What’s HARDEST and what’s most EXCITING about today’s crazy economy?

 In Being A Woman, Happiness, Money, Success

Being Wise… taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 38


As I look across generations, I see three common themes about how women are thinking about today’s nutzo economy that excite me: opportunity, simplicity, and creativity. Yes, there are some tough realities to face, but what shines through more than anything is that in the face of adversity people are making it work, and in many cases they are doing it together and doing it better than before. It’s like a giant reset button has been pushed and finally we can all let ourselves take a breath after the crazy treadmill we have been on. And during this breath, we can look around at everything around us for what it truly is, vs. what it looked like as we were whizzing by on our marathon to accumulate more, achieve more and consume more. So what excites me is what I see:O is for opportunity: It’s like being a pioneer in the Wild West. The structures that were holding us all captive are crumbling. We are like bandits who have been released from the town’s jail because the building that was holding up the bars has fallen apart around us. So now, it’s like we are all free to go create the lives we really want vs. the ones that we were working so hard to keep up with. Yes, we might have to make some tough decisions, whether it’s moving, going back to school, choosing Trader Joe’s wine vs. the spendy Cabernet blend. But hey, we are free and I’ll toast a Trader Joe Red to that! Seriously though, we each have a choice – face adversity and the unknown with courage in our hearts and possibility in our eyes, or well chicken out and live in fear. I choose courage.

S is for simplicity:
  People everywhere are asking happiness. 4000 books published on the topic in 2008. People are testing out what truly makes them happy, without the unnecessary bells and whistles. Whether it’s an intimate dinner at home with friends instead of trying to hear each other in a spendy and trendy new eatery, or deciding that we didn’t really need the eggplant bag or the yellow shoes. Happiness requires clarity, and we have to clear away the clutter to find it – that is simplicity!

C is for creativity:
We are using their imaginations and ingenuity to find new ways to use old things, to stretch out the life span of what we already have, and to find new ways, which are really old ways, of entertaining ourselves. When we have space, we can create. When we are too busy chasing a future that will someday make us happy, we lose our ability to create right now. I am excited that we are all getting a heck of a lot more present in the moment… because that means we can enjoy life a whole lot more!

And this leads me to what is hardest for me… watching people clench to the fear and the old ways of doing things that no longer work. Whether it’s a person, an organization or an institution, the more they hang on to keeping the old structures alive that no longer work – if they ever really did — the slower we all move forward and the more suffering people have to endure. Imagine a world in which all people could say, “Yep, that’s not working so well.” Admit, “Yep, my ego is so attached to this idea.” And then offer, “But, I am willing to consider a new way… let’s create it, together!”  Now that might sound crazy, but it is possible.

Olive, age 14, says:

olive.jpgWhat’s hardest about this economy? How much it shows that most people cannot live without their comfortable salary. First of all, it’s kind of sick how much people must have their money. Sure if you might loose your house, it’s sad, but if you are going down the toilet simply because you went overboard on your credit card? It’s kind of your fault. The thing that’s bad about credit cards is that people spend more than they have. I  have to work for my money and I don’t have a credit card. This means that I can only spend the money I have. Sure it’s not enough to live off of but at least I have my boundaries.

What’s most exciting about this economy? THE SALES! I went shopping with my friend the other day. They had a rack full of jeans and it said “Buy one get one for a cent” and it was true. My friend got two pairs of jeans for 20.01. I hadn’t ever seen anything like that! Everywhere I seem to go things are on super-sale!

The problem with all of these bankrupt people is that they don’t know how to manage their money and it’s not exactly rocket science. You just have to budget yourself and try not to spend more than what you have. If you don’t spend overboard you won’t go overboard.

Janet, age 24, says:

janetbrace.jpgThe ups and downs of Wall Street, foreclosures across the country, and people getting laid off every day. These are the immediate issues about today that come to mind. The bad comes to mind first. It is hard to be optimistic when the media is playing up the downfall. How can we not think about the doom and gloom when it is constantly brought up on the news, websites, and in conversation? Times are scary and having it be compared to the next great depression is hard to hear, especially being in my 20s when my career is just beginning and I am supposed to be saving for my future. Having friends, who have been laid off is another hard reality facing me during this crazy economic time. We have been doing activities that don’t cost as much money, like working-out outside, having spa nights in, and bringing wine over and watching a movie together. I find these nights can be even more fun than going out. We have time to talk about real issues, hang out in sweats, and enjoy one another’s company.

The time is also filled with exciting possibilities for the future. I believe my generation is learning hard lessons about how the past affects the future in ways we can’t always be prepared for. The ups and downs we are experiencing at a young age will prepare us for our lives. We will be more aware about our future spending and savings which are important values that can get lost while trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’. I hope we become a generation of spenders who make smart decisions about how we spend our money.

Being in the 20s age range, gives me reason to think we can make smart decisions about investing in our future and save for our families. I find it invigorating to think about making smart investments in my future as a young adult. I think this experience is bringing out true human kindness in individuals as well. People are reaching out and helping one another with small acts of kindness. I think the recession is renewing the American spirit. We are in a time where change has been coming and I think there will be positive light at the end of this time. My hope is we pull through the tough economy and grow stronger as a nation and as a generation of young women!!
Jenn, age 36jen_g.jpg, says:

Crazy economy? Creative economy!

The hardest thing for me is to stay in an “abundance” mentality and not slip back into a “scarcity” mentality. As an entrepreneur and a graduate student for many years before that, I’m used to bootstrapping it, and being very frugal in my spending. But I realized that the energy that I bring to this frugality is very important. If I feel like I can’t buy something I think I need, I feel deprived. Then I feel like my life and the world is a scary place where I need to hold on tight and cannot be trusting. If I switch to appreciating what I do have, and knowing that the universe is abundant and I can be creative in how I get my desires fulfilled, then I feel more choices with my spending. With so much panic around the economy, it is more difficult to stay calm and trusting, but I experience so much freedom and lightness when I make that shift. For me this also translates into trusting in the value of my services and my ability to add happiness and fulfillment to the world through my career.

An exciting aspect of our current economic state is the buzz of tapping into creativity. Since I work as a Relationship & Intimacy Doctor, I joke that my field (of assisting in happier and healthier sex lives) is perfect right now, because what’s more important in a down economy than our loving relationships — and sex is free!  There’s a serious part of this though, and I mean “sex” in a big picture way of appreciating our sensuality and intimate connections. I think it is exciting to have even more of an impetus to think outside the box and be creative in how we share our time with others in ways that appreciates our deep connections.  I’m lucky that San Diego is particularly great for this because there are so many free outdoor activities and adventures all year round. It’s exciting to me to realize anew how much joy and fun is always available for little to no cost, whether alone or with others. Just two nights ago instead of dining out with my new beau, I whipped up a simple pasta meal, salad, and some Trader Joe’s wine, and we had a sunset picnic at the beach. Fabulous!

Debba, age 40-something, says:

debba.jpgWomen are more stressed out over the economy than men The 2008 Stress in America findings indicated that. (http://tinyurl.com/women-stress) Part of this is our nature to be ‘tenders.’ We take care of our families and communities so we stress for ourselves as well as our children and loved ones. (See “The Tending Instinct,” by Shelley E. Taylor for more info.)

That’s the hard part of this economy. Women are stressed – and stress affects us in a lot of not-so-good ways – we can’t sleep, gain weight, make poor decisions in our eating and drinking, and often find other vices to help cover up our feelings. These all impact our emotions, decision making and our outlook on life.  And, generally, these negative factors have a way of combining to make de-stressing a challenge.

On the upside, there are ways we can combat the stress brought on by the financial situation. Female friendship makes us healthier, happier, live longer, feel more beautiful AND LESS STRESSED. By spending time with our girlfriends, we actually lower our stress. The enzymes released for stress decrease when we laugh with our friends, share conversations and share our lives.

You know what I’m talking about! Get together with your friends and very quickly your cares and worries fade and are replaced with happiness and the joy that comes from being in the company of friends who love you just the way you are. Laughter, hugs and the compassion of friends makes us happier and healthier – it’s a great bonus of female friendship.

Stressed over the economy? Call up your favorite female friends. Get the girls together and don’t talk about the economy – just hang out. Life’s better (and less stressful) together with your girlfriends!I’m on vacation and pontificating, and will be getting back to you on my ideas!

Shelley, age 5shelley_a.jpg0-something, says:

Regarding the economy and all the fear that has been out there in the media about it lately, I’d say for me the hardest thing has been to not listen to it. Let’s face it, for most of us, the internet and modern technology have enslaved us. We are so use to having everything in our lives faster, louder and funnier (okay that last part is a reality in my world, maybe not everyone else’s!). Fast cars, microwave dinners, instant messaging, twitter, iPhones and Blackberries make up our world. We are connected instantly, if we wish to be. The same with the way we receive our local and global news. At any hour of the day or night, you can turn on the TV and get the latest “news”. When the bank failures, unemployment numbers, and stock market panics occurred last year, it was a bit tough to not acknowledge that this was in fact a reality we needed to face. As hopeless as we may have felt, what I think is most exciting is that we can each do something about this reality as it relates to us in our lives.

We are not victims. I believe that we are the only thinkers in our mind. Last time I checked, no one else was in there doing the thinking or making the decisions for me. Maybe there was at one time. Perhaps I let my parents, teachers, bosses and friends tell me how to live my life. But not any more! We have the power to guide our life in any way we choose. I choose not be a reactor, but instead to be proactive in my life. So I am excited about making smarter choices with my money. I looked at the crazy economy news as a welcome wakeup call. My daughter and I rarely eat out any more. Instead we take the time to cook at home, which has resulted in much healthier eating habits, and saves us lots of dough (no pun intended). Instead of joining a gym, I walk a mile every day. That costs me nothing! People I believe are being more prudent with their investments and looking for interesting ways to buy the things they need (the big 3: food, clothes and shelter). Bargain hunting can be and is fun! I also feel confident that our new President is doing everything he can to stabilize the economy and with everyone doing what they can in their world this year, whatever that might be that works for them, the word economy will not be such a supercharged word by years end.

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  • Shiloh Sophia

    Shiloh Sophia, Age 38.5
    The hardest thing for me is wondering what I can do to help – how to reach those who are hardest hit in my community. I like Christine’s idea of the $25 a week – and by the way, Lentils with one onion, a little curry, filtered water, one garlic clove and some soy sauce can go a long way for under $8. Add rice, and some sour cream and a heap of prayer, and it gives rice and beans a new meaning…now where was I? Oh yes – in keeping with the spirit of saving, I even added a workshop for $10 or free to my menu of classes this Summer so that the women who keep calling to say they want to come paint but cannot afford to don’t have to say that anymore. Did you hear that Cafe Gratitude has a Gratitude Bowl, $7 or by donation? Lots of us are reaching in and reaching out and getting creative, and for one thing, I like to call it, OUR ECONOMY – in one way or another, we (us people) made it this way and now we have to make our way out of it. Spending a little time in blame and finger pointing is healthy, key words, “a little time.” And then we have to get on with our economy and our lives. We can be victims of it, and many are, or we can embrace what is. Now, here’s the thing – not all of us are in the position to do that. “Choosing” by it’s very nature IS a function of being privileged enough to even know there is a choice to be made. So those who can choose – should choose. And my choice about what I think it exciting is that I get REALLY decide what is the most important in my world. I also get to REALLY look at what can be created by me and others that does not cost money. Slumber parties for example with other women can cost as little as $5 per woman for slumber supplies (if you already have red toenail polish in house). So that is what I am calling for, more art, more slumber parties, more meaning and even, more medicine soup for the chicken soul. Whatever we do – let us continue in our unreasonable dreams, don’t look back, look forward and keep your eye on what you are creating. To read what I am writing about these times, and art and faith: http://www.ourladyoftheredthread.com

  • Christine Arylo

    Shiloh – thanks for the info on the food – i have to admit that my inner foodie is going crazy about the 25/7, and some of the clearest times for me have been when i am on a really simple diet. and I LOVE the idea of a slumber party. LOL. We had one about two years ago and it was great fun. Maybe time for another one. Toe-nail polish, check! I also love what you said about being open to having people come to your workshops that can’t pay the whole price, and the idea of our economy, that we together created this. Both to me are the same point – we are in this together and we can either come together and solve this person by person, by the people we touch and by staying focused on what we want to create. Here’s to creating the economy that we want!

  • Catherine

    Why are car payments ok but yoga practice “payments” out of the question? My body is the thing that gets me through this life way more than my car or the train I might take. I have an unlimited membership to a yoga studio in SF so no matter if I’m there or not the fee is monthly, like a car payment; no matter if you drive the car or not, the payment is still there. I have issue with the suggestion that yoga is not necessary! Love the $25 dollar challenge and don’t tell me my yoga and dance practice are secondary in life. It’s what I do.

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