A Rallying Cry, Because It’s Time To Stand In Our True Value
A Foreword by Brittany Veenhuysen
Women are here to remind us how to live beyond money– to be living examples that when we have the courage to take money out of the equation, we help all people around us enter a space of less fear and more discovery, boldness, vulnerability, and love.
It doesn't surprise me that motherhood is at the centre of feeling worthless or valueless in our society... but because of this, it also seems like the gateway to entering something more important than money. I think the best thing we can tell our mothers is that there is no way we can ever express what they have given and continue to give to us, that we can never pay them back and never want to. It's a beautiful state of debt that is based in love, not money.
I recently met up with a friend who had just come from a job interview that left her in agony. Her brilliance had shone so bright at a volunteer commitment that one of the participants insisted she’d come in to interview with her and the other partners for a position within their practice. Humbled by the recognition of her talents, and excited by the prospect for deeper professional development, she accepted the interview, but made it very clear to them that unless the position held great flexibility, she wasn’t interested because it would take away from her number one priority: raising her son and taking care of the family affairs.
They insisted, and so she agreed to meet with them– she has a hard time saying no. The organization supported a cause she deeply believed in, but the job was not satisfying her need for furthering her skills, nor was it going to be flexible enough for her to respond to her family’s needs.
My friend is an impeccable homemaker or, as I like to call her, CEO of her family. She makes sure that her child gets to and from the bus, doesn’t spend too much time watching TV, ensures he gets his homework done, and teaches him all the important things about life. She’s there for him. While he’s at school she takes care of the groceries, cleaning, garden, dog walking and cooking to make their house a pristine sanctuary, so that when her husband comes home from his 14-hour day, he can relax and spend quality time with her and the kid.
Sadly, the interviewers were so focused on filling a position that they didn't listen to my friend. When she walked through the doors of the little diner in our neighbourhood, she was in serious emotional turmoil.
In the time it took her to leave the interview to meet me, she’d considered every rational motivation to accept the job. Logically it seemed like a no-brainer to say yes. They really wanted her to join their team, she knew she could do the tasks with her eyes closed, and the opportunity was in a field that she could see herself in once her son moved into highschool and she’d be ready to go back to work.
But something wasn’t quite right– something didn’t align, and it was noticeably tearing at her heartstrings. To me, it was a classic example of when your head and your heart are at extreme opposites, and your heart has something important to show you. She was overthinking and rationalizing her decision instead of trusting her heart, which had already said, “Thank you for thinking of me, but this isn’t what I need right now.” Her head responded, “But this company needs me!”
This is the ultimate hook... Her ego tricked her into feeling recognition, while the reality is that the company, even though they needed to hire someone, didn’t necessarily need her. So here she was, agonizing over why she should do this while in the same breath fighting down the overwhelming voice that said, “But I don’t wanna.”
When I pointed out to her how she positively impacts the lives of others around her, she couldn’t see the value in being a homemaker. She loves doing it, it feels good, but it doesn’t feel like a real job. It doesn’t feel like enough. And I’m afraid she’s not alone. So many of us struggle to see the value we bring because it can’t be measured in money.
Guilt soon joined the party. “You’re riding the gravy train on the back of your husband!” it screamed. “You need to contribute to the household!” And there it was… the real reason why she kept agonizing between her head and her heart. She felt guilty for not contributing financially to the family bank account. “I cost money,” she said, “but I want to make money.”
I totally got it. Even in that moment, I couldn't help thinking: At least you have a kid you care for. Try seeing the value in your contribution when it's just you and your hubby! Suddenly all my own stories came flooding back in... "Gold digger," the voices muttered. “Moocher. You’re totally dependent."
This money thing. It floats like a ghost amongst us women. We’re big dreamers, bright sparks, and soulful adventurers who are haunted by our messy money stories... stories that began way before we were born and continue to impact our current lives– they cause us to drop our dreams, and turn away from what is most important to us. Can you feel them?
For most of human history, we had no money and no power. Our sense of worth wasn’t ours to discover and claim, but rather defined for us by existing social structures. We were absolutely dependent on a man– first our father, and then our husband– to provide us with even the most basic needs. Our lack of access to resources kept us and our dreams safely locked away so we could perform the tasks expected of us. We’ve made fantastic strides to more equality but it still feels fragile and incomplete.
In a sense, our legacy has transformed. Once we were unable to do anything. Now, there is an expectation for us to do everything. Be everything. A mother, a primary earner, fit and healthy, stylish and confident but also polite and soft, skilled and intelligent, with time and energy to give away to others in abundance, clean, organized, but casual and spontaneous. Essentially, equal career opportunities didn’t set us free in the uncomplicated way we were hoping for– it became yet another thing we’re supposed to excel at.
It's a shame that we detach ourselves from what’s innate to us, only to measure up to what our culture considers “success”. Is it not success when your child and your husband feel loved and cared for? Is it not success when you can take your time and, more importantly, make the time for exercise and wellbeing? Is it not success to set a great example for your children and show up in your life, so you can be energetically available for others? Is it not success when you can meet a friend for coffee in the middle of the day and get inspired, talk it out, laugh or cry a little? I mean, isn’t that what we imagine happening at the end of “you made it”?
We’re so trained to measure our “contribution” by what we’ve “earned” and our success by the number in our bank account that we forget that on the other side of that needs to be someone to actually enjoy it. Do you know someone who has more money than you, a beautiful house and family, a great job, and plaques of recognition on the wall and still isn’t happy? Sure you do. We can all name at least one celeb who battles addictions or who’s committed suicide. Yes, mental health is to blame for some of that, but where do you suppose mental health issues come from? Hint: it’s in the word– mental. It comes from not trusting our heart, intuition, inner light, soul, whatever name you want to give it, and instead believing our stories, which become our thoughts, which become our reality.
Don’t get me wrong: money is a real component of our lives, as anyone who just lost their job will quickly point out. Our value has nothing to do with money though! When we give away our power and worth to money, we are no longer free to make the best choices for ourselves and our family. We cage our creativity. Nothing kills enthusiasm, joy and hope faster than money. It’s in the position of sole dictator of our lives– it judges whether we have a “good” life or a “bad” life, whether we’re worthy or not, how much we should be stressing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened excitedly to someone’s amazing, well-considered dream only to watch the dictator step up to the microphone and say: “But I’m not in a financial position to do it” or “but there isn’t any money in it.” Dreamkiller!
You are loved. You are valued. You are worthy. You contribute so much more than you may ever understand to those who are lucky enough to have you in their lives. Whether you put your energy into keeping your family healthy, happy, and supported or you put your energy into your fledgling business, or a little bit of both, you’re already enough. There is no correct way to do life, no template to follow. If you’re showing up from your heart, you’re doing just great.
Seeing your own worth is difficult. Asking others is even harder, ‘cause someone may think you’re full of yourself. So if you find yourself going to job interviews to fill that hole in your life, stop and do these three things first so that you don’t have to agonize over deciding between your head and your heart.
Discover your value! One of the best exercises I’ve ever done to gain perspective on the impact I have on my community, is to discover my value.
Give yourself permission to be honest! Write a letter or in your journal about what you really want. Nobody needs to know but you! Giving your desires air to breath is like stretching your legs after sitting for hours. It helps soften the critique and release new aromas.
Talk to a trusted friend or your spouse! Sharing the stories you tell yourself about money, value and contribution is so freeing because it gives your