Love of Money

1 Timothy 6:10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Money is simply how we control exchange. It is neither evil, nor holy. It’s the love of money—of material wealth—that poisons us.

In the U.S., I was raised believing that money was the root of all happiness and power, that money reflects one’s work and value to society. If you had a ton of money, then you deserved a “better” life. This is what I learned.

When I was a kid, I learned this philosophy from my parents: Why buy something that you can make? If I saw a cool spaceship toy in a commercial; Mom and Dad would give me a refrigerator box and some crayons. I saw an awesome fantasy costume at a festival, Mom taught me how to sew. I saw delicious looking treats in the grocery store, Dad taught me how to cook.

That having been said, I remember being so envious of some friends in high school because they lived in a house that was twice the size of my family’s. They had great computers, camcorders, cars… I felt so poor. Then one day my friend mentioned how much his father got paid (his mom didn’t work), and it was the same amount that my parents earned. I realized then that we too could be living in a big house with great cars and computers and camcorders! But, my parents were helping their families—sending money to aunts and uncles, grandparents… We earned the same amount of money, we just shared ours.

Then as an adult, I met a man whose envy and coveting were so profound that it became infections. When I met him, lived a very humble life, and I was more or less content. He taught me to feel deprived, though. I lived in a little apartment, and not a spacious house. I drove a small, used car, and not a big, shiny, new one. I didn’t vacation. I didn’t throw weekly parties. I learned to hate my life, because I did not have the money to keep up with what became my expectations. My debt ballooned from $2,000 to $16,000 in just a few years. I became miserable.

Then I met a lady who (at the time) worked three jobs. She worked in the shop at the company that employed me, she worked as a maid, and she cleaned schools. All so she could live in a tiny apartment, feed and clothe her kids, and send money home to her parents in Mexico so they could get the food and medicine they needed to survive, with the hopes of relocating legally to the U.S.. I never saw her without a smile on her face. She always waved and smiled and greeted me, and even though we didn’t speak the same language, I felt happier around her than I did with my White and English-speaking coworkers. At least around her, I didn’t have to listen to people complain about not having enough money for a vacation.

Then, I met the man whom I would ultimately marry. He had some money saved up, some investments that were holding steady, but he was living an extremely frugal life. He offered to help me out of debt. He helped me start over, and bit by bit, I began to unlearn the nasty money habits I’d learned previously. Now, we are comfortable. We have a cute little house, no debt (unless you consider mortgage debt), lots of love and creativity, and jobs we enjoy. If we really want something, be it a neat piece of home décor, a type of exotic food, or a ren-faire outfit, we make it.

Sure, I occasionally hear a figure about “poverty level income” and “livable wages,” and I will feel sick to my stomach, but I can look around and see my life and remind myself that we’re just fine. We have stained glass in our front door, and awesome faux metalwork in my office window. We have a closet full of unique costumes. Our weekly home cooked meal plans include Tex-Mex, Stir Fry, Curry, and any-darn thing else we want to eat. We keep our rings in U.S.A.-Made, Lead-free stained glass trinket boxes. We have paintings (not prints of paintings—actual paintings) on our walls. We wash with luxury soap, burn hand-made scented candles and incense, and bathe in luxurious bath oils.

We are rich, even though we don’t have a lot of money.


Cute Little Preview

The writing’s not over, but I got to spend some time out in the shop this afternoon putting together some sweet little Christmas ornaments. I am showing them this weekend at the Market at the Gardens event here in Midland. After this weekend, they will be available on my Etsy Shop and from The Eclectic Dragon.

My Monday Links (a good day)

This morning feels great. I woke up way too early, but couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to come in here and tool around for a bit. Video games were fun for about an hour, but it got old, so I decided to log in to MyWriteClub and see if there were any words that wanted to get written.

Check out MyWriteClub here.

There sure were! This wasn’t a terribly productive morning, but I got about 1,200 words down in one sprint, got to the end of a scene, and decided to play around with Vine a little bit. A sun catcher got polished in the process.

Check out the vine here.

Lately, Vine’s been a delightful diversion, but I must take care not to let it distract me from productivity. It’s a fun way to show off what I’m working on though. It might even lend itself well to my online catalog–give visitors to a more engaging view of products than static images can.

Visit the Eclectic Dragon here.

There’s still an hour before the workday begins officially, and Monday has already proven productive. As emails and callers are usually few and far between at the week’s start, and the day job’s home office suffered a software failure over the weekend, it is quite likely that writing and glass work will dominate today. Zero complaints there (except that a few more hours on someone else’s clock would be nice).

This is my Day Job.

I don’t have a whole lot to say with this post, except that I am finding new ways to use time effectively. Online writing sprints help defeat writer’s block, Vine provides an outlet to show off some visual arts, and Twitter is even turning into a valuable resource for writing advice. So that’s about it for now. Just in a good mood and wanted to share it (well, and a bunch of links).

Lamenting or Hopeful?

I am writing this during a minor reprieve from depression.

I will begin this by saying that when I was a kid, I delighted in the idea of being a storyteller and a designer. I wanted to write video games (not program or animate, but write the stories for them). I wanted to write adventures for Dungeons and Dragons. I wanted to write stories for television shows and cartoons. Storytelling was my passion for as long as I can remember, and I don’t know when I lost it.
I grew up in a military family—Air Force. This meant that until I was eleven, we uprooted and moved about every three years. As a result, I never really learned how to invest in friendship, and I definitely never learned how to plan for the long future.
Even after my family finally settled in Texas, it took several years before I realized just how poorly developed my social skills were. I began junior high school half way through the sixth grade, and we relocated again before I got into the eighth grade, so I spent one and a half years in one school, and one in another before high school. People came and went from my life; this was just the norm.
There’s a lot to say about high school, but I can summarize it all by saying this: I fell through the cracks.
By the time I realized that I needed to look ahead to my future, to build a career, to establish my livelihood, it was too late. I ended up getting a job in retail and attending community college. I say this as a joke, with a big, ironic (and slightly apologetic) grin on my face: it took me seven years to get my two year degree. That fact actually breaks my heart.
I found a boyfriend and moved away to Austin, and pretty much flushed the next ten years of my life down the toilet. I did nothing. I was accepted into Southwest Texas University, but I could not even afford the $80.00 orientation fee. I didn’t even attend a single day.
Five years after I got my Associate degree, I got a job as a designer with a small startup company. In some ways, a lot has changed. In others, nothing at all. I earn less today than I did back then.
These days, I run a little company selling the same product that I used to design. I make and sell Stained glass on the side. I try to write, but I can’t find the love for it—the hope for publication—that I once enjoyed. I am almost 40 years old, and I feel like I am where I should have been at 23.
I had some bad luck. I was a terrible high school student. And now, it feels like I’m just waiting for my time line to run out.
Mind you, I don’t feel any more mortal than I ever have. I just feel like this is all I will ever be. And even though I have exactly the job I wanted through college, (I telecommute, I have laid back hours, and I do artistic things to earn a humble and comfortable life) I now fear that I have sold myself short—that I’ve sold my boyfriend short.
I dabble. That’s my problem, and it’s not something I can just stop doing. I know a little bit about Flash animation; I know a little bit about designing 3D. I know a little bit about writing, and I even have a novel published (more or less). I even dabble in traditional art: painting, drawing, stained glass, sewing. No one thing drives me, and therefore, I excel in nothing.
People have said that they wish they were so diverse. They really don’t. Because, whereas I can make a stained glass sun catcher, design and create a costume for a Renaissance festival, and write a hundred-thousand-word novel in a few months, they can earn a living doing what they are doing. They’ve been places and done things. They take trips and vacations.
As I write this, I feel like it reeks of self-pity. Even I find myself saying, “Quit whining and do something!” I can’t even wallow in what seem like glaring truths about the industries in which I would like to work; there’s always an answer for my woes. So what’s holding me back?
Am I lazy? Am I afraid? Am I just an idiot? I don’t know.
I feel a blip of inspiration every time I remind myself that right now is my starting point. Not forty years ago, not twenty-four years ago—right now.
But now the blip fizzles when I remind myself that I feel passion for nothing. Writing doesn’t thrill me any more. Telling stories seem unrewarding and unappreciated by the people I tell them to. Stained glass is an expensive hobby, and very few customers appreciate the work that goes into it to pay what an item is worth.
The online markets are saturated with pay-to-show services that are, in turn, saturated with mass-producers of attractive goods—not great works, but attractive. The job markets are flooded with countless starry-eyed kids who are eager, energetic, and mobile. Industries are striking back against independent creators in order to protect their guild-like corporations.
But what does any of that matter, if I am putting food on the table and doing things that I enjoy? I know that I have a very skewed level of ambition compared to my current capabilities. I should just tell myself that I am a beginner, a starry-eyed adult who is intelligent, a little jaded, and experienced in unusual ways. Sure, I don’t have a peer group—a study group—like a college kid would, but there are plenty of resources out there for people like me: noobs. And sure, I will spend years churning out content in complete obscurity, but the more I work, the better I will get. Will success come from that?
I want to be inspired. I want to feel magical; this is what I want. I only care to be a popular novelist when I see other novelists’ popular books. I know I don’t want to live the novelist’s lifestyle! Traveling from place to place signing and showing. Well, I say that now, but running this little company has really opened my eyes to marketing, and it has greatly reduced my social phobia. So is there hope?
And then I swing back into pessimism with the realization that I am only writing this because I’m depressed. When I feel better, I won’t feel motivated to push forward; I will feel content. Then later, I will lament the time I wasted being content.
Anyway, that’s where I am right now, and I’m starting to feel annoyed with being depressed, so I’m going to go do something else now. I started some world building that I think I want to get back to.