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It Might Be Time to Change Your Attitude About Money

It Might Be Time to Change Your Attitude About Money

I was scrubbing the floor. The kids were sleeping. I was at work as a nanny in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, and I was 24 years old.

My boss (the dad of the kids) walks up to me as he cracks open a Redbull. “I really appreciate you scrubbing the floors,” he says, “You work your ass off.”

He hands me forty dollars.

“Are you sure?” I ask.

“Pro tip,” he says, “Never ask ‘are you sure’ when someone hands you money.”

He was so right.

I used to feel so awkward when someone gave me money. But why? I know I worked for it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Receiving money doesn’t make you a bad person. It means you have skills that others appreciate. Be thankful! Be accepting! Be open!

Millennial loves, this post is for you.

If you were a typical suburban kid growing up in the nineties, your parents and teachers told you that you could be anything when you grew up. They told you you could be doctors, astronauts, lawyers, architects.

You were also told, “You won’t make money as an artist, writer, or musician. You’ll live in cardboard box.”

(Hold my beer while I let out a long, hearty, satisfying laugh.)

And so we grew up wanting to get into the best college, wanting to graduate with a solid degree, and we just knew we would get hired right out of college and make so much money and then we could buy fancy cars and fancy houses and live the dream.

But we inherited quite an economy, didn’t we?

The crash of 2008 meant that many of us graduated college in a year when everyone else was getting laid off.

It means that even years later, we will never catch up to make the same amount of money our parents did.

It means that for years, we’ll be sandwiched between student loans and jobs that underpay.

And like most other millennials, I made a paltry $12/hr right out of college instead of the cushy corporate gig I always expected.  I believed I would always be a low-earner. I believed that there was nobody out there willing to pay me for my skills.

And what I hear a lot of us saying is

“Making money is so hard.”

“It will take me months to find a job.”

“People with money are assholes.” 

“I don’t care about making money.”

“I can’t negotiate, because they’ll say no and won’t offer me the job.”

I have said all these things. My friends have said all these things. And yet, if we made tons of money, we would probably feel weird about it. Like we didn’t deserve it. Like we were fakes.

But something happened when I stopped bad-mouthing money. Something happened when I stopped saying “Making money is hard”, and “I’ll never make money”. Instead, I started saying, “Yes, I’m going to ask for more.” and “I know what I’m worth.” and “It’s easy to make money.”

Now, I’m not talking about the pie-in-the-sky Law of Attraction scheme that made the authors of “The Secret” so much money. I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that if you change your thoughts about something, you’ll suddenly get what you want. That’s unfair to plenty of people who have an entire system working against them. I’m not talking about Starbucks drinkin’, skinny jeans privilege. 

If you think, “I am going to make lots of money!” It’s not necessarily going to happen just because you think it.

But one thing I do believe is that our thoughts are the starting point to our attitudes and actions. If we keep telling ourselves that money is bad, than will we be open to making more of it? 

If we keep telling ourselves that we’re never going to get out of debt, than will we really be motivated to pay it down?

If we keep saying that people with money are assholes, are we willing to get rich?

As soon as I banned these thoughts from my brain, something incredible happened. I started making money. And I mean serious big-kid money. Like I was a grown up. I can finally pay down my student loans. I can finally save for retirement. I stopped winching whenever I checked my balance.

As a freelance writer, my income is not stable. Sometimes I don’t know where my next paycheck will come from. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, and I’ve heard other freelancers say that while they love the freelance life, they wake up in night sweats over dreams of making a steady income.

So in the face of being my own money maker, in the face of thinking more positively about money, I compiled a list of some of my favorite money affirmations. So the next time you start feeling financially insecure and believing that you’re not worth much (raises hand), than consider these thoughts:

1. I give myself permission to be prosperous.

2. I release all resistance to attracting money. I am worthy of a positive cash flow.

3. Money flows to me easily and frequently.

4. It is safe for me to make money from my creativity

5. It is safe for me to use my skills to attract wealth.

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A Case for Driving Peacefully

A Case for Driving Peacefully

Most of us only think about one thing when we turn the key in the ignition: getting to where we’re going, and fast.

Driving is something most of us have to do every day. We usually take the same route, get stuck behind the same people, and have the same bad habits behind the wheel. For some, driving is a pleasure and a sport. For others, it’s a chore. But what happens if we completely change how we approach driving?

Before putting the keys in the ignition, take a few breaths to center yourself and to bring calm and clarity to your mind and heart. 

Take the time to acknowledge how lucky you are. You have a car! You have a driver’s license! You have driving skills that allow you to deliver yourself from point A to point B. If you’re thankful about owning a car, and thankful about your skills as a driver, you’re more likely to drive mindfully.

If you’re distracted, emotional, or under the influence, give someone else the keys. 

Driving drunk is shockingly common. So is driving with a cellphone in hand. These are behaviors that spring from the invincibility mindset. “It won’t happen to me”. “I’ve gotten away with it before”. or “I’m a good enough driver that I can pull this off.”

It takes one tiny mistake to change your life – or someone else’s life – forever. It takes a couple of seconds that you don’t see the guy on the motorcycle. You can save someone’s life by putting down the phone, or giving someone else the keys.

Place your phone in a place you can’t reach. 

I’m particularly bad about wanting to DJ while I drive. My best alternative is to make myself a playlist and toss the phone in the back seat.

Texting while driving is something I see people do on the highway all the time. Traveling 80 mph, driving a 1-ton block of steel, and sharing the road with semi’s? Put the damn phone down.

Take your time. Don’t rush. 

I have definitely been guilty of this. I tend to get so impatient when I get stuck behind a slow driver on a country road. I get so annoyed when someone is putzing in the left lane on the highway. But then I think: what’s the rush? If I’m late, I’m late.

I’ve started leaving my house on time so I can feel stress-free on my journeys. After all, why stress when you can leave earlier?

Your car is your sanctuary!

How great is it that we’re lucky enough to have our own space when we travel? We can listen to music, listen to our favorite radio station, or we can choose to enjoy the peace and quiet. We can decorate our cars with colorful wheels, rear-view dangles, and seat covers. It’s our own space to enjoy.

So there’s no reason to worry. Traffic jams, slow drivers, and poor weather conditions will always be a fact of life. But how will you handle what the road brings? How will you drive?

This Productivity Hack is Where Meditation Meets Getting Stuff Done

This Productivity Hack is Where Meditation Meets Getting Stuff Done

Before the internet coined the term “productivity hack”, I had a hack of my own. I lived in a tiny 1-bedroom apartment, and I spent hours at my desk writing fiction, writing essays, and researching. My classes often required that I read at least 100 pages a night, so there was no room for distraction.

After sitting at my desk or being curled up on my futon for hours, I realized that I focused better when I lit a candle. If I was typing at my laptop, I lit a candle beside the computer. If I was reading a book, I placed the candle beside my cup of tea. The calming flame set my mind at ease.

I half-jokingly called it “The flame of productivity”.

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I’ve always been a great lover of candles. When I was a kid, I traipsed around our house in Rhode Island, flipping off overhead lights and lamps and lighting candles. I preferred the soft ambience. (I was also a nerd who liked to pretend it was 1776, but that’s another story for another time.)

In college, I used candles for a more practical purpose. They helped me focus. And they still do. Whenever I sit down at the computer for hours upon hours of work, I make sure I had a lit candle (or five) right beside me.

The other day, my husband came into my home office/music room/artistic escape oasis to see me burning candles while I wrote.

“Hey look!” I said, “Ever since I was in college, I like working by candle light, because as long as the candle is burning, I can be working.”

Charles burst out in laugher.

“That is the most puritanical thing I’ve ever heard you say,” he said, and he laughed himself out of the room.

The image of exhausted monks – fallen asleep over their bibles, their quill pens dripping across the page as the candles burn to the wicks – is conjured.

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And the more I thought about it, the less I prescribed to the puritanical thought process that made me light those candles all those years.

Instead, I realized the lit candle represented something else.

It represents meditation and mindfulness. 

The lit candle focuses my mind. It calms my brain, and everything gets quiet and stops. Some suggest lighting a candle and focusing on the flame while meditating, and I’ve found this helps my workflow as well.

The lit candle keeps me present in the moment, at my computer, with the words on the page.

What else do I do when I have a hard time focusing?

  • I listen to meditation music or nature sounds. This really ends all distraction and serves as prettier “white noise”.
  • I burn incense, which is just another way to focus the senses.

Basically, I don’t have trouble focusing anymore, ever. It really worked – to put mechanisms in place so I could focus, and not just get work done, but enjoy the work.

Lessons from the Kitchen Compost Pot

Lessons from the Kitchen Compost Pot

Sixty percent of all waste that ends up in American landfills is organic. That’s a ton of organic material that will never be able to decompose because it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to decay. And that’s a damn shame, considering the fact that 30-40% of our individual household waste could be composted and turned back into healthy soil to grow healthy foods.

Landfills are environmental nightmares. They are the third largest source of methane in the United States – a greenhouse gas far more harmful for our environment than CO2. The more trash we can keep out of them, the better.

 

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But other than the incredibly important mission to reduce your household trash output, why compost? 

  1. Compost enriches the soil and improves garden yield.
  2. Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides in gardens and landscaping
  3.  Reduces pollution of air, soil, and water by reducing CO2 & methane emissions from landfills and by reducing heavy metals & grease from stormwater runoff.

Composting is one of the best things you can do to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. 

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What do I compost?

  • Table scraps: fruits and vegetables
  • Hair and fur
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Hay & straw
  • Paper products (as long as they’re not inked)
  • Cotton
  • Eggshells and nutshells (NOTE: if you have chickens, make sure the chickens and all other animals have no access the the eggshells in the compost.)
  • Dryer and vacuum lint

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Keep these habits for optimal compost hygiene:

  • Empty your kitchen compost pot once a week.

Last summer, I was so busy with work that I went weeks without taking out the compost. It was bad. I opened the compost pot to see creepy crawlies in there that were doing their best to break down the food – and I am very appreciative of their hard labors to bring me next year’s glorious fertilizer – but I did NOT appreciate the fact that they were in my kitchen!

I had to take the compost pot out, empty the festering contents onto the compost pile in the pasture, and then I had to scrub out the pot.

 

  • Make sure you get the right mix of greens and browns 

In order for compost to work, you have to add three main ingredients:

  1. Browns
    • Straw, hay, twigs, branches, and dead leaves provide carbon
  2. Greens
    • Grass clippings, fruits and vegetables provide nitrogen 
  3. Water
    • Provides moisture that assists with organic breakdown.

 

  • Turn the compost on a regular basis 

This is a step I’ve forgotten to remember in the past. You need to regularly turn your compost pile – I turn mine with a shovel (It’s a great workout for my core, so I’m not complaining!)

Turning your compost speeds up the process by airing it out to re-heat it and keep it in an aerobic state (so it can continue to break down the organic material). It mixes the air and moisture to continue the compost process.

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I’ve spent years trying to reduce our household trash output, and composting is one of the best ways to reduce what goes in the garbage. Not only that, but it’s gold for the garden – I love watching our table scraps turn into rich soil, which helps our garden grow.

And without the garden, we wouldn’t have pickles, chamomile, salads, or summer squash casseroles… and those are what makes summer so great.

Healthy Reasons to Get Naked

Healthy Reasons to Get Naked

You have the right to strut around the house naked.

There are delightful reasons to shed your clothes. It boosts confidence and makes you feel better in your own skin. It helps us accept ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we’re not trying to fight anything. We’re not fighting fashion, tight straps, skinny jeans, and there’s no reason to suck in our gut. We are loping around the house naked with no apologies.

Confidence boost aside, why go nude? I investigated.

Sleep Naked, Lose Weight, Look Younger, Have Sex, Sleep Better.

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There are so many reasons to sleep naked.

Better Sleep

Sleeping in the nude keeps you cooler, which helps you fall asleep faster. Falling asleep faster allows you to produce more melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles and has anti-aging properties.

Healthier Skin

Going nude allows your skin to breathe! How many hours a day are you wearing restricting underwear? How many indentations do your clothes make in your skin? Take it off, take it all off! Let your skin breathe.

Improved Reproductive Health

Men who sleep naked have higher sperm count and better sperm quality than those who wear boxers or briefs.

Women who sleep naked have healthier vaginal PH levels and less yeast infections.

More Sexy Time

Couples who sleep naked have more sex. All that skin-to-skin contact triggers your body to release more oxytocin, “the love hormone”, which plays a role in relationship bonding and sexual desire.

Couples that have more sex are happier in their relationships, have lower stress levels, stronger immune systems, less chronic pain, and lower blood pressure.

Skip the undies and get busy.

And here’s a challenge.

This summer, find an empty beach or a remote patch of forest, and drape your clothes on a tree branch. The sensations you will feel being outside with nothing on will be something you will not soon forget. Feel the ocean, feel the wind, and step out of that comfort zone.

 

A Warm Winter Day

A Warm Winter Day

The first thing I do every morning is let the dogs out. Even on the coldest days, It’s a nice way to wake up. I bring my warm lemon water outside and walk around our 2 acres as the dogs zip around.

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Usually when I’m out walking with my dogs in the morning, I look up at the tree tops and think, “Please let this be a productive day”, and I inhale deeply. I’m savoring all the nature I can before I head inside to the computer.

But today was different. Today was a slow start. Lazy Sunday. When I first woke, there was a heavy fog covering the land. And when I walked out a couple hours later, the fog had lifted but there were tiny droplets on every branch. The droplets evaporated so fast that by the time I had cleaned my camera lens and came back outside, they were gone.

 

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During spring, wild bluebells pop up all around the creek, and it’s a momentary burst of color. The lack of leaves on the trees, and the lack of tall grasses completely open this creek bed in the winter. It makes the property feel smaller. So when everything fills out in the summer, the property starts to feel like a magical oasis.

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It’s fun to watch this property change with the seasons. When I lived in the city, I couldn’t wait for winters to pass. These days, I’m enjoying the cold weather months a little bit more — especially on days like today, when you can throw a frisbee around without your fingers going numb.

5 Books That Helped Me Follow My Calling

5 Books That Helped Me Follow My Calling

Big Magic by Elizabeth GilbertBig-Magic
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Liz’s joy about the creative life is both intoxicating and infectious. She views creativity as a spirit of sorts. Like a witch’s familiar, or a house elf. This whimsical concept compels the reader to not take their own art TOO seriously, and to treat their art with kindness. What I most loved about this book?“Most of all though, he asked his students to be brave. Without bravery, he instructed, they would never be able to realize the vaulting scope of their own capacities. Without bravery, their lives would remain small — far smaller than they probably wanted their lives to be.”

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman canoe
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Nick Offerman’s guide on delicious living is frank and fresh. The first time I “read” this book I actually listened to it with my husband in the car on the long drive back from our honeymoon in Maine. At the time, I was working the cubicle life and honestly enjoying it. But I knew that I wanted to freelance in the future. Offerman serves up truth when he says:“If a person can simply discern what it is that he/she loves to do with an eight-to-ten hour day, then a satisfying workday is easily attained. Figure out what you love to do, and then get paid doing it.”Also this:“My generation certainly had the mindset that in order to get a “good job”, one had to attend college, but what I’ve learned since is that many of these so-called jobs are just a sentencing to a sort of cubicle soul-death with a paycheck attached.”

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymourself sufficientsource
The Bible of homesteading and self-sufficiency is highly interesting in it’s own right, but what I took away from it was the beauty in living your life in honest simplicity. By living on purpose, by returning to ourselves for survival, we can find joy in each sustaining effort.“It all sounds like a lot of hard work,” I said to her. “Yes, but nobody ever told us then,” she said. “Told you what?” “Told us there was anything wrong with work!” Today, “work” has become a dirty word, and most people would do anything to get out of it…. it never occurred to anyone that work might be enjoyable.”

Home Grown by Ben Hewitt home grown
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I’ve always been attracted to life off the beaten path. I’ve always wanted more than what “society” suggests, I’ve always wanted to push my ear up against my soul to listen to what’s really good for me. As an oldest daughter, I’ve always had a knack for doing what I thought others expected of me. Prestige. Title. Class. But there was always that voice.“In my own life, I am repeatedly struck by the truth that the more thoroughly I liberate myself from prevailing culturing assumptions — around education, wealth, ambition, and success, to name but a few — the more choice I actually have. The more freedom I have. In some regards, this is obvious, because if I’m not devoting my days to the accumulation of money and status, I am liberated to pursue other things. But the freedom I think of is more than temporal; it is also a freedom of emotion and spirit, to know that happiness and fulfillment can be found in the smallest and simplest of places and things.”

The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks Rumi Booksource
Oh Rumi, sweet sweet Rumi. This 13th-Century Persian poet has the most hopeful thoughts. His poetry is like sipping on a fine glass of wine after a hard day. He speaks about “responding to every call that excites your spirit” and how art lives within each of us. His running theme of growing pains really resonates with the young creative about to embark on a career, and he teaches patience and mindfulness.“A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.

What nine months of attention does for an embryo
forty early mornings will do
for your gradually growing wholeness.”

“My God cause you to change your life
in the way you know you should.” 

Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash