Not spending is not fun. And this is coming from me, Miss Saved Up For A Year And Quit Her Job. How did I ever do it? In The Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron, one of the tools used throughout the 12 weeks is Abstaining.
As in Abstaining from Spending.
We’re not talking about not buying groceries or paying bills. We’re talking about the non-necessary spending we do in our lives. And it’s more difficult than I thought it would be.
It’s a drag.
I felt (and still feel) withdrawal symptoms: Tired, cranky and like the life force has been sucked out of me. I’m not even a big spender! But removing the option is like living in pastel. A lighter shade of life.
I usually go shopping to get the thing I need, but this is followed by wandering, looking and wondering, fantasizing and delighting, trying on, and finally buying. Now, I just go get the thing I need and get out of there before I go from wandering to buying.
If I weren’t reporting on progress here to you, my invisible populous, I likely would have quietly quit The Prosperous Heart this week. So thanks for the accountability you wonderful reader you.
In Week 4, we are also tasked with Cleaning House. Basically, we clear out the clutter, whether it be a stack of papers, a closet, or an office. Since I moved into my new digs in autumn, I didn’t have so much clutter but I had my dreadful pile of receipts.
You know the pile.
So I sat down with my 20-minute rule. I set the alarm for 20 minutes and plugged away at the dreadful task. I would repeat for another 20 minutes if I was on a roll. If not, I would repeat for another 20 minutes the next day, and day after that until it was done.
One can get a lot done in 20 minutes a day. Where did those 20 minutes take me?
Completing my taxes. EARLY.
Never ever EVER have I done my taxes before the deadline. I was one of those people handing in the forms in the final days… or later. But this year, finito, fin, FINISHED.
And after that? I felt the high of RELIEF. This was followed by energy I used to curate my Paris photos. This also means I will soon have prints available in the shop…. just in time for Mother’s Day… keep it in mind. They are gorge, if I do say so myself. I also, strangely, was able to make decisions that I had been wavering on for months. Decisions that were fraught with fear and anxiety. All that fear and anxiety just… disappeared. I couldn’t help but wonder…
Would I have lost the fear and anxiety, and made decisions if I were out shopping instead of doing taxes? Doubtful.
In Week 4, we also complete a Monetary Autobiography, which reveals long-standing patterns regarding our relationship with money. We examine how we were with money at every age. It’s a powerful exercise. I discovered that when I was five or six I started gathering the coins I found around the house. They seemed to be everywhere. In a drawer here, on a ledge there. I tossed them in the family coin jar and we used that cash for lunch money. This pattern reveals itself years later in my daily life. I know where every coin is in my house. In my wallet. That’s it. A small collection. I don’t like the stilted energy of a collection of coins. Gather it, use it. Don’t let it pile up. I still use those coins for lunch money.
The bigger your coin jar, the bigger your coin collection.
I also discovered that I had anger about money. Anger at being lazy in the kitchen, thereby spending too much on convenience food. Anger at buying less-than-lovely frocks because they were on sale. Even anger about dates I went on when I felt weird that the boy paid for the meal. If I felt weird about it I should have spoken up, but I didn’t know how to navigate that particular aspect of courtship.
This anger, though it may seem trivial, incensed me for days. I had to walk it off, let it run its course and forgive myself.
I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.
Week 4 was tough for me. Plenty of anger mixed with the withdrawal from not spending. Yet at the same time, I was super productive and made big decisions. I’ve got 12 weeks of this course. Eight more to go. On y va!