Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Eleanor Roosevelt and Handling Turbulence- Part 5

One of my lowest points financially hit me like a brick. I was standing in the supermarket and I had a choice. I could buy a clearance sale bag of French Fried potatoes or a roll of toilet paper. I could not do both. At that moment I felt helpless, angry and questioning why I was even here. I was not questioning why I was in the supermarket. I questioned how did I get to this point where I had to make this kind of choice?

That was my financial bottom. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I vowed to change the situation. I did not know how I was going to do it but it was going to happen. I was a journey and I made missteps along the way. I did know that my ignorance was putting me in jeopardy of harming my spirit. I’d seen the walking dead; the people who go through the motions of life waiting to die.  That scared me more than anything and inspired me to learn what I needed to know.

This series of Women’s History posts came from seeing the 1929 Depression as a metaphor for surviving and thriving in the mist of chaos. The fact is that there have been multiple recessions since 1929 and there will be others.

One of life lessons is that there will be unexpected turbulence. How you handle your personal financial life after the turbulence occurs is within your control. So with a little help from Eleanor Roosevelt here we go; for those of you that don’t know about her this is a very brief introduction.


Part of having control over your financial life is knowing that you can take care of yourself. It might be a hard idea to sell these days, especially if you are having a financial emergency. You have to believe that you can handle whatever you have to face, even if you need to ask for help.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

DJ Nelson knew that a 40 hour work week in an office was not for her. She had others that were trying to tell her that perhaps she was mistaken in her opinion. She wasn’t. DJ knew what was right for her:

Before I graduated from college I knew that I never wanted to work for anyone else. The idea of being stuck in an office for 40+ hours a week was simply revolting. After a few summers of full-time internships, I was simply burned out. I literally felt as if my brain was oozing out of my head and my level of intelligence was dropping at a rapid rate. I knew that is not how I wanted to spend my life.

No disrespect to those who live this lifestyle but it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t understand why I had to sit at a desk for 8 hours each day when I was done with all of my work after 4 hours.

Rowena at Warrior Girl expresses her empowerment thought art. I wished I could fly and maybe I can be inspired by her work to take flight of some of my ideas that have been percolating.

What Is Your Plan?

Don’t have a plan, great! This gives you the opportunity to investigate how other people are doing it the sensible way. I don’t think you have to make yourself sucker bait for any financial scheme that is being floated pass folks now days.  There are real people who worked there way out of in deep debt without winning the lottery or a relative dying in the nick of time.  You have options.

The world cannot be understood from a single point of view. I keep repeating this because this one of our blinds spots as Americans.

No one plan fits all lifestyles but you have to have something. Even a rebel needs something to rebel against. Now you can call it a budget, financial goals, spending plan or whatever you want to call it what do you have to support you when bad times comes to your door?  As a starting point you can’t go wrong with the updated version of Your Money or Your Life: Updated and Revised for the 21st Century written by Vicki Robin, Monique Tilford and the late Joe Dominquez. The book has been updated to reflect new and current realities.

On the blogging side there is Kelly from Almost Frugal with her Back to the Basics posts on Creating a Plan. For those of you that are moms there is Cathy from Mommy Need Motivation on Budget Planning. Blunt Money understand most people’s reluctance but you have to start somewhere and she is asking “Where do you want the money to go?”

Being on Purpose

If ten million women really want security, real representation, honesty, wise and just legislations, happier and more comfortable conditions of living, and a future with the horrors of war removed from the horizon, then these ten million women must bestir themselves. Home Magazine 5 (March 1932): 19-21, 86

Walking the walk, meaning setting up the emergency, savings, retirement and what the hell accounts. Knowing and understanding your options if you are cut from your job or have to find alternative income. If what you have planned doesn’t match up with your values or your current lifestyle it is doomed to fail. Not only do you have to want prosperity you actually have to act like you mean it. Jen from Millionaire Mommy Next Door interviewed David Wann who wrote the book “Simple Prosperity.” He defines simple prosperity as:

I think of simple prosperity as a social movement, a non-violent revolution similar to the civil rights movement, to replace our excessive lifestyle with a more moderate, sensible, grounded way of life. It’s not about guilt, shame, judgment, or sacrifice, but a strategic, mutually agreeable reduction in our level of consumption and a corresponding increase in our level of contentment.

Jen also demonstrates how to create a visual treasure map of your financial goals and aspirations.

Inspirationally Paying It Forward

Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

And you know those without a good friend or friends kinda get a little twitchy in a scary sort of way. People with true wealth and abundance know that they did not get where they are totally by themselves. Yes, you need information, skills and tools but you also need understand that you are a part of many different communities. 

Debbe Kennedy at Women in the LEAD Inspiration blog shares a book she found inspirational. In her post, Women: Are You Working Against Yourself? Debbe points out that if you kept regurgitating the negative thoughts  it will contribute to the negative experiences you might encounter.

I've not known quite what to write about it, but I've been hoping to find the words that might touch some of you and also free me from my own unintended sense of temporarily being "stuck" in a place where I don't feel like ME.

Nina Simosko at Nina Net’s It Out shows us that sometimes advertising can reflect our better nature. She point out that it is beneficial for businesses and individuals to “pay it forward” because despite what negative people say we are better than we know. Extending kindness, information and respect is not lost. It is circulating and at some point it does come back to you. Nina explains:

I have had the great fortune of being helped by many people along my career path. And to be clear, these folks did not do so with the expectation that they would receive anything in return; but rather for the sake of helping me out at a time when I was in need of assistance. I have had a few great mentors who took me under their wings and guided me through then-uncharted paths within my career.

To put it plainly, are you the stingy heifer up the road that nobody wants to talk to or the lady down the block who knows how to find the resources she needs within a keystroke or a phone call? One thing you could say about Eleanor is that she certainly got around, met and helped a lot of people.

We can make a different, first in our personal lives and then when possible extend our assistance beyond our doors. I leave you with a final quote:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

For more information about Eleanor Roosevelt:

This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor

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