This is exercise four of the Lamplighter Challenge called Ashes to Ashes.
While the cards were moving nicely during the start of shuffling, they tightened up on me a fair amount when asking questions. To work past that, I kept shuffling and slowly began working my way through different versions of the question until I felt the flow come back. In parentheses is the the challenge’s originally worded query.
After posting the shorter version of this exercise on my IG, I’ve had a little while to think about everything written below. I know that I took a bit of a liberty with adjusting the scope of the questions for this exercise. Though the cards wanted to talk about what they wanted, there is an area of materialism that I need to address.
I will say that in the past I have been reluctant to unpack out of fear (a-ha!) that something will happen and I’ll have to repack and move. There has been a lot of instability in the last dozen years regarding my family’s financial situation. Even before having to walk away from a house and being forced into giving up things that meant so much to me (eg: my grandfather’s desk, the china hutch and dining room table that was an anniversary gift to my grandmother that they worked on together), I had stepped into a lifestyle where I was living out of suitcases. The travelling back and forth was so frequent that the only time I really ever thought it was worth the time to unpack was to do laundry.
When my grandmother died and then my mother fell ill, I made the choice to shift into a work role that was more stationary as I was doubling as care-giver. For the times that my mother and I lived with other family members to help defray living expenses, we were forced to leave and find new living arrangements with only about a month’s notice all three times. What made this even more upsetting was that we had been living with them for at least year and the other for a couple of years. While she and I were always aware and grateful that we were guests in someone else’s home, it was hard to completely block out regularly being told that we were welcome and this was a safe place and this home was ours — which by the way we contributed with both time and money to help maintain as best we could. The bitterness and anger is clearly still there.
Every home my family has owned, they have lost and I’ve always been a renter. I don’t know when I will feel 100% secure in this place where I’m living. Maybe I will only feel comfortable to unpack all my things and unpack what I have in storage when I own a home myself and it’s paid for. This is rather unreasonable, isn’t it? Even if I managed to save a thousand dollars a month, it would take ten years for me to be able to buy a small home with cash. That’s not fair to myself. It’s not living.
Financial instability is going to exist. If I work for an employer, I could lose that job or get a pay cut that prevents me from meeting my obligations. Even if I paid for my house in cash, I still have to pay taxes and maintain it. If I work for myself, I have to make sure that I’m healthy and able to do the work to get paid. Yes, there are steps that I can take to limit my risk like diversifying and setting up passive income. But, I need to learn to co-exist with variables that are beyond my control. And for the ones that I can mitigate or eliminate, I need to make sure that the decisions I’m making aren’t taking away from my enjoyment and quality of life. I need to banish the fear.
It’s just a house. It’s just a car. My credit score is just a number. What’s in storage are just things. Will I cry if something happens and I lose them? Probably. But it won’t kill me. What will kill me is worrying myself to death because I’ve allowed the fear of losing these things to control my decision making. This is how, upon reflection, I think material concerns are holding me back.
- How do financial concerns hold me back my highest self? (Where do material concerns hold me back from my highest self?) Control, reversed. — “The figure is encased in the angles of pyramid shapes that surround him. It’s as if he is almost mummified inside this structure he’s built up around himself. Controlled persons are always nervous because deep down turmoil is still hidden.” [This is quite the familiar call out. There are many times I’ve talked on here about moving away from writing and accepting jobs because I needed the money. The inner dialogue really is more like: You have no money and you need to take this job right now because you don’t know when the next one will come along. Making the decision to take a job, even if it’s crap, allows me to feel like I’ve done something to control my direction and progress as it relates to my financial security. There have been times when I’ve been so worried, I’ve taken jobs that are a quarter of my normal pay. I’m not proud of that and it’s hard to admit. Do my bills get paid from the job? Sure. Is the work stressful and draining to where I have even less energy to try and write on my downtime? Absolutely. Being in uncertain circumstances can make me grab for any control I can, which tends to mean that while the decisions may be logic-based, they’re still motivated by a negative or fearful outlook.]
Combining the 2nd and 3rd question into one resulted in an answer, which seems to address both issues perfectly.
- How will things change after I let go of the fear about my finances? (What can I do to let go of unhealthy forms of materialism? What might I experience after I’ve let go of those things?) — Thunderbolt (Tower Card!): “You might be feeling pretty shaky right now, as if the earth is rocking beneath your feet. Your sense of security is being challenged, and the natural tendency is to try to hold on to whatever you can. But this inner earthquake is both necessary and tremendously important. If you allow it you will emerge from the wreckage stronger and more available for new experiences.” [I’ve heard the saying that when you say ‘yes’ to the wrong experience or opportunity, you’re also saying ‘no’ to the right one. Balancing faith in the universe and responsibilities here are on earth can be tricky. Going back to my thoughts above regarding this sense of fear that takes over when it comes to job security, home stability, and other major money issues — I do have to wonder how much opportunity fear is shoving away. This could take the form of avoiding certain jobs or even deciding not to network and connect with people who could make great collaborating partners on a future project.
I have already started plotting out different goals and milestones for my financial future including a more detailed plan on further reducing my debt. If I could put into savings the amount I pay monthly on paying down debt, I’d be well on my way to achieving some important things that can help me feel more stable and secure.
For the moment, taking a few gigs that I’m not thrilled about, but pay well feel like the right decision. That money is likely to go straight to paying down certain parts of my outstanding debt. The jobs I won’t take are those that a permanent and require me to be an in-house or full-time employee. I want to be able to walk away whenever I want whether that’s because a better opportunity has come along or because the negatives have begun to outweigh the value of the pay check,