On Tuesday morning I woke up and said out loud, "I love my life...." And now it is Thursday and 800,576 things have filled the sixty-eight hours between that statement and this moment. Sometimes I experience the naive belief that life will calm down. I think, "I'll just get through this rough patch...." and things will be calmer, easier, lighter. But then it comes up again, a rough patch, a hard spell, a busy time. It keeps happening. On Tuesday after my seeing-the-sun-through-the-clouds euphoric moment, I met with my financial planner. I was supposed to go to his office on Mercer Island, but because the studio was recovering from a flood and I was getting the place ready to teach the first class after the disaster, I asked him to meet me on Capitol Hill at Cafe Vita.
Jim, my financial planner, is a severely clean cut guy. I trust him implicitly. There's just something about him. Either he's completely and utterly honest and trustworthy or he's as conniving as Bernie Madoff and, if that's the case, I might as well be in denial. Tuesday was our annual meeting to take stock of where I am in my personal financial goals. We sat down with our lattes and Jim pulled out his notes from our meeting last year. I had three priorities: 1) Lucia; 2) Financial security; 3) Happiness. He asked me if these were still my priorities. Yes, I said, and I want to make more money. "I should make more money" I proclaimed, like a good client. Jim is a really good listener. He nodded as I talked about wanting to be flush enough to not think about where I go out to dinner, to be able to send Lucia to private school if I want to, to be able to retire when I'm 58 (so random). I talked and talked and talked, and eventually Jim found a place to launch, "Laura, first of all, you don't want to stop working." Oh right. I love my work. "Second of all, money is not the only measure of success. Let's talk about your measures of success that aren't financial."
Just that morning before talking to Jim, I had recognized how happy I am, yet here I was, six hours later, plagued by the niggling need to have more, to be better. How ironic that my financial planner was the one telling me to stop spinning my wheels to make more money. "Laura," Jim said, "You thrive on the excitement of challenge." He's right. "Even if you had all the money in the world, you'd still want, you'd still need that challenge." And so it was that my financial planner became my therapist.
As I write this, I realize that I have lots of room to explore this advise from my financial planner/therapist. What can I say? I'm still stuck on the idea that having more money would make life easier, maybe better. It's the American way. But my lens is a little broader in this moment. I get that money is just a symbol; something I can measure. The things that bring me the most joy-- teaching Yoga, being a mom, writing a blog-- hardly pay the bills. These low-ticket items are the challenges that keep me motivated. It would be nice if the things that challenged me brought home a little bit more bacon, and maybe someday they will, but I wouldn't trade any of them for a job that made more money. I sure do love my life, but maybe I need a new financial planner....