How I Was Able To Let Go Of Earning Money - And Still Be Financially SupportedAug 31, 2021
In my last blog post, I shared how I had spent all of 2021 focused on caring for my elderly and sick family - until recently with my grandma passing away.
Our economy usually only pays for people to care for strangers and not our loved ones - thanks to exploitative capitalism and patriarchy.
Of course most of us need to do paid work in order to survive.
So we’re forced into an impossible situation where we often do some combination of:
- Work ourselves to the bone between our paid work and unpaid family care work
- Work ourselves to the bone in order to make enough money to pay someone else to take care of them
- Feel guilty as we hope that it somehow gets worked out without us helping as much as we want to
We also often feel that we have to do it alone - and can’t get (free or paid) help from other people, including our loved ones.
Or even if we try to get help from other family members, they often can’t or won’t due to their own reasons.
Thankfully, I wasn’t forced to choose between being financially supported and taking care of them - and I didn’t feel alone in taking care of them.
It was still hard in many ways of course, but I felt held throughout it - which made all the difference in how I experienced it and how I showed up for my family.
This is (unfortunately) a pretty rare and radical possibility in our society.
And it didn’t come about due to chance.
This possibility came about after almost 20 years of intentional healing and liberation work - with myself and others.
While what I’m about to share isn’t something that you can just go out and do right now unfortunately, I still wanted to share this possibility with you.
I want to plant the seed that what you’ve been taught as the only way forward is the path set by systemic oppression and that a more human way is possible.
If this interests you, please keep reading!
Why the (Understandable) Need To Make Money Is Dehumanizing
The first factor for this more human approach - and the most difficult to cultivate - is being financially supported regardless of how many hours of “work” I did.
Obviously most of us trade our time for money in this capitalist economy.
We have to “earn” the right to get what we need to take care of ourselves - aka money.
Because earned (versus given) money is how we’ve been taught we get what we need.
Most of us have deeply internalized that earned money is the only “right” way to get money,
So to be simply given a lot of money in order to live feels both wrong and scary to many.
But for most of us, earning money in this way leaves us with little time and energy left to take care of the rest of our lives and our loved ones in need.
In other words, doing what will “take care” of us just leaves us exhausted and burnt out.
Therefore, we are left unable to question and leave this cycle of exploitation - which is one of the main points of it.
Remember, the system we live in is neither natural or universal. It’s just the one we’re living in - and many other worlds are possible.
Why I Let Go Of The Need To Earn Money
Over the last few years, I have been increasingly moving away from this logic of trading time for money.
With steady spiritual practice and support from others, I was able to move from crying in the middle of the street overwhelmed by the uncertainty of when and where my money was coming - to giving up the belief that I needed to earn money to support myself financially.
To be clear, I didn’t give up that belief because I suddenly had steady income or won the lottery.
I gave it up because I saw how the belief that I needed to earn money was pulling me away from the spiritual path before me.
On one hand, I could choose to continue working to earn money. I could keep trying to adjust my work so it was less draining and more in alignment with my values,
But ultimately my decisions still centered on how to pay my bills - at the ultimate expense of my own well-being and spiritual journey.
Up until that point, I had been willing to sacrifice a lot for both my own financial survival and my older family members who relied on my regular financial support, which is common for many people of color and from immigrant families.
What I was being called to be and do in this world that is burning down before our eyes was not in alignment with what is marketable.
I saw how I had gone as far as I could within the system but now trying to move up in it was only keeping me trapped further in it.
So I chose to just let go - and let myself free fall into the mystery of liberation.
How I Was Able To Free Fall Into The Unknown
I call it the “mystery of liberation” because it is a future that has yet to be formed.
Therefore it is inherently unknown and uncertain.
So to financially free fall into it is understandably terrifying to most people.
This is where having almost 20 years of healing and spiritual practice as well as a few years of doing smaller scale experiments with financial support and solidarity with others makes all the difference.
So I chose to let go - and follow where I was called to be and do regardless if I thought it could pay my bills.
Curiously - and not surprisingly if you’re into the idea of the Universe providing you what you need when you’re ready, I began to receive more money than ever before while doing less “work” than ever!
Of course, that also meant I started redistributing more money than ever before as well!
In my spiritual perspective, money like all forms of energy, needs to be in circulation in order to nurture our well-being.
How I Was Able to Take Care of My Family and Still Be Financially Supported
My initial work on my financial scarcity trauma during the past few years was mainly done on my own, which isn't what I would recommend to most people.
But that's one of my roles in this lifetime - to be my own guinea pig for our healing and collective liberation.
But there are severe limits to continuing to do it on my own.
While I was living in the flow of universal abundance, it was still on me alone to give and receive.
And me alone being financially held and supported isn't what I’m after,
That's one of the reasons why I joined WildSeed Society last year in 2020 - where economic solidarity and not trading time for money is how we’re structured.
The WildSeed Society recognizes that the world as we know it is sinking like the Titanic right now - and no one really knows what can save us.
So at WildSeed we’re focusing on supporting those who are fighting to slow the sinking ship down, like movement leaders and organizers,
With the time they’re buying us, we’re also growing a way off of the sinking ship into the uncertain but at least different future.
One of the cornerstones of this way out of capitalism is through economic solidarity with income sharing.
The core team is (increasingly) putting our income together into the same pot and then pulling out salaries based on our needs.
So our salaries are not based on the position in the hierarchy since there’s no organizational hierarchy or on how much the market values that particular work.
Other than the commitment to exist in alignment with WildSeed’s mission, there’s no specific expectation for work to be done in order to be paid.
That’s why I spent half of 2020 supporting movement leaders and organizers and had my expenses covered by WildSeed.
And then I spent all 2021 supporting my elderly and sick family members and got even more financial support as our funding increased.
Because at WildSeed taking care of loved ones in need is precisely the type of “work” that is needed in our society that has yet to be formed.
Just because the capitalist economy doesn’t acknowledge it doesn’t mean it’s not essential work, as was clearly highlighted in the pandemic.
Why I’ve Learned to Trust in the Mystery of a Future Yet To Be Formed
When my loved ones got ill within one week of each other, I thought I was putting my life on pause to take care of them.
But as I’ve been able to take care of movement leaders in 2020 and my family in 2021 - and being cared for along the way, another cornerstone of the way out of capitalism was revealed.
Caregiving - and layers of it - are necessary for everything else to be possible.
I couldn’t do the work of local movement leaders, but I could make sure one of them, my partner, had nutritious food, a clean home, and emotional support on a regular basis.
Some of the most useful things I did was offer daily grounding practices for the group to help them show up differently in the inevitable emotionally difficult situations that would arise.
I also bought and built a comfortable office chair for my partner who had been sitting on an uncomfortable bar stool for 10 hours per day.
When my grandma was in the hospice and after she died, I was so busy with my family. I had little energy to do anything else in my life.
When my partner asked me what he could do to support me, I said “keep our home clean.” I knew all my energy was gonna go into my family and I could not also take care of our home in the way I like to.
I also knew that coming home to a dirty place would have quickly overwhelmed me and left me feeling disrespected and uncared for in a difficult time for me.
Between my partner keeping our home clean and holding me and my friends checking in on me and supporting me, I was cared for enough and resourced enough to show up for my family in our grief and flurry of post-death activities.
Now at WildSeed, we’re connecting the dots of my experiences and other team members, because so many of us are dealing with crises in our personal lives and families as well as in our broader communities.
We’re seeing how Radical Care is really coming forward as a huge missing piece in our movement work.
While many of us hoped back around New Years that 2021 would be easier than 2020, it hasn’t been.
In fact, the crises just keep piling on.
So what do we do when the crises just continue to grow in number?
We go through it together - as humanely as possible - and lean into the mystery of a future that is yet to be formed.
There’s a lot of unknown and uncertainty about that but I believe that’s not only the best that we have - I think it’s just what is.
The sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner we can stop trying to walk the path that systemic oppression set out for us.
And the sooner we begin to grow a path out of the system - together.
Sandra Kim is the Spirit Weaver at WildSeed Society. She identifies as a mystic for the (r)evolution and seeks to be a walking temple offering refuge to those wanting to come back to themselves, their bodies, their communities, and the land. She weaves together her Zen Buddhist practice, animist cosmology, and energy work to offer healing and spiritual teachings to navigate the burning world from a more grounded, connected, and intentional place.
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