When I was a young thing falling in love with boys and butterflies I learned a universal truth: The harder you try to catch them, the quicker they disappear.
I learned to play it cool and found that, like Snow White in the meadow, if I just sit still, smile and be myself, when I raise my hand chances are something lovely will land. Birds, butterflies, and men have all landed in my palm at one point or another. And my experience with these flighty creatures taught me universal truth number two: Hold on too hard and you might kill it.
They are simple truths that I’ve come to accept regarding relationships. I’d say I’m pretty good at following them. It’s easy when you consider the messy alternative which always ends in tears.
So, I’ve kept an “open palm” policy with most of my relationships. The one exception: Money. Oh, Money and I have been a tumultuous couple for most of my adult life. We’ve eased into comfortable places in the past, enjoying each other’s company like an old married couple. Too much enjoyment and we find ourselves again in shambles. I then sit down with Money and have a nice long talk (moderated by our advisor, Mr. Bank Account), and we’ll agree to pretend that we are on solid ground once again. This works for a little while.
As much as I try to tell myself that we’re doing just fine, it’s become painfully obvious that money and I are not in a healthy relationship. In fact, I’d say this union is more like Sid and Nancy than Snow & Prince Charming. Before Money and I end up in a shredded pile of blood and tears on the bedroom floor, I believe I need to step back and reevaluate the situation.
I think I’ve pinpointed the problem–my palm is not open when it comes to money. It’s a desperate fist clenched tight. Alright, I’ll say it: I’m stingy. Oh, I have generous moments (all too often it seems). Then when funds get low I begin to tighten my grip. I opt for conventional produce. I insist on separate checks. I convince myself that my own desk with a cup of Trader Joe’s brand green tea is much cozier than a sidewalk table with a pot of gourmet oolong at The Coffee Bar. *sigh*
Then ding-ding, I get a text alert from Chase Bank warning me that I’m approaching dangerous territory. This is an unhealthy pattern that Money and I have fallen into. And all this grasping to keep Money from flowing out of my wallet is not making me any richer.
It’s like the trick my uncle played on me when I was nine: promising me the five dollar bill dangling between my pincher fingers if I caught it when he let go. I never caught it and it seemed the harder I tried, the sillier I looked groping for the stupid five dollars as it slipped through the air to the ground.
I started thinking…what if I exchanged the tight fist approach I’ve adopted in regards to Money with the open palm policy I apply to all of my other relationships? Could Money and I find a way to thrive?
I don’t mean to throw Money away. Rather, it might look something like this:
Jeremy says, “How about going to Gorbals later for some sticky toffee pudding?”
Instead of shouting, “I’m broke,” irked that 1) he has money for sticky toffee pudding and 2) he doesn’t remember that I don’t eat sticky toffee pudding, I respond with, “Oooo, that sounds nice,” thankful for a free night to spend with my guy. “I’m low on funds right now but I can take care of the tip,” I add.
The programs director of a skid row mission asks if I could donate my time to teach yoga to homeless children and teens.
Instead of replying that I’d love to, thinking to myself that I can’t afford to teach anything for free and that I should search Craigslist for another teaching job to add to my already full schedule, I reply that I’d love to, feeling thankful for my beautiful home and full belly. Then I check my schedule for a few free hours to donate a month. I remind myself that Seva (selfless service) is an important part of Karma Yoga and smile feeling like a more well-rounded yogini.
My best friend asks me if I’d like to join her at The Hollywood Bowl to see Dolly Parton in concert.
Instead of complaining that I don’t have any money and feeling just a little bit jealous of the big fat public school teacher salary that allows her to skip off to The Hollywood Bowl whenever she wants, I say, “That sounds like fun!” happy that she thought of me to share such a fun evening with. I explain that I’m a little low on funds and suggest having a girl’s night in. “We can rent The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. You bring the wine, I’ll make fried okra.”
Holding on to Money with all of my might isn’t working. Money seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate. The tighter I hold on, the faster it goes. It’s almost as if the act of worrying about Money actually scares it away. The law of attraction may have something to do with it.
Yes, I’ll need to sit down with Money and have a good, long talk. We’ll throw around words like budget and savings and sensible. It will be cathartic.
Maybe once Money and I find common ground we can move forward, taking our relationship to the next level. And maybe if I sit still, smile and be myself I’ll discover all the abundance I need nestled right in the palm of my hand.
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