So I was doing some internal work a while ago about money.  Now, as it happens, I have a pretty good relationship with money.  I like money, I usually have enough, I don’t mind paying bills and since I always pay my bills on time, I have a very sexy credit score.But I couldn’t help noticing that while I always had enough money, I never had more than enough.  My standard of living hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years, and I was feeling like I’d like to participate more fully in the economy; I want to buy stuff.

I took a piece of paper and started writing down all the ways I thought I was about money: thrifty, smart, easy, responsible, careful, respectful, appreciative.  All well and good.  But what about the opposite?  What about the ways I thought I wasn’t allowed to be about money?

I started going with the idea that “what you can’t be with, runs you.”  In other words, if you can’t stand the idea of being rude, then you spend your whole life in terror of rudeness, and you let your fear of rudeness make your decisions for you.  But if you can admit that (sometimes) you are rude, then you can just go about your generally-polite life aware that sometimes rudeness happens, and that’s OK.  (Especially if you apologize afterwards.)

So what do I think I can’t be around money?  Hmmm: irresponsible, careless, profligate, reckless, wasteful, disrespectful, ungrateful… With each word I made a picture in my mind of me behaving in that way.  Irresponsible?  Yes, I could definitely think of a time or two that had happened.  Careless?  Certainly.  Profligate?  Well, not really, but I sort of liked the image that appeared in my mind of me just throwing money around, buying stuff without looking at the pricetag – very Auntie Mame.  This was fun.  Then.  Then.  Then I wrote down the word “thief.”

Well.  Clearly a person can’t be a thief.  That would just be wrong.  But I was committed to my “opposites” game, so I started to think, “where in my life am I a thief?”  And it came to me:

The quarter-inch of lotion in the bottle I couldn’t bring myself to throw away or replace, because there was still some left. 

The freebie lipstick that was the wrong color but I kept it anyway.

The clothes in my closet that don’t fit.

The time I stole from my writing to ditz around doing nothing much at all.

Those items – the ones I was hanging on to out of a sense of “thrift” – were STEALING from me!  They were stealing my time, my attention, my space, even my ability to liberally apply lotion after my morning shower!

And I was stealing my own art right from under my nose.I was the thief, stealing from myself over and over again.

I was stealing my ability to live in the moment.  I was even stealing my faith in the future.  I was stealing away from myself the thought that maybe, if I got rid of the junky bit of lotion or the ugly lipstick or the ill-fitting clothes, that there would still be enough to go around.  That I could “splurge” on new clothes that fit the body I live in right now.  I was stealing the 15 minutes a day I could be spending working on my book – which also meant stealing my integrity.

That’s what my misplace sense of thrift was really stealing: my ability to live in full integrity in this moment.  Right Now.

As you are probably old enough to know: Right Now is all we have. 

Right Now is the whole banana.  We all have friends who have left this earth – they don’t have a Right Now anymore.   (Perhaps they are in an eternal Right Now?)  But we have Right Now, and we deserve to have items in our lives that suit our life Right Now. 

So stop saving things “for good” –  use the good silver every day.

Stop keeping clothes that don’t fit – someone else needs them.

Stop fretting – spending 10 minutes debating the relative merits of one shampoo that’s 50 cents cheaper than another shampoo is NOT the highest and best use of your time. 

Stop wasting time on television shows you’ve already seen.  Don’t let TV or video games be a thief.

And finally, stop pretending that you not spending the time or money on your ART that you know it needs and deserves in order to come full flower is somehow a good idea.  Don’t be the thief of your own creativity.

Find the thieves in your world and give them a big hug and kiss and let them go.

Right Now needs you.

The Snag In Your Sweater, The Ringtone You Hate

The Snag In Your Sweater, The Ringtone You Hate

While a lot of the coaching and free-advice giving I do is about making sure that you spend at least 15 minutes per day on the creative work that makes you happy, this bit is about attending to all those dumb, pesky details that can make your world feel like a dumb, pesky place to be.

For example, let’s take my client, Kevin.  Kevin is a an actor – one of those good-looking-California-surfer types.  He’s a hard-working member of a Los Angeles theatre company, and he occasionally books television and film work, usually playing a good-looking-California-surfer type.

Here’s Kevin’s list of dumb, pesky things:

  • Get the car washed

  • Clear off desk

  • Take “Opening Night” outfit to the dry cleaners

  • Clear out the nightstand drawer

  • Scrub the tile grout in the tub

  • Call Angela – her birthday was ages ago!

  • Check DWP website about drip irrigation program

  • Put scuba gear in garage – get it out of the bedroom

  • Throw out holey underwear

  • Wipe down patio furniture

Now, how long do you suppose these items had been on Kevin’s list?

Here’s Kevin’s embarrassing secret: nothing on that list was less than three months old, and some of them (nightstand drawer) had been on his to-do list for over five years.  We can all point and snicker and laugh, but be honest, how many days or weeks or months have your to-do items been hanging around?

Now part of me wants to say to Kevin, “Look, clearly you don’t really give two hoots about getting your car washed, so why not just cross it off your list entirely and move on to a more interesting problem?”

But the fact is, it bothers him.

None of it bothers him very much, but all of them bother him a little.

So every morning Kevin wakes up, looks at his overflowing nightstand drawer and thinks that he should have cleaned that out already.  Then he goes to the shower and cringes at the sight of his grubby tile grout.  Then he gets dressed, rooting around for intact underwear, trips over the scuba gear, walks past his messy desk on which, somewhere, is his friend Angela’s phone number and he walks past the suit that’s waiting to go to the dry cleaners and he exits his home and notices the dried-out lawn and the grimy patio furniture and he gets in his dirty car and drives to work.

The poor man hasn’t been awake for 45 minutes and he’s already feeling terrible about himself.

That’s why I want you to take care of these niggling things.  Not because anyone cares if your car is dirty, but because it’s affecting your self-esteem, and it’s affecting your ability to believe in yourself.  “How can I start the project of my dreams when I can’t even find matching socks!”  Well, perhaps you can’t.

So make a list of ten little things that:

  • you know need doing
  • you know that if you did them it would make positive difference in your life
  • you’ve been putting off for some mysterious reason

You must keep this list to truly “little” things.  Things that cost
less than $50.  Things that take less than one hour to complete.
Things that might even be considered “errands.”

Now, schedule some time to complete these tasks.  Might be 15 minutes a day, might be one whole day devoted to the whole list, might be delegating these tasks (yes!  delegate!)

Let me know how it feels.

I’d love to hear what niggling little thing you’ve been putting off, and how it felt to finally get it done.