OK, so I lied. But I didn't mean to. At the end of my last post I said that in my next one I would share something I wrote recently about drawing. But now there's something else I want to write about. I am sure I will get around to the drawing post some day.
Meanwhile, I never thought I would say and say truthfully what I am about to say: yesterday I actually picked up and voluntarily started to read a book by Suze Orman. I don't even like Suze Orman! Not that I know her personally, of course. But I don't like her perky blonde perfectly put-together appearance beaming successfully on TV or from the covers of books. And I suppose I don't like her sort of know-it-all ways about money, either, even if she has learned it the hard way.
I've read one or two of her articles in O magazine, and without fail I feel worse after reading her advice than I do before. (Ignorance is bliss?) Without fail, she leaves me feeling inadequate. Like a failure with money. Ashamed.
Let me correct my language here: she doesn't leave me feeling that way. I feel that way in response to reading what she has to say. Sometimes because I don't even have or don't think I have even ten spare bucks, let alone the quantities she talks about saving or investing. I feel inadequate, like a failure, ashamed when I read what she writes.
No wonder I'd rather avoid seeing her perky, blonde, perfectly put-together face and body. I suppose I could close my eyes and listen to her, but I've never even tried to listen to her. I have no idea what her voice sounds like. I'm happy with this arrangement.
But this morning I actually felt a small tingle of excitement when I picked up her book Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. A teacher of "The Basics of Starting a Business" in the Women, Work and Community program recommended the book highly, saying: "It will change your life."
So even though I don't like Suze Orman (I mean, really. Is her name pronounced like Suzie or is it Suze, to rhyme with snooze?), and even though just seeing her face on the cover gives me the creeps, I did get a copy of her book through my favorite local library at the University of Southern Maine. I felt virtuous for doing even that much--looking up and requesting the book on line, then driving to Portland a few days later to pick it up.
I think I may have opened the book slightly in the first week I had it--not a full-bodied opening, but a casual kind of lift the cover at an angle and glance at a page or two sort of thing. And then I rested on my laurels, con gratulating myself for being willing to obtain a book by Suze Orman and to hold it in my hands. And that's all I did with the book for more than a week.
So what made me decide to pick it up yesterday and start to read it?
Two words: Cash Flow.
Cash Flow? Yup. Cash Flow.
Wednesday in the Business Basics class, for the first time in my life someone actually explained to me how to create a cash flow projection and how to track actual figures in a ledger. You read that correctly.
I am fifty-six years old; I have reconciled my bank accounts for most of the years I've had them; I have stared at (and sometimes asked questions about) countless church budget reports at countless church vestry meetings, and this is the first time that anyone has ever explained to me what I was looking at and how one might arrive at such numbers. And I suppose it's only fair to add that I have never asked anyone to explain it to me, either through embarrassment at not knowing or simply from not wanting to know.
So when the teacher of the class said, "It's just like when you set up your family budget, same idea," I laughed a little to myself at the strange humor of it, which was better than simply hanging my head in shame. "What family budget?" I might have quipped but didn't.
The teacher, full of enthusiasm for her subject, even waxed poetic! "The numbers in your cash flow record are singing the song of your business! They are telling you a story."
"How nice," I thought, "if you know the language."
Best of all, when it came time in class for us to do the numbers ourselves with the fictitious example of Sue and her Threaded Needle sewing business, Eureka! I got it! I had a chance to flex my underused math muscles and give it a whirl, and in the process I discovered two things:
First, it wasn't half as distasteful as I thought it would be.
And second, instead of feeling ashamed or like a failure, I actually felt empowered. I felt competent, or at least sniffed the potential for competence in an area I had never imagined I would. I had learned something new (often a pleasure in itself), and I had experienced the exhilaration of hope.
Hope that I might actually be able to do this, to make this happen for myself as I get clearer and clearer about what kind of business I am offering, and perhaps some day to help make this kind of empowering shift happen for other women.
I felt as if I had been to the gym (I don't often go to any gym) and had had a good workout. As if I had used muscles in a good way and had released a flood of endorphins and was now basking in the afterglow. And I was ready for more.
So with the exhilaration of hope I opened a book by Suze Orman and started to read it. I will keep you posted on how it goes.