Symbolic Attire

I can’t think of too many things more symbolic than wearing a team jersey or uniform and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself. I’ve recently been accepted to a women’s racing team (road, gravel, and mountain biking) and when one of my teammates and friends gave me this year’s jersey, I simply felt like I belonged. Perhaps for the first time in years, I belonged to something bigger than “me.”

There is symbolism in things we wear and put on every day. Wedding rings and bands are symbolic to a deep relationship between two people and whether those people are physically together or not, a bond exists. Men’s ties and other jewelry for men and women often symbolize high status in work or society. Wedding attire- the dress, suit, and tux- is symbolic to a huge life event in many people’s lives. Even the logos that represent the brands and companies that we give our money to say something about us.

There are many examples of symbolism in material things in daily life.

But for me, something clicked just a few days ago and I had a deep recognition of who I am and what I stand for because of that team jersey that was handed to me last month. And with that recognition came a deep sense of responsibility too.

By putting on a team jersey or work uniform you represent that organization, group, team, brand or company. When you wear your uniform or jersey, you’re proud. You’re making a statement to the world that these moments aren’t just about you as an individual, but they are about your team or organization beyond you. (I have to chuckle because maybe this is by default… you need a job and you have to wear a certain uniform for work, even if you hate it. I remember this being the case at times in my life as well.)

When I race, I get to wear my team’s name. When I ride for training, more people will see our logo and colors. I’m one part of a greater whole that matters and is making a difference for women cyclists in my area. One example of how this changes me is that I’m going to go out of my way to follow road rules and practice good bike etiquette, especially when I’m in my team jersey.

So too, the importance of the jersey I get to wear for my team doesn’t end when I take off that shirt at the end of the day. I’m still “me” and I still belong to that group, with or without the name and logo on my back for all to see. I should be practicing those road rules and etiquette always, not just when in uniform.

This idea of belonging AND representing my team well really struck home a few days ago. Whether I’m wearing my jersey or not, I’m still a part of a team and group. And I want to bring honor to the group at all times, not just when I’m riding with the colors and logo of the team.

Whether we recognize it every day or not, we all represent something bigger than us. Our families, schools, churches, teams, places of work all make up pieces of our lives and groups that we belong to. And my realization the other day was this: I belong and don’t want to misrepresent the team that is important to me. I want to build the team up at ALL times.

A side note, I think this is why social media can bring so many problems to people’s lives and why supervisors and companies care about following their staff on social media. The online world matters as much as the behind closed doors, private, offline world.

Awareness of belonging to a team and how to represent that well comes with a growth in responsibility and character. It lasts beyond taking the uniform off at the end of the day. Day-to-day, we need to be aware of how individual actions and attitudes reflect outward on those groups and organizations that we belong to, and to not let wearing a jersey or uniform change how we should be behaving and acting as representatives of our groups and teams. Even our families’ names matter… and to bring honor to our family means acting with wisdom and making daily, healthy choices that help and not hurt our families.

In the end, reflecting on belonging and who I represent matters. I don’t want any organization to be brought down because of me; I only want those I work for and with to be lifted up. As individuals a part of teams, our actions really do matter for the greater good, or downfall if we aren’t careful.

What groups are you a part of? Have you ever thought of how you represent where you work, or the teams you are a part of even when you’re not in uniform? Does this change your perspective on how you move through the world on a day-to-day basis?

When Money Works For You

Photo Cred: Joanna Nix-Walkup

I don’t know if everyone who will put eyes on this post knows the feeling of getting caught in the rat race of money or not, but if you do, then this one may be for you. You see, there is a rat race I’ve been feeling stuck on for a while and I’m slowly becoming free. It’s a financial race to get ahead of taxes and bills, in order to have enough to save, invest, and give generously. (I will preface this post by saying please check out my other post “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive” so that you understand my views on giving no matter what. There are ways to give generously no matter our financial circumstances.) But as life stands now, I’d like to give financially, in more profound ways than ever before.

Recently, last month in December 2020, I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it changed my life. Not in any outward way. My financial and living circumstances from an outsider’s perspective look the same this month as last month, but my thoughts and words around money have shifted. At some point in the book, I started believing I could be the “rich Dad” Kiyosaki talks about. I started believing I could be financially wealthy in order to get out of the rat race.

The idea that opened my eyes to this new way of thinking that has changed my perspective on money is this: Money works for ME.

Until last month when reading that book, my entire life I worked for money. I worked a job or gig and received money in return. Work, get paid. Work, get paid. Whether life guarding at pools through high school and college or becoming a sports video producer, I worked for money. But then Rich Dad, Poor Dad flipped my perspective completely on its head. In the middle of the chapter where I had this enormous “aha” I literally spoke out loud over and over, “money works for me, I don’t work for money,” till I believed it.

When money works for me, then I get to let go of pressure to perform for work. I get to let go of fear of the financial “what ifs” with taxes and bills. I get to take authority. Finances do not rule my life anymore, I rule my finances. I am in charge of how much I make, where I work, and why.

This was huge. Still is. It’s something I’ve been testing for the last few weeks and so far, fear/stress/worry has taken a backseat to the ownership I now have on a mental-emotional level with money. And it’s manifesting to the physical.

I choose where and how I spend the money I make. I’m not letting go of responsibility to things that must get taken care of financially, but I’m just way more cognizant that control is in my hands. I control when and how things get paid. I control how much enters and exits my account each month. Money works to my behalf in buying groceries. Money works to my behalf in paying bills. Money works to my behalf with creating the life I want. And it will continue to.

Taking ownership of this one concept has opened me up to now saying things like “I control my schedule; it doesn’t control me.” And “I control my time; time doesn’t control me.” These invisible entities that used to run me around and rule my life, don’t get to anymore. It’s up to me. And it has allowed me to breath a little easier the last three or so weeks since reading the book.

So, friend reading this post, let money work for you. Stop working for money. No one, and no-thing should own or control us.

No. You have skills, ideas, intelligence, interests, and accomplishments to offer the world. These are valuable first, before anyone decides what the value those things are worth on a per hour or per year basis.

You are valuable. And money is the thing that works to your favor- getting you the things you need and want in life, and perhaps out of the rat race one day soon.