Here’s that guest post I promised on Friday. Thanks, Fel!!!
Money, My Long Lost Lover
by the inimitable Felicia Spahr
There was a time, not so long ago, that I was afraid to look at my checking account. Not because I wasn’t making any money, but because my relationship with money was a little off-kilter. We didn’t look each other in the eye. We weren’t honest. We didn’t communicate. I didn’t listen when my money said ‘too much’, and I didn’t listen when my money said, ‘Hey there—wasn’t our date supposed to be tonight?’ I never listened, and I became afraid. Afraid of what money would do to get back at me.
I realized that I needed to do a little remixing on how I felt about money. I was taught to believe that money was ‘bad’, that people who had a lot of it were ‘bad’, and that if life were free of money, I would feel freer, better, and happier. But, as my fine green friends are teaching me, a world without money is a world without value—and a world without value is people just walking around, saying hi on the street, then staring at their cup of a tea for a few hours and hearing that whisper in their heads: Now what?
As Kate Northrup has taught me, a great way to look at money is to see it as an exchange of value for value. For example, it’s a blessing to have hot water to shower with so that I can feel clean and ready for the day. It’s a blessing to have electricity so I can see, so I can plug in my computer, so I can run my online business and connect with some pretty amazing people. It’s a blessing to put gas in the car that takes me where I need to go. It’s a blessing to pay someone to help me get my life on track, so I can be free to be the person I’m meant to be. It’s a blessing to be financially independent, and live in a city I want to live in, with the people I love. All of this is extremely valuable because it amplifies our lives. It makes us better. It makes others better. Money is everyone’s BFF and they don’t even know it.
As I was going through this transformation of thought, the writer in me gently poked me a few times and asked me to write about it. Writing is how I explore and make sense of things, and of course I put a little creative twist on it and thought I would make something dashing, romantic—something for the books. And from that, my ‘Dear Money’ letter was born: a sweet love letter dedicated to a lover I had lost many moons ago.
Here it is, in its original form:
I know we’ve been on the outs for a while. But I think it’s time I told you how I really feel: I love you.
You have helped me move from place to place—pretty much whenever I wanted to. You have helped me go on fun trips, give gifts to people—wash my hair and brush my teeth, and all that other sexy stuff that I might take you for granted for. So thanks for that.
You have also given me freedom. You’ve let me do what I need to do so I can still eat and be happy. You’ve let me have a life I’ve always dreamed of. You’ve let me help people. In fact, now that I think about it, you’re pretty much my number one fan. You’re committed, you’re invested. You’re always there. So thanks for that.
In order to repair any damage that’s been done—have I mentioned that I love you?—I think it’s fair to say that I owe you a couple of very sexy and romantic dates. We could buy a bottle of wine, peruse what you’ve been up to the past month. Maybe we’ll write some jokes about it, or a funny song. Either way, I think we should be friends. BFFs. With the forever and ever after it.
I know it will take time, but you’ve given me plenty of that.
So, let’s make out.
Since I’ve written this letter, my money and I have had dates daily. In fact, a few times a day. First in the morning, I look at my bank account and I wave, and say things like ‘Hi’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘You give me the freedom to live the lift I want’. When I go to the bank I give a loud and proud ‘yes’ when I’m asked if I’d like to see my balance. When I make a payment on my student loan, I say ‘thank you for giving me what I needed to change my life’. When I need to talk about my money, I talk about it like it’s my loyal friend, proudly showing it off; and smiling when I see that I’ve spent it on delicious food to munch, small gifts for people I love, ways to make my business even better. I didn’t know my money affair could be such an adventure.
And I can say to you, that reimagining your feelings around money is a little scary at first. You’re letting go of some hardcore ingrained beliefs. But for a first step, just give your money a look-see. A blind date if you will. You don’t know each other very well—but you at least want to give it a try. Dazzle with your best smile, and find what you can that makes your heart go pitter-patter. The rest, as with all things, is your journey.
Bio: Felicia Spahr is a writing rogue and adventurous guide who helps people achieve their creative writing dreams. She’s a published short story + prose author, and she created Write For You, a one-on-one virtual program that leads people on an exhilarating and inspiring journey of completing that short story, screenplay, novel, play (et al!) that has been swirling around in their heads for ages and is dying to run around and get out in the world. She also teaches class and workshops on creative writing and the art of teaching. All the explosions of creativity happen at Fel’s Got Swag.