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Issue 9

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In this issue ~~

* Living with Uncertainty and Chaos

* Dealing with Money

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Living with Uncertainty and Chaos

Nowadays, the world is moving so fast that we don't seem to know what our reality will be like from one day to the next, or even from one moment to the next. For many of us, uncertainty has become part of our day-to-day existence, and it can be very unsettling.

As humans, our tendency is to gravitate toward, or attempt to create, safety and security. We want to know what's going to happen next. When our lives our shaken up, we do everything we can to bring them back to "normal," to stasis. We try not to make waves. But reality is constantly redefining itself. By trying to make it constant or static, we inhibit growth and change.

One way we can cope with chaos and uncertainty is by understanding that it can be a result of something positive, that it doesn't always signify a crisis.

~ When you're stretching and growing, learning something new, you're in unfamiliar territory. Uncertainty is part of the process, and it can be uncomfortable.

~ Chaos is an inherent part of creativity. If you try to pin down the creative process to make it feel safe and comfortable, you stop or inhibit it.

~ Chaos is a part of choice. When faced with choices, the more possibilities you can come up with, the more powerfully you can choose. But having more choices creates more complexity and, therefore, more chaos.

So we've acknowledged that uncertainty and chaos can be good. But that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. Fortunately, coping with the discomfort is a skill that you can develop. You probably have some techniques of your own, and I'll suggest a few.

~ When you're in the midst of chaos, you may feel like you're on a merry-go-round and can't control what's going on. Stop. Take time to pause. Don't keep running. Take the time to think things out, to get grounded and centered.

~ Look at the chaos and determine where it's coming from. Is it a positive or negative place? Is your life truly out of control, in a downward spiral, or is the chaos a result of new surges of creativity and change?

~ When you're in the midst of a creative project, don't try to stop the chaos. Allow the creative ideas to flow without trying to organize them; that comes later.

~ Keep moving forward through the chaos, even if it's confusing. Do whatever you can to keep the momentum going, or perhaps to ride it, even though the direction it's going isn't clear to you yet. Just keep getting your ideas down. Eventually the fog will lift and the chaos will give way to order. Don't force it; allow it.

~ Remind yourself that you're safe and do what you can to reinforce that and get yourself centered. You might:

- Use written affirmations or tapes.

- Meditate, pray, do yoga or exercise.

- For those who work with chakras . . . The first chakra represents security, and its color is red. Get red flowers. Visualize yourself wrapped in a red "security blanket," or even get a real one.

- Have a touchstone, one that feels good in your hand and calms you. If you like crystals, you might choose a black obsidian or onyx to repel negativity, a red stone like carnelian or garnet for security, or aventurine for emotional balance and mental clarity.

- Pet your dog or cat, or hug a stuffed animal.

~ Get support from family and friends. Align yourself with other individuals or a group who understand what you're going through and will support you in moving through it rather than avoiding it.

Some days, it may seem as if the world is whirling about your ears. But if you can discern and understand the chaos for what it is, you can learn to cope with the uncertainty and use it as the creative opportunity that it is. At the very least, it will build character!

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Dealing with Money

Okay, I admit it. Finance is not my strong point. Oh, I do okay financially and manage to keep myself out of trouble, but when someone starts talking about financial planning and investments, my eyes glaze over. I want the freedom and security that money offers, but I want it to just be there without having to think about it.

While some people love playing with money, watching the stock market and moving their money around to get the highest returns, many of us would rather not have to think about it. Financial advisor Marian Wellman says, "I think many people, and perhaps creative people in particular, have the tendency to throw up their hands when it comes to money." We would rather not let concerns with money take our attention from our work, and as a result, we may end up managing our finances in a haphazard way.

Wellman continues, "The thing to keep in mind is that money is not a religion, or a belief, or a political persuasion that one is embracing or not. It is a tool. Knowing how to handle money is like learning how to drive a car, how to get around on a subway, how to pick out the right clothes. As a tool, money can be (is!) your servant, to help you run your life creatively."

So how can we do this? Often, we find ourselves trading off time and money. Either we find ourselves settling for less money so we have the time to do the work we love, or we go for the money and sacrifice the time. We may be making enough to cover our expenses, but not enough to save (or so we think).

For me, the two major concerns regarding money are 1) making more and 2) making the most of what I have.

1) How can we make more money?

~ Look for a better job. If necessary, take some classes to upgrade your skills.

~ Give value to your work. Many feel that because creative work is fun, you shouldn't be compensated, or at least not well. Love the work you do and expect to be handsomely compensated.

~ Have a positive attitude and expect abundance. Focus on and affirm your abundance. Create a collage with pictures representing the things you want in your life. Phrase your desires in a positive way; ask for abundance, rather than to avoid lack. Remember that abundance can show up in other ways besides money. When you do achieve your goals, enjoy them and feel the gratitude. There are numerous books and tapes you can use to help you with this.

~ Look at your parents' beliefs, attitudes, habits and patterns around money and see which ones you've picked up that you want to change.

2) How can we make the most of the money we do have?

~ Watch where you spend. Get value. Shop around, especially for major purchases. Don't let the computer salesman talk you into a top-of-the-line computer when all you want to do is word processing and e-mail. Avoid impulse spending. Create a budget and follow it.

~ Use a program like Quicken to manage your money. It's easy to use, allows you to see where your money is going, and makes tax time a breeze. Take advantage of the financial planning calculators to plan savings, investments, debt reduction, budgets, etc.

~ Avoid debt. The interest on credit cards can eat up a lot of your income. If you need a cash advance, consider a bank loan, which has regular payments and a set payment schedule. Shop around for credit cards with low interest rates and pay off the balances as quickly as you can.

~ Handle your taxes wisely. File on time to avoid penalties. Find an accountant who can do your taxes in the most beneficial way. Invest your tax refund or use it to pay off debts.

~ Set financial goals. Prioritize. Think about what really matters to you and where you want to flow your money. Plan ahead for things you want, such as education for career change or advancement, a house or a special vacation. Have a financial reserve so you're not always living on the edge.

~ Save and invest. Have two bank accounts, a liquid fund that you can access for immediate needs and a long-term account that you add to but don't touch. Make sure you put some money away on a regular basis. You can start small. According to Wellman, if you put $2000 into an IRA every year starting at age 20 and earn 10% a year, you would have over half a million dollars by age 65. That means putting aside only $5.48 per day. Most of us could do that by eliminating some unnecessary or impulsive spending.

If you can't handle that much, do what you can. Put aside small amounts weekly or monthly, rather than a lump sum once a year. When I was an aspiring actress, a pension counselor started me off with a whole life insurance policy for only $25 per month. As my income grew, I began putting aside more, but that original investment gave me something I could grow on.

~ You can't be an expert at everything. If handling money eludes you, get help. Some financial planners take commissions from the products they sell, so their services might not cost you anything. You may feel embarrassed to tell someone that you're in debt, but trust me, you've got a lot of company, and taking care of it now will prevent it from escalating.

~ Avoid get-rich-quick schemes. Very often, the only one getting rich is the person selling you the information. Yes, people do win the lottery, but for most of us, financial planning takes time and thought.

As much as dealing with finances may scare you or bore you, being responsible is powerful. Wherever you are, start now. Forgive yourself if you've messed up. Develop new habits. Give value to yourself and your work so you can attract more money. Make wise, conscious choices. Don't leave finance to chance.


(Marian Wellman is a financial advisor and coach residing in Denver, CO. You can reach her by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 303-750-8500.)

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Creative Tip

There used to be a time when each person could have all the skills needed to get through life. But life has gotten much more complex and busy, and we don't have the time or the ability to learn and do everything needed to support our lives. If you don't have the skills to accomplish a necessary task, think about hiring someone. Don't feel you have to do it all yourself.

 

Wise Words

"What I had learned from Buddhism was that I did not have to know myself analytically as much as I had to tolerate not knowing."

~ Mark Epstein, MD, in Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

"It takes as much imagination to create debt as to create income."

~ Leonard Orr

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Bookshelf

(click on the book or tape graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

Coping With Uncertainty: Insights from the New Sciences of Chaos, Self-Organization, and Complexity . . . Uri Merry

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times . . . Pema Chodron

Spiritual Madness: The Necessity of Meeting God in Darkness (audiobook) ... Caroline Myss

Left-Brain Finance for Right-Brain People: A Money Guide for the Creatively Inclined . . . Paula Ann Monroe

Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence . . . Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

The Wealthy Barber " . . . David Chilton

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© 1998 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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