life is incredibly full and rich and I love it, but it
doesn't have a lot of extra slack in it. I'm going to
change my life. I'm going to get greedier. I don't use
the term in reference to money-I mean that I'm going to
become more protective of my time. I'm greedy for my sanity;
I hunger for less stress and more peace of mind. That's
where I'm simplifying my life.
Twenty-five years ago I
was a painter. I was good at it, but I stopped. I see
now that I was depriving myself of something that gave
me incredible joy, because I was uncomfortable with the
privilege and freedom of wealth. I call it "survivor
guilt." I thought I had to do things for others instead
of for myself. Once I realized my survivor guilt was keeping
me from painting, I started it up again. I now schedule
two sessions a week. When I'm painting I'm not answering
the phone, not running a function, not doing anything
for anyone else. I'm just painting-because it gives me
a sense of inner peace.
I have always given abundantly
to others-to my family, friends, organizations, the world.
I needed to learn to balance that by giving equally as
abundantly to myself. I now live in a beautiful home.
I take exorbitant trips, long and luscious vacations.
This is quite a change from my earlier hippie days. My
sister and I both inherited money. She lives a simpler
life and considers my lifestyle bourgeois, decadent, and
extravagant. When I moved from a small house to a much
larger one, her reaction was disgust-envy, too, I think.
She looked down on my choices. They felt too much like
my parents' for her taste.
I am still over-committed
and work more than I want, giving so much to my psychotherapy
patients and to organizations. I have a ten-year-old daughter
and she'll be gone in a blink. This is especially troublesome
when I find myself donating my time to help other people's
kids while my own kid has to be without her mom. That's
commonly done in the donor world I live in. People neglect
their own children in the service of giving to those less
fortunate. A trite example is that a board I'm on scheduled
a meeting on my daughter's birthday. When I said I couldn't
go to the meeting, I was looked at askance. "Why
couldn't you postpone celebrating her birthday?"
was the unspoken question. I believe that's a message
that a lot of people with wealth grow up with. They watch
their own families giving to others, but not to themselves.
I want my kid to know she comes first.
I view making lifestyle
choices as an evolving process. I am careful about taking
dogmatic or rigid perspectives or believing that there's
only one right way to be wealthy or to be a good person.
I've found I need to allow myself to evolve to wherever
I end up, knowing that it might not be where I would have
an interview with Pamela Gerloff
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