Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Real Money

When we lived in Peekskill, I would take my son Max out in his stroller. We'd walk to the deli on the corner where I'd order a scrambled egg and cheese on a roll which we'd share outside. I'd sit Max on the metal chest where the deli owner stored big plastic sacks of ice. I'd stand, leaning against the wall. We'd watch the trucks go by.

Max loved trucks.

Money was tight then and I often paid in nickels and pennies, counting out little stacks of coins while a line formed behind us. Until, one day, when Max was, oh, four or five, as I was counting out my coins on the counter, I felt a tug on my jacket. "Mommy,” Max said. “Don’t we have any real money?”

I'm reminded of this now, as I work with social media maven, Shelly Kramer, who is helping me build my new website. As we chatted about the things I want to do with the site - Help other writers, Teach self-publishing (when I've learned it myself), Offer a place for people to share their angel stories--Shelly had to remind me: "Wait", she asked. "Don't you want to make money with this?"

"Well, yes," I said. "I do."

Because money is still tight.

That's why I hired Shelly: To teach me the ins and outs of social media - to help me "build a platform" as an author and teacher. To launch what I call my "Second Blooming."

To make, you know, some real money.

Because, frankly, I want a boatload of money.
There I said it.

And then, right after I said it, I felt it: The inner ping that reminds me that saying it is somehow... wrong. It's the ping of self-doubt that says: It's wrong to say that all of this work I do, every single day, is - besides being all about helping and empowering YOU - is also about ME, earning a living. ME, earning money. ME getting paid to do what I know that I do well, what I am called with every cell in my body to do.
But this PING - and the feeling that accompanies it, a combination of guilt and shame and shyness - is TOTALLY against the grain of what I teach, what I say, what I KNOW.

And so, right now, using the positive, proactive language they taught me in all those workshops and self-help books, here we go:

I welcome the real money that flows into my bank account

Ping... there it is again.

The money flows into my pockets and purse. It fills my wallet. People come to my website, click on a link and purchase my products, receiving them by email, instantly.

Ping... ping.

It's not that it surprises me. It's just that I really thought I'd rooted this garbage out.

But I haven't. Not yet. Slowly, in the time between my free-spending fully-employed. living in NYC single days and these two-kids-in- college, slow-economy years, I began to systematically deny myself everything

When my kids needed something:
* Summer Arts Program? Sure!
* Trip to Europe? By all means!
* New snowboard? Camera? Laptop? Ipod? Cell phone? How could I deny them?

But when longed to:
* Travel? Forget about it.
* Finish my education? Can't afford it.
* Visit my sister in California? Maybe next year.

New haircut? New outfit for that bar mitzvah, wedding, 50th birthday party? Sorry . Can't . Afford . It.

Seriously, I wore a green prom gown (which I found at the thrift store) to my friend's high-society wedding at a country club in Connecticut. In a sea of white linen and cream silk, I tried to make the best of it. But I'm offering cash to ANYONE who still has a photo of that disaster to destroy it. (THAT, I can afford.)
Oh, stop complaining, snaps the Snarky, Scary Voice in my head. What did you expect? You quit your job, leaving behind security and health insurance.

To which, I respond, with just a little bit of whining: But I'm writing every day - for hours!

SSV: And so what? Shouldn't you be finished with at least ONE small book by now?

Me: Well, yes. But what if no one likes my work. Even worse, what if they do and I am swamped with interviews and appearances and.... will I have to give up my freedom? And what will I wear on TV? And...

Cue the other, smaller voice: you're just frightened. Everyone hesitates, facing the unknown...

Me: Frightened? Why, I guess I am! What should I do?

SSV: Take my hand. Breathe. We'll do this one step at a time.

Me (a bit sniffly): Okay

SSV: Ready for that REAL money now?

Me: Gulp. Bring it on.

Note: As coincidence would have it, this seems to be the day for posts about money, real money, earning money in unique ways:

Here's a good one from Jonathan Fields blog: Awake at the Wheel entitled, Can you really make a serious living freelancing?


Alice Langholt said...

Great, great post, Amy.

I know this SSV and mine is alive, running the roost frequently, and singing the same denial song that you speak of. It's that I need money but I'm not deserving chorus with verses that contain every reason why money would be helpful to have right now.

Letting go of the not-deserving feeling and the fear of success that's the bridge of the song, is a challenge for many of us.

Thanks for setting it out there, and letting us watch you release it. If you can do it, there's hope for us all.

You always inspire.

Love to you along with a heaping measure of flowing abundance,

Kat Jaib said...

I love this. Your honesty and willingness to say what most of us think is just HUGE. What I loved most is watching how that SSV went from "Snarky, Scary Voice" to a more gentle, loving "Still Small Voice" about halfway into the dialogue. When we air our fears, we can be set free from them, as you so beautifully point out. Thank you, as always!

p.s. I love that Shelly Kramer-girl. And she is so spot on about letting your gifts reward you with some moola. Just remember, money is just a form of energy exchange. When you prosper, others prosper. Go for it!

jesse said...


You deserve to be paid well for sharing your original voice. Your art is worthy of compensation. You've put a lot out there. It'll come around.


Kate Courageous said...

I really, really loved this!

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Ohhh, beloved Amy. I am so grateful you wrote so frankly. I all too often hide this side of me... don't want to go there and share what is REALLY so because... and there you have it.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Sally G. said...

As seems to be a common theme with us ~ I'm EXACTLY THERE. Well, for me, I still intellectually believe that I'm not a bad person for wanting to be paid ~ but it hasn't soaked through to any part of my Self that's truly in charge of holding or releasing the belief that has me acting to the contrary.

I soooooo want to move on this issue and yet still can't see what has me shackled to scarcity thinking as I am.

Let's help each other as our respective Personal Coaches do all they can to accelerate our movement into realized potential!

Anonymous said...

Loved the post. We chicks (us chicks? them thar chicks?) have a hard time asking to be paid for work. Why is that? I am now blessed with steady pay, great job, health care and health in general. But, I do remember many a CoinStar moment back in the day...

Keep writing! you inspire,

Allen Gibson said...

Good post. I think the hardest thing a writer has to do is to share their internal dialogue with others.

I think as well that one of the hardest things a "spiritual" person has to do is to figure out how to integrate their "higher" calling of helping and sharing with their own needs (and wants) within their striving for a balanced life.

The spiritual quest is by its nature one of questioning whether the things we want, the things that present themselves to us in the world, are worth wanting. Making money, making "real" money (either the way your young son meant or the way others might mean) is a spiritually neutral proposal.

The spiritual question is always "Why?" as in "Why do you want to make whatever you want to make?"

And, perhaps, "What?"-- as in "What will making the money you want to make allow you to do for yourself and others?"

And of course, "How?"-- as in "how will you do it? Sustainably (spiritually and otherwise)?"

You certainly deserve to make a living doing what you love. But what's always so interesting to me about your journal is that you seem to be on a quest to find out what it is that you really do "love."

Keep plugging-- you can't work this hard and not have it return some benefit to you. Perhaps it already is.

Nancy said...

Such a heartfelt, honest and inspirational post. We all grapple with this, especially those of us in the "helping" professions. Just yesterday, I was meeting with a client who is a nutritionist and she expressed her struggles with this very issue. The day before, another client, a therapist in private practice, discussed the same thing.

Thanks for putting this out there. You are awesome Amy!

Marjory said...

This is a great post Amy, thanks for bringing up such a charged subject for most of us. You always lighten up my heart around these taboos we tried to keep locked in our hearts. Ignoring our relationship with money is easier than acknowledging feelings of shame resurfacing. Ah, money is a form of energy and it is OK to want it and embrace it and celebrate it as we sing our song and share ourselves with the world.
There, I said it too!! haha

Dian Reid said...

Love this, Amy. I'm in a similar mind space right now, and your words are helping me more than you know. Bless you and all the real money already on its way to you (and me, too)

Shelly Kramer said...

Amy, we're all scared. And also routinely deny ourselves. We are women, after all.

I think that I've learned, after lo, these many years, that my role in life is to always be the devil's advocate. To be the questioner. To ask the really hard ones. Questions like "how is this going to make you money?" And also like "what is your elevator speech - and how will that win you clients?" And to say things like "Hmmm, story alchemist. It sounds cute, but the problem is that only a handful of people even know what an alchemist is, and we need for people to know."

But make no mistake, even though I can be the person to ask those very hard questions, and push you (sometimes gently, sometimes not) until you arrive at the answers, there are many moments of my own when I am filled with uncertainty.

We all are. Or at least the ones of us who are honest with ourselves admit to being so.

And that, my friend, is what makes us all human. And wonderful. And loveable.

And that is why, even though it's scary, it is also cathartic. To ask that question ... where is the money in this ... and to not rest until we find the answers - not such a bad way to go. After all, we all deserve to be compensated for our hard work. Even you. And your work is amazing. Every single bit of it.

Much love,

Shelly Kramer

mydivabydesign said...

I am also right there! I just closed a successful childcare business to follow my dream of decorating, home staging, and redesign. I have been decorating since high school. Why do I feel so guilty asking people to pay for my expertise? Who knows? The client is willing and doesn't feel guilty paying you. Still. I finally told a friend of mine that I don't work for free. That was hard! But I felt so much better after. I tell my self I am in business to make money. Otherwise it's just a hobby. oi remind myself that I am not a non-profit organization. I deserve this!