The financial foot rub.


Things got a little hectic during my New York trip last week. Too much to do, poor air quality, my inability to score at the lottery for “The Book of Mormon” tickets, heat and humidity, dueling deadlines and general exhaustion laid me low on Thursday evening.

(How many times do you get to use word “Mormon” and “lottery” in the same sentence? Not enough, if you ask me.)

I melted down, as it were. Then I remembered Marilyn vos Savant’s explanation of why self-administered foot rubs don’t feel nearly as well as a professional massage. External stimulation is always more pronounced because our bodies have adapted to reduce the impact of stimuli we ourselves produce.

Yes, all those factors were difficult. But they weren’t insurmountable. They couldn’t be changed, but my reaction to them could.

She’s not the smartest woman in the world for nothin’. Her words helped me look dispassionately at the situation and decide it wasn’t anyone’s “fault.” The confluence of circumstances was mostly the result of choices I had made.

My next choice: to keep feeling horrible and go to bed hysterical, or to try and do what I could right then to fix the situation.

Same problems, different day?

So I got hold of myself and sat up until 1:15 a.m. to finish much of the work. I slept until 9 a.m. and then took Friday off to have a long, business-related lunch, drop in at the American Folk Art Museum (where I also lucked into a free jazz concert), and walk around gawking like a tourist.

During that time I also thought about the situation enough to turn it into my current Get Rich Slowly piece, “The power of personal responsibility.”

Understand: This is not a blame-the-victim, “if you’re having problems it’s your own fault” article. Instead, the focus is:

  • How many of your current money hassles were caused/exacerbated by something you did/didn’t do, and
  • What can you do to keep this from continuing to happen?

Sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes it’s the same shit on a different day – and we continue to expect different results.

I’d be interested in your reactions to the piece once you’ve read it.

P.S. I never did get that “Mormon” ticket. Sigh. But on the bright side, I found two more people who might need a house-sitter.

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  1. I’ve got Mormon tickets in Seattle. Getting them here? A whole rigamarole. Broadway? I can not imagine.

    I often have to remember, Big Fat Mortgage? Once upon a time, I signed on the dotted line.

  2. jestjack

    I believe it was Einstein that said doing the same thing or making the same mistakes over and over and expecting a different result was sheer folly. Made my share of mistakes….but I learned from them…. My biggest problem has been “analysis by paralysis”…in other words spending too much time contemplating a move and then the opportunity is gone…

  3. Honestly, I probably would have tried to go to bed. Then I would have laid there getting more upset then gotten up and tried to work. Your way is better!

  4. My worst self-imposed struggle? Taking a job I really didn’t want to do in the first place — setting a deadline that will be tough to meet — then forcing myself to do it. (Or stalling, dragging my feet, etc. on starting it, so I have to rush to finish. Or I miss the deadline. And when it’s finished, finally, it’s affecting the NEXT deadline, like tenpins.)
    And usually I took the job in the first place because I needed the money. And by the time the deadline (and payment) are due, I no longer need it as bad! Sigh…
    Ironically, this isn’t that much about writing. It’s more about getting appraisal reports done, and doing quilt restoration. (Two of my side jobs) These aren’t difficult — but they’re finicky/fussy, and take a lot of time. And if I don’t start them in time, I don’t finish them in time for …
    And the cycle continues.

  5. I hear you. I do have a problem though where once I call bullshit on myself, I quickly spin out of control and drag myself into a pit. Working on it! But for me it’s hard to say I screwed up and not keep going, i.e. I screwed up because I am so stupid/wreckless/depressed/bad with money/bad at parenting/etc etc.

  6. Suzanne in VA

    Good point. The reason I dont have a new kitchen floor or am out of debt even though I have a pretty solid plan is because I keep spending my extra money on trips! Oh well, I am very frugal in other ways though 🙂

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