Work for yourself without financial worries


I am in Boston having post-traumatic stress syndrome from being too close to the town where I went to college. The kids are doing a music workshop and it’s in Newton, which is very close to Waltham, which is where I went to college. So I thought travel planning would be easy since I know my way around. But the cab pulled up to the hotel and I realized it was the hotel where I lost my virginity.

It was not a good scene. Well, the first time I was there was definitely not a good scene, but this time was not either.

“Mom! I don’t want to leave the hotel!”

“Mom! I like this hotel! I want to lay in bed and watch TV!”

I took half a Xanax and we changed hotels.

My son, it turns out, is allergic to gluten. I don’t know how I missed this. The pediatrician thought he was allergic when I was breastfeeding so I was off bread for two years and I lost so much weight. So you’d think I’d have just kept everyone off bread. But no. Because bread is addictive and I’m an addict and how can I raise two kids without PowerBars? They count as bread in the gluten-free world, you know.

So we went back to eating bread and my son had diarrhea for five years. I don’t know how he had it for five years before I put the puzzle pieces together.

I think it’s because I have been insane with financial worry for most of the time I have been parenting him. I mean, there was the year where I was the incapacitated breadwinner coping with his face being totally deformed at birth. Then there was the year of me trying to make ends meet as a journalist/author. Then there was the year of me blowing out my 401K to pay for unproven therapies for my son who was diagnosed with Aspergers. Then there was the year of me starting a company and traveling every week. Then I uprooted our whole city existence and moved to the farm.

So, okay, it’s looking reasonable that I could miss the allergy. Right?

In the lobby of my hotel where I am screaming at the kids that they cannot eat the cookies, I actually hear someone say, “Oh, she’s a Brandeis girl.” It sends chills down my spine. It’s an East-coast thing to say, I think. I mean, who has heard of Brandeis besides East-coast Jews anyway?

I was a big outsider at Brandeis. Probably because I spent a lot of my time either getting ready to go to the mental ward or recuperating from my stay at the mental ward. But also, you might think  that as I am older and wiser I have figured out how to have friends from college. But in fact, I think I alienated everyone who ever knew me by writing what I thought was an olive-branch of a column in order to reintroduce myself.

I should have known that there is a rule that you cannot call out your college roommate for having Aspergers in the college’s alumni magazine.

While the kids and I were on our way to Newton, somewhere in Illinois, I lost my credit card. Actually, I didn’t lose it. It turns out that it was in my wallet the whole time. And why would anyone manufacture a wallet that has a slot that is just long enough to lose sight of a credit card?

So I tell the kids, “We’re at the bank. Get out of the car.”

They want to stay.

I say, “Kids die in parked cars all the time.”

They say, ‘But you leave us in the barn alone all the time.”

Do kids die in barns? I’m not sure. Probably more often than in cars.

So I go by myself to report my lost card. And to withdraw a ton of cash since you can’t get a replacement ATM card if you are out of state. (little-known bank fact, eh? Also, here’s another: Bank robbers who work alone make more money than working in a group.)

I’m with the banker, with my kids in the car, and my cash in my hand, and I watch the guy typing away at his screen and I see there is a label next to my name “HIGH POTENTIAL”.

When someone I know says that about me, I think, “Whatever—they are just trying to make up for all the classes at Brandeis that I failed due to emerging agoraphobia.” But when the bank says that about me, that’s a head turner.

I’ve been thinking about that.

It is incredibly difficult to work for yourself. I think it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you still feel like you might not have enough.

At my twentieth college reunion, I was thinking of going because I was looking for a husband, and also because I know reunions are about showing everyone that you turned out to be better looking and more successful than they are, and I was thinking that I am doing okay in that regard. And anyway, the two are related because I can just spend a lot of money to look good.

But I go through waves of confidence and no confidence and I never feel safely in the confident realm. So I didn’t go. And anyway, I am terrible at small talk and everyone likes me better just reading my blog and not talking to me. So probably it was right to not go.

The thing is that I’m HIGH POTENTIAL. But I don’t feel that way. I feel like my head is always four months into the future, where I am unsure where my revenue will come from, and I’m nervous.

That photo of the barn, above, is my favorite place to be on the farm. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter and the acoustics are soft and the hay is firm enough for building forts. But I look at the picture and notice that you could see it like a prison. Like you’re a baby calf and you can’t get out. That’s what I feel like about working for myself. Sometimes it’s heavenly and sometimes it’s a prison.

That’s the life of someone who works for themselves. You can’t be happy with the money you have this month or else you’ll starve next month. I’ve been doing this so long that I can trust that I won’t starve, but also, I don’t have a lot of savings. Well, actually, I have no savings.

Someone once wrote that one way of looking at savings is that it’s an ability to drum-up money in an emergency. I have that. I can get $10,000 in a month if I need to.

But I have done that so many times that I’m sick of it. I think of the person I was in college. I was nutty and unstable and a sitting duck for the most physically aggressive men and the most intellectually needy professors. But I’m not that now. I want to have the confidence that I am pulled together and stable and self-sufficient.

A therapist once told me that I am stuck because I think that the reason that I am able to support myself so well is that I worry incessantly about supporting myself so well.

That’s true.

I don’t think I realized how much I want to be done with that until I went back to the hotel where I lost my virginity. I am not that girl now. Now I know I’m HIGH POTENTIAL. I can earn money because I’m confident and capable and not because I’m worried and anxious.

I want to do that. Right now. I used to think if I could just earn a little more money then I’d stop worrying about money. But no amount of money feels safe. And I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Daniel Gilbert shows, in his book Stumbling on Happiness, that we are hard-wired to not feel safe with the amount of money we have.

So I have to make a mental shift instead: Focusing on action instead of worrying.

I’m going to make a list of the things I’ll do this month that could earn money. And I’ll do those things. And I’ll trust that one will work well enough that I’ll be fine financially.

Do lists calm you down? Lists calm me down. And I’m going to go make one right now.



72 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Is he allergic, celiac, or intolerant? In the allergy/GF world, they are three very different things, each with its own constellation of sympoms. Weight loss rather than a rash indicates the latter two, but I’m not a medical professional, just a celiac of 25+ years.
    FYI, the Luna Protein line is GF, as are NuGo Free, Larabars, Thinkthin protein, and Kind bars, just off the top of my head. Canyon Bakehouse makes excellent bread for sandwiches, and Schar has good baguette-type bread.

  2. jestyn
    jestyn says:

    off to my 25 year reunion next month, and I think it’s scaring me silly, but I’m not sure why… Probably neither better looking nor more successful!

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    Lists make me anxious, actually!

    I’m letting you off the hook for not seeing your son’s gluten allergy. I’m 45 and just recognized my own.

  4. jill
    jill says:

    if you haven’t lately, go to de Cordova and relax! it’s an amazing sculpture park in lincoln (near newton!)

    and/or walk along the charles to relax. this too will pass!
    (I live in the boston area)

  5. Don
    Don says:

    I don’t understand why you write at all about money. You are broke as a joke and, in spite of more than one start up, continue to be. I have always worked for others and have more money than I care to count in investments. It’s not that hard, really, if you live your life right and learn something.

  6. Tony
    Tony says:

    Very good post and one I needed to hear today. I got let go from my last job IT (which I enjoyed) a few weeks ago and spent most of today freaking out that I won’t get hired again instead of brushing up on old skills or learning new ones.
    Once again good post.

  7. Alyosha
    Alyosha says:

    Newton, my hometown these days. All Newton Music School? I signed my son up for their summer program when he was a little kid and the first day he decided based on nothing that he didn’t like it and started screaming — literally screaming — and I had to take him home and he never went back and they wouldn’t refund the tuition (which was a lot of money for me back then).

    I hope that your kids enjoyed their program.

  8. pfj
    pfj says:

    At some point it may occur to you — although I don’t actually know, it has already occurred to me — that the “high potential” comment really means something like high potential to be identity thief? Or something more along those lines. Better check with some banking types . . .

    • Can't stop watching
      Can't stop watching says:

      I thought this too. Not as a dig against Penelope, just that showing up in a different state claiming to have lost a card and wanting to withdraw cash really OUGHT to send up some red flags, no matter how solid someone’s credit, bank balance or earning potential is.

  9. D
    D says:

    In my experience reunions are the opposite of what you thought. Everyone has been so beaten down by the real world that they drop the facades they had in high school and college and just be real.

  10. kari
    kari says:

    I love the picture of the barn. Looks like a place I’d love, too. But what I really need to know is, how do you drum up $10,000 in a month when you need to?? (My dog was bit by a rattlesnake & I promised the vet more money than I have if he just wouldn’t let my dog die.) I “only” need to drum up $1,000, but it’s proving to be harder than I thought. How do you do that?

  11. Kat Crosby
    Kat Crosby says:

    Really enjoy your posts – quite often feels like I’m reading my own words, if I only have the time/guts to jot them down ;-)

  12. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    I led teen workshops in social entrepreneurship. One of the mentors for the teens in the program talked to them about sustainability…and the idea that for instance, I don’t want to own a big glob of electricity or a power plant. I just want enough to flow into my house when I plug in my laptop or turn on a light switch. I want enough water to come out of the faucet to wash the dishes.

    I am working hard to think of money in the same way. And to practice gratitude everytime there is exactly enough in the checking account to cover what I need right now. In fact, its almost became a game between me and the powers of the universe…like the day I desperately needed to find one quarter in my car or purse to get a shopping cart at Aldi’s. After searching and searching and alot of negative talk to myself about always being unprepared, etc……there they were, not one, but two quarters in the dark recesses of my console. Life’s sense of humor… remind me that my life is about abundance. I have enough and more. There is no tomorrow. There is only today.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for this comment, Kitty. I like the idea of associating gratitude and money. I think people create stability where they want stability. And I obviously have some problem with creating financial stability. So I like the idea of stopping to notice how good it feels to have a little cushion when I do have a cushion.


      • Kitty
        Kitty says:


        You can’t believe how much this response meant to me! I needed the confirmation right now that I might be able to help others. I have been singing to myself ever since you responded.

        Your blog has helps me immensely. Early events in my life make my brain operate differently; I see things differently (without knowing it), I perceive intuitively people’s motives much stronger than I can listen to their words. So I am not autistic but I soak up your descriptions of events so I know I’m not crazy! Keep writing, please.

  13. Kerri
    Kerri says:

    ‘Security’ is a feeling. Just a feeling. It’s not a thing that actually exists ‘out there’ in the world. Pursuing something exterior to ourselves like security will never allow us to feel secure. It’s the classic paradox: pursuing the idea of security will continue to create feelings of insecurity. I’m sure you know this Penelope. Just my 2 cents :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. Yes. This is what I was trying to write, I think. I’m just so far from it that I can’t write it. Maybe, getting to security is three stages:
      worry about security
      do stuff to get security
      decide to feel secure where you are


  14. Katelyn
    Katelyn says:

    I can’t remember if I already posted a link with some PubMed search results for <> or not. But basically, there are hits there, and your doctors are idiots for not suggesting this. Repeatedly. Not your fault.

    If you’re feeling brave and experimental (or terrified and obsessive?), PubMed search <>.

  15. Jacko
    Jacko says:

    How you get the money is most important. Keep your dignity.

    Someone about talked about their investments IE other’s peoples money.

    Don’t get caught up DO YOU.

  16. TKraft Art & Interiors
    TKraft Art & Interiors says:

    Fun read, you always manage to crack me up – it’s hard not to walk in our own shadows. Forget the past and enjoy the new memories in that hotel. But when you get back home read the book ‘Women and the yeast connection’ NO – NOT THAT KIND OF YEAST INFECTION… it’s a chemical imbalance in our own bodies and YES IT EFFECTS THE MALE gender just the same.
    As far as class reunions… ugh… still a wallflower.

  17. Katelyn
    Katelyn says:

    Hah, the brackets deleted my search terms. I meant “gluten autism” in the first case and “ketogenic diet bipolar” in the second. Sorry.

  18. Lynn Lawrence
    Lynn Lawrence says:

    Oh Penelope!

    Sounds like one long, drawn out, panic attack to me, triggered by returning to…a place that is a trigger!

    Deep breaths, you’ve got so many amazing ideas and experiences to draw from and now profit from.

    Oh, and loved the comment about unproven therapies…boy, oh boy, if I could just tell the moms out there: BEWARE of experts! I remember, in particular, the expensive week we flew to Denver for “Mozart therapy”…in hindsight, I can’t even believe that was us. At 18, you’re right, my son is doing just fine. It just took time and perspective and fewer “experts” in my face (homeschooling on a farm is good for that!).

    This is possibly why you missed the gluten…you get to a point where so many experts want to do unto you, but your kid is stable, perhaps happy even, that you feel like if you go down one more rabbit trail you’ll never return…at least that was me. I should have had my son’s overly large obstructive tonsils removed years earlier, I was just…paralyzed from being without answers, instead, I just kept getting more options.

    Best to you,

  19. Negin Sairafi
    Negin Sairafi says:

    Oh thank god you wrote this.

    Unless you are self-employed, you will never understand the constant stress and anxiety that is involved with running your own business. There is a reason why they call it ‘running a business’, it’s because you are literally running to make ends meet–if you stop you go broke.
    It’s also hard to justify a savings account when you have a business because you always feel like the money should go back in to make more money…vicious cycle.
    But I do agree, no amount of money will be enough (love Daniel Gilbert).
    It’s comforting to know someone as successful as yourself still worries about these things. And yes, lists were made to calm anxious people–I live by them.

    Great post!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That is such a good point- about how you always think the money should be going back into the business. I have that feeling every day. I have so many ideas for what I should build, and I think: are you nuts? We don’t own a sofa large enough to sit on as a family. I should buy that. Then, I look at sofas online and I think: are you nuts? You could have a whole new section on your blog for the books you’ve written. Do that!

      You’re right that it’s very hard to explain the tug to someone who doesn’t run their own business. But now that I think about it, the financial tug between the business and the family is a lot like the time issues people feel between business and a family. It’s impossible to feel like you’ve got it right.


  20. D
    D says:

    And all this time I thought the self-employed and entrepreneurs were people who valued self-direction more than security. I thought they were happy with being their own boss and the captain of their destiny. I thought the reason I took the risk-averse path of working for an organization was because I lacked the risk-taking gene of self-employment. But now you’re telling me that you’re driving yourself and (probably) your family crazy with your anxiety over money? Geez…if you hate the risk so much, why not just get a job doing what you like and trade in your irregular schedule for a reliable income? I don’t think the benefits of farm living will compensate for the stress—not to mention the guilt—of not seeing things like a 5 year diarrhea or obsessing over this month’s, next month’s, and the month after that’s income. Being your own boss can’t be all that great if you’re stressed out 24/7.

    • Clare
      Clare says:

      Well, you could say that regardless of where or how you work, a little bit of stress is important, otherwise you wouldn’t get anything done…

      But I think that for some people, working for an employer is stressful – in a different way – from working for yourself. I’ve done both, and the stress I had working for others was (in no particular order): not being able to have any say over what I worked on; not being sure whether or not there would still be a job the next year or beyond (important if you want a loan or a mortgage where I live); having to commute on public transport; having to commute in my own car…

      Plenty of other issues to think about as well. If you live in a rural area, the chances of finding a salaried job that a) aren’t too far away that make a commute possible and are family-friendly; and b) that fully exercise your skills and experience – well, these chances can be pretty slim.

  21. Jenx67
    Jenx67 says:

    Everytime I visit your blog I google you to get the address. After all this time I can’t remember if the blog portion of the name comes first or last. So, a few months ago google started displaying short bios of people in searches. Every time I searched for you, I’d see the name of your college and high school. A year ago I subscribed to yearbooks on You can see where this is going. Last week I pulled up all the yearbooks for trier or new trier?? Anyway, I realize how stalkerish this sounds. I have no defense beyond my own curiosity. It’s served me well in pr and journalism. Anyway, I only found one reference for you and a picture too small to see much. So , first of all, i like to read about your past and youth and college years. It helps me fill in my own blanks, and even if my life was boring it helps me fill in pieces of our generation. No clue why I am saying this as I have no proof. People remember you. Finally, I have learned a lot about people from their h.s. yearbooks. I found the wife of a famous rock star who all but made much of his career. Long before she slipped into his shadow, the faculty at her high school named her outstanding senior girl. This was before they had ever heard of her now internationally famous husband. They live in the city where I live and now when I see her around or hear about her through friends I am grateful to know her star shined bright long before he eclipsed her. We are never really eclipsed though. It’s temporary even if it lasts a long time.

  22. Leslie Morris
    Leslie Morris says:

    Sorry to hear your son has celiac disease. Or is gluten intolerant. We’ve been there. Triumph Dining ( publishes restaurant and grocery guides that make this lifestyle easier. Best to you!

  23. Moya Sayer-Jones
    Moya Sayer-Jones says:

    I love your posts Penelope: the writing is so great and fresh and insightful that of course, it doesn’t make any sense that you don’t make enough money. People who never spend a minute creating something of real value can earn a zillion times more than a wonderful writer…and that really doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to the people either.
    My life as a writer has been not dissimilar to yours. I’ve had great successes, lots of worries, missed opportunities, two boys, music lessons for them non-stop and a few acres in the country. I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my writing and that has meant no savings but a brilliant life. I often say I’ll spend my old age $$ broke but with a lot of spiritual superannuation that will keep me going. I’ve always figured that as you grow older your needs are less than everyone thinks: a boiled egg, a cardigan and a remote control? (You don’t even need as much waxing..except maybe on your chin)
    Anyway, maybe I’ll regret it but still for now, I think it’s better to live richly and keep in control of your work life. (Even if our minds go out of control) The older I get, the more I think I’ve beat the system. (as a % of lifespan spent being yourself!)
    Really great friends have been a mind-saver for me in the past: I remember once, when my kids were still tiny, I wanted to fly to New York (I live in Australia) to follow some interest in one of my books. But I had zippo dollars to do it.
    My best friend, who is a lawyer and property developer, turned up with the airline ticket and an Amex card in my name linked to his account.
    When I told him that I felt bad about accepting his generosity and I felt a failure for needing to..he said that he thought that it was a complete accident that the work I did paid so little and the work he did paid so much. He said that we both worked hard and he was simply redressing the imbalance! The first thing I put on that AmEx was an overdue electricity account and a forward payment for the next month’s telephone bill!
    Want his phone number? :-)
    Look forward to reading more

  24. linda Clark
    linda Clark says:

    what an amazing post. you are so awesome.
    i, too, have ptsd. i acted out in college, and was unable to really focus on learning, so meeting old college acquaintances is mixed–and they are surprised to learn that i have taught school for 4 decades–and finished a masters degree.
    some of us mature out of our craziness and find a meaningful life. others stay stuck.
    don’t let your past rule you. make lists. create order. contemplate nature.

  25. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    “I don’t know how he had it for five years before I put the puzzle pieces together.”
    You should have asked us! It’ll be good for your other son if he’s gluten intolerant too. Digestive symptoms sometimes come much later than others (auto-immune, mental).

  26. Ingrid
    Ingrid says:

    Thank you Penelope! I needed to hear this today. I’m in the same boat as you (working for myself). But like you said, instead of worrying I’m focusing on what I can do to make money now. I’m going to keep that list plastered to my forehead!

  27. Peter Degen-Portnoy
    Peter Degen-Portnoy says:

    Holy, Cow, P! I was driving through Waltham today, heading into Boston, and I saw a woman in a tan (?) top and black shorts with some lace at the bottom, leading a boy in a striped shirt and shorts along the street, guiding him along the curb around the outside of the other pedestrians, and I thought, “That pretty lady looks remarkably like Penelope. Nah, it couldn’t be.” But it could have been, couldn’t it? I hope so. And I hope that list did all you wanted it to do for you.

  28. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I have some advice for you – probably just some advice you’ve previously covered on this blog. Surround yourself with people who will provide reassurance and boost your confidence. Also stay focused on the present – it may be the reason that lists “calm you down”. I don’t think it’s enough to just realize these things. I think it’s necessary to actually develop action plans to meet these goals. And then routine and self-discipline to maintain them. Lists for me are like brain dumps that free my mind of all the detailed clutter. They’re necessary to create some sort of order and to make room for more stuff.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      Forgot to mention that I hope you become a part of the Brandeis community. I also don’t think it is too late.

  29. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I relate to this in a way that’s a little too close for comfort. That’s why I love it so much. I have never found a way to make lists work for me, but I think I may give them a zillionth chance. To do: start making to do list. Second item: email Penelope for the five hundredth time to be my friend.

  30. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    You crack me up! I don’t read all your posts but whenever I do I love to read what you have to say. I like how you analyze, maybe cause I do that too.

    Lists: Oh my gosh, lists are my problem! LOL..I write a list and then re-write the list if I didn’t get everything done in one day. Then I go crazy re-writing and moving tasks up to the next day and then before I know it I have procrastinated on something like a doctor appt., returning a purchase or calling my health insurance to find out how to lower my monthly payments (too high…and i get anxious and frustrated when they take so long on the phone!!)

    I have too many lists and then I feel like I always have too much to do. I do the same thing day after day and don’t seem to change this much.

    Anyway, just wanted to say I like most of your posts….mainly because I sometimes think in similiar ways or find your views interesting. You are pretty brave to put yourself out in the world on the internet for anyone to read and comment on what you write.

    Take care,
    San Diego,CA

  31. Marie
    Marie says:

    Sense of safety based on “ability to act” doesn’t work.

    Someday you will be unable to act (i.e. elderly, incapacitated, etc).

  32. brian t
    brian t says:

    As a single guy reading all that … yep, I’m glad I’m single and a guy. I really don’t need any of that drama in my life. Call me “immature” if you want, but is anyone’s life genuinely *better* for having to deal with all that? I don’t mean in a “I love my kids” sense – that’s a given, all parents love their kids – but in a “I’m a better person” sense?

  33. Brooke Castillo
    Brooke Castillo says:

    Such a brilliant post.

    Potential is a dangerous word. It makes us think we should all be working harder and saving more.

    I homeschool my kids while fantasizing about my creative work. I could be creating a tool that could help so many of my clients and instead I am talking to my kids about their fascination with Mythbusters.

    It makes me think of the four course dinner I tried to serve when my second son was two months. My girlfriend reminded me that I am really good at doing that, but I shouldn’t be doing it when my kid is two months. I should be sitting around staring at his face and breastfeeding.

    She couldn’t have been more right.

    So now, I remind myself that just because I can kick ass in business and make lots of money and create meaningful material for the world doesn’t mean I should. It’s time to teach my kids what I want them to know. It’s time to listen to what they find interesting and give them more of it.

    In about two minutes they will be gone.

    I won’t cry. I will shift to fifth.

  34. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I don’t know about you, P, but once my kids were fully self-toileting, they didn’t invite me to examine their poo anymore. I have no idea what’s going on in there, as long as they remember to flush.

    My son is gluten-free due to difficulty controlling his behavior when he eats either gluten or wheat (don’t know which is the troublemaker). I can save you some time by letting you know that rice noodles are borderline inedible, and you should try corn noodles or a corn blend instead. Most of the rest of my usual advice would be about particular brands, which may not be available where you are. Good luck – it’s a big learning curve/habit change, but well worth it if you have the need.

  35. Rachel D.
    Rachel D. says:

    I had that fear during every lucrative and lean year, and it never went away until I realized I just need to accept who I am, and the energy I put out into the world doesn’t always bring back money.

    Money is simply a reflection of the energy we’re putting out into the world at that moment in time. Some years the energy I was putting out brought back financial rewards.

    Other years the energy I was putting out brought back personal rewards and showed itself in great relationships, like right now. I’m making less money, but I’m so happy with my personal life.

    If I focus on energy and not money, and accept who I am and what my energy brings back to me, then I realize the fear is unwarranted. I’m getting a return, just not what I expected it to be.

  36. Grace
    Grace says:

    I didn’t have money until I had that feeling of security. For it was the feeling of insecurity that always made me feel impoverished. Feeling impoverished made me want which in turn made me spend. Then one day I realized that even in the really, really poor times, my kids never went hungry, we were always clothed and had a warm place to lay our heads. I realized that I was resourceful enough to always find what I needed (or a reasonable substitute). Once I realized that, money wasn’t such an issue and I no longer needed to spend to feel safe. Which gave me more money. I don’t make much more money now than I did in the poor days, but I have a savings and all of my bills are paid each month, which is something new for me.

  37. Grace
    Grace says:

    Paying Bills by Gunilla Norris

    Here are the bills again.
    I always dread them a little.
    They are familiar presences:
    first in the mail box, then in the bill drawer,
    now on the desk. Services Rendered.
    My life is dependent on services rendered.

    Somehow I am glad to pay Richard
    for the plowing, Chic for the plumbing,
    Walter for fixing the roof. I know them.
    They make my life possible.
    It is harder to pay the faceless ones
    — the ones behind these white envelopes.
    Here are the lives behind the heat,
    the light, the telephone
    — behind the counters and computers.
    I want to learn to feel a friendliness toward them.
    I want to acknowledge them.

    When I write my checks I want to feel
    that I am returning energy in the form of money
    for energy given in the form of service.
    It is all Your energy. We are only each other’s way
    to share in that great service which is Your life
    poured out continually for us all without exception.

    Guard me against the arrogance of privilege,
    against the indulgence of feeling
    that I don’t have enough, and the poverty of spirit
    that refuses to acknowledge what is
    daily given me. Keep me truthful in knowing
    where I spend, where my values actually are.

    Let me not skip this monthly knowing.
    Instruct me in judicious spending
    and in gratitude with no holds barred.
    I want always to give thanks and acknowledgment
    to the ones I know who help my life
    and to the faceless ones whom I will never know.

  38. Helen W
    Helen W says:

    I am in the throes of startup, which means I am not yet making a salary. I do worry about money, my personal debt is getting larger and larger for this lack of a salary. Can I tell you that mysteriously, I have never felt happier? Call it blind and/or stupid faith but I just know that if I keep at it and learn from my mistakes I will get where I need to go, not want, but need to go.

  39. Rebecca@MidcenturyModernRemodel
    Rebecca@MidcenturyModernRemodel says:

    I feel anxious when I don’t have a list. I am also always trying to improve my systems for keeping lists. I have found there is no perfect system. Similar to the fact there is no perfect purse. But it is a quest. And I continue to pursue it. To reduce my anxiety.

  40. Rochelle Lavin
    Rochelle Lavin says:

    This line was like finding buried treasure — “I have to make a mental shift instead: Focusing on action instead of worrying.”

  41. Elizabeth Crook
    Elizabeth Crook says:

    “Focusing on action instead of worrying” can be so hard, but it is so key. Finding a way to push that worry aside and realizing your capabilities and being a peace with that allows you to accomplish your goals and more.

    Lists help me, too! Great read.

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