Yesterday I woke heavy, sore, fuzzy-headed. After dragging myself out of bed, I walked into my living room and over to my paper-and-book-mess ‘desk’ (which is really a crappy wooden dining table) and picked up the Hillberg & Berk catalogue that I had gotten in Regina recently.
My best friend had bought me a pair of emerald sparkle balls from the jewellery store when I was visiting her for her wedding. She told me the story of Hillberg & Berk, how the (female) owner of the small business now sells jewellery to the stars, was on the Dragon’s Den and has even been on Oprah…all a pretty big deal.
I’ve never really considered myself a fancy jewellery person; owning a bunch of it is not high on my list of priorities. These earrings are probably the fanciest ones I’ve ever owned, and it was so kind of her to gift them to me.
I love jewellery, I want to look good, but the priority has always been ‘cheap.’ And besides that, in my attempt to be fairly non-materialistic, I’ve never aspired to real diamonds, whether I buy them for myself or not.
For my entire adult life, I’ve worked full-time (and gone to school) but still have been in debt and living mostly paycheck-to-paycheck. This is what is normal to me. I also tend to buy cheap crappy things because (even though I realize it’s not the most ethical thing), that is ‘all I can afford.’
My mom did her best to teach me how to manage my money, and conceptually I understand this. Yet I find myself caught in a cycle of scarcity, a situation which runs much deeper than just ‘how’ we manage our money. I accept some of the responsibility for not being as good with money as I could be.
But there are deeper issues to consider… like quality.
Lately I’ve been getting more and more frustrated about my crappy furniture, the fact that I can’t really afford to replace my good quality boots, the fact that just getting a new (cheap) laptop to work on is a big huge expense.
It’s hard to have lived single for so long in an expensive city. No partners to split the rent, to take vacations with, to even split the chores. Not even enough leeway to do a car co-op thing. My friends are endlessly generous, and sometimes a date will pick up the dinner bill, which is a huge treat.
Mostly it’s just me, and I want to treat myself and my friends/dates too. I would like for it to not feel like a struggle to spend a little money on self-care, or get someone a special (local/handmade) gift.
After a brunch out and a small grocery shop yesterday, I walked home in the hard November rain. Carrying too-heavy groceries that were making my arms ache, feet soaked and cold, breathing heavier than I should be after only two short flights of stairs, I almost broke down.
Being this independent is simultaneously glorious and exhausting.
I’ve known for a long time that I have to start doing things differently in order to change this feeling of constantly being stuck, and for a while now I’ve believed that I can. I realized a few months ago how much the job that supposedly keeps me sustained is actually what’s keeping me down.
But it’s almost like I feel guilty for wanting something ‘more’; I mean in the end, who cares how much money my earrings cost? I feel like if I say that I want to be able to afford (somewhat) expensive things, I will sound like a pretentious boob, or like I have a (false) sense of entitlement. I will sound superficial, which is not me at all.
Or if I talk about how Oprah (writing for her website/magazine at least) is on my life ‘goal’ list, I would sound delusional. People would think I was crazy.
It’s just a pipe dream, they’d say. It will probably never happen. And besides, they’d say, why would you quit a job that has such great benefits? How are you going to support yourself? Do you have a plan? What about retirement?
What hit me yesterday as I was looking through that pretty catalogue, and wishing that I at least had the choice to purchase something a little bit luxurious for myself is that it’s about the choice, not the stuff.
The choice is about noticing those moments of feeling inspired yet tingly-terrified. When my heart is beating a little bit faster and my tummy feels butterflies because someone tells me that my writing has made their day better. Or that I’ve made them think about things a little bit differently. Or I’ve helped them to remember what makes them cry out of relief, or shine a little bit brighter.
And the choice is about choosing the quality work-the work that makes you happy and the world better-and not worrying so much about the cash flow.
Most real diamonds aren’t even ethical purchases so they are not important to my life. But what they do represent is (not romance!) quality, longevity, authenticity.
I may not have an exact plan, but I have a feeling. A really strong one-like, I actually believe that I will design an even more authentic, quality, free life.
And the more I feel like this, the more light I have to reflect back into the world.
So now when I wear those sparkle ball earrings, I’m going to remember that it’s about giving myself permission to want a more comfortable life. It will probably come in the form of joy, flow and freedom.
Kinda-sorta-maybe living the dream.
So my plan, really, is to go with the momentum, the feeling that I’m moving in the right direction. Because in the end that’s all we’ve got.