Thursday, March 1, 2007

My Sweet Apple

I had a sort of epiphany on Monday afternoon as I stared at the pram taking up most of my tiny diningroom. I am finally THERE!

In my mind I've always had an idea of what financial freedom would be like. It included things like a lot of money in the bank, no debt, being able to buy what I need and, sometimes, what I want for wanting's sake, no money worries at all. It was having six months of living expenses at hand and all the other Rich Dad, Poor Dad philosophies. Well, that idea has now changed.

During the last seven years, during which I worked very hard on my businesses, I've felt like it was two steps forward and three steps back financially. I spent many nights wondering when I'd ever get ahead, if I'd ever get ahead. I couldn't feel the true life-altering benefit of my laboring until now.

As I looked at my pram, I realized that in only three months, from December 2006 to February 2007, I had the financial resources to pay in full the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth, a new transmission for my car, purchase health insurance, and pay more than half my adoption expenses to date, one year before I'd planned to even start the process and with 8 days notice. I had the credit history to get what I needed immediately when I needed it so as not to deplete my reserves completely, purchase a piano, the pram and a nice area rug, the last three items being optional. And, I still have a small reserve. Equally important, I had relationships with friends and those in my neighborhood, like at my bank, who were happy to help me, eager to be a part of my adoption journey.

Yes, I have arrived. My new definition of THERE is now this:

Having the means to afford the emergencies and critical situations that unexpectedly arise.

Having the reputation to secure the means from other sources when needed.

Having a wide base of relationship: with friends, acquaintances and professionals and a strong, reliable history with them.

Being able to snap up some of the little "biggies" that come along before the opportunity expires or someone's fast than I on Craig's List.

I suppose the bottom line is that I am managing my finances rather than my finances managing me.

I shared this with a friend of mine and she gave me the analogy of growing an apple tree from a seed.

The tiny seed is placed in the ground. It's out of site. You water it. It's still out of site, but you water it more. After some time passes, a tiny shoot appears. You water it and, perhaps, add fertilizer. A long time passes and the shoot gets larger but in no way resembles a tree yet. Still, you water it. After a very long time, the shoot becomes a little tree. No apples yet, though. You water it. More time passes. By now it's a year or more, probably more. One day some apples appear in the tree. All excited, you taste them, after they ripen, only to find them bitter and sour. Hmm. You water the tree and add fertilizer. Another year passes. There are apples again. You taste one but are braced this time. Yes, they are still bitter and sour. Add more water - again. Year three or more comes along and so do more apples. You decide to taste them again. Surprisingly, the apples are sweet! They are very good apples. You are please and keep watering and feeding your little tree, which continues to grow and produce even better apples.

All that time the tree was growing slowly above ground, it was also growing below ground. The system of roots was growing to support the tree and nourish it.

This is what the last seven years have been for me with my businesses. I was only seeing half the growth! I didn't realize that the longevity of a business has value along with the amount of visible growth. I didn't realize that a good credit history has such high, high value. Most of all, my businesses were suddenly very visible on the outside so that people and large companies found them and placed orders for patterns and wanted to be part of my expanding daycare.

I have roots, I have a strong trunk, I have sturdy leafy branches, I had some very sour apples, and now I am blossoming. Soon I will have my sweetest Apple, which is what I'm going to call my daughter in this blog until I know what her permanent name will be.

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