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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Creativity and Poverty : Page 2 of 2

Creativity and Poverty

continued from page 1

4. I don't go to the mall.

A lot of people go shopping just for fun. When I do that, I risk feeling deprived. I see a CD I'd really like to have or a little dress that I think I can't live without. It must be all of the lavender air freshener they pump into those places that makes me want to part with so much of my money so quickly. Or maybe it's the artful color scheme or the fact that a store has decorated their interior with a long bit of distressed chain-link fence. I love it. I want it all. And so I stay home. When I really do start to feel deprived, I win stuff off the radio. All the different stations are always having contests of some kind. I have won CDs, restaurant gift certificates, and concert tickets that way. Those extravagances are even better when they are free.

5. I try to anticipate my needs and plan ahead.

One of my biggest expenses used to be matting and framing my artwork. Getting ready for an exhibit or art fair really stretched my financial resources to their limit. I solved the problem by doing everything backwards. Now instead of having custom frames built to fit my artwork, I buy used frames at garage sales and second hand stores, and create the art to fit my frames.

Occasionally the frames I find are so extraordinary that they inspire entire artworks all by themselves. Sometimes my dad helps me refinish or resize them if they need a little extra attention to be glorious again.

Anticipating my needs in this way has saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Also, I'm able to sell my framed originals at reasonable prices so that all kinds of people can afford to start their own art collections. I have sold my work to teachers, waitresses, college students, farmers, and even other artists. Knowing that they didn't have much in the way of expendable income made those sales even more gratifying.

6. I am careful with myself.

My parents have always reminded me not to do anything stupid. I still do plenty of stupid things, but these are a few I've been able to avoid:

  • I don't smoke, and if I did, I'd say the cigarette companies should be paying me to use their abominable products and not the other way around.
  • I rarely drink because alcohol and antidepressants really don't mix well. A little alcohol in moderation can be a very good thing, but I've seen too many people waste a lot of time and money on fire water. The same can be said of other recreational drugs.
  • I don't have cable TV. It rates right up there with smoking. I think we should go live our lives instead of just watching imitation life on TV. (And we can all save 30 bucks a month or more while we're at it.)

The one really smart thing I always do: buy health insurance. It has often been a hardship for me — especially when I was entirely self-employed — but I would never want to go without at least very basic health insurance. You just never know when you'll need it, and if you don't have some kind of coverage, you could be paying off hospital bills for the rest of your life.

The corollary to buying health insurance is practicing preventive medicine which has gotten me some breaks on my insurance premiums. Always wearing my seatbelt in cars counts in this category.

Getting plenty of sleep, eating relatively well (I don't really...), taking vitamins (sporadically...), and using echinacea (an herb which I believe strengthens the immune system) at the first signs of cold or flu (always!) are my old stand-bys. (I guess you could say there is always room for improvement.) •

© 1999 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »

8/18/08