Meditations: Financial Independence in Art and Life


Among the many books I am currently reading, one that proves to be very useful is JoAnneh Nagler’s How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass. There are some gems in this book that echo loudly for me as the year closes and I begin to think about the road I am manifesting for myself in 2017.

I recently moved to Portland, OR in August for a teaching fellowship at PNCA. I am 27 and this is the first time in my life where I have moved out, completely on my own, not supported by the structure of student life nor my family. I was the first person in my family to move out of California, so I was jumping into exciting, yet terrifying territory to say the least.

At the close of my first semester of teaching, I am facing two hard truths about myself: I struggle with money choices and time management skills. Money and time are two very important factors in anyone’s life. For me, they are central elements in helping to build a life where I can make my work and pursue opportunities that I am passionate about. As a result, I have been reading a few books on money management and time management (for artists).

How to Be an Artist has a really helpful and spirit-based way of thinking about money. Two passages in particular are of interest and inspiration to me:

“Debt pressure does not work in the artist’s life. What debt does is cut off the very choices we’re dying to make for ourselves, such as more time for art, less money pressure, and more freedom to explore. Debt—even a little bit of it—makes a mess of our well-being, blocks our freedom to work without pressure, and damages our future… When we engage in debt, we cut off our choices” (44-45).

“When we learn to live within our means—simply and easily—we’re available to the creative opportunities that we’re working so hard to find for ourselves. We’re pliable, open, and receptive, and not fearful of rigid” (45).

I have always grown up in a family where we had enough, but my parents struggled paycheck to paycheck, choosing who they could and could not pay back. I grew up in a family where debt was common, money felt restrictive and limiting, and pleasure was attained by buying things. In light of this financial history, these two passages appeal to me because: (1) I am encouraged to approach money planning was a way to create freedom, not restriction (2) Money is a flow of energy and when directed to flow in ways that manifest positive feelings and outcomes, I can further open myself up to an abundance of opportunity and (3) I have the power to become the master of my flow of money and ultimately, my flow of abundance (in all of its manifestations).

So far, the chapter on “Making Peace with Your Money” is giving me very useful information as I begin to build my goals list for 2017. One of my main manifestations is the active decision on my part to choose experiences over things, which is something that is contrary to the ways in which I was raised to understand success and pleasure. This book is helping me understand that redirecting my money flow to get out of debt may not give me many things in the moment, but will open my schedule, my life and my spirit up for more meaningful gains in abundance of time for my art, money for travel and room in my life to accept exciting career opportunities.

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