Sunday, January 25, 2009

living the good life

"In 2001, my company laid off 400 people after a merger. I loved my job, and the layoff was a huge disappointment. But I have a peculiar worldview: I am the tenth of 11 children. In most families, I would never have been born at all. As a result, I tend to think anything is possible. Growing up in that lively environment, I saw my parents overcome many challenges by staying committed to their values and taking a longer term view rather than sweating the details. My mother's classic line was: "This too shall pass"--a philosophy that carries no small amount of hope. When I experienced a setback, such as losing a scholarship competition, she would insist there was something more worthwhile waiting for me. Because of this I have spent my life trying to figure out the hidden opportunity in the crisis. (It beats weeping in public.) I looked at my layoff as a challenge to restructure my work life around my kids, and it turned out to be a wonderful gift: I published my first book about a year later. Did I mourn the loss of my job? Sure. Was the transition terrifying at times? Absolutely. Did I despair? Never. My worldview made the difference."

Thursday morning I heard part of the Midmorning show, whose guest was author Laura Rowley. I had to run some errands and missed the last half of the show but when I got home I immediately listened to the rest online. I picked Rowley's book, Money and Happiness: A Guide to Living the Good Life, Friday at the library. Though I'm only on chapter three, I felt like posting about it.

I know I've said I loathe self-help books. Maybe it's one of those things that I outwardly dislike while within my heart lurks a little implicit bias in their favor! Not too long ago I read a book in some ways similar to this one, having to do with women and finances, and it made me livid. Though I could not dispute most of the depressing statistics on women and money, I did take offense at the persistently alarmist and victimist (I don't think that's a word) tone. I hate victim novels, but this nonfiction book seemed even worse as its purported purpose was to help women. As you can tell from the above quote taken from Rowley's book, she's no victim and doesn't think anyone else should be. I have to admit I openly like this self-help book.

Laura Rowley has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master of divinity. She has written personal finance columns for several publications and teaches a religious studies course. Isn't that cool? Rowley's take on personal finance is to align your money with your values, so you spend on what is most meaningful to you--your passions. Chapter two helps you to identify your values. Seems like I should know what my values are, wouldn't you think? It turns out I don't! I do know a few of the very top, like my children, my husband, and my faith, but after that it's really hard to prioritize what comes next. I must have competing passions. I may have to write another post about that tomorrow.

I like the real-life stories in the book of women who make money work for them to facilitate their happiness.


Gabriela said...

Wow-sounds really cool. I love her outlook on life-I could use a little more of that right now!

I just got done reading "Outliers", I think you would like it. It's a quick read and very interesting.

(are you apart of If you are, we should hook up on it, if you're not, I think you'd like it)

Calandria said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Gabriela. I'm putting it on my Goodreads "to read" list. Yes, I have an account there. Email me at calandria4 at comcast dot com and we can exchange info!