Thursday, July 26, 2012

filthy lucre

I am screwed up about money. It has taken me a while to figure this out. Most of my fears are about money, or the lack of it. The solutions I spin out in my head are almost always about money. Finding more, making more, winning some. I think that it's not important to me -- that family, friends, experiences are more important. And it's true that that is what I value most. But money is what controls my thoughts.

I had a terrible couple of weeks. What happened? Absolutely nothing, except that we had no money on hand. I was healthy. My loved ones were healthy. We had food, a roof over our heads. We laughed, ate, had fun. And I was miserable. Flooded with anxiety and worry about money.

I make decisions based on beliefs about money. I should be able to afford this, because I make a good living. So I buy it, even though really, I absolutely cannot afford it. I should be able to have a nice vacation, because people in my bracket take nice vacations. I earned it. That I really truly can't afford it is immaterial. The calculus in my head is not interested in reality. It is interested in perception. I feel really good about my job, my position. Is it because of status? Nope. It's about income. I could do the exact same job, with the exact same title. If I made half as much, I would feel embarrassed about myself and my job. It's ugly, but I've come to see that is how I truly think.

It's a habit, that way of thinking. It has deep roots going all the way back to my childhood. I see that now. I felt money could solve all problems. Money was freedom. Money was control. It was what everyone wanted. I am not sure someone who has always had enough of it would understand how it could become like a god, but it did.

Now I am trying to break that habit, that thought pattern. I am working on it, struggling with it. Trying to break the hold. Have less. Want less. I need to break the tie in my mind between wealth and worth. I need to stop thinking of financial security as control. It's not. I could be rich as Croesus and just as subject to the whims of fate.

We'll see how I do.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

ruminations on 50


It is hard for me to wrap my head around it, but I am now 50. If I am really fortunate, this is the halfway point. If I'm not, then I am on the downward slide. It's okay either way. I am very happy with where I am right this minute. I feel better than I felt at 40. I am thinner, fitter, healthier. I am happier with work, happier with home, happier in general. In the last 10 years I have seen my child go from a difficult 8 to a pretty great 18. I've moved to a city I love. We got a dog, who has been a joy more often than not. We've been to Nova Scotia, Belize, Paris, and Rome. We've hiked in the Smokies and gone tubing down a jungle river. We've spent far more than we earned, and enjoyed all of it. I've met some wonderful people, and made some terrific friends. I've lost some people I loved, and some I didn't. I've had a concussion, had my gall bladder out, gotten bifocals, developed arthritis in my hands. I took psilocybin, learned to meditate, committed to Buddhism. I've almost doubled my income. I've worked too much overtime, too many evenings and weekends. I got better at what I do. I've learned to make some great food, and made some whopping kitchen disasters, too. I listened to great music. I've been through two new cameras and two laptops. I have the same car, with more scratches than before. I went up to a size 14 and down to a size 6, before settling at 8. I still can't carry a tune.

I think I'll like my 50s, but I know I love right now.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

shifting sands

I feel like this is a summer of shifting sands. Our son is turning 18 in a couple of weeks. He no longer needs me the way he once did. This is the way it should be, and in many ways I am relieved. I want him to be independent, to stand on his own two feet. But I have a habit, the habit of taking care of him, that will take some time to break. And I have loved the role of mom. I know I will always be his mom, but it won't be on the same footing as before. We are shifting, moving toward becoming two adults in independent orbits. One of my oldest and dearest friends is prepping to move across the country. We have never lived more than 10 minutes from each other in our 30 plus year friendship. We will always be friends. I know this. But it will change, the landscape will shift. My husband and I are approaching our 30th wedding anniversary. We are about to be empty-nesters, a couple again, instead of a family of three. I am excited, but nervous too. I have seen so many couples get to this point and falter. My Buddhist practice is deepening, and that too is a change. I have never had a spiritual dimension in my life. I have been very into self-control, and control in general. I thought that through planning, thinking ahead, handling things, I could control the outcomes of things. I realize now that that is illusion, wrought by fear. What comes next will be whatever it is going to be. I am putting my trust in the path, and that is a huge scary leap for me, but a necessary one. And I am turning 50 in less than a month. I don't fear aging like I did. I am actually enjoying it, mostly. But it is a milestone, and a time of reflection. Not "get a makeover, buy a red convertible" time, but just a middle of the road "hmmmmmm?" sort of reflection. Like I said, it's the summer of shifting sands.