Rich in Friends

Right after I posted last night, G sat me down and said,” Look. Nobody is paid what they’re worth. Nobody. Who could afford to pay either of us what we are truly worth?  We are Linchpins.  We don’t work for money anyway. We express ourselves authentically in the world. We never look at the “job description” and keep ourselves in line with that. We serve. We have a work ethic that says, in effect, “Do the best work you possibly can.” So don’t worry about money, Kath. Just keep doing what you are doing, because what else CAN you do?”

And she was right. And she made me feel so much better.

Right before I shut down for the night, I saw that an email had come in from my dear friend Zee with the subject line: “About Money.”

Here’s what she wrote:

Sweet friend, it really is NOT about money! For this lifetime you have been given the gift of love, of adoration, by people who value YOU and don’t put a price tag on your contributions, which are too numerous to even mention. It’s like having sponsors, benefactors…. You are the one who makes life an art, so you are the sponsored artist. Michelangelo? Embrace the gifts dear friend. You deserve them. You don’t have to earn them.
Love, zee

My heart broke open.

I am rich in my friends. I am rich in my relationships. I am rich beyond bank accounts and bottom lines.

How do I let myself get so turned around about all this money stuff? Sheesh.

Today we finished up my taxes and now I am ready for the accountant.

It’s all good.

It really is.

Circling the drain at tax time

Today I got around to doing my taxes and it turns out, for the 11th year in a row, I made no money.

Once again, I operated at a loss.

I am really a happy person as long as I don’t have to consciously face the fact that I make no money. But as soon as I have to add up all the numbers, I get really depressed, and sad, and I begin to seriously wonder:

What the hell am I doing??

What kind of dream world do I think I am I living in that I think I can afford to go tripping merrily along, teaching my classes, working on my little projects, while other people underwrite my existence?

(Apparently I am a freaking genius, though, at getting other people to fund my existence.)

Bur how fair is this? I should be making a living wage, right? Funding my own existence. Pulling my weight. But instead, a bunch of people (who love me) underwrite me and my schemes.

And I know they love me. And I know that I am not an impostion on them, and in some way it is okay that I live like this. But still, at tax time, when I see it all laid out in horrible numbered columns on an Excel spreadsheet? I begin to circle the drain.

It’s pretty terrifying.

What am I doing wrong? Am I a failure? Am I devaluing myself? Should I be charging more? Should I give up the lounge and reduce my rent?

How come ordinarily it feels so wonderfully perfect to be doing what I am doing, and yet at tax time when I see that I don’t make a dime I get so depressed?

A few months ago I went through this Money Map thing. It was an extensive series of exercises that had me put a dollar value on everything I did. Everything. It took me a long time to complete, not to mention a lot of soul-searching, but at the end I had figured out how much money I would have to make, per month, to be “Minimally happy”, then “Preferably happy”, and finally, “Fantastically happy.”

I just now looked up that exercise and laughted.

Ridiculous.

And then I just re-read my post from last night where I was blithering on and on about my amped life, my great classes, my wonderful students, my new client, and now today?

I feel like shit. I feel like I have been undervaluing myself.

And yet I know (because I had to do all that Money Map research) that in my market, I can’t charge any more than I am for what I do.

So what do I do?