Saturday, August 16, 2008


Bernadette Adora

My relationship to money is fairly simple: hopeful. Hopeful for me, for the world’s poor, for every doggone body – I suppose, I’m something like the Miss America, who wishes for world peace! Growing up in the fifties in a family that was working class with decidedly middle class expectations, expectations eventually realized, may be the reason I copied my mother’s more materialistic ways of living. My dad, on the other hand, had more basic needs; he appreciated the simple life.

Many expired credit cards later, as a mother of an adult daughter, I decided a few years ago that my work was done. It was time to look at the “next step”, the one that would lead me toward my dreams postponed, one of which included early retirement. I chose a book to start me rolling; I was behind in planning for the future – I had a lot of catching up to do. “Finances” was a dirty eight letter word, and I needed a little self-help, which I found in one book that for a discounted, $14.95 not including tax could boost my attitude toward the subject. The exercise I chose sent me in the following direction: every morning, I wrote myself a “pretend” check beginning with $1,000 on Day One, which increased each day by an additional thousand dollars – the only caveat: I was required to spend the entire amount within 24 hours. Further, I was required to keep a record of each daily credit and all debits. It was suggested that if the exercise was followed faithfully for one year, 66 million pretend dollars would be mine for whatever my heart desired. I made it to nearly four months.

I devised an elaborate routine for receiving and managing this miracle windfall with the aid of online shopping sites and catalogues to acquire STUFF, a whole lotta STUFF, I set out on new my prosperity mission. I became a frequent visitor of Tiffany’s – for me, family, and friends; I even placed a deposit one day and picked up a not-so modest, full equipped BMW the next. In one month, I was able to make a sizeable down payment on a houseboat on a bay clear across the country, by month two, I begain maintaining a small but comfortable apartment in New York (I live in Chicago), I set-off building a pretend closet full of designer clothes, and as I noted earlier, went about acquiring lots of other STUFF!

After about six weeks, I was stuffed - stuffed up and bored. Eventually, it became a chore to spend this imaginary money each and every night, which I did at bedtime. I began staying up later and later trying to be true to the task at hand and the fun ran out – it was all gone! But being task oriented, I stayed the course. It was nearing the eighth week while in a hurry one night, I created a scholarship foundation in my mother’s name for children growing up in a Detroit neighborhood she had loved dearly. It was quick and easy to do and so, I did it. A few days later, I created a second foundation, one for my daughter, who is an attorney and an advocate for juvenile justice. A week later, a third and final foundation was created, one for housing and educating the street children in Cape Town, South Africa. Now the fun was back in the game and what fun I had building three separate and wonderful foundations. And once again, I became a stranger to Tiffany’s and exclusive online shopping. I created business plans (simplified, but plans nonetheless), hired staff, purchased equipment, leased property, quit my job to manage these full time endeavors (but remember, we are still in imaginary mode.) By beginning of the fourth fun packed but exhausting month, I stopped. It dawned on me that I understood the exercise, which had helped change my mind-set. So what happened with my plan for tomorrow? I readjusted my thinking. I learned that when it came down to it, it was not about STUFF after all and growing old with a lifestyle that I never found comfortable, if truth be told. It was about building a life, my life more sincerely, which did not mean driving large or living large or appearing large, it was about moving the largess to my true heart’s desire. I acquired a prosperity consciousness that did not resemble the one I started out imaging on Day One. After getting out of my own way, I fed my spirit easily, joyfully, and productively. Each evening, I turned to new endeavors with a hopeful and creative attitude, and it all came together for me. I began to understand my relationship to money.

It has been only a couple of years since playing at that game, yet a sense of hopefulness continues to seep into more and more of what I think and what I do. Somehow in getting out of my ancient groove and out from under purchasing …stuff… “my cup overflows” took on new meaning. It has become more about what I feel and what I create and the possibilities for new creation rather than obtaining objects. And while, I might hear a collective, Dahhh, following this statement, don’t we usually pay attention to the objects, the stuff? Now, I’m still a beauty junkie; however, acquisition is no longer a main sporting event, it is an occasional pleasure. And if my memory is correct, it is not written, “my credit card overflows and so does my closet.” I think I finally got it. So for now, I remain an optimist, a woman, who sees her finances in a hopeful, positive way, one that is empowering through the use of creativity, feelings, imagination, and yes, some good old fashion sweat equity. There is more than light at the end of this tunnel, there is a bright beam leading my steps straight ahead ‘cause I’ve learned to remain hopeful.

BA 8/14/08

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