September 29, 2010

Passive Behaviors, Shirking Blame: "The knife Did It" and "It's the Economy, Stupid!"

Recent news, if you read the riff-raff stuff below the fold, included reports of an actor in The 40-Year-Old Virgin under trial for stabbing his girlfriend twenty times. "...he wrongly thought that she was somebody else going after him in the dark."

But Shelley Malil's defense appeared lame. He testified, still confused, of the chaos that broke out when he arrived at his girlfriend's house and discovered her sipping wine with another guy. Feeling threatened by the other, he "mistakenly" slashed his girlfriend, critically injuring her.

He said, "I still can't believe the knife I was holding was responsible for all those injuries."
 (Emphasis mine.)

The editor of my first book told me I needed to stop using passive verbs. "What's a passive verb?" I asked, somewhat stupidly. Anyway, I sure know what passive behavior is. Malil simply "was holding a knife." Which leaves who at fault for the near-fatal injuries?

Reminds me of the foolish Real Housewives of New Jersey gal who spent herself and her husband into $8 million in debt. According to Newark bankruptcy court records, Teresa Giudice and her husband earn $79,000 per year, yet are deadbeats of the worst sort. Still, she blames not her spending on lavish parties, jewels, cars and her designer wardrobe.

Who is at fault? Said Mrs. Giudice, "...due to the economy, my husband's real estate ventures failed despite his hard work." (Emphasis mine.)

The late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D.'s book, "The Road Less Traveled," sat on The New York Times' bestseller list for over ten years!

Peck considered discipline essential for emotional, psychological and spiritual health. Several of the elements of discipline required to sustain and grow to psychological and emotional maturity, he said, were 1) the ability to accept responsibility for oneself and one's actions and 2) a commitment to the truth. 

So easy to pass blame. So obviously stupid to pass it to an inanimate object! And so not healthy, for a deep and whole life.

September 22, 2010

The Problem of Eve

Yes, yes, yes. I did indeedy recently speak at the "Women's Night Out" event hosted by Aspiring Women host Shirley Rose at the Total Living Network studios in Aurora, IL, per my previous post.

It has been some time since I was a more frequent speaker at women's conferences, seminars and such on all topics monetary. I appeared for but a few minutes at this event, so got right to it: the root of financial angst, worry and fear for most of humanity, including Americans from New York's Wall Street to the retirement villages of Florida; the bankrupt State of California to girls everywhere just digging for a little more change from the bottom of their pocketbooks.

It is the problem of Eve.

For a girl who had all the sweet, just-off-the-vine mangos, kiwi, cherries, papaya and pomegranates we could ever imagine, she was certainly blind, or seemed to have lost not just her way, but her sense of smell, touch and such. She could not see the rich and organic array of foods that was hers, and instead had a spotlight zeroed on the one fruit that was not hers.

She caved to the enemy’s lie: You have to have this; you need and deserve it.

I’ll tell you who the enemy is: it’s not money, but it is the stuff you do not have and the things you think you want. It’s the one fruit that does not belong to you.

And if you do go use your credit card to buy what you think you want; I promise—it will do nothing but stoke your craving for more. Like oxygen to a flame, it will fuel your desires. Faster than you can say “Hey, Eve—pass that fruit bowl!” you will be wanting something more, because the Ford Focus you just traded for a Volvo then a Mercedes to a Bentley just won’t satisfy the itch.

I believe that the continued belief of this lie, even eons later (which, like all really good lies, does have a spot of truth to it), is the root problem behind, oh, these:

* former boyfriend of mine who is doing Federal time for financial fraud (seriously!)

* ridiculous mortgage underwriting and shenanigans--the mess that became exchange-traded CMOs that began the trickle that turned to a torrent that has badly shorn the U.S. and global economy

* the fact that credit card debt is today, indeed the pimp of many a family, couple, college student, single working girl, and even celebrities

* a million more issues that drive a wedge between folks and their desire for a life of liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Yours truly, a.k.a. "Broke Girl" speaking at Women's Night Out

I made brief mention of a concept that could bring some really quick, almost instant beginnings of financial relief. Not a solution or fix to one's financial strain, but an activity that you can implement immediately, that would show some immediate results in terms of feeling financially free-er, more in control, and possibly seeing the beginning of a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for those feeling stuck in the fiscal dark.

More to come about that concept of which I had previously only heard of in my own brain, but which I was delighted to hear keynote speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond also refer to, and amplify on in her own presentation...

September 15, 2010

Sharp-Eyes

Strolling through the leafy Chicago neighborhood of Bucktown this past Sunday afternoon, I spotted a lovely renovated house with a "For Sale" sign posted on it.

Stairs led to the front door, and a second set led about six steps down to a garden level entrance as well. That's where I spotted a swirl of the season's first fallen leaves. Crumpled up within was a dollar bill. I looked closer. Yes, it was.

There was a time when I was wont to step in front of a speeding bus to pick a shiny penny out of the gutter. My aversion to bacteria and the remains of pets on sidewalks have brought me to ignore even nickels and dimes anymore. But a dollar bill does catch my eye.

Would you have noticed this? ...or is it just my eye for a buck?
I walked down to the garden entrance (this wasn't trespassing, I'm sure), and picked up the dollar bill. Keep it? Leave it? Tuck it where the homeowner could spot it?

I decided to put it through the front door mail slot. (Probably illegal, according to U.S. Postal Service rules and regulations.) As I lifted the mail slot thing, I could see shiny wood floors and the edge of a beautiful thick rug.

Well, I don't have a point, so that is the end of this blog. Except that, well, what would you have done with the found dollar bill? And what did the finder do with the three twenty bills that fell out of my pocket while walking through my neighborhood earlier this year?

September 9, 2010

Broke Girl Speaks Out: Aurora, IL, 7 p.m. today

Broke Girl is speaking tonight in Aurora, IL at the Total Living Network studios.

The function is in conjunction with the long-time Aspiring Women television program, and is a Girls' Night Out event with the theme "Let's Talk About Money."

Keynote speakers are Michelle McKinney Hammond and Shirley Rose.

Sharon Durling, a.k.a., Broke Girl, will be giving her two cents, er, million dollars' worth of advice about uncovering the lie to which the original Eve caved, and which the millions of women who followed her still believe to be true. The lie? That the one thing you do not have and want like crazy, will make you happy, fill you up, and perhaps even complete you, Jerry McGuire-style.

September 2, 2010

Nicest Guy Ever - Next In Queue

Well, yesterday's Nicest Guy Ever award winner may have a competitor lurking in the wings.

I don't know how I got started in conversation with a dude on my block, but next thing you know, he said he'd get information from his girlfriend about a great spot where I could purchase a replacement for my bicycle that was recently stolen.

I say "dude," because he was one. He had more tats per arm than I have holes in my ears. And speaking of holes in ears, he'd had major lobe stretching done. And for a white guy, had some pretty awesome dreads worked out.

But he turned out to be my kind of friend. He couldn't recall the name of the bike place, so I pointed out which house was mine, and asked, "When you find out, maybe you could drop a note at my front door?"

So when I returned home after several hours at the Schoolyard Tavern last night where I'd met with a few twenty-something girls who wanted a meet-up for some Broke Girl living and budgeting advice, I spotted this note on my front porch:

I've been searching for a bicycle replacement, and just haven't been satisfied yet with one that I'll be using for another 20 years. Might try this shop; I'm happy to have a second-hand bicycle. 


September 1, 2010

I spotted my future self today - and - Nicest Guy Ever award

I post this photo in no way to mock the flowery-attired and hatted lady ahead of me at the CVS Pharmacy store this afternoon. I instantly liked her look and stepped in line behind her with my caffeine-free Diet Coke purchase.

She opened her large pocketbook and fished around for what became long minutes in her search for a mode of payment for her purchase.

I, being in no hurry, actually relished the opportunity to exhibit patience. She beckoned me to go ahead. I said, "Oh, no worries, and no hurry; you take your time, ma'am."

She fretted, "I don't think I have my money here." And continued through her portable filing cabinet of a purse.

And then the store associate [may I please take a moment for a shout-out to young Black men everywhere, bless this boy's heart] was all like, "Oh, I am sure you will find it. Take your time. Your money is in there somewhere."

So as the line expanded behind me, she finally pulled out a check-book type thing in which there were a bunch of crisp twenty-dollar bills stuck together. "See," the store associate said kindly, "I knew you would find it."

After the lady left, I said stepped up to the clerk and said, "You seem to know her; does she come in often?"

"Oh yes," he replied. "But I'm the only one in the store who is willing to wait on her."

I said, "Well, awesome, because in just about three more years, I am her."

Nicest Guy Ever award; I can only imagine it is tough being a young Black urban man out there getting a job, getting ahead, getting respect. And this guy -- he exhibited the graciousness of the ages. He is going places. I don't know where, but places, for sure.

$5.00 off Kraft products you'll probably buy anyway

Go here to get $5 off purchase of five Kraft cheese or dairy products. Btw, I freeze cheese for later use in cooking and stuff. So it's worth stocking up, in my opinion.

If Velveeta doesn't suit your palette, perhaps Parmesan, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, string cheese and more will.

Broke Girl is not above a little couponing action. Lately I've not entered a grocer without $5 to $10 of coupons in tow to knock off the top of my grocery bill. I often source Money Saving Mom or The Thrifty Mama before heading out.

Like last week. Although I personally own a ton of Whole Foods stock (probably overweighted and need to shift that), I usually don't shop there, even though the new store in Chicago on Kingsbury Street is like the Disney World of grocery stores. So delightful and visually and otherwise entertaining. (Wine bar, yummy gelatto, New York City-style hot and cold food buffets, a regular bar, downstairs and mezzanine seating for casual diners, beautiful cooking class room, sometimes free outdoor movies on the parking garage rooftop, riverside dining, restaurant-in-a-grocery grill, and more.)

Anyway, because I believe one should never say the four words, "I can't afford it," (unless you really do not have one dollar in the bank) that means I shan't say, "I can't afford to shop at Whole Foods." However, I more frequently choose to go to the less visually exciting ALDI just a few short blocks north of Whole Foods--which oddly, is often empty. (Haven't these Lincoln Parkers caught on yet...some three years or so into the current economic contraction?)

Anyway, here is today's best coupon deal from Crystal Paine at MoneySavingMom.com. I just printed it, to use before October 1 expiration: $5.00 coupon off purchase of five participating Kraft cheese or dairy products.