I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time and as we are approaching the dreaded April 15 deadline for taxes many people are very concerned about the new laws and how they will affect most of us.
Money has been a long debated issue for many years and to me, a complete mystery.
Let’s go back to how we were raised for example. I was brought up – if you can call it that – being taught that if people had a lot of money they must have done something really bad or even criminal to get it. Needless to say I was raised in the war and we were poor at that time. You can guess how I judged the rich – they were infamous.
That is until I had some of the wealthiest families in treatment and my judgement turned to compassion. To the very wealthy with enormous unearned incomes, life was rather boring. Smashed the Porsche? Get another one. Young people who went skiing couldn’t understand the excitement of someone who never learned, and if they did, couldn’t afford to go. “What’s the big deal?,” they would ask me. ”You go up the mountain and down the mountain.”
Needless to say, the use of alcohol and other drugs were very common. Luckily there are many who are truly magnanimous in their charitable work; in many cases doing so anonymously. However, it does make me think about ordinary, regular people who have to work for a living.
I wrote a book in the late nineties called Credit, Cash and Codependency. With a lot of research I discovered that most people’s attitudes about money were very diverse and how they used it, quite odd at times.
There were the over spenders (I have been in recovery for that one for many years), under spenders, hoarders, debtors, codependents (who would spend on others and not on themselves), and those who ‘bought love’. I did that for a while until around 1970.
Having challenges with money can be compared with eating disorders and workaholism. With other dependencies it is mainly a choice whether or not to pick up even if it is a disease. For example, is the alcoholic going to work the AA program, go to rehab, or not? Even though it is not a popular standpoint, I believe it to be the truth. However, one has to eat, work and spend money. No options there. The book is out of print, but I have some copies and one can get it on an out of publication site, like Amazon.
All this being granted, let’s think about those very successful celebrities who are very wealthy. If there’s one thing that drives me bonkers it is hearing them say, “It was never about the money”. Give me a break. I am not going to name them as most of them have huge followers who take their words as gospel and I choose my battles. I don’t know if they realise how insulting that is. If it is indeed the case, I would like to see them donate more to needy charities, excellent causes and perhaps even building houses for veterans. Or, maybe starting clinics for women since the government is determined to close them down. There are so many options to use their incredible wealth. They couldn’t use all their money in ten lifetimes, so why not help others spend it for them? Sounds perfectly sensible to me.
I have been to conferences and heard speakers who are useless. Maybe they write good books. It ends there. Consider retired politicians who earn anything from $10,000 to $100,000 for one presentation. Why would people nickel and dime me to death when they want to hire a Keynote Speaker?
I am Dr. Kaye
At this point, I have to pay homage to an amazing man who lives what he teaches. He is Dr. Robert Ackerman. He started the Adult Child movement when he was serving in the military. He used to have an annual Addictions Conference where, surprise surprise, each speaker was paid the same fee, regardless of fame or sex. (Oh yes, even at that level, women are paid less than men.)
One day, he phoned me and told me he had overbooked, and would I be willing to take the presentation for him. I told him I would and then he said, “Yvonne, this is my fee. Don’t take a penny less.” I thanked him and called the organisation. They were very happy to hear from me and promptly offered me less than half his fee. Had he not told me, I wouldn’t have known! I told them the fee I wanted so they offered me half his fee. I refused and insisted the fee in question was what I wanted. They offered me $500 less than him and again……………………well you know the rest.
Finally when I said I would take no less than Dr. Ackerman their response was, “But he is Dr. Ackerman”, to which I replied, “And I am Dr. Kaye.” I got the fee.
I presented for many years after that with no argument, but without the help of someone who knew what would happen, I would have been working for less!
Taking Skills For Granted
Next, let’s get local, such as with people like Edie Weinstein in Bucks County, PA. She is a great presenter, writer, and outrageous woman. I’ve known her for years, watched her grow, and develop herself and her creative juices. In my opinion, which is not humble and never will be again, Edie should be earning the highest level of fees, and never be concerned about money ever again.
Is she a threat? I don’t really know why it is that some people whose talent is low on the rating scale are rewarded with absolutely no discussion at all. I am amazed at her productivity and her risk taking with her free hugs. She has done that in other countries and always is well received. Notice the word FREE. I could work 24/7 if I didn’t have to earn a living. It’s amazing also that so many people who see talent like Edie, who are so prolific in their presentation subjects, believe they are wealthy. Duh! There are so many others like her. I don’t know the answer. I really wish I did.
I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain. “THE MORE I SEE OF OTHER FOLK, THE MORE I LOVE MY DOG.”
There is little respect for people who produce so much and give just as much, like the Edie’s of this world. There’s Kim Krause Berg, who does my website. She’s another example of one of the most creative women I know. She doesn’t get the consulting projects she is perfectly capable of producing because she doesn’t have this certificate or that. Rubbish. She has been working in her field for 23 years. One of the challenges I see is that experience no longer matters in this 21st century. How sad. How much we are missing.
One of my closest friends, Dr. Dan Newman from Cincinnati Ohio, comes under this category. He has a similar educational background as I do and is my confidante. He is one of the most compassionate people I know and the funniest. I love him dearly. He comes under the same category as the rest of us. Because of his expertise, particularly with Grief, PTSD, and Addictions, he has been asked to help many agencies who claim to have no money. He says yes he will do so and then comes the truth about the following statement.
Years ago, I was told that if I present without a fee, I will be seen by other organizations who will want to retain my services. What I discovered was I indeed met such people who didn’t want to pay a fee either. Such innocents! Dan is a Vietnam Veteran and knows the score there. I get it – they touch his heart. However, we both know there are grants available and because administrators can get away with it, not paying people like Dan and they spend the money elsewhere. I see it everywhere I go. He, too, is an Interfaith Minister. He told me once that if he wears his collar they put him in first class when he flies. So I tried it. Not for women ministers apparently. Haven’t let him forget that one!
There are many unsung heroes. I remember when I first came to this country I couldn’t believe I saw firefighters standing in the road with buckets for donations. This is really shocking. Firefighters? Our life savers. I had many of them in my family in the WW2 UK and saw how they endangered their lives. No different here. I have one former son in law and two sons in law who were firefighters. It just didn’t make sense. I learned quickly.
Continuing in the understated topic, consider parents and caregivers who have special needs children. In my innocence I would think it to be a priority to provide for these children. In my family, my daughter has to get what work she can somewhere where she can leave if there is an emergency. She is looking again because her company has closed down. When her son reached twenty-one…..tough. The assistance before he became 21 was skimpy at best and she had to fight for everything for his care. I know – I went to the school specialist meeting and heard her remarkable and knowledgeable presentation. I said nothing. I was just one of the “big guns” as she called me, sitting quietly and observing.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer or any debilitating illness, there is sympathy and help. What people do not realise is that money is an enormous challenge, with parking at hospitals, co-pays, and child care.
Which brings me to a most unusual organisation called, The Breathing Room, located in Jenkintown. I like to think there are others like it, but I don’t know of any. Many support groups are available and I am so thrilled they are available. The Breathing Room started when a young woman died from cancer. Her husband and his sister opened the Breathing Room to help those with cancer in a most practical way. They might pay the mortgage for the month, provide food, pay rent, or cover some bills. They recognised the importance of survival and are getting stronger by the day. They do rely on donations and this is where I express an important fact. I do not donate to any large organisation whose CEO takes a huge salary plus whatever else they want. There is a list of those fund raising businesses. It’s a good idea to check them out. I only give locally where I know where the money is going. I have no problem with the executives of nonprofit groups earning a decent salary. Not the nationals though.
So where did this all start?
Gifts Don’t Buy Food
Years ago when I started in my various professions we were told we had certain gifts. Therefore, it was unseemly to ask for money or a reasonable salary. Healers have this drummed into them to this day. My question is, how can anyone live in this world without money? Tell me. I’d love to read the list. Can you imagine going to Giant and saying to the cashier, “I am not paid for my gifts, so I am sure you understand I haven’t money to pay for my groceries.”
How about going to work and needing petrol (gas)? Same thing. I’m on my way to a home visit which is voluntary, so I don’t have money when I fill my tank. I am sure they would just wave you on in your work-of-the-heart. Yet there is shame in this area. Our culture conditioned us the same way they tell us how to behave in any age group (that’s another blog topic).
With some weddings, I have been told that $25 is enough to pay even though I spend hours working on what will be a unique ceremony. We are told from the bible. MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. Incorrect. THE LOVE OF MONEY (IN AND OF ITSELF) IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. I often muse on the attitude of Christ, were he to be silly enough to return to this planet. Didn’t he throw the money lenders out of the Temple? Didn’t he say, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”. I think he also said, “Let little children come unto me”, rather than put them in cages at the border. Was what I was taught at the New Seminary wrong?
Change Your Focus
Let me bring this to a close. This is what I believe.
Everybody is entitled to a reasonable living wage or salary. By that, I mean having enough to cover all expenses and some left over for savings, vacations, perhaps theatre, dinner at a fine restaurant now and then. A babysitter also has a right to being paid well; what a responsibility, taking care of a child.
We need to change our focus. For some people, it has been, “Oh that’s okay. I can take half the fee. It’s only my time after all.”
Yes, I have a sliding scale if I choose to utilize it. It is not intended for people who can afford me. I remember years ago I had a patient who pled poverty. I said with such charm, “You have to pay something, as this is an investment in your recovery.” Wasn’t I just the benevolent greatest in the entire world? (What I was told by a professor later on was if I wasn’t paid anything in America, I wasn’t worth anything). She came every week with her $10. Sometimes she forgot. One day she brought a book with her. She left it on her chair when she was about to leave. I picked it up and followed her to the door to give it back to her as she got into her brand new Volvo. It was full fee after that.
On another occasion, I was asked to speak at Bucks County Community College for a Grief Conference. They asked me to do one of the keynote talks and a workshop on suicide. I didn’t think about the fee. (Duh!) When it was over they handed me a cheque. I looked at it in amazement. I had spent the entire day there. They apologized for the amount, saying they had a budget of $6000 and the well known keynote speaker took most of it. The cheque was for $25. Live and learn.
Why am I writing about this? Because it is time we stopped being shy about money. Time we started looking at our worth. Is it going to be resolved immediately? Of course not. Most of us are brainwashed to feel gratitude for what other people think we are worth. Do I still have a certain discomfort in this? Of course I do. I’m battling ageism too. I have to find a manager! I can ask anything for another person and there’s still that little hmmmmmmmmmmm rearing its ugly head.
My job, as I see it today, is to teach those who do the hiring or who are administrators, that experience matters. There will be more on this subject, trust me and I hope I’ll get some responses to further the input.