The Joy of Paying Taxes

It’s a wonderful time of year. The weather is warming, birds are singing, flowers are blooming… and taxes are calling.

For many people tax season is a time they feel depressed, angry, stressed, resentful or afraid. It’s so ingrained in our culture to hate paying taxes that we assume feeling like sh*t is normal. But it doesn’t have to be.

How about this year, as an act of radical self care, you make paying taxes a joy?

Before you dismiss that as impossible, consider this: Paying taxes doesn’t cause you stress, or fear, or resentment. It’s your attitude about it that creates it.

Worrying about the work it will take to get everything organized, putting it off until the last minute, avoiding paying because you don’t have the money will all create unnecessary stress. You are better off dedicating time to do it and diving in.

Avoiding your responsibilities will never bring long term joy and peace, but being responsible won’t guarantee it either. You need to handle it differently than just “getting it done”.

Consider for a moment what would elevate tax day from a dreaded chore to a beloved task or curious adventure. Would you do it with someone else – invite a friend, each take a corner of the living room, put on some music, open a bottle of wine and make a day of it? Take a moment and think about anything that might make this year’s tax filing different from all the rest. How can you turn your focus from the result to the process?

I turn it into an annual ritual. Rituals have a way of deeming actions as special, important, spiritual. They suspend the ordinariness of the activity and set it apart as sacred. By creating a ritual I turn taxes into a sacred act, worthy of respect and presence.

In preparation for doing my taxes:

  • I work alone, when the house is empty.
  • I clear the space so I’m not distracted.
  • I add flowers for beauty and fragrance.
  • I light a candle.
  • I say a prayer to give thanks and ask for focus.
  • I keep a note book to record any insights I glean from reviewing my year.

While I’m doing my taxes:

  • As I record income, I give thanks for the money I’ve made.
  • Reviewing expenses, I remember and bless the people I’ve paid.
  • I am grateful for the money I’ve spent and the contributions it’s made to people and places.
  • I am literally counting my blessings as I work.
  • I consider if I’ve made the best choices, and if not I record the the changes I’ll make this year.
  • I remember good times and challenges I’ve faced. I write down ideas and inspirations that come with them.
  • Even if I don’t love all the choices my government makes, I focus on the contribution I am making to society.

Paying quarterly is just an expense, but April is a time of reckoning. It brings clarity, and where there is clarity there is power. I can see where I am at and make informed choices.

One of the things that makes tax time easy is that I set tax money aside from each payment I receive, so it’s available and waiting to be used. If you haven’t set the money aside that you need, don’t let that be an excuse to shove your problems in a dark closet and hope they’ll go away. They’ll only grow into haunting problems the like monsters in the closet of your childhood bedroom. Do your taxes, make a plan to pay it over time, and set yourself up differently this year.

What is one simple thing you can do that will bring more joy to the process of paying your taxes this year?

You can’t avoid it so you might as well enjoy it. Try this, and you can learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Self Care is A Gift You Give Everyone

Could this be the Year of Radical Self Care?

When I say self-care I’m not referring to booking that annual physical, getting regular massages or even eating a cleaner diet, though all of those are good things.

I’m talking about a systemic change to your operating system. That’s what makes it radical.

Radical  |ˈradikəl|
adjective:
1. relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.
2. thorough and intended to be completely curative.
3. characterized by departure from tradition.

Radical self care would be first of all getting to know your own wants and needs. Feel into what you might want and explore through trial and error what works for you and what doesn’t. This will take time, and curiosity and vulnerability. That may seem like a tall order but I can assure you the rewards to yourself and others will be exponential. (Not at first, but eventually)

Few of us were taught how to really care for ourselves. We know how to get along, be successful in the world, and we have ideas about sleep and diet and exercise. But did anyone teach you how to truly care for your body and soul?

  • Do you know how to hear the soft voice inside guiding you to your heart’s deepest desire?
  • Can you feel the gentle prodding of your body, directing your actions to get you there?
  • Can you intuit in each moment how to move, eat, drink, and be still in ways that heal your life and the planet?

Living this way probably sounds selfish, even narcissistic, but you’ll find if you explore it you’ll be kinder, more compassionate and generous with the world.

Here’s why:

I must have seen those airplane videos on how to act in an emergency over 100 times, and every time I’ve thought the same thing.

  1. Nobody’s going to be that calm if the plane’s really going down.
  2. It goes against everything in my nature to put on my own oxygen mask before putting in on someone in need.

I lived most of my life putting oxygen masks on everyone around me. I was good at it. I got a lot of satisfaction from it. I formed a whole sense of value from being of service. And then I ran out of oxygen. I had to learn a whole new way to be in the world. Those airplane videos were right. Without putting our masks on first we can’t really take care of anyone else. At least not for long.

My case is pretty extreme, so perhaps you can’t relate to it. But I’ll bet there are ways you’re taking care of others before considering your own needs ~ to be a good parent, friend, employee, boss, spouse, sister…. but putting others needs first habitually not only hurts you, it hurts those who love you.

When you don’t take care of your own needs, you’ll unconsciously look to others to take care of you. We all have needs that must be met. You’ll look to fulfill them in ways that you may not even see happening. When your needs and desires go unmet for too long, you can become resentful, jealous, short tempered. When you are hard on yourself you are hard on others.

You can’t give others what you don’t have. So begin by getting to know what it is you really want and need, not in the grand scheme of life, but in each moment as you live it. That will require listening to your body, creating enough quiet for that voice inside you to be heard, clearing some space to do things you’ve been putting off in – that includes space to do nothing. You may find you need more time alone, movement, play, laughs, challenges, rest, sunshine, water, sex, deep conversations, fat in your diet…. you’re unique and so are your needs.

It’s taken me years to discover what I truly want and need. It’s been a radical shift in my way of being and I continue to evolve and learn. I’ve had to re-educate people who I had previously trained to expect more of me than I could actually give. You may have to do the same thing. This may help.

Over the holidays I’m staying with a friend to help her recover from surgery. I have one role here ~ Take Care of Her. It would be easy to fall into old patterns and knock myself out caring for someone who really needs it. Instead, it’s a joy. I feel like I’m on a retreat, because I’m taking care of myself by getting lots of sleep, spending time alone, visiting with my husband, meditating, doing yoga, writing, moving and taking naps. When it’s time to care for her it comes from a very full place. It’s a joy to go to the market, make her meals, clean up and take her to doctor’s visits. My oxygen mask is on and I’m taking deep breaths from it. So I have lots to give.

 Let This be Your Year of Radical Self Care.