This is not just a World Domination Summit question, although we'll get to that. A question that came up during our academy today has really gotten to me, and I'm sure I'll be processing it for a while. There was a thinking exercise during the Be a Money Boss academy:
"Imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do?"
This about knocked me down. What did I miss? I missed having any kind of real career. I never got to make any kind of mark on the world. I have nothing to show for my time on this earth. I mean, I have strong relationships with my husband, family, and a few close friends, but I have no legacy. There are no projects that will outlast me. I felt like a tidal wave of potential rose up inside me, and that it would die with me, and that I never worked hard enough to let any of it out.
I was surprised, and also very pleased, when my husband said that he hadn't really missed anything. The difference between us is probably that he's a father and that he's always been fulfilled by his chosen career. It was interesting that the same question affected each of us in profoundly different ways. For him, it was a validation, a good place to be for a man of 48. For me, it was a devastating blow, feeling like I had been lazy and sloppy with the time I have been given.
The real question is whether I'll have anything close to enough time to get out all of the projects that are currently locked away inside of me.
Back to the event itself. WDS is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of a deal. It's only possible to attend everything if you can bilocate, which is not currently on my list of skills. We went on a hike from 9 to noon, rode the funicular from OHSU, stopped for a food cart lunch, went downtown for our academy from 1:30 to 4:30, officially registered for the event, and then spent an hour at HugFest. After that, everyone went to the unofficial opening party, but we cut out early because they didn't have any vegan food. There is a superabundance of plant-based cuisine in Portland, though, so we were fine.
The first thing about WDS is that you can immediately turn to anyone standing near you, strike up a conversation, and within a couple of minutes someone will say, THAT'S AWESOME. This is like the rallying cry of positivity. It also turns out that everyone has something in common with everyone else. I think I talked to five marathon runners today. We also met a guy who had an abiding interest in Viking culture, and we were like, "Oh, you have no idea who you're dealing with." This event would be great even if it were nothing more than a series of video lectures, but the attendees are the real attraction. I've felt like I could stay up talking all night with every person I've met.
Our academy was presented by Mr. Money Mustache (his birth name, clearly) and J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly, two financially independent bloggers with thriving communities. They had a funny mock-tension regarding their differing philosophies, which mostly boiled down to whether you should try to save half your income, or 64% of your income. They were hilarious, extremely engaging, and very generous about answering audience questions. We came out effervescent with ideas and plans about our own savings, and happily, we both agreed.
The questions are a big part of why attending a live event can be so powerful. The audience questions reflected a range of mindsets and positions on the ladder of personal finance. Some people were clearly farther on the path to financial freedom than others. A few of the questions reflected a deeply held scarcity mindset, and this is the best place to start. Start by learning and asking questions from people who demonstrate more about abundance. Feeling poor and helpless can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It blocks creative ideas that might help solve the problem(s) at hand. One of the questions had to do with having zero idea of how to track spending, or what percentage of income went where. Bless that questioner, because beginners can so often feel ashamed to ask the question that is doubtless burning in the minds of many others. Another question had to do with whether someone making a six-figure salary (I am not making this up) could really afford to save money if they have children. Skeptical, I hear where you're coming from, and there's only one way to find out, which is to make a good-faith effort and try it for yourself. Another had to do with how to save enough money in case one partner had a catastrophic illness. Apparently that couple had spent a lot of time thinking and talking about that problem. My question would be, well, what if you both live long, uneventful lives and you stay strong and healthy? Did you spend much time thinking of that at all? (I hope so).
HugFest has been my favorite part of the event so far. I wore the custom FREE HUGS t-shirt my husband got me for my birthday last year. Everyone kept asking me if I organized the event. (No, but I wish I had!). This was a beautiful thing. You would basically make eye contact with someone and just hug. Good, long hugs, too. There is really something about women (about 2/3 female attendance) meeting, looking at one another, and hugging. I think we have this culturally ingrained tendency to size one another up and worry, Does she like me? And then to think, Hmm, probably not. Instead we can think, You're beautiful and you have a friendly smile. Let's hug. Mmm, your hair smells nice! I also love hugging men and feeling safe and platonic. Men have more to overcome in our culture in terms of initiating no-strings physical affection with one another. It's fun to watch them let their guards down.
Something happened. As soon as I start giving details, I'm sure you're going to know exactly where this is going. I set my bag down at the edge of the gathering, which was in a public park. It's my favorite airplane bag. I had put my phone in it, even though I usually have it in my pants pocket. It had my iPad and my Apple Pencil in it, as well as my brand-new event t-shirt. It had my wallet with my ID and all my debit and credit cards. It had my house keys. It had my bus pass. I mean, my life was in that bag. Here's the punchline. Exactly what you would expect happened when I left my bag unattended for an hour in the middle of downtown. It was still there, and nobody laid a finger on it. I picked it up and we left.
The whole point of something like a Free Hugs event is to build social trust. It's like trick-or-treating at Halloween, only much more so. A Dutch woman asked me why I gave free hugs, and I said, Well, first of all, I like hugging. Second, I feel that it's really important for us to be more trusting and to demonstrate that we are generally surrounded by nice people at all times. So much fear and paranoia. I opened my heart to a group of complete strangers. Nobody assaulted me and nobody stole from me. Did it make the nightly news? I somehow doubt it, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.
The party was held in a really cool event space. It has ping-pong and dartboards and shuffle boards and bowling and karaoke and who knows what else. The place was packed. People who obviously recognized each other kept crying out and running up and hugging each other. Probably half the people we talked to today had been to the event several years running, and some people said the main reason they keep coming back is to catch up with their WDS friends. I can definitely, definitely feel where that's coming from.
We are absolutely LIT UP with enthusiasm right now. Personally, I feel like this trip would have been worth it even if it was only one day. WE STILL HAVE FOUR DAYS LEFT!
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.