October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, something near & dear to my heart. Financial abuse is one indicator of an abusive relationship and this can be found anywhere there are people. Thus we become more aware of it, and we act in new & different ways to recover from it and prevent it in the future.
From the organization that doesn't pay on time to the low-balling of honorariums, you've surely seen it all. So have I. I've been paid late, had to request fees actually be paid, been offered insultingly low fees, and have had to chase payments down after work was completed.
In romantic relationships, or even platonic relationships, it's not always our personal money stories that trip us up, but sometimes other people who trip us up (financially) on purpose. It's the roommate who doesn't pay rent on time, the friend who never foots the bill when you take turns paying, the partner or spouse who unfairly distributes the bills, the soon-to-be-ex-spouse who drags out the divorce, resulting in high attorneys' fees. Been there, done that, still have an awesome credit score. Surviving a relationship like this is one thing, recovering from such a relationship is another.
It took me a very long time to drag myself out of one horrific relationship and it's taken me years to get beyond it financially. Luckily, the whole, ongoing process has lead me to some fantastic money habits and has created skills that have let me help other women learn more about money, too.
A quick note: some, but not all, of the links in this post are Affiliate links. That means if you buy a book after clicking the link, I receive a small portion of that purchase, for which I thank you. However if you need to, get the book at the library. Saves a ton. ;-)
And another quick note: I refer to a name with a bleeped-out swear word in it in this post. Just fyi.
1. RUN, do not walk, to a Credit Union.
Like many others, I bank-hopped for a few years. I always ended up at my old Big Bank until I tried to refinance my auto loan…with the same Big Bank. Interest rates had dropped so I asked them to refinance it. Really good credit score, steady payments, I was a good candidate, but they wouldn’t do it.
So I walked. Literally, I went down the street. And I saved over 4% interest on the remainder of my car loan.
Wouldn't it be awesome to stand up in front of thousands of people in a packed hall and give an amazing speech saying thank you to everyone who has affected your life and career? And for it to be televised? And then jet off to your next destination, ready to take the stage, film the scene, give the next lecture.
That would be SO COOL.
Just like it would be SO COOL to win a big award like a Grammy. And then people start calling YOU.
That would be so awesome.
And it most surely is so awesome to be one of "those people" who gets to stand up there in a designer gown, hair coiffed, wearing jewelry so expensive it requires its own security team...
...it's an awesome dream. Dreams keep us fueled, dreams keep us motivated, dreams are what we strive for.
Sometimes we see glimpses of dreams in our work, and we find they are anything but dreamy--they are hard-core, standing-right-in-front-of-you, on-the-screen-right-there, honest-to-goodness dreams-come-true.
So say thank you right away. Look that person straight in the eye and say thank you. Some people won't accept it, some people will feel self-conscious about it, some people will feel a bit silly that you took the time to give them your thanks. Do it anyway.
Some people won't give you a chance to say thank you--they will give you a huge compliment and then turn and walk away--and it's ok. Think of them, write out what they told you and put it up where you will see it. Remember them.
So few singers will ever "make it" into the "big career," and have the chance to give that speech. The tear-jerking, Adrian Brody-style "I'm only ever going to get to do this right now," Fred Rogers-like genuine exercise in gratitude.
So just do it now.
In the spirit of Thanks-giving and in the determined decision to walk my walk:
Firstly, thank you to my family for your enduring support. And for teaching me cribbage. And poker. (These come in handy.) :) So do all the stories we tell.
Thank you to my friends for your enthusiasm, your excitement, your caring, the way you incite courage in me. It is an honor to call you my tribe.
Thank you to the churches, the organizations, the schools, the parents, the businesses with whom I work on a daily basis. Nothing can take the place of genuinely good working relationships and the sheer effort it takes to create lesson space, to make a concert series happen, and to make sure everything happens.
To my students: It is an honor to be your teacher. There is no other way of putting it: you are all unique, wonderful human beings and I get to see you undertake the creative, physical, musical and emotional process of making music once a week for weeks on end. One of my students recently called me "The Moral Voice Teacher," as she found she goes home every week with a moral or a lesson learned. I was quite surprised when she told me this, and then I realized I really do want every single one of my students to take a morsel of human knowledge with them every time they leave a lesson. And this student helped me see that I do this because I cherish my students and the opportunity to work with them. I do not take this for granted.
To my students' parents: You are rockstars in an age of over-busy, over-scheduled, demanding tasks and time, yet you still get your kids to lessons on-time, ensure they are practicing, you communicate clearly, and follow-up when you have questions. You respect the payment and cancellation policies, which helps me do business well. You ask your questions and make sure your kids understand what needs to be done. Awesome. Well done! And thank you.
To the conductors and artistic directors: Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. It is because of you that I am working in this industry, that we can make such beautiful music, and that we can make long-term plans for success to ensure this part of our culture stays alive, relevant, and part of the human experience. We make history every time we make this music.
Related, and just as important: Thank you to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and for the Violence Against Women Act, both of which enabled me to leave an abusive marriage and to start recovering. Without them, my life story could be very different, but it isn't. To my fellow survivors: you are an inspiration. Some of you share your stories, some of you don't. Remember it is always your choice. I am grateful--so very, very grateful--to know that you are there, whether we know each other or not.
Lastly, to the audiences, the listeners, the concert-goers, the download-buyers, the blog-readers, the tweeters, the commenters, the newsletter-readers, the hosts: You're simply amazing. I'm blown away by the stories you tell of how music has touched you, why you love music, how music is a part of your life and what it means to you to listen to the music I make. You've told me stories of your parents making music, the teachers that have touched your lives, you've told me how deeply music has moved you, you've shown the tears as a result of music stirring your heart--each story and comment is a gift that I cherish because you have shown me a part of your soul.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor. I wish you a happy, safe, warm, well-fed Thanksgiving; may you know no end to the blessings in your life, and may you bless others selflessly, that they might know the same.
Amen. And a lot of woman.
In Deepest Gratitude,
This post was inspired by the lasting impressions and experiences from last weekend's concerts of Les Nuits d'été (Summer Nights) in Chisholm, and Virginia, MN with the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra. From the gems of auditoriums in which we performed to the stories from audience members to the generosity of my hosts and simple conversations in passing, it was a dream-come-true kind of weekend. Forget the "big career." It's all about the big experiences.
Words fail to describe this, really, you just need to watch. Sit back, turn up the speakers, and watch the whole thing.
The one thing you need to know: this piece is a theme and variations, so it's a musical theme (a melody) that's presented and then Herr Roman Kim plays multiple variations on that theme. You'll still recognize parts of the original theme, but it might be played higher, lower, or with 'extra' notes within the same melody.
Think of it as one car (the theme) with lots of options and it comes in many different colors (the variations)--and they're all on the showroom floor.
P.S. Don't try this at home.