A year ago I decided to be done, like really DONE, with being broke. I've documented some insights on the journey toward a new relationship with money here in various blog posts (including this one that went viral), and I've been teaching what I learned to other artists in the Starving Artist No More program (coming again soon, FYI). It's been an incredible 12 months of learning and expanding. Without the dire straits of being on the brink of brokeness, my energy has begun to level off. I'm not rolling in the dough, but I'm not struggling like I used to. I know better what I'm worth and, more importantly, how to create and co-create money. It's times like this - calm, satisfying times - that I know I really have to keep up the work. While peacefulness is my favorite state of being, it can lead to complacency, which is the pre-cursor to backslide.
So, my practice for this week has been to recognize what money looks like in my life. I've found that when we stop obsessing on the acquisition or loss of little green pieces of paper two things happen: 1) we realize our lives are more abundant than we thought; 2) we focus on end results instead of on an inherently worthless thing - money. After all, money is only a tool that represents potential. In and of itself it shouldn't be the goal.
The other day when my boyfriend and I were in the car talking about finances I started listing what money looked like in my life right now. Here are a few of the ways it's showing up for me: 4 to 6 hour work days, three months of gas money for traveling around New Mexico, hiking at various (insanely gorgeous) National Parks and natural spots, donations to animal rescue organizations, the purchase of paints and canvas, the ability to be somewhat spontaneous with my schedule, red and green chile enchiladas at delicious local restaurants, a new dress for my best friend's wedding, a piece of handmade horsehair pottery, getting my storytelling fix with Netflix TV shows at night, delicious and healthy vegetarian food, and more.
You see, money doesn't look like money. Money looks like feelings, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle choices, and sometimes, yes, things.
More than anything, money, for me, looks like freedom. When I look at what money creates in my life I feel abundant, which is the opposite of how I often feel when I only look at numbers and financial transactions. It might seem small, but it's a shift in perspective - the perspective of abundance.
It's not to say that we shouldn't look at our finances, we absolutely should. It's just a reminder to look too at the results of those numbers going up and down. Those results add up to our quality of life, our ability to serve, and the ways we can express ourselves in the world.
So what does money look like in your life? Look around and make a list! (Feel free to post it in the comments.) Acknowledging your abundance in whatever forms it shows up is one of the first steps to bringing more of it in.