I can still remember my days as a young, newly-married, recent college graduate who had to make a careful decision about every penny I spent. So much has changed since then, and I am grateful for all that has happened that has made those changes possible.
I'm one of a small percentage of people my age in the United States who is comfortably retired after a thoroughly satisfying and fulfilling career as a psychotherapist, consultant and coach. However, I haven't retired from my life mission of helping others emerge from the boxes their families and cultures taught them to live in. I carry out my mission now through writing and publishing books to help individuals experience joy and abundance in their lives and relationships.
It wasn't always this way. Although I was raised in a middle-class family and I’ve always had more than enough material things, I was taught to believe in scarcity. And no wonder—my parents met and married in New York City during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They must have experienced scarcity wherever they looked.
Once, when I realized that my mother had started working in her father’s grocery store when she was about eight years old, I commented on it, and she told me, "All immigrant families worked.” I was startled when I realized that although both my parents were born in the US, all their parents immigrated from Russia and Eastern Europe in the early years of the 20th century. I had never before thought of them growing up as members of immigrant families.
I was taught to believe in scarcity and to save what I earned for important goals, like going to college or buying a house. I was taught to carefully conserve my resources. None of that advice was bad, and following it has served me well.
The part that hasn't served me was the built-in definition that there wasn't and wouldn't be enough. I could never really relax and enjoy what I did have because of the fear and constraint that went with that belief.
It's been a lifelong journey move from "earn, save, spend only on necessities" to "earn, save, spend, invest, enjoy and share." This journey also included learning to work and share with a life partner who urged me to do what I considered to be irresponsible things with money.
There been many bumps in the road since we married in 1960. Overall, it's been both fun as well as challenging.
My first awareness of the need for financial literacy beyond knowing how to balance my checkbook came in 1976 when my husband and I were blamed for competition problems and excluded from a group practice we'd started with professional colleagues several years earlier. This painful experience was largely the result of ignorance and the mismanagement of the financial aspects of our business.
Continuing our practice and teaching on our own made us squarely responsible for the financial success of our business. We needed help so we started out on our financial and management education.
A casual conversation with another colleague some years later led to the question, "If we’re so smart how come we’re not rich?" Our colleague invited us to a workshop about money that opened the door to two very different things. One was a focus on important practical aspects of creating wealth beyond just what you could earn. The other was a beginning awareness of the energy aspects of money.
Our journey included a deliberate education about how money works in the world. It included books and workshops about the practical, the metaphysical and the spiritual energy of money. Willem and I will share some of these tools throughout his book as we encourage you to begin or continue your own journey to experience abundance.
A small inheritance from my husband's parents allowed us to make a larger down payment on a home a little bit earlier than we had planned. A small inheritance from my parents made almost no difference in our lives.
Our journey also included some major mistakes including a money-losing attempt at investing in real estate. In that case, doing something we did not love doing, in an effort to create wealth, led us badly off course.
I learned to enjoy both the process and the rewards of creating the experience of abundance in our lives. This money has arrived in our lives because we focused our energy on our important life work: helping others get what was most important to them.
Now the financial abundance in our lives comes from income from investing some of the money we earned while doing that life work. Those investments were suggested by our financial advisors.
Even now I sometimes pinch myself when I spend what used to be an unthinkably large sum of money. I remind myself that there is enough. Now, my biggest challenge is finding the time to balance doing all my projects with all the wonderful possibilities for relaxation and play that I also enjoy.
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