July 24, 2014
Guest blog by Aysha Griffin,
Merriman Financial Education Foundation
Dear Friends of Paul,
I did not know what Paul’s response would be when, a few months ago, I told him I was selling or giving away everything and taking off to Europe in search of a sense of place and to follow a long-time dream. “That’s great!” he said, and suggested I write about it for our newsletter, adding this note to me:
“I think it’s good for our readers to get to know our international team; something we could not have had a decade ago. Even though I get all the glory, I have a team of very talented people helping the Foundation teach how to ‘Live it up without outliving your money’. My daughter, Julie, recently told me that her approach to being a friend, parent and wife is: “More magic and less control.” I’m not so good at that. She is and you are. I think those of us who live with a high need for control have something to learn from those who have more magic.”
So, here I am writing from a 300-year-old cottage, with a wall dating from the 13th century, in a small village in Burgundy, France. I am traveling with two suitcases and an adorable stuffed monkey I acquired 27 years ago and named IggyMo. Like a cute puppy or baby, he invites positive attention and gives me reprieve from posting endless “selfies” on my Facebook page.
The freedom to do this is, for some, a dream; for others it’s the opposite. But we each have our dreams, and the important thing is to identify them and exercise the courage to at least try to fulfill them. With the passage of the years, time becomes ever more precious, and we cannot continue to put off what keeps calling us to pursue.
How did I get here? After my marriage of many years ended, I moved from Santa Fe, NM to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where, presenting a workshop on self-publishing and marketing at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, I met Paul, then recently retired from his financial advisory firm. He hired me to help realize his dream of making financial education resources widely and freely available to the public, to assist people in planning for a more abundant and stress-free retirement.
We have been building and expanding upon this via his website and social media for more than two years, producing the free “How To Invest” series of books, weekly podcasts and articles, his well-researched and extensive investment recommendations, and this bi-monthly newsletter.
Because our work together is online, I can be anywhere with internet access. In fact, our team is international – Paul divides his time between Bainbridge Island, WA and San Miguel de Allende; his co-writer of many years, Rich Buck, lives in Seattle and travels far and wide in his retirement; webmaster, Margie Baxley is in South Carolina; social media manager Berenice Parra is in San Miguel de Allende; accountant for the Foundation, Carole Hedderly-Smith, resides in Poulsbo, WA; and I am on the road in Europe. We live in amazing times, not tethered to or limited by location.
As I have been self-employed for decades – without possessing the foresight of investment or knowledge that Paul shares – I am not well funded. This would rightly scare many people, and I’m often asked how I can afford to do what I’m doing. My answer lies in frugality and personal conviction. I consider every purchase. Carrying all I own, I am not inclined to acquisition, and I have faith in the many skills I’ve funded and the network of remarkable people with whom I’ve maintained connections over the years.
For example, my host at this cottage in Burgundy is a retired schoolteacher whom I hosted eight years ago at my home in Santa Fe through Servas, an international organization based on Ghandi’s idea that “peace is built one friendship at a time.” Next month, I will housesit on the Isle of Wight for a couple I hosted 10 years ago. Friends have introduced me to friends and I’ve met new people through the professional expat network of InterNations, one of whom I’ll stay with in Paris. For me, real wealth lies in friendships; what we give and receive in kindness, care and helpfulness to one another.
I am fortunate that I can work from anywhere, and I love my work with Paul and other clients – planning and implementing projects and coaching to “inhabit your dreams.” Knowing what I now know from Paul, I encourage everyone to save, spend and invest wisely. Yet, no matter how little or how much money you have, or believe you have, my advice is: never allow your fears to keep you from following your dreams and loving your life.
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