More about Annual Themes

2017themesI woke up feeling tremendous anxiety today, the first day of the new year. Last week, I wrote about setting goals for the new year. I had seven goals. Though my suggestion to you was to keep them broad, after thinking more about those I had chosen, they still felt way to directive.

Last night, I followed through with the ritual I described. I lit a candle, prayed the serenity prayer, and wrote down the goals that came to me. Five times I ripped up the paper and started over. Finally, I thought I had it down, wrote a note to my Higher Power on it, and even kissed the paper as a sign of love, folded it, and put it in the box!

So, when I woke up such a wreck, I thought that maybe I hadn’t been true to myself. I thought about someone I know who is in recovery from compulsive spending who picked just one word for 2016. That word was “brave.” And I watched as she took step after step to act courageously in 2016.

[Note: I had a wonderfully detailed section right here about my friend and the amazingly brave things she did in 2016. But it occurred to me that without getting her permission, it wasn’t really appropriate to publicize her life. And I wasn’t able to reach her before needing to get this post out. But trust me, you would be awed and amazed by what happened to her in 2016 because she decided that “brave” would be her mantra!]

So instead of goals for 2017, I started thinking along the lines of themes instead. (I would have loved it if my theme for 2017 was simplicity, which would mean I would just have one word. But that is an aspiration for another year.) So instead, I wrote the following words as my theme for this year:

2017 Courage, Focus, Commitment

Sure, there are lots of things I hope to achieve in the coming year, such as getting a handle on my emotions, especially anger and impatience, gaining more clarity about my life, finding meaningful work, being kinder and more compassionate, oh, and finally, finally finding my one true creative passion and doing it.

Whew! That’s a lot to put into the pot. For the most part, these are results (though, of course, I can work on kindness and compassion as an action).

When 2016 started, my friend could have no idea what she would face during the year. But because she stayed sober with money, and continued working her steps and her program, the theme of bravery worked out in a way she never could have imagined … and better than she had hoped. Every time she faced a tough choice or an obstacle, she remembered her theme for the year, and kept moving forward with the concept of “being brave” foremost in her mind.

So, rather than telling my Higher Power what is in my best and highest good (result), I’m going to focus on these three actions and let my Higher Power mold me, like a piece of clay, to help me actualize Courage, Focus, and Commitment in a way that I’m sure I cannot even imagine today, in a way that most likely will far exceed what I expect. Yep, I’m going to let my Higher Power figure out the best way for me to embrace Courage, Focus, and Commitment.

So take some time, whenever you read this post, to pick your theme or themes for this year. And then, after you put it out there, release it into the hands of your loving Higher Power to help you manifest those themes in the way that is best for your greatest and highest good.

Wishing you a sober, solvent, abstinent, outrageously healthy, peaceful, happy, joyous, creatively fulfilled, and abundant 2017.

Paradoxical Reactions & Preparing for the New Year

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

godboxI have recently discovered that I am experiencing a paradoxical reaction to medication I’ve been taking for nearly a year. It is an antidepressant, but was prescribed to help my stomach pain and migraines. The most effective dose for me, which is higher than for others, also happens to make me incredibly sad and have a terribly short fuse. When I reduce the medicine even incrementally, I feel much better emotionally, but my other symptoms increase. That’s most certainly a paradoxical reaction because an anti-depressant is supposed to enhance your mood, not darken it!

So I am left with two choices, neither of which is completely satisfying; either of which will cause me to experience pain. My husband, too often the brunt of that short fuse, has a clear favorite. It’s my preference as well. But in making that decision, I am going to have to deal with the result of my choice.

I think this relates to how many people experience the holiday season. I’m recording this on Christmas Day, which, this year, is also the first day of Hanukkah. From Thanksgiving to January 1st, it’s supposed to be a jolly, happy, joyous time of year. TV ads and Hallmark-type shows pound that message into our heads.

But for many of us, for a wide variety of reasons, this is a season where we feel sad, demoralized, lonely, angry, and/or despondent.

Some have experienced the loss of a loved one during the year. Others may feel an increased yearning for a partner with whom to share the holidays. And still others may have grown up in dysfunctional homes and have negative memories that come flooding in during the season.

And for others, all is absolutely fine on the surface, but there is a just a palpable sadness around the holidays that we just can’t shake.

For compulsive spenders, the holidays may have given them a high, but they may be left feeling a letdown if they have gone to town buying lots and lots of gifts, because it’s now over.

Moving Forward

So what are we to do? One thing we must not do is to beat ourselves up for whatever feelings we have or tell ourselves that there is no reason to feel this way. We must recognize and acknowledge our pain.
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Self-Serving or Serving Others

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 262 days written!

When my Higher Power speaks, it is almost always with a sharp wit. As I’ve written in previous posts, I went down a financial rabbit hole trying to start an art business. Life became infinitely easier when I stopped short of spending any of my savings on this venture and decided enough was enough.

However, my art was still in the gallery since I had paid for three months. In fact, my husband had even contributed a bit of money when we were told we could have the prime spot in the front of the store. This was my opportunity.
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And the Truth Will Set You Free!

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 240 days written!

Christopher Pierznik showed tremendous courage and selfless service when he wrote this article that appeared in the online magazine Medium today:
What Happens When Virtually No One Buys Your Book?

The fantasy persists that if we write our book, it will become a blockbuster bestseller. Christopher did have a Kindle hit with his book “The Hip-Hop 10,” published in 2013.

But the truth of publishing today is that, for the vast majority of authors, if they want to earn money, books must be just one part of a platform, which many authors do not want to hear. The fact is that most authors never earn more than $5,000 for the lifetime of their book. So if profit is your motive and you aren’t willing to create other products and services around your book, you may want to reconsider.

But, as Christopher’s article pointed out, many who write do so out of passion, not profit, and because they feel driven to communicate something to the world. While it may be disheartening when your sales do not match your passion, it’s important to remember that message to remind you of your original purpose.

“Economics of a Kickstarter Project”

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 208 days written!


In an effort to dispel wishful thinking surrounding the romanticized notion of crowdfunding, I wanted to pass along an excellent article that takes you through the financial realities of a successful kickstarter campaign. Spoiler alert: it’s not the fluffy fairy tale it appears to be! Continue reading

The Final Straw

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 175 days written!

Yesterday, I nearly lost my solvency. More like I was about to throw it out the window or, as my husband said, just because the boat has a leak, do you really want to sink it?

I don’t handle stress well. Does any addict? So I’ve been having a huge amount of “buyer’s remorse” about my decision to start a new business at the same time I’ve lost 1/2 my income. I look at the behemoth of a printer I bought (to make art prints and greeting cards) with loathing since I cannot really make it work properly (though a conversation with Epson did help to make it somewhat functional). I checked into returning the beast, but it was not an option.
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Crowd Funding for a Compulsive Spender

Update on progress for the Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: 168 days written!

In response to my last post about deciding not to fund an art business with my savings, someone was kind enough to suggest creating a Kick Starter or similar type of crowd funding campaign to help offset the costs. My internal response has been interesting in the time since reading this comment.
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Staying True to What I Know

Over the past few weeks, my life has taken an unexpected turn. Consequently, I’ve been engaged in a whirlwind of discretionary spending that, while abstinent, has rocked me, and has led to an examination of my core DA beliefs.

I’m in the middle of writing a daily reader for compulsive debtors and spenders. But along the way, I’ve run into an opportunity to begin selling my artwork at a gallery. While the response was quite positive by the owners, I was told that my artwork was not presented in a very professional way (dollar store frames!) and that the framing needed to be upgraded.

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Time is another aspect of “Now.”

When I was young, time seemed unbearably stretched out, endless. “Are we there yet?” was my constant question. It seemed that I always wanted the future to be my present.

As I got older, time sped up. Now, at age 58, nearly 59, time is a bullet train. Yesterday, I was 19 and in college, with my whole life ahead of me. I blinked and suddenly, I was 35 and my son was born. Blinked again, and he was in high school. Blinked a third time, and it’s today. He is a man of 23 and I am disabled. I’m afraid to blink again.

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Vision or Hallucination?

Here is a quote from the Debtors Anonymous Ways and Means Newsletter from Quarter three, 2011, page 3:

How many people in your group are waiting for their Vision before they’re willing to not incur unsecured debt one day at a time? We’ve heard it before. A vision built on active debting is a hallucination. One great way to make a vision fall apart at the seams is to build it on debt. I’ve been there. All the pretty magazine pictures on a Vision board don’t mean much if the underlying foundation they’re built on is debt.

I can TOTALLY relate to this. In DA, I must live in reality, not fantasy. It was so true for me regarding the “businesses” at which I was throwing money with no return. I used the excuse that these were my visions to continue justifying spending that was needed for other parts of my life, and which, in large part, increased my pre-DA debt to $33,000 (before I came in the second time around, after getting completely out of debt in DA the first time around in 2000).
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