Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An Aha Moment - What I learned About Success, And Myself

Personal Blog 
Subject: If I become successful I will lose everything. My dysfunctional relationship with money.

A friend of mine is a Life Coach and is furthering her education.  She has to get some 'coaching' hours in and asked if I would be interested.  I emailed her back and said I would love to be a guinea pig.  As our session approached, I decided to think more seriously about what our session should really be about. It was a fairly easy decision - it should be about my 'fear' of success, my 'fear' of money and of losing everything - AGAIN!

A little back story before we continue:  My husband and I had a somewhat successful business (at least it was to us) in Seattle.  Long story short - our bank of 10 years decided to screw us (and a few other small businesses), they called our loans. No warning, no provocation, they simply no longer wished to have our business. We, of course, could not comply so they proceeded to foreclose on our business. We lost everything - our income, our business, our clients, years of blood and sweat, money - our success. We were helpless. And angry. Years later, I find myself still afraid. Afraid to put myself out there. Since that time we have been financially impaired. Broke. Impoverished even. Partially due to the economy. Partially due to FEAR.

This was the focus of our coaching session. And did I ever learn a lot about myself. We focused on the thought, "If I become successful, I will lose everything." Now to turn it into the thought, "If I become successful, I won't lose everything."  What I probably really should be saying is: "If I become successful, I won't lose myself."

We did this fun little exercise. At first, I wasn't quite sure how it worked, or why, but I learned quickly.

First Object:
First question/suggestion: Pick an object in the room. An object that is capturing your attention. My thought, "Strange, but ok." So I picked a sign I have in the room for the Skagit Valley Camera Club. Second question/suggestion: Name 3 things about that object.  What, I thought. Deciding to play along I went with - 1. big 2. white 3. and we then chose prominent. Now here is where it got fun. Third question: How does this relate to money? The answer hit me hard and fast. Pure instincts. And, was I ever surprised. We were talking about money and my relationship to it. This was why I was staring at the sign: I used to be the Treasurer for the camera club, but then one day, out of the blue, no warning, nothing, - a board member, decided to accuse me of possibly stealing money because of my personal financial situation. I was devastated. And, ANGRY! Of course, I would be staring at the sign - subconsciously.  Fourth question/suggestion: What can you do about it?  The answer was simple: FORGIVE.  Turned out, not necessarily forgive him, he's just a jerk, - I need to forgive myself. I need to forgive money.

Second Object:
Now, I am kind of getting the hang of it.  Next object was a stack of books, books we had done for clients. I enjoy doing the books, but marketing our Armchair ePublishing business has become quite difficult lately. Honest answer: It was starting to work a little. Fear of success? There are some other factors outside my control though. Name 3 things: I don't remember the first two, but it was the third one that turned out to be important.  All I could come up with is the color "brown." We decided that meant, 'Muddied", my relationship with money is muddied. What to do about it? The answer is obvious when you use the word muddy - make it clear.

Third Object
The red bag I use for art shows at the Depot. I don't remember the 3 things, but my relationship with money and the bag - There is none. It is a volunteer position. There is no money involved. The lesson: do things that provide value unrelated to money.

Fourth Object
Artwork hanging on the wall.  The 3 words describing it: 1. I enjoy it. 2. Reminds me of a better time. 3. I don't remember the third.  The lesson: It's okay to have money.

We equate success with money. We look up to the people that have it and wish we did too. Society has programmed us that success is defined by how much money we have. But there are varying degrees of success. Some that don't include money.

Success can simply be: how we feel about ourselves, our relationships with other, what we do, how we act, how we give back, our faith, and so on...

What I really learned from my Coaching Session with Katie - I learned I already have SUCCESS! I have the success that matters most: Good friends, a community I love, I give back to the community and others, family, still working on the faith part, and myself. These are things that no one can take away from me.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Love and Devotion

Last night, I went to visit a friend in a skilled nursing center, it was the dinner hour and I witnessed a tender loving moment of a devoted husband, that touched me so much I had to write a little about it.

Love And Devotion

Tiny and frail, her shriveled body sat bent, lost in the oversized wheelchair. Her mind, no longer present, she was unaware of her surroundings.

It was the dinner hour and her husband was patiently trying to feed her. Tenderly he tucked a lock of stray peppered-gray hair behind her ear.

This tender touch said it all. That single moment revealed his devotion for the woman he still loves.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Must Have Socks and Underwear! The Impact of Large Businesses in Small Communities

 Oh, My!

When we were considering moving to the small town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, a waitress at a local restaurant told us we didn't want to live here. Of course, I asked why. She said, "Because you have to drive all the way to Burlington to buy socks and underwear." 

My first thought was: In the city, where were living at the time, it took me a half hour just to get to the grocery store - and that was if the traffic was decent. 

My second thought was: Geez, how many pairs of socks and underwear do these people need? I mean come on, this is not a need-to-buy-often item. I can see being concerned about groceries, but socks!

My husband and I moved to Anacortes anyway, despite the socks and underwear issue. We just stocked up before we got here. Since then, I have come to adore this small community, its small island charm, the wonderful people who live here, and most importantly the fact that it is not overly developed like larger towns. Yet it is close enough to a larger town for when I need extra socks and underwear.

I am a firm believer in supporting small businesses, not the large chains and box stores.  Like other small towns, there are a handful of people who are pushing to have a large store brought to town. Their reasoning: jobs, sales tax, money, convenience and most importantly - SOCKS!  

What they don't seem to realize is how much a large chain store destroys the quality of life in a small town. 

Things to consider:

Jobs:  the people working at the large store will come from other communities - not here. They will then leave their job at the end of the working day and return to where they live, spending their hard-earned money in that community - not ours.  Versus local independent business who usually try to hire locally. 

Housing: There is no infrastructure in this small community to support a large retailer, especially when they only pay minimum wage. We don't have affordable housing for those employees, meaning they will live somewhere else. 

Environment: The employees of a large retailer will have to commute from somewhere else. This will mean more traffic to and from our small town to the large town.

Infrastructure: The money brought in by the large retailer will not be reinvested back into our community, yet we will have to support the infrastructure that is required to have them here - like wear and tear on our roads, etc. Versus local businesses who reinvest their money back into the community in which they live and work.

Sales Tax: sure there may be an increase, but it won't really help in the long run.  In fact, it could hurt. Having a large retailer here will most inevitably mean that we will lose small existing businesses - businesses that collect and pay sales tax.

That large retailer will push out the small businesses that are a part of the charm of this wonderful community. The small businesses that not only collect and pay sales tax, they also hire locally, and they reinvest their hard-earned dollars back into the community for which they serve. 

We can have both - convenience and quality of life (and socks), if we support our local small businesses. If you need socks - just let them know. 

Is socks really worth jeopardizing the quality of life here? Most of us live here or moved here because of the kind of life this small community provides.  

Think of going to Burlington/Mt Vernon as an adventure, a mini-vacation full of errands. Then come home and appreciate what we have, what most towns do not get to experience anymore.

Here is a link with studies on big box stores vs independent businesses and how they impact small towns.