And, by the way, 8 Women Dream blogger Lisa Powell Graham and her 100-Day Extraordinary Woman Challenge turned me on to Meadow. Thanks, Lisa and Meadow, for giving me a virtual kick in the patootie toward my dream of financial mastery.
Everyone else, go visit Meadow‘s website. You won’t be sorry.
Note: This is part two of a two-part series, wherein I recover my sanity from Dear Money Letter: Part 1.
Wait. Don’t leave me.
I’m just tired and cranky, and I took it out on you. I’m begging you – give me another chance. I can live without you (mostly), but I really don’t want to have to.
I’ve been thinking about it, and I realize I owe you more than a diatribe.
I owe you thanks, for being my most faithful, steadfast teacher.
The truth is, you’ve never once abandoned me. After all, a great teacher is still there, teaching lessons, even when she’s not in the classroom. Her impact transcends the school day. Sometimes, she teaches more by her absence than she does when she’s in your face.
As my teacher, you’ve been an immovable pillar in my life, all of my life. No matter how stubborn and willful I’ve been, or how much I’ve resisted the lessons, or how many times I’ve told you the dog ate my homework, you’ve been there. In a funny kind of way, you’ve been my champion.
A great teacher never gives up teaching. She believes in the innate capacity of her students to learn, even when her students are acting as though they might be exceptions to the universal rule that people can learn. Such a teacher holds a perennial confidence in human capacity like a beam of light.
She manages her classroom with clear, objective boundaries. Cross the boundaries, and you get exactly what she said you’d get if you did. Somehow, it never comes across as mean. Her students might not like it, but we can see the compassion in her eyes. She wants us to learn, and part of how we learn is to know exactly when we’re veering off the path. There’s nothing quite like money (or the lack thereof) to show you where you’ve gone wrong.
There aren’t that many things in life that are so clear and objective.
Just for example, you can drive beyond the speed limit your whole life and never get a ticket, even though the law is clear about what the speed limit is. (I’m 55 years old and have never had a speeding ticket. It’s true. And I pretty much don’t drive the speed limit. Half the time I don’t even know what it is.)
You can smoke like a chimney and never get lung cancer, even though there’s a direct causal link between smoking and lung cancer.
You can smoke pot in the high school bathroom and never get caught, never mind that there’s zero tolerance at school.
Things like that make life feel like a crap shoot. They make us spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what we might be able to get away with, how far we dare go, and then, after we’ve gone and done it,Â worrying that we’re going to get caught. That takes us out of the moment and puts us squarely in “I wish I hadn’t done that,” and “What if I get caught?” So much pointless energy devoted to what-if, while life continues on all around us.
But money is not like that. With money, if you do x, then y happens. The rules are clear, and the consequences are clear, and everything that happens between the two is predictable.
And Money – all that stuff I said about you in my other letter? I really do feel that way a lot of the time, because I’m not that crazy about how it feels to learn my lessons the hardest way possible. I blame you for my pain, when clearly it’s my own accountability. I don’t have to make it this hard, but I do it anyway. I guess that makes me human. Humans don’t learn and grow unless they get uncomfortable with where they are.
One of your great qualities is you can take it when I blame you. You don’t throw insults back at me, you don’t get defensive, and you don’t indulge me. You’re just there, holding me while I throw a temper tantrum. That’s what I call faithful.
When I step back and look at more than just my own pain in this moment, I have to admit I’m grateful.
Grateful that you haven’t given up on me.
That you’re willing to teach me the same lesson you’ve tried to teach me 1000 times before, with the same clarity and objectivity. I have no doubt that you’ll keep right on teaching me this same lesson until I get it, and even then you’ll be available to deliver a refresher course when I need it, as I surely will.
I’m grateful that even when I think I have no capacity to learn and do better, you obviously know I do – otherwise you wouldn’t keep coming back.
It’s true what they say: when the student is ready, the teacher will come.
Dear money, thanks for being my teacher and for showing up exactly when I need you. Every time.