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It's Nice Having Money
But it's nicer having a rich life
It's almost the end of August, and my family and I are leaving Portland today. We gave it a year to see if this might be the next home for us – a place to put down deep roots. However, living here was the farthest from home I've ever felt. Over the past week, I've been eating grapes and pizza almost every day; the heat has been unbearable. Just the other day, I felt really triggered and deeply affected by a someone’s comment on this photo of me and my son.
"It's nice having money," she commented on one of my posts on Instagram. I talked about how every time I take a leap in life and surrender into the unknown, life has provided me with magical experiences I couldn't possibly have imagined. I was reflecting on my life since right now, I'm taking another leap. I'm reminding myself and you that we can either worry about the future or be excited about it. Usually, I'm a mix of both, but it's the excitement I listen to when I'm about to make a choice.
Lately, I've been doing a lot of listening. Listening to what my triggers have to say when I feel unsettled, sad, or overwhelmed with grief. I've been tuning in to the subtlety of my intuition when she advises me to hold on, recognize that something no longer fits, cut the cords, or move on. I've been attentive to my heart and my inner child, loving her deeply and fiercely. This inner child sees the potential for affection through my love for my son. Additionally, I've been particularly aware of my unexpressed anger, which silenced me for most of my life due to the fear of disturbing the peace or making others feel uncomfortable.
But what surprised me is how much this comment affected me. At first, I thought, "Whatever, I can't respond or give attention to every snarky comment on Instagram. Why should I nourish the negativity?" Then, I pondered: what within me, or more accurately, who within me is triggered here? I was surprised to find that it wasn't my inner child but my maiden self that was triggered. It was the version of me that was consistently shut down every time she had an opinion to express or a voice to be heard. Each time she stood up for herself, her father would dismiss her, brushing it off with a laugh, and say, "Vanja has a long tongue," using a saying from my language that implies being outspoken and opinionated, often negatively.
This comment brought forth that aspect of Vanja, a part of me that carries the weight of the grief from not having a supportive father who saw her as an opinionated and outspoken woman in a positive light. Because when the term "opinionated" is applied to a woman, it often carries an underlying meaning of being "unladylike." In many situations, arguments, and conversations with my father, being opinionated was seen as a threat, as I didn't conform to his expectations.
I also reminded him of my mother, from whom I learned always speak up and stand up for myself.
This comment carried a particular sting because it brought to mind all the instances when I remained silent, particularly in my relationships with men, fearing that my words might make them feel diminished, hurt, or insignificant.
Interestingly, even though those words triggered the maiden part of me, my response came from the mother within. The mother within me nurtured the maiden, encouraging her to find her voice and communicate what feels true. All too frequently in life, I've grappled with the sinking sensation of thinking, "I truly wish I had spoken up. Why did I choose silence?”
This comment, "It's nice having money," sparked a cascade of thoughts.
But then, it prompted a deeper reflection.
She sees richness in me.
And, my friends, I've got plenty of that. I don't have millions in my bank account, and this year has been a struggle for us. There was a time when my art did well, supporting only me. But post- COVID, my husband lost his job, and for the past two years, my art has been supporting the three of us.
I pushed through my postpartum phase with little support, working tirelessly. I've been working relentlessly to support us and inspire others.
She sees richness in me because I choose to immerse myself in nature. I'm free from most societal traps and conditions. I'm free to be me, making decisions that align with my values, even when I don’t fully have the means. She sees richness in me because I have a voice. I refuse to stay silent. I make art in those precious two-hour windows each day, amidst full-time work, motherhood, and nursing. I capture the beauty in photos, striving to show the world another way is possible.
It's sad and disheartening that people equate richness only with money.
This is how we're all affected by capitalism.
She saw a richness in me that triggered her. In a weak attempt, she attributed it to money.
Likely, she may lack the richness she sees in me and assumes that wealth only comes from money. I've never possessed excessive amounts of financial wealth. I come from poverty, struggle, and war. As a first-generation refugee war survivor in Canada, I still support my mother in various ways.
Let’s not assume that people’s social media followers match their bank accounts.
My life may seem easy, but that's because I make it so. I consistently choose beauty, compassion, and nature over suffering, fear, and worry. I've had my fill of those as a child. Love serves as my perspective because I've weathered horrors that no child should endure.
So, the next time someone's happiness and richness trigger you, reflect on what's missing in your life that they're reflecting.
I've constructed my life from the ground up, and I take pride in my journey. Whether I possess vast wealth or just enough, we, as women, should unite in celebration and amplify each other's voices instead of resorting to snarky comments.
We all grapple with jealousy, triggers, grief, struggles, and comparisons.
Partly because we're human, partly due to the crippling system we exist in—a system that profits from our separation, our wars, competition, scarcity, etc.
I feel her, and I understand the source of her comment. It brings sadness and anger in me, but also a spark of hope. Because the only way to change the oppressive systems is through conversation, coming together, belonging, and being authentically open—and above all else, feeling safe in each other's company.
Imagine if we channeled those feelings into conversations aimed at healing, growth, and mutual support. Imagine if we embarked on a journey of thriving together, getting to know each other, learning from one another's experiences, and fostering a space to uplift each other.
Imagine a world where we can openly express our true feelings and genuine experiences, all while feeling utterly secure in the presence of others. A world where we trust that we won't face judgment, but rather, we'll be embraced with love and acceptance, regardless of our wealth, status, or any other factors that divide us.
I, along with so many women, am weary of silencing our voices to maintain harmony and appear serene, all out of the dread of judgment, appearing pessimistic, or satisfying the needs of others.
Being an artist and supporting myself for eight years making art full-time is nice. Being able to support my entire family with my art is nice. Starting from zero and healing generations of trauma is nice. Being the first woman in my family to have her own business and live her reality as imagined is nice. Having support from my community is nice. Being able to support the less fortunate is the nicest.
Making decisions that align with your heart instead your bank account is nice.
I promise. You can have all the money in the world and still not know richness.
Having money is nice, but having a rich life is nicer.
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