We all know that money is the stuff that pays the bills. We also know that there are many types of currency we can utilize to balance out what we receive for our services.
When I was a hairdresser from 1981 until 1995, I bartered a LOT. As long as I could get enough cash to pay my bills, I enjoyed trading because I actually got stuff that I loved but probably wouldn’t have spent money on myself because it might have felt too frivolous at the time. I got massages, healing work, and many, many beautiful pieces of art. My most unusual trade was when an entire family needed their hair cut, and they gave me about 7 chickens! I didn’t have any place for the chickens at the time, so I traded those for something else to someone else. I can’t remember what (maybe my mother-in-law who had chickens?).
My first salon space lease, along with the equipment and set-up was sold/exchanged for a motorcycle, which was what the equipment was worth and what the new owner had to offer. The client list went with me to my new salon. It felt like a “good trade.”
Here and there, there is an event or festival where attendee money is tight, but enthusiasm is high for the music, art booths, dancing, and my workshops. They want my book, so get creative:
“Will you trade”?
Most of the time I say, “Sure. What d’ya got”?
“Some weed and some crystals.”
I take the crystals and use them with my medicine bowl and hand off the weed to somebody who smokes or save it for someone in a little pain (which can often be the person you least expect, like your conservative grandfather).
Last year, from one woman with about 4 kids and a husband, I received a bottle of some amazing essential oil spray and some gorgeous temporary arm tattoos. And I think some weed.
When all of this is going on, I feel so touched and here’s why: These young women who are finding relief in just hearing about my approach to the hormones and are in need of support (what my book is about) have a stash of trade-ables, but it’s not an endless supply. Their trades are just as precious as money to them. They turn to their partners, and together they dip into their satchel and come up with an appropriate equal exchange. I feel honored that what I have to offer feels valuable enough to part with their goods.
This evening I was at the Co-op, our local organic food store. I was standing in an aisle looking for grainless crackers when a young family standing next to me was commenting on the cheap prices compared to where they lived. Our co-op isn’t cheap, so I asked them where they lived. Mendocino. Ah yes. Gorgeous and expensive, indeed.
Anyhow, the woman looked at me and said,
“You look familiar. Do we know each other? Do I look familiar to you?”
I admitted that she did look familiar, so asked her her name. It didn’t ring a bell.
Then she said, “Are you…? Did you…write a book, 4 Seasons….Is your name Ssss…?
“4 Seasons in 4 Weeks. Suzanne. Yes! Geez! How did you know that? Did you attend a workshop last year or festival?”
“YES! And I have your book!” (No—she hadn’t given me weed for it).
“Really? (Of course that is the best thing anyone can say to me. Super wonderful to hear).
But then she did something that surprised the heck out of me. She said,
“Can I hug you?” She was super excited and beginning to get a little emotional.
Then she said,
“I just have to hug you and want to thank you for writing the book. It has really helped me. And it has helped him too” (Pointing to her man).
Me, stunned, shocked, relieved, grateful. Again.
A little more small talk and we went our separate ways for groceries.
Compliments like that don’t pay the bills directly, but believe-you-me, they are a high dollar exchange. In this case for me, her desire to let me know her appreciation was a generous, caring boost of high powered fuel which will motivate and keep me and the whole operation going for a very long time. I can’t even put a value on that.
Thank you, Samantha. I wish I had gotten your last name.
We have to remember as a local, national and global community that money is only one form of exchange. We can’t forget to allow the beauty and heart of all kinds of currency to flow in and out of our personal support and wellbeing bank account.