So, I got distracted last week by whining about how hard this was. But this week, I swear I will talk about Geneen Roth again, because really, that (audio) book, really changed my life, and how I think about money and, say it with me, STUFF.
This week I’ve been getting ready for Vegas, for the annual Stella & Dot conference, Hoopla. I went last year, after having been a stylist for a few months, and it really was an amazing time. Four whole days away from my children, relaxing, free jewelry, hot in the sun in Orlando, sleep, did I mention relaxing? I came back, guns blazing and worked super duper hard until about December, when it all kind of fell apart for me. I signed up for this year’s Hoopla, right after I got home from last years’, and even though Stella isn’t something I’m sure about, I’m POSITIVE about Hoopla (did I mention how relaxing it was?) But it’s been bringing up a whole SLEW of things I wasn’t prepared for.
- After a solid month of not buying anything new, and living out of (basically) a capsule/survival/momiform kind of wardrobe, I have to look presentable again. Uh oh.
- These women are dressed to the NINES. One woman posted like 7 pairs of shoes that she’s bringing with her. For FOUR DAYS. They are the women I follow on Instagram, just to see what they are wearing. They are fashion BLOGGERS who spend all DAY looking at clothes, shopping, putting on jewelry etc etc. About three months ago, I wanted to BE these women. Before I started packing, I actually looked at their pages, to see what I “should” be packing.
- I actually bought something new. A black bra. I have a lot of black tops, and only nude bras. I had a gift card for half the purchase, but STILL. I opened a corner of Pandora’s box.
- How much is “enough” for four days? (I leave Tuesday, come back Saturday so maybe it’s closer to five.
- How much jewelry is “enough” for five days?
So, I have no answers to those last two questions. I have packed and repacked and stressed, and spent an hour and a half trying on shorts at Value Village just to find ONE PAIR and two tank tops that fit. ($13.80, thank you very much) I have made lists of which clothes for which events, and pared it down to 4 pairs of shoes, including my workout shoes, and cut out two tank tops and three dresses, and OMG, packing shouldn’t be this HARD!
So I went back to Geneen Roth to get re-centered, as I was feeling a LITTLE focused on STUFF. Seriously, I remember the feeling last year when my fashion show outfit wasn’t quite right, and when I didn’t feel very put together for the dance party, and I didn’t want that to happen again. But was it that I didn’t feel put together, or that I didn’t feel GOOD ENOUGH. This is where I think Geneen nails it on the head.
She says that to understand our relationships with money (and food), we have to understand our core relationships with ourselves, and our deeply held, deeply emotional “internal version[s] of ourselves”. Do we eat because someone told us we aren’t good enough? Do we spend because we think that beauty is forever intrinsic to ourselves and that we have to buy beauty instead of embody it? Who has shaped our relationships with money and why? Do we save because someone taught us that only stupid people buy frivolous things and that only SAVING FOR A RAINY DAY is a smart decision? Do we spend because we don’t WANT to have money, because rich people are shallow and material and we are smarter and more spiritually based than that? Do we feel that it is only with the latest fashions and accessories that we will be beautiful, that without them we are, well nothing?
Even though my mother spent most of my formative years heaping praise on my head, that I was beautiful, smart, that it didn’t matter what all the girls said or whether a boy liked me or not, I STILL, to this day, fear that if I don’t dress and act “properly”, that no one will find me beautiful. And that being beautiful is incredibly important. I think that was part of the reason I joined the jewelry folks, because I felt that here was finally my chance to be on the cutting edge of fashion, to KNOW exactly what I was SUPPOSED to wear and SUPPOSED to own. And that would make me happy, FINALLY. Nope. It didn’t. It made me spend money that I didn’t have on things that I didn’t need (clothes especially) and made me feel a bit…empty. (Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot of other things in that experience that I will talk about at some length somewhere down the line, most importantly that I need to do something fun for ME sometimes, but maybe that should be more focused on friends and family, rather than making money?) Also, I’m pretty sure that shopping was a rebellion against my MIL, as she couldn’t disapprove MORE of me, my life, my choices, and my parenting, so it was a kind of “F YOU” to her. Mature? TOTALLY:S
Roth’s main point about trying to find out the true reasons, good bad and ugly, that we spend too much money (and eat) on things we don’t need, is that without truly understanding, we will restrict and rebel in a vicious cycle that will go on for years. We will budget and go on year long #buynothingnew stints, and then throw up our hands and buy $1000 worth of new clothes on our trip to Vegas if we don’t actually know WHY we spend money. It will just feel like dieting, but for money. Because, as she says, “The problem with repressing desires is that instead of going away, they get stronger.”
Without understanding that I AM ENOUGH without a HUGE closet full of the latest things that the Instagram bloggers say I should have (and it changes DAILY, like seriously, how big are these women’s closets?!), I would be running out to the stores in Vegas thinking, well it’s just vacation spending, it doesn’t really count! My husband has offered to “gift” me some extra cash to go shopping with, in case I find something special. But the truth is, unless I find something well-made, ecologically friendly, and really capsule-wardrobe friendly, I think I’m in a place that can honestly say, I’d rather not! (That may change tomorrow when I get there…) I’m not even buying a new magazine for the airplane because I have SIX that I almost packed to take with me that I haven’t read yet (bought them months ago, don’t remember what was in them, or actually haven’t read them yet). But truly understanding the REASONS behind my overspending have made it more possible to slow down, think about what I’m doing. I’m trying to tell myself that I AM enough, that I have enough, to realize that clothing and shoes and jewelry didn’t make me any happier over the last year.
But having a good giggle with my Mira on the floor, really focusing on her little songs and stories and sayings, and Lilia’s dimples and lunch with friends, and the prospect of a trip to the pool and SLEEP….that is what really fills my cup and makes me happy.
So what are YOUR deeply held (and probably supremely private and terrifying) beliefs about money? That you don’t deserve it? That rich people are awful so you should spend your money so you don’t become like them? That hoarding is the only way to prevent the next Ukrainian death famine from happening to YOU?!(Lots of people I know feel this way). Where do your ideas about money come from? Are they serving you well? Or do you need to look at some of them and let them go?
I’m off to Vegas in the morning. Wish me luck:S