I was able to watch the Oscars on Sunday night, which I thought was fantastic, and I just can’t express how many insanely happy hearts I have around Ellen DeGeneres and this selfie Bradley Cooper took. I mean, how can you not love the stuffing out of this picture?
Also, watching Brad Pitt photo-bomb another selfie later that night: priceless. And Ellen collecting money for the pizza???? Loved. Just totally loved.
Celebrities are so glamorous and hounded by the press– but they are also very real, with bills to pay and cash (or no cash) in their pockets, and I loved the fun and the silliness and realness Ellen brought out at the Academy Awards. So great.
And the fact that 12 Years a Slave won for Best Picture was the whipped cream on the strawberries, for sure.
Speaking of cash and no cash in my pockets–
As you may (or may not) know, the house my mother and two of my brothers live in has an $85,000.00 mortgage, which is in the name of the Estate of John Cook, the estate in a probate case I’m the personal representative of. John Cook was my uncle, and he is still my uncle, even though his ashes are scattered on a mountain in Silverton.
Side note: if anyone in your family ever asks you to be the executor of their estate, be forewarned– if you accept this task, you will see a dark, evil side of your relatives you never knew existed. You will be hated. You will receive daily, vicious emails from relatives who call you a failure and demand money from you. You will be charged with incompetence by people who don’t understand anything about probate and have no idea what they’re talking about. You will, basically, find yourself in a real-life version of Zoolander.
Cue Mugatu and his Crazy Pills, because your relatives will find the bottle and eat all 12,000 of those sugar-coated tablets at once.
Then they will find even more bottles of Crazy Pills, and keep eating them. For as long as probate is open, which is typically three years.
That’s the world you will find yourself in.
I sometimes have a hard time navigating this world. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and if you’re managing an insolvent estate, the way I am, there is no financial gain, but only personal financial loss, that comes from doing your job. Add to that all the bottles of Crazy Pills your relatives can’t stop eating, and it can be hard to keep your chin up and push forward through the years it will take to close probate.
Side note #2: if you have prior warning that your death is imminent, I suggest you give away your possessions before you kick it (especially if you own real estate), and avoid the need for probate. Granted, only the toughest people can do this, as it means facing the insane wrath of your greedy relatives, rather than someone else doing it for you. But if you can manage this, I recommend it.
Unfortunately, my late uncle could not have done this, as his house was already mortgaged. Hence, the whole dilemma.
If I had $85,000.00 right now, I would of course pay off the mortgage without even stressing. I’ve already put so much of my own time and money into managing this probate case, wiping out a debt like that would be nothing. It would make everything about my job as executor so much easier.
But I don’t have that money sitting in a bank account, though I DO have enough money to self-publish two more novels. So I’m not sitting here crying about being broke. I’m not broke. But I do have this lack, this thing looming over me, that I wish I could eliminate and solve.
Which made me realize some things I think about money. Some not-so-good things.
For instance, focusing on this lack, this debt, this baneful mortgage, is not good.
Anyone who focuses on what they don’t have in life only brings more poverty into his or her life. It’s simply the way the world works. I don’t make the rules.
I admit, for the past year, I’ve been guilty of doing this. My mind has seen this debt as only a hole I don’t have the power to fill in. That’s not healthy.
Another thing that’s not healthy is having an emotional attachment to this debt. I promised my uncle I would do everything I could to save his house, and that set me up to have some serious heart-trouble over the whole situation.
So I let that go. I severed the connection between my heart and this house, my heart and my promise to my uncle, my agony over this debt and my own sense of integrity. Snip, snip. Done. I feel a lot better now.
And I realized I still had some deep-rooted hang-ups about money. Even once I could face losing this house, and not be all stressed out over that–
even then, I still had issues.
So I sat down and wrote a letter to money. Because I’m in a relationship with her (or him, I think money can be either gender, or both genders, or transgender, or whatever is easier to visualize this) and it’s not good to be in a relationship with someone when you have a bunch of internal baggage getting in the way of being happy.
I don’t know if I’ve worked out all of my issues with money yet (I seem to be quite the neurotic… but then, I’m hardly alone)– but I do know this letter is a good start.
So here is my letter, which I share with you in case anyone else has some subconscious hang-ups with money they might want to get rid of. You might want to have your own little sit-down with money the way I did.
You and me, it’s been complicated. You are a tool I am ashamed of sometimes. I know when this started. When I was a child, my family had none of you, and some of my earliest memories involve your name, or different versions of your name, a lot.
For all of my life, my mother has used the expression, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” as an insult for anything. Often, to make an attack on something not even money related. For instance, when I brought home straight-A report cards, my mother would use this expression. This began when I was small, and I always resented it. I hate this expression. My family had no money, but that didn’t mean I thought we were stupid. And to be five years old or nine years old with no money didn’t mean I was stupid.
I also looked around at the world, and saw a lot of smart people who had no money. Our childhood friends tend to be made up of people from the same socio-economic class, and I didn’t think any of my friends were stupid.
So I know this expression, which only exists to be used as an insult, ended up making me resent you and hate you a lot. You were always this thing looming over my head, proof of how stupid I was if I didn’t have lots and lots of you.
I learned to ignore you. I learned to be happy without you. Whenever I’ve needed you, I’ve brought you into my life, but not in abundance. Not with joy. The hate and the resentment were always too strong. I have always fought you, to prove I am smart whether I have you or not. I have played a stupid game because money and intelligence were linked in my mind as a monolith I needed to separate, and maybe (hopefully) I’m old enough now to stop doing this.
Money does not come with intelligence. It comes with belief. Money itself– your very essence– is only a belief to begin with. It is a sense that people have faith and trust in a piece of paper printed up in a factory, and nothing more.
Because you are faith itself, of course you only come to people who have faith, who believe. When people believe in themselves, and believe they can have what they want, then you find a way to come visit them. You are a very dynamic, fluid force in the world, and similar to a lightsaber: when used by the good guys, you glow blue or green. When used by a bad guy, you turn red.
But a lightsaber is still just a lightsaber. It cannot possess evil. Only the people who wield it can transfer the powers of good or evil upon it.
So here is the thing, money. Here’s why I’m writing you this letter.
Having you does not make me, or anyone else, smart. Nor does not having you make anyone stupid. I have always known this, which is why I resent you. But I don’t want to resent you anymore.
I want you in my life to be my blue lightsaber. As a tool, I have always used you this way, but now I want you to know that I no longer resent you or try to put up a wall in my mind to tell myself I don’t need you.
Jedis believe in the Force, and people must have faith and believe in money in order to bring you into their lives. You are a lot like love, actually. You operate in relationships that aren’t always balanced, or fair, and yet there are laws of attraction that will manifest more of you.
So I just want to say, I’m no longer worried that if you come into my life, then I have sold out my ideals. I’ve found a way to get over my resentment and hatred.
Like love, you are out there, everywhere, and there is a lot of you. More than enough to go around, and to shower on every person who lives on this planet.
You don’t flock to the smart and shun the stupid.
You arrive to those who believe in you, who believe they can have you, and unspoken resentments will drive you away.
For our future relationship together, I want you to know that Jedis are far more effective when they have their blue lightsabers. And money, for me, you will always be blue.