Mind Over Money: How A Mini Financial Disaster Changed My Perspective

by gigigriffis

Photo by Tax Credits.

Oh my god, I just lost $350.

I was feeling panicked, my breathing labored. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

Particularly not right now, when I’d just quit my business to become a full-time travel writer and just applied for a Swiss long-stay visa, which required me to have a certain amount of money in the bank. When I needed that money more than ever. When every little dollar had started to count more and mean more.

The whole thing should have never happened in the first place. I’d sold an expensive camera lens on Amazon.com. The buyer claimed there was a problem and wanted a refund. I followed procedure, entered my return address into the Amazon system (and sent it directly to the buyer) and told him I’d be happy to refund his moolah.

Then Amazon refunded his money. Before he sent back the lens.

This made me nervous, but I guessed Amazon had it covered.

Weeks passed. No lens. A month passed. Still no lens.

I finally contacted Amazon and told them I was concerned, that perhaps the buyer was scamming us, trying to keep the goods and the refund.

Amazon responded to tell me there was nothing they could do because they had (apparently) sent me an email I hadn’t responded to.

An email I never got.

Amazon was going to let this man take my money and my lens because of a lost email.

I couldn’t believe it.

I felt sick and furious the morning I heard back from Amazon and I knew there was no way I would get any writing done in that state, so I laced up my trail running shoes, buckled Luna’s harness, and took off up the mountain. I hiked one of the short, steep trails, moving fast. Putting distance between myself and my problem.

But all the while I was mulling it over in my mind, trying to come up with a solution.

Instead, I kept thinking I just can’t get ahead. I work hard, take on more clients, increase my prices so that I can take a vacation and relax, but then something always comes up. Suddenly there’s a medical bill or an unexpected plane ticket or someone steals my camera lens. I just can’t get ahead.

My frustration was palpable. Tears pricked at the back of my eyes. I kept pushing myself up the mountain.

Then, slowly, as I breathed the mountain air and felt the muscles in my legs stretching and straining, I began to calm. And I realized that the conversation I was having with myself was completely unhelpful. It only made me the victim. It only made me more angry and upset.

So I asked myself if there was a different way to look at things.

I knew that a different perspective wouldn’t change my situation. I might still be out $350. I might still have to be very cautious about selling with or using Amazon again. But having a negative outlook wasn’t going to change my situation either.

And so I looked at my financial life from another angle.

Yes, it often happened that I would take an extra client, make some extra money, be particularly frugal for a few months, and then something would come up and I’d need to use that money I’d been stockpiling. And, yes, perhaps I wasn’t getting ahead. But wasn’t it also true that because of all those decisions, I also wasn’t falling behind? That I’ve always been perfectly provided for? Always had precisely what I needed?

Instead of “I can’t get ahead,” I started to remind myself that I’ve always been perfectly provided for.

Suddenly, I felt a rush of unexpected gratitude.

I’ve always had just what I needed. 

Suddenly, I remembered something my therapist said when we were talking about money last winter: “The universe is incredibly efficient. Sometimes you only get exactly what you need, nothing more, nothing less.”

I reached the top of the trail and looked out over the valley, calmer, centered again, trusting that everything would work itself out in one way or another. That I’d continue to have just what I need.

And I remembered what’s important to me: namely, being the kind of person who sees the good, who lives a life drenched in gratitude, who loves and trusts herself fiercely.

Suddenly, the whole thing felt much less important.

I climbed back down the mountain and spent the next several days not worrying about my $350. Then, early in the week, I sent one final email to the buyer. I told him I hoped he was well and having a lovely week and that I hadn’t heard back from him or received the lens and was feeling worried. If he’d already sent it, would he mind sending me the tracking number so that I could check with the post office? If he hadn’t sent it, would he mind sending it right away?

Then, I let it go. Sent the email out into the world and let my worries leave with it.

A couple days later, he responded, apologized for not sending it sooner, and sent me a tracking number for the package, which he’d mailed that morning.

So, I didn’t lose my $350.

But, more importantly, I didn’t lose anything else—my sleep, my health, my gratitude, my outlook, or my self trust.

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26 comments

Lan November 14, 2013 - 1:25 am

What a powerful “aha” moment. I’m so glad that your lens situation was ultimately resolved.

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gigigriffis November 14, 2013 - 4:56 am

Me too. :)

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Ann November 14, 2013 - 7:06 am

Dear Gigi,
What you write is sooooo right.
Not always, but most of the times I also feel this gratitude you’re talking about.
And I must admit, you have a big part in my feelings of gratitude.
So … thank you for the time you were around here :-)
Oh and a big big hug for Luna and you of course.
xxx

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gigigriffis November 14, 2013 - 10:13 am

Thank you! Hugs to you as well. :)

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Brianna Crowley November 14, 2013 - 8:47 am

This whole experience is truly inspirational and such a strong testimonial to the power of our own thought regulation. I feel like only now, as I enter my 30s, have I even begun to tap into this way of regulating and controlling my perspective. Perspective which then controls stress, which controls my happiness, which controls my interactions with others…the domino effect is powerful. I’m just beginning this journey to understanding how I control my internal dialogue, but even at the tip of this ice burg, I am amazed at the difference it can make. Thanks for sharing your experience–it made me even more aware of my own.

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gigigriffis November 14, 2013 - 10:15 am

Funny how that works, isn’t it? I think this might be one of the reasons people say the 30s are the best years of your life.

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Rhonda November 14, 2013 - 1:17 pm

I loved this post!! I am in a similar place right now. We are trying to pay off our debt to be able to sell our house and get back on the road. Nothing is happening quickly enough, a sudden bill will come up and I feel like I’m backpeddling, frustration is building. I love the quote about the universe giving you just enough and thank you. Today I needed to see that and realize that, while I am not yet where I want to be, that life is pretty damn good right where I am and I have no right to complain.

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gigigriffis November 15, 2013 - 3:22 am

I’m so glad it was timely. :)

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Kathryn November 14, 2013 - 1:27 pm

Your writing of your experience is picture perfect.

I admire you and your deeply personal insights. Thank you for being Gigi and equally important, for sharing about yourself.

You make a difference!

Keep going!

I remain extremely grateful too for talking with you on Skype not so very long ago.

And I’m glad the guy sent your lens back.

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gigigriffis November 15, 2013 - 3:23 am

Thanks. It was a pleasure to talk with you as well. Hope all is well.

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Rebecca November 14, 2013 - 2:32 pm

Thanks I needed that reminder. I have been panicking over my sadly dwindling balance and am hoping I have enough for a few gifts, and bills that are coming up. I really hope the Universe will be kind to me as well.

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gigigriffis November 15, 2013 - 3:24 am

Sending positive vibes your way for all needs to be met this holiday season.

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Melissa Adams November 15, 2013 - 4:57 am

On your deathbed, you won’t remember the little losses or the material things in your life. It’s relationships that count, including your relationship with yourself and the universe…which is exactly the point of your post. Nice!

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gigigriffis November 15, 2013 - 7:12 am

Amen, sister.

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stacy November 20, 2013 - 12:45 pm

I’ve had something similar happen to me, with a less happy ending. I sold an ipad on ebay to a man in Russia. I was stupid and didn’t pay for insurance. USPS doesn’t track in Russia. Who knows what happened, but ebay refunded the man and he left feedback that said “excellent.” Probably because he got a free ipad. I’ll never know, but you just have to figure out a way to move on and learn. I’m glad you have a happy ending, I think people are mostly good. I’m more cautious about selling overseas these days though. Insurance and tracking numbers will be a must.
I love your blog.
S

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gigigriffis November 20, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that it didn’t work out in the end. :( Hope things right themselves in some other wonderful way in your life.

And thanks! :)

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Wilkop November 27, 2013 - 12:56 am

How fitting that through the use of a lens you were able to see your situation so much more clearly and gain whole new perspective. You have enriched us all by your sharing. Blessings.

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gigigriffis November 27, 2013 - 3:15 am

Thanks!

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Cyrus November 29, 2013 - 1:19 pm

Great story with some positive thoughts for myself.
Thanks for sharing.

Much good luck,
-Cyrus

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gigigriffis November 29, 2013 - 1:21 pm

You’re welcome. :)

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Kui April 1, 2014 - 1:41 pm

I relate to this blogpost in more ways than one. it is amazing the kind of power our thoughts have on our actions, and consequently on the kind of life we live. lately I have gained a new perspective to life, and i am loving the new me. keep posting Gigi. you have a new fan here :)

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gigigriffis April 2, 2014 - 1:54 am

Thanks!

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DC Griffis November 10, 2015 - 11:44 am

Great post! Been there before. One gets to a point where they realize nothing can be done but to pray n let go of it. Funny how issues workout. I also learned to only use eBay and Paypal!

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