Project Reverb prompt: “Where did you spend your money this year? Did you save it instead? What, if anything, would you like to do with your finances this year?”
My word for 2014 was “home,” and part of my intention for the year was to focus on staying home, not traveling, and focusing all my various energies on home, which meant no giving financial support to anything that wasn’t “mine.” The year before, I spent a lot traveling and helping, and I needed to “lie fallow” for a season. We did take a vacation, a month in Oregon with the dogs, and we paid off our credit cards, started saving more. I cut back on a few things so that I was spending less, and I tried to buy less books, but I was only marginally successful with that. There were projects and causes that came up that I wanted so badly to help with, but I mostly resisted. Besides our family vacation, the other loophole I allowed for was that if Susan Piver had a writing and meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center, I could go (I’ll be there at the end of the month).
Next year, the places I’d like to focus on financially are: my health and wellness (whatever supplements, food, or other support I need to feel better), fixing up our home (we need a new roof, but it would be nice to finally update the bathroom, put a deck out back and a porch on the front), continuing to stay out of debt and saving money, maybe a few classes or retreats (Feast with Rachel Cole, for sure), and consulting for my “business” (the teaching and such I’d like to offer — feels weird to call it a business, but as such that’s why I need the help of a good accountant and a lawyer who understands how to legally set such a thing up).
Reverb14 prompt: “Biting back. Despite our usually sunny dispositions and dedication to the practice of ‘assuming positive intent,’ we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual. While I’m sure you always handle it with the tact and finesse for which you’ve become so well known, I’m going to ask you to step outside yourself for just a moment. Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?”
I don’t think I can give the answer this prompt requests. Sure, I have some examples, and when I was deep in those situations, I told the people closest to me what I really wanted to say, but I don’t at all feel comfortable airing that sort of thing here, and don’t feel like it would help.
In thinking about how I might answer this question instead, I remembered something Pema Chödrön shares in the first chapter of her book Taking the Leap.
There was a story that was widely circulated a few days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that illustrates our dilemma. A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, “The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.”
I feel like answering this prompt directly, telling you what I really wanted to say that one time, sharing what I held back that other time, “taking the gloves off” would be feeding the wrong wolf. Ultimately, the way I handled those situations, with compassion and self-control, at times with silence, was the right thing to do, fed the right wolf, the one who was understanding and kind.