate me while I smile and try to fit into the distorted menagerie. I no longer have to kill a thousand trees journaling my sorrows.
4. I’ve received money I wasn’t expecting. I have had people tithe to me—yes, total strangers send me checks in the mail, because they believed in “supporting the source of where they felt sustained.” Can you imagine opening your mail and receiving a check from someone you don’t know—written in the ink of gratitude, no strings attached? It’s happened, too, when I’ve been comparing myself to others and what they “seem” to have. It’s helped me to feel a sense of belonging in a vast network of grace. Others reached out in pure generosity, small and large, which enabled me to keep going-- and write and speak in ways that make others feel loved. It’s a conga line of exaltation and blessings.
Now of course, no accountant in the world would look at this as an airtight business plan. But, I’ll tell you, this unpredictable wonder keeps me plugged in to something more precious than control. It’s a jolt of recognition, a knowing that there’s a brilliant energy, invisible yet palpable. I may not always feel as though I’m standing on solid ground. That’s okay. The way I see it-- I’m on a magic carpet ride.
5. When I work hard, it’s in the service of something I care about. The work matters to me for its own sake, not as a means to an end. Working hard doesn’t drain or disgust me. It doesn’t numb me. I’m not fighting myself to do something I don’t want to do. I’m fighting for myself and I feel championed from within and this makes me want to cry big pots of tears if think about it for any amount of time.
Recently, I led a five day retreat and stayed up late with some of the participants, screaming with laughter. My stomach muscles ached. I almost spit out my lemongrass tea. We were loud and ridiculous and having more fun than monkeys. The thought crossed my mind: I would pay any amount of money for this feeling. And I’m getting paid for this.
6. I feel the ultimate security of living and exploring what I want to experience now, not later You can’t take from me the dances that I have danced. I learned this Cuban saying years ago and it sustains me daily. Sure, I’d like more zeroes after the numbers in my bank account. But I also know that anything can happen at any time and those mighty digits can turn into a zero—poof! But my memories can never be taken from me. Love, laughter, and the fulfillment and honey in my bones are permanent. I’ll take these commodities to my grave. I even believe that love will get me better tickets to a better adventure in whatever good comes next. I don’t think I came into this life just to acquire money. I think I came to divest myself of fear, limits, false beliefs and to live my truth and make the difference that only I can make.
7. I feel more secure than I ever have before. I feel the Presence of the Infinite in my life. I never realized that doing what I love to do would be a prayer. But it’s been my gateway to the divine. I didn’t know that when I said yes to my desires, I was really saying yes to a Higher Self, one that had been beckoning me all along. I am flooded with abundance and affirmation. I feel guided.
Don’t get me wrong. I love making money. But money is no longer the source of my freedom and power. For me, it’s this spiritual journey. Love takes you places. And on a practical level, you discover that there are a thousand and one ways to achieve things and that you always get what you really need. But now you don’t need to deny yourself. You need to become yourself.
Each of us has our own chemistry. What’s right for me, may not be right for you. But here’s what’s always right. It’s always more secure to listen to your heart than to ignore it. There’s a reason you have your desires. They are the portals to new powers. You may think it’s better to be “realistic.” I’d suggest it might be better to experience a new reality.
You deserve to be happy and to pay your bills. May your bottom line and your highest good be the best of friends. ***
Ready to unleash your calling and create the work and life you love? for an extraordinary ONE day event: Nov. 18th on Saturday DENVER, COOr take your creative dreams to a whole new level of success? Join me in Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! Tell your friends and REGISTER NOW
Or join me for a WEEKEND RETREAT on Jan 19th-21st to kick off the NEW YEAR and Unleash Your Calling: Create the Work + Life you Love at the amazing Kripalu Center in MA. This is an amazing weekend! REGISTER NOW