Transcript: Facing your Money Monsters with Psychotherapist and Musician KJ Nasrul

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Transcript | Creatives Do Money Podcast with Eowyn Levene | Facing your Money Monsters with Psychotherapist and Musician KJ Nasrul

Eowyn Levene  0:00  

Welcome to Creatives Do Money. Each week we explore the topics of everyday money management, solo business ownership, and how we’re fueling our creative futures. I’m your host Eowyn Levene, money coach, longtime self employed massage therapist and watermelon enthusiast, and I’m on a mission to help you build the lasting financial stability that frees you up to do your creative work without hustling anxiously for the next dollar. 

Eowyn Levene  0:30  

Today’s guest is Kimberly Nasrul, and she goes by KJ. She’s a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a musician and a writer collector of stories. She is also a psychological first aid responder with extensive experience providing mental health support to families impacted by disasters, both natural and manmade. KJ is also the host of the podcast Stories of Astonishing Light. Today, we’re talking about some of the crucial core approaches we can take to facing and improving our relationship with money and finances. And we get pretty deep with it. And I’m excited to share this conversation with you full of KJ’s insight and kindness. So let’s dive in. 

Eowyn Levene  1:18  

I’m so grateful that you’re here. And I can’t wait to talk money with you.

KJ Nasrul  1:23  

Thank you so much for having me, my friend. I’m so pleased to be here.

Eowyn Levene  1:27  

Yes, I feel like this is long overdue. So you and I have had this wonderful access to each other through the podcast accelerator that we did. And I feel like now we get to go a little deeper than sweet Facebook exchanges.

KJ Nasrul  1:40  

I agree. I have felt it from the beginning, a charge and a tenderness around our interactions. And so this to me also feels like just right. overdue, but right that we’re doing it. So thank you.

Eowyn Levene  1:54  

So speaking of charge and tenderness, which I feel comes up in different ways around money, I’d love you to take us to a pivotal moment in your life. When your relationship to money and finances changes changed when there was a shift.

KJ Nasrul  2:10  

I love that segue. That was brilliant. I don’t know how else to describe my relationship with money and finances then charged and tender?

Eowyn Levene  2:24  

Yeah.

KJ Nasrul  2:25  

Oh my gosh, well, I think there were a number of pivot points. But the one that stands out for me actually just occurred this year. The way that 2020 has been a personal tragedy, I I had lost a personal somebody who was close to me earlier this year that started this year, I should have known already that this year was going to be uniquely challenging. And what what losing that friend did for me was remind me that I actually wasn’t in the business or financial positioning that I wanted to be in. And it really jumped started or reminded me that I have plans. And that included expanding my creative business and, and stepping into my creative voice which I had put in the background for now. Five, six years, I had joined a corporate position in which I wasn’t able to use my creative voice in the way that I wanted to. So what all of this did was helped me reevaluate that in order to step into my creative power, and start the expansion on my business that I basically stalled out on. That takes a shift in understanding money, and a shift in understanding my abilities to handle it. Because I had always been sort of detached, or avoidant. We could even call it 

Eowyn Levene  4:07  

Yeah. 

KJ Nasrul  4:08  

And this made me come face to face, come face to face and confront my, my everything. My charged and tender ideas around Monday, money.

Eowyn Levene  4:19  

Could you take us into some detail of what avoidance looks like for you around money? How does that what’s the day to day like when you’re in money avoidance?

KJ Nasrul  4:31  

Hmm.

Eowyn Levene  4:32  

Because I feel like there’s a lot of different ways we can avoid a given issue. 

KJ Nasrul  4:35  

Oh, it’s so true, so easy to do. Well, I probably abandoned all pretenses that balancing any sort of account formerly from when I was a teenager. And so that’s how it slipped. I’ve never actually sat down and did like a balance at the end of end of the day or end of the month. I don’t keep receipts or even if a coffee purchase, and they’d say, Do you want a receipt? No. So it was literally just not having any sort of accountability about money that I would be spending. So there’s a number of ways I could say that I avoided but that would be a concrete example. I just wouldn’t look at receipts, wouldn’t request receipts, wouldn’t balance wouldn’t balance my account.

Eowyn Levene  5:21  

Yeah. So kind of spending the money and then it’s gone. It is what it is. 

KJ Nasrul  5:26  

Yeah. 

Eowyn Levene  5:27  

And did that take you to places that were uncomfortable? And you wish you hadn’t happened? Or did you somehow cope, despite the lack of everyday conscientiousness around money?

KJ Nasrul  5:37  

I would jump into survival mode, I would cope. So if I would see or if I would get a ping alert from my my bank, in the form of a text or an email, say, Oh, hey, you, you dipped below or you You’re, you’re running close to your balance, which I did. I guess in some ways, I did have the foresight to think maybe I should put some alerts on just in case. But I am then again, it wasn’t an a daily investment. And so I would get the pings from the bank. And then I’d  be like, Oh, let me move some money around. Hmm. But then there wouldn’t really be any thought behind what I was taking from, oh, let me just move it from my savings. Just move it from my secondary secondary account that I put aside for rainy days. But was this really a rainy day moment? Probably not.

Eowyn Levene  6:31  

Yeah. And so in the course of 2020, what are some of the things that you’re putting in place for yourself? What help are you getting for yourself? And how have you been working on shifting some of that avoidance?

KJ Nasrul  6:46  

Well, one of the scariest things I ever did was reach out to a gal I met through a women’s creative cohort, she had done a little presentation to the group, about how she helps creatives work with money. And I just felt that she was absolutely speaking to me, and never have I ever reached out to anybody to speak about money. Because in the past, when I had reached out to someone, it would be someone that was close to me. And so it would be like my sister in law, or it would be like, sometimes my mother, but there was already so much weight and responsibility and judgments and conditions involved with the people that I was speaking with. I never had a neutral, non judgmental space in which I could explore. And so knowing that I didn’t, I hadn’t really known this person on a personal level. That felt safe to me. So after the presentation, she gave her contact information. And this was, this was around March. So it was right as I was making the realizations that I need to make this change. And so I thought it was actually pretty divinely timed, that Rhianna – that’s her name – that Rhianna made a presentation just as I was deciding I needed to shift. I needed help. So I emailed her, and we got on a call. And the rest is history. I’ve been working with her since since February, and it has been mind blowing. There have been conversations that involve tears, and fear, stunned, stunned discovery, but also validation. 

Eowyn Levene  8:34  

Hmm, 

KJ Nasrul  8:35  

So… so reaching out and speaking with someone who very much so specifically works around handling money, when money isn’t your thing.

Eowyn Levene  8:45  

Yeah,

KJ Nasrul  8:46  

that was really, really important to me.

Eowyn Levene  8:49  

I wonder I’m, I think, as a psychotherapist, you’re required to go through your own psychotherapy in as part of your training. Is that right? 

KJ Nasrul  8:58  

Yes. 

Eowyn Levene  8:59  

Yeah. So you’d had some experience of receiving the gift of that neutral, non judgmental space in general, but I’m curious, were there some surprises that came up for you specifically from having this more neutral space around money? I feel like I have questions about that neutral space and money. I’m just not articulating them fully, but I’m

KJ Nasrul  9:23  

I hear you

Eowyn Levene  9:24  

It’s…you’re right, that it’s such a it’s such a distinctive experience to step into a space where it feels like it’s okay to be me. It’s okay to not have it all together in this area. And yeah, it’s okay to just not have the answers, I guess. 

KJ Nasrul  9:44  

I think maybe there was some validation behind not having the answers. Rhianna would say to me “Babe, that’s why I’m here. I I do money. That’s what I that’s what I’m born to do.”  And yeah, My hope is to hold that space for you and hold some of that responsibility and pressure that you’ve been putting on yourself. It’s not your job. Your job is to be a psychotherapist and a creative. Not manage money. Yeah, well, that felt incredible. And another surprise or a realization, what did I call it, like a stunning discovery was that money actually is involved in everything.  Not in the sense that maybe we’re thinking about capitalism and cash and, but it’s literally one more channel of energy that is integrated and touches every single thing we do it, and that it’s personal, as much as I would like to say that, that the energy of money isn’t personal. I think I was trying to make that case all these years by detaching from it. 

Eowyn Levene  10:56  

Yeah. 

KJ Nasrul  10:58  

I think by actually acknowledging and then embracing the fact that it is very personal. It really made it more familiar. Yeah, less frightening.

Eowyn Levene  11:08  

Yeah. And I think there’s also there’s an invitation there because it can feel like there’s a right way and a wrong way to do money, because money you intersect with the government when it comes to money. And it just, it impacts these, you know, these foundational issues of Can I feed myself and clothe myself and put a roof over my head? Like this really kind of, like the lizard brain level of interaction that we have with the world of like, Can I keep myself safe. And so it becomes so charged. And I think by realizing that, that there are as many ways to handle money as there are people and you can completely customize it to your life, completely customize it to your interests, that there might be some habits and some tools that you can use, which are pretty basic and some version of that everyone ideally will have, but within a basic context of being aware of your money, of paying attention to it, and caring for the money in your life. Beyond that, how you do it is completely up to you and your life.

KJ Nasrul  12:19  

Yeah, absolutely. And there was something incredibly empowering about recognizing that I am an active participant and and how this energy can be utilized. And that, by me taking the power back, it lessens the scary. And I’ve shared with you I call it monsters money monsters. it lessens the fear and the scariness of these monsters for me, in fact that they don’t become monsters, but they they become more guides.

Eowyn Levene  12:51  

Yeah, sort of signs where things are out of balance and need attention.

KJ Nasrul  12:54  

Absolutely. They are begging for me to pay attention to them and converse with them and, and come from a place of curiosity, not from a place of judgment and fear. If something is tingling over here, and the Money Monster is kind of popping up in my periphery. I know now to look up instead of avert my gaze and look, you know, just ignore that he’s over here dancing. Right now. I’ll look up. Now I’ll look up and be like you have something you’re trying to tell me. You have a reminder for me? Yeah, let’s sit down and chat. Yeah, that is a huge departure from how I used to deal with any sort of insecurities or, or discomfort around money.

Eowyn Levene  13:44  

I love that description of money monsters for me for the longest time for it began in 2007. So this is specifically credit card debt. Previous to 2007 when I… how old was I then? I was 30 in 2007. Is that right? Yeah, that’s right. So at age 30, having used it but never really been in debt previously, like I had used credit cards, a small amount when I was in college, but thanks to the support my parents, it was never an issue. But then it was at age 30 that I really started to get into trouble. Then came this 10 year process of getting seriously into credit card debt, clawing my way out again, and then due to life adventures, finding my way back in again, clearing that and then again, finding myself there and finally realizing, okay, there’s something in my approach here, which is not sufficient or not the right thing. And it wasn’t until I really did face that monster that just kept creeping in. It wasn’t until I shifted something and it was that repetition that cycle that just kept returning that was really what prompted me to get just more serious and more aware and more conscientious, more intentional.  And that’s that’s when it really shifted finally.

KJ Nasrul  15:09  

Oh, absolutely. what you just described there, the becoming intentional. That’s everything. And that’s the, the antithesis of what I just described to you. My, my last, you know, 40 years have been in working with money is that Oh, avoid it, don’t address it. Don’t look it in the eye. And then now that shift of Hold on, let’s have a conversation. Let’s see if that informs the way that I’m going to decide how to respond to it. That tension is massive. Yeah.

Eowyn Levene  15:43  

So I’m curious what… I understand the impact of losing someone important to you. And that really prompting you to, to just say, Okay, it’s time to really go after what I want to build my own thing. And but I’m curious if there was something specific about the prospect of self employment and having your own business that… was it the potential variability there, the uncertainty that comes from not knowing how much you’re going to make, when to a certain degree? Was that some of what came up for you, when you realize that you needed to really tackle the money thing?

KJ Nasrul  16:21  

Yes. All those wonderful, wonderful, the way that you articulated it, that is so lovely, because the way I’m saying, the reason why I’m saying that is because to be quite honest, there was this literal, dark phrase that dropped into my head. When I learned that my friend had died. Two thoughts. The first was, Oh, fuck, I have to leave this job. Hmm. And the second thought was, because this job is actually killing people. 

Eowyn Levene  16:54  

Wow. 

KJ Nasrul  16:55  

Yeah. So what you said is absolutely true. There was this like, oh, but what about and what about the security of? And how are you going to do that? No, none of that. Yeah, until after I just said, I have got to leave this position. It could actually kill me.

Eowyn Levene  17:12  

It was a really visceral response.

KJ Nasrul  17:14  

Very.  My entire body clenched, I began weeping. And then I actually felt like I could breathe a little bit because I acknowledged the pain out loud. I had been feeling unhappy and unsatisfied for some time. But when when I heard the news, it was an afternoon I was at work. I heard the news of my friends passing. And she and I were colleagues for years together. I said, Oh, my God, this job killed Christine. This job killed my friend, it is killing people I have got to leave. And the irony of it all, or is it irony is the fact that I’m a health care worker, and I didn’t feel healthy, I didn’t feel safe. And I thought if I stay in an in an unhealthy, unsafe environment for much longer than it could be killing me, it’s killing me now. And I also knew, because I’ve had this tiny sort of private, it not sort of, I’ve had a tiny private practice for over 10 years. It was just always there. I never put the energy or the shift into it, because I truly believed it was just a side hustle, like, see how I diminished it. And that’s when I said that is not a side hustle. That is what I’m to be doing. And and I just got to the place where I realized that I have drifted so off my path. I had started this practice 10 years ago, and it was doing well. And then I put it on the back burner, because I thought, I need to appease the money monsters, I need to make sure that I had the security, I have the consistency. I have bills to pay. And at the time my husband had been off and on and unemployment. I knew that one of us had to be making an income.

Eowyn Levene  18:59  

Yeah. And I think when there’s a lot of avoidance around money, it’s really easy to latch on to the question of income. How much income or variability of income and feel like the income is the answer. It’s totally understandable. Yeah.

KJ Nasrul  19:14  

That’s what happened in January, February.

Eowyn Levene  19:19  

Where do you feel like some of your money monsters came from?

KJ Nasrul  19:22  

I have people in situations and conversations that I can literally pinpoint it to. I grew up in an environment where money was never talked about. So it was very easy to avoid, avoid talking about it, or even acknowledging it. And so in a culture where it’s never ever brought up, this seems quite natural and simple for me to continue this way.

Eowyn Levene  19:46  

Yeah, I feel like this. There’s so much scope for imagination and these topics that we don’t talk about at all. I mean, the three that I always think about is sex and death and money. And I mean, there’s a podcast named after those three things, specifically with the goal of talking about them is actually a wonderful podcast

KJ Nasrul  20:05  

I was going to say, I have to check that out! that’s fantastic.

Eowyn Levene  20:07  

Yeah, I think it’s death, sex and money. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to it. I sort of go through phases with podcasts where I’ll listen to a bunch and then I’ll move on to something else. There’s only so much listening time available. So but, you know, these subjects that aren’t considered appropriate everyday conversation and that feel charged and tender, those conversations when we’re not having them, it’s Yeah, it’s so easy to just follow your inner demons get distracted by your money monsters, or led astray by them. And it’s really necessary to bring things to the light if they’re going to stay healthy. And it just, it’s so understandable that if it’s never spoken about, or it’s only spoken about in nonverbal, non clear, non generous, non thoughtful ways, I think I do think we receive messages whether or not there are open conversations about a topic.

KJ Nasrul  21:02  

Yeah, I’m thinking sex money death. 

Transcript | Creatives Do Money Podcast with Eowyn Levene | Facing your Money Monsters with Psychotherapist and Musician KJ Nasrul

Eowyn Levene  21:05  

Yeah. 

KJ Nasrul  21:06  

And I can… I can honestly attach some of the messaging I’ve received over the years that would that would validate that or support those those realms. 

Eowyn Levene  21:16  

Yeah. 

KJ Nasrul  21:17  

It’s about fear of fear of not having. And then the relationships with the people who believe these things or have taught me these things. A,

Eowyn Levene  21:31  

yeah, those primary relationships, that gets mixed in with the topic itself. 

KJ Nasrul  21:36  

Yeah. 

Eowyn Levene  21:38  

So for the person listening, what are some of the ways we can invite ourselves to notice those patterns that have developed over the years that come to us from our primary caregivers, or whatever our situation was when we were growing up? What are some ways to explore that that are safe and helpful?

KJ Nasrul  21:59  

Hmm. really trust my physical and visceral reactions. You had mentioned it that when I explained to you that I knew I needed to make the shift. I know, yeah, I feel it in my body. So some of it is going to sound extremely, maybe simple, or maybe not maybe too scary. The way I would recommend people take a look at how money sits with you. And these conversations, these topics fall with you is to stop and actually listen, and maybe start initiating conversations with people you feel safe with first, and that, like I explained, it can’t necessarily doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be your loved ones or your family members. Yeah. Right. So I started to pay attention to how I felt after I had a conversation even with somebody that I loved very much. So when I sat down with my sister in law, and I found myself feeling very defensive. When we started to just look at a couple of the purchases that I’ve made, we started to just jot down and have a little bit of an awareness of what my expenses were, what my expenditures were in one day. And then as I mentioned, we may not even realize that between the coffee that I have in the morning, the lunch that I grabbed in between meetings, and the gas I needed to put in the car or whatever. Yeah, how that adds up. And so maybe just starting with one day, jotting down and noticing what you do with your money, and then having a conversation with somebody you feel safe with who might be neutral. Like I said, I found Rihanna because she was someone I wasn’t reacting to. I knew she didn’t know my history. Or somebody…. somebody that’s a little more removed than, say, your sister or your your parents or your spouse. Somebody that might have a little more experience with it. That may be a good place to start.

Eowyn Levene  24:04  

Yeah. Yeah. And I think in discussion with someone, you know, obviously, it depends on your makeup. But I think in conversation with someone, you realize things that you just didn’t even know were there. Yeah. Or that validation of Yeah, it’s okay. Or Yes, this is normal. The question is, do you like where it takes you? Or do you want to do something different? And then how would you do that? Mm hmm. Yeah. So just talking with someone and bringing some awareness to those day to day transactions.

KJ Nasrul  24:34  

Yeah, and even before, if you clench up in your throat or in your tummy gets butterflies when you think about actually talking to somebody about it. Note it like that’s the number one step is noticing where the charges are, where you’re reacting, because there’s something there. There’s something there, there’s a story there, what’s that about and if that means just jotting it down. Even if you don’t have the words for it, but if you have a notebook or some place that you can jot down a voice memo on your phone and just be like, it is, you know, December 2, it’s 12 o’clock lunchtime. I’m here at Blue Bottle coffee. I’m finding myself having these feelings, but just note what’s happening right now, even if you don’t understand it, or have a solution for it, but observing it observing first, and then that’s a really good starting place.

Eowyn Levene  25:32  

Yeah, I like that a lot. And it’s grounding as well. I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine today. And we met up in the park. And he said, How are you? And I realized that I, that question puts me into somewhat of a dissociated space, I have trouble knowing who I am what I did for the last three months, anything that might be relevant to that answer. It’s like it disappears in an explosion and I’m left there just going “eeeb, uhbuh. ahhhh…”  You know, and all they did was ask me how I am. 

KJ Nasrul  26:07  

Yeah. 

Eowyn Levene  26:08  

And yes, it’s kind of a profound question on a certain level.

KJ Nasrul  26:11  

It is. 

Eowyn Levene  26:12  

Yeah, it’s not, there are of course layers to it. But on the other. On the other hand, I feel like I shouldn’t go, I shouldn’t turn into a blob or it. It’s surprising to me that that question turns me into a blob. The only reason I’m referring to this is just that for some people, money causes them to enter that state as well, where they just feel completely non functional, and they can’t think clearly about anything. And they’re just, they’re just kind of stuck and all over the place. And so I feel like your suggestion to whether it’s writing or recording a voice memo, some version of just bringing yourself into the present moment, and grounding into your body by saying, okay, when, when this is going on, I am feeling these things in my body, simply just grounding into your body helps bring you back to yourself, when you’ve turned into this like weird muddy explosion of I don’t know what…

KJ Nasrul  27:05  

That is so brilliant that you said that… there are so many things I want to react to in your response.

Eowyn Levene  27:11  

Well luckily, this is a three hour recording.

KJ Nasrul  27:13  

Ha ha.  You always have a way of touching exactly, exactly the point. You get right to it. I love that. You really do.

Eowyn Levene  27:26  

Maybe its because I’m very impatient person.

KJ Nasrul  27:29  

Whatever it is, I’m responding to it with like a Yes,

Eowyn Levene  27:32  

yeah. So tell me what are some of those things that come up for you?

KJ Nasrul  27:35  

I, well I have… So I mentioned my sister in law as somebody that I adore. But she was really one of the first people that I tried to have a conversation with, didn’t go over well, because I literally did what you just described, I went blob, I think we just were looking at like the first page of my statements, my bank statement online. And she’s just started to look at it. And then she asked one question, I don’t even remember the question now. But it sent me into a tailspin. And I physically like backed away from her and crossed my arms. And she went, Whoa. She’s like, wow, this What,what,what happened here? Like I said, I don’t even know what the triggering question was, it might have been just like, Why this? You know, I know. So I went there. And I have had a moment of let me actually, let me see. Let me see what’s happening here. That might have made the entire difference, but I actually shut it down. And we did not discuss money again that day, and ever again. As people..

KJ Nasrul  28:51  

The reaction I had about when you said, Oh, a voice memo, that’s a great idea or journaling. There’s this amazing voice memo app called Voxer. That is essentially like a walkie talkie talkie app, it’s for free, everyone should check it out. And it’s voice memos. Instead of doing even texts, or a phone call, it’s just short bursts of thought is recorded and can be sent either to yourself or to somebody else. And so I have found that just voc doing a voxer memo, in a moment, if it’s to a friend or if it’s to myself, has relieved everything. Just putting it in a container, bringing it back so that it’s not blobby, but bringing it into a specific container and I can go back and listen to it. And if I choose to there’s a witness to it as well to be accountable. So not only am I accountable but I just Voxer my friend faith. Faith also could be like hey, how’s that going for you? I heard the breakdown earlier.  “you all right?” So that’s that the entire concept, like you said, is really about coming back, coming back to focusing in the here and now to yourself. And then it also brings in accountability as well. Yeah. So that was my reaction to all of that. 

Eowyn Levene  30:17  

Yeah, 

KJ Nasrul  30:18  

yes, I know exactly what you speak of!

Eowyn Levene  30:20  

Yeah. It’s so interesting how these recurring themes come up. So we touched briefly on intentionality at the beginning of our conversation. And I think that plays in here as well. In order to be intentional, you have to be in yourself, you have to be aware and in touch of what you want for yourself what you want for the world what you want for the next five minutes or week. You know, you need to you need to be present with yourself with the current state and potential future states and how you navigate between those two things. And, and I think that, yeah, we do we have to be in our bodies, and we have to be present. Otherwise, we’re never we’re never really going to tap into intentional living in the way that we want,  that we might want to

KJ Nasrul  31:09  

Exactly.  There’s a participation. We need to be active participants. Yes. In this to happen. manifestation is wonderful, but also clearing the space for inviting it, knowing it, acknowledging it, that is just as important. Yeah, in the process.

Eowyn Levene  31:28  

Yeah. And I think being able to show up for the hard experiences, as well as the wonderful ones. It’s, you know, just staying present for the difficult stuff. I think that’s one of our major or major lessons to learn in life. 

KJ Nasrul  31:43  

Absolutely. Absolutely.  Um… In the same way that money can scare me or has intimidated me. So as do spreadsheets.

Eowyn Levene  31:53  

Ha ha.  Even if you’re not using them for money, stuff?

KJ Nasrul  31:58  

Even if I’m not using them for money stuff. But especially when you have to get it all out there naked in the columns, in very easily read exposes.  And so I just recently started to create my budget with the help of Rhianna. And we were doing it on a spreadsheet, nearly had a meltdown over doing it. But in the end, we’d like discussed it for like a half an hour I was putting in, in in values in each column and on the line, which was so against what I ever do. I’m all swirls. I’m, I’m never columns and lines. And so at the end of it, I hear from Rihanna, she goes, I’m proud of you. Yeah, that was hard.

Eowyn Levene  32:53  

Yes.  Ha ha.

KJ Nasrul  32:55  

I was like, yeah, I’m shivering. And I was like, Yes, I was, but I did not hang up. I did not Yes. But I did it. And I’m willing to go back now and continue to do it.

Eowyn Levene  33:08  

Yeah. One of my biggest realizations as I learn how to do money coaching, you know, it’s one thing to know how to do something in your life. It’s another thing to help somebody else do it in theirs. So part of my process this year has been learning how to do that, you know, friends of mine and acquaintances have generously showed up to just say, all right, show me what you got. And I have been learning how to help them. But one of my biggest surprises as somebody who’s been budgeting for a few years now and it’s turned into a regulating practice for me where I feel like it brings me into myself, it soothes me It Like It gives me comfort to do my budget, believe it or not, and I avoided budgeting for 12 years like stringently avoided it I just never wanted that kind of restriction, which it’s not restriction. But that’s another conversation. Yeah. But yeah, so it’s a regulating experience for me, like I feel great when I sit down and crunch my numbers. And doesn’t matter how much income is available, either. It’s just the process of doing it. But the biggest surprise for me is having forgotten the process that I went through, and being a person who was already comfortable crunching numbers. So I love spreadsheets, and I’ve been super into spreadsheets for years. So even though I wasn’t budgeting, I’ve been very comfortable with numbers. I worked as a bookkeeper, I was an administrator. So that kind of like organizational stuff came easily to me when I decided to start budgeting. And so the thing that I’m round about-  speaking of swirls – I’m getting to this following point which I thought I would need a one hour session to introduce people to a budget template that they could then go off and use right. So I think that sounds laughable Now when I say that out loud, but when I was kind of planning out my 12 program, I was like, okay, we’re gonna work through this and work through this and work through this. And then as I worked, as I approach the topic with each client, I discovered that actually, we needed three or four sessions to really get down into what are the different components of looking at, this is how much money I have to play with, here are my obligations, here is my intention in terms of savings and debt. And here’s how I’m gonna I’m going to navigate between the income that I have and the intentions and my obligations like that process. It took a lot of time for them to come to the point where they could feel comfortable and confident in using the system partly because of this blobbiness that comes in. You know, yeah, yeah. It’s been a really valuable experience for me. I’m super grateful for the people that have walked with me through this learning experience. Because there’s been some surprises on my part. And that was really one of them that there is a huge internal shift required to just get comfortable with what seems like a somewhat prosaic thing, which is crunching some numbers in a spreadsheet. 

KJ Nasrul  36:07  

Yeah. Yeah. Oh!

Eowyn Levene  36:10  

I just talked a lot. Okay. 

KJ Nasrul  36:11  

You Did, But you know, 

Eowyn Levene  36:12  

I want you to talk some more

KJ Nasrul  36:13  

Oh no, I followed you all the way and I’m just actually holding it because that…that feels so good to me. I’m actually doing a little pat on…pat on my own back, too, because I understood what you were saying. I was getting when you and I was like yes. Oh, yeah. budgets, spreadsheets. Okay. It used to just freakin scare the hell out of me. But now 

Eowyn Levene  36:36  

And you’re still here. 

KJ Nasrul  36:38  

I didn’t just bail. I just didn’t like “peace out!”

Eowyn Levene  36:46  

Yeah, staying present and not bailing, not bailing.

KJ Nasrul  36:51  

I really loved how you said that it grounds you you find this peace and satisfaction with with identifying the numbers. And it really what it is, is the foundation and you can swirl and blob off, if you know where you’re coming back to. 

Eowyn Levene  37:08  

That’s true. 

KJ Nasrul  37:09  

So I can get that I understand that. I also can understand on a very, very personal level that like, yeah, I’ve got $2 in my account that I’m looking at. But it’s $2 above zero, you know, dollars under or more. It’s still above zero. So there’s some accomplishments, some some wins there. I am becoming more comfortable with it. Oh, it’s very new to be comfortable with it for me this year. Like I said, I can really pinpoint it to just earlier this year. And then because of the pandemic so. So Christine passed at the end of January, the funeral services and the memorials were in February. And then guess what brought, you know, guess what March brought? Yeah. So there was no time to retreat back or bounce back to before this realization. Like, there were more and more validations and a call a call to action, and accountability, because of what was going on in the world. I couldn’t, I couldn’t hide or avoided anymore. We were forced to work from home and work remotely. And I said I wanted a shift. I wanted something different in my job. Oh, I got it, you know. And so it really helped me examine and re allocate the time I was willing to put into being accountable about these new realizations I made in you how I’m going to start this business or expand on the business that I started and abandoned years ago. And I had actually nothing but time to be honest with myself. I don’t know what this next month is going to bring.  We’re…we’re living on a day to day status right now, in this country. In our world. I don’t want to waste any time not being at least an active participant, as we talked about. Yeah, in the decision that I’m going to make and how I’m going to show up in the world.

Eowyn Levene  39:16  

And staying present with all of that. Yeah, I I really love these themes that are coming up. Let’s talk a little bit about this blossoming business of 2020 of yours. So we’ve spoken some about your personal relationship to money. And so I’m interested in what’s been coming up for you around growing the business, whether money related or not, how’s it going?

KJ Nasrul  39:41  

It’s going wonderfully, with all all extremes and landscapes. I had. It was just yesterday, actually, that I opened up and began actively began my A Life Coaching Program, which is creativity and compassion. And it’s in the form of a series of workshops. And I’m offering it all through December. But yesterday was the very first day it was day one. So hitting record, yeah, I’m feeling so relieved and so triumphant at the same time, I hit record, I did a live session, I had a guest speaker in and for an hour, we spoke about all the things that we as healers and creatives need to do in order to be present and self compassionate, so that we can be compassionate with others in the work that we do. And that blows my mind when I think about it, because like, I had this idea in February ish of this this year of expanding my business. And then yesterday, I launched a whole new workshop and program series. So it took about 10 months, but it happened, and it happened fairly quickly. 

KJ Nasrul  40:57  

And then only for a brief moment did I think that I struggled a little bit with my price points, my price tiers for my services. Because the reason why it didn’t become a huge issue is because what you spoke about earlier is about how how actually speaking to the specifics, and the numbers and the spreadsheets, that you can’t argue with math. So when I think about how what I charge for an hourly rate, and then if I’m offering essentially 15 hours of my time, what does that number come to? I mean, it’s just math. And so there was a part of me that’s just like, no, I that’s exactly what I charge. And yeah, anyone who would understand that this is a health care service this that this is a service that they that they specifically would want to need, and compare it to other health care services. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. So there wasn’t a moment, or there was only a moment, I would say where I was just like, really? Am I gonna actually put that dollar amount as my worth? Yeah, the value? Yeah, services, but then I was like, men enough. Let’s add this up. That makes perfect sense. Yeah. And so that was a big, wonderful win and surprise. So overall, my love, the business is going very well.

Eowyn Levene  42:14  

I’m so glad to hear that. Yeah, it’s it’s a very tricky thing to set. I think that when you’re dealing with hourly rates, there is some expansion there where you get comfortable with the number that you tell people that you charge what your fears. So there’s a process to go through there, which you had to build on. But then once you do some kind of a wider service for multiple people, it gets a bit more tricky. You’re like, Alright, now how do I how do I figure this out, and you found a practical way to do it, it’s much clearer if you have a product, which you know, there’s specific time and materials that go into the product, and you can factor on from there. Although that’s not always so simple, either. But it’s an interesting process to go through this question of pricing, because often we do conflate our personal value with what we charge. It’s important to remember that, you know, someone who gets paid $6 an hour to wait tables plus tips, their human value is exactly the same as the highest paid CEO, but we get so mixed up with money and value and personal worth. 

KJ Nasrul  43:22  

Thank you. Thank you. Absolutely. I actually just had a conversation with a friend of ours, a mutual friend of ours Fawn, around value associated to service. And then I had made that exact point of how I was a waitress for for many, many years, I was a food server. And I may have learned just as much if not more about human psychology as a server than I did when I was in grad school. Working on my PHD. 

Eowyn Levene  43:51  

I bet 

KJ Nasrul  43:52  

Right? Where I was just like, oh, so basically, when you when you’re hungry, you feel that you can speak to me, or fellow human being that way, because you’re hungry, and then not tip me or be like, are you kidding me with a $6? sandwich? You know? So I mean, there were so many lessons. So that’s what Fawn and I were speaking about, which was like, well, like you said, what, how, how are we associating value in this way? And Doesn’t that seem a little off? Yeah, so I stopped doing that. I stopped saying this is actually this is actually a price tag for me. I knew better. I knew better than to do that. So. But the money monsters do come up just about every day where someone who isn’t quite conceptualizing in the same way would be like, really, that’s what you’re charging?

Eowyn Levene  44:46  

Ah, so you’ve had those kinds of responses?

KJ Nasrul  44:48  

Yeah. But not from…it’s interesting, not from any of my clients. It’s from my beloved my beloved’s who actually also wear the costume of Money Monster sometimes.

Eowyn Levene  45:01  

Yeah, and it’s it’s tricky. I think the people that we’re close to, there’s so much inter weaving of our personal relationship that it’s, it can be hard to value what a person offers professionally when you know them. Personally, I haven’t had this happen to me, but I do know a lot of massage therapists who, especially at the beginning of their journey, they they would just get constant requests for discounts. And oh, can you see my friend for free? Or I don’t know what… like this… There’s just kind of a mixing up that comes with knowing people personally. So it’s an I guess, appropriate that it came up maybe from personal circles?

KJ Nasrul  45:38  

It’s tricky. Oh!

Eowyn Levene  45:40  

It is tricky.  But it sounds like you stood your ground and you explained your reasoning to whatever degree felt appropriate, or how was it to respond to them? I guess I should, I should ask not assume,

KJ Nasrul  45:50  

Well, that’s how I was able to use the language and describing it to you I actually met when I met that person in the logical space before they would understand. So I said, you know, it’s this is my hourly. And so but I’m actually offering a discount when you think about it, in this group session in this group offer. So it’s actually a discount. And when I when I said it like that, they were like, Oh, yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. So it appealed to that logically minded? Yeah.

Eowyn Levene  46:27  

Well, and value is so subjective. I mean, again, I’m thinking about massage for someone to whom massage is not important, or part of their life. I mean, most of my clients come in for a 90 minute session, and I charge $175 for a 90 minute session. So there’s plenty of plenty of people on this earth, but either couldn’t afford it, or would just think that’s utter nonsense to pay so much money for massage, which to them doesn’t mean very much. And so there’s a lot of subjectivity weaving its way in.

KJ Nasrul  46:58  

Absolutely. You and I are very similar in that sense in that the services that we offer our healing services, but to whom would someone value emotional wellness, on the same lines as they do physical wellness? Yeah, right. Or, like you’d said, massage? Really? Is that is that is that what the value is? The running value is and I’m sitting here going? makes total sense to me. I think it’s worth that’s what I hope, because, yeah, I know the value for me, having a having an outlet and a body practitioner, work with me, that will be valuable to me that it’s important to me.

Eowyn Levene  47:42  

So let’s pivot a bit in our conversation. I’d love to know based on your in the trenches experience in 2020, of getting to know your money self and facing your money, monsters… What would you share with another creative, likely who works for themself, who is still in the state of wanting to avoid everything and wondering how they’re going to get better with money? Where would you have them start? What would you recommend? So we’ve already touched on, you know, speaking with someone and some awareness practices, is there anything else that you would share that’s helpful at the very beginning in particular?

KJ Nasrul  48:23  

Maybe it’s just in reiterating how important it is to first start where you are.

Eowyn Levene  48:31  

Say more about that. What does it mean to start where you are?

KJ Nasrul  48:36  

In that example, where I shared about having a strong swirling rate blobby reaction to my sister in law, when Yeah, just took like two minutes to see what my my bank expenses were, for, like a day or whatever it was, it was a very short amount of time. I think we already – and this could be because of the assistance of the monsters that we know and the messages that we’ve we’ve inherited. But if like I said, If I had actually stopped and noticed my own reaction, in that moment, I think it would have been a very different, very different conclusion. 

Eowyn Levene  49:16  

Got it. 

KJ Nasrul  49:17  

So for anyone who’s also in that avoidant place and in that may be stuck or scared or just paralyzed place to be gentle with it. Be gentle.  Aknowledge that there does not have to be any more shaming or judgment attached to it from yourself on top of everything else that’s there. And overreacting probably because we think, Oh, this is what so and so is going to be thinking about me, but what about yourself, ask yourself and just notice that is a completely normal and human reaction that we’re having and being kind, not shutting down or not judging self, or not using that as a reason to not continue to…umm.

Eowyn Levene  50:09  

And not shoulding all over ourselves. I should be this, I should be that. why aren’t I further along?

KJ Nasrul  50:14  

Exactly, exactly. The last thing you need is one more should on top of your pile of shoulds. And it shouldn’t be here, I’m doing it, it’d be, it’s even harder that it’s your own. So don’t be that be the one person on your side, be the person that’s going to be gentle with wherever you are. So where you are right now is just fine.  Acknowledge that.

Eowyn Levene  50:40  

Yeah

KJ Nasrul  50:42  

I don’t know if that’s being.  I don’t know, if that’s articulating. in a way,

Eowyn Levene  50:49  

I think some of what you’re touching on with this principle of “start where you are, and be kind to yourself” is also letting baby steps be okay. And avoiding too much perfectionist thinking.  When I was in high school, I would go out and I would force myself to miserably run a mile. And then maybe six months later, I would, you know, come out of the shame spiral I had gone into because I couldn’t run properly, and then force myself to run another mile, and then never run again, because I sort of had this vision of what a runner is. And it was in complete contrast to who I was at the time, which is a highly academic musician that was not in any kind of shape to run a mile, let alone every day, a week or whatever. Whatever the ridiculous notion was that I had ahead of myself, that is what I was aiming for. And so throughout the course of my adult life, I have gotten to the point where now if I go through a period without running, I go back to running for 15 seconds, and walking for 45. And starting with doing that for maybe a mile or two, and then building my way back up to being able to run at whatever level feels appropriate to my body now. And I’ve, I’ve almost gotten to the point where if I have a period where I don’t run for a while and I get back into it, there’s no longer that self flagellation, of why didn’t I keep it up? Or why aren’t I further along?  or I don’t know what. And I think allowing ourselves to take little tiny steps in the direction we want to go and being kind to ourselves around whatever grand ideas we have about what we should be… Yeah…. is more of what you’re talking about.

KJ Nasrul  52:36  

Absolutely. And in the same vein of using the metaphor for running, not even a metaphor just to be a… to train and condition yourself on anything on any new skill. We could treat this, like we’re learning a new skill. You don’t expect someone coming out the gate, a complete expert, there’s going to be these sideways and baby steps. I had a very similar experience when I started running myself just like two or three years ago. Because I never really was a runner, I was a swimmer. I did dance, I did other things, but I never actually ran. And I did that by building up and doing the Okay, run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes, and then oh, run for one minute, you know, and while that might seem miniscule, one minute is still double where I started out, you know. So similarly with exercising and conditioning the muscles and the new skill around familiarity, and in budgeting and in managing money.

Eowyn Levene  53:45  

Yeah, for sure. And it’s also this thing that if you do if you do the beginnings regularly, it’ll take you so much further than an initial stab at doing everything all at once. You know, for a lot of people being good with money means they have a huge amount of investments, or they track their net worth every month or their their various sort of complex financial activities that people often associate with being quote unquote good with money. Whereas actually, it can be as simple as nine times out of 10, you save your receipts, and nine times out of 10. You write your receipts down or you put them in your spreadsheet, whatever it is, but just kind of imperfectly doing the small things is so much more powerful than never attaining the great financial goals that you might have. 

KJ Nasrul  54:33  

That’s right. That’s right. It’s building the habit. It’s building the muscles for long term success. And maintenance, instead of setting yourself for setting yourself up for a crash and burn. It’s doomed from the beginning in a way, but these tiny increments, yeah, so much more powerful. 

Eowyn Levene  54:52  

Yeah, and it’s that practice that now allows you to sit down with a spreadsheet in a way that you couldn’t before.

KJ Nasrul  54:53  

Yeah, exactly, at least pull it out but 

Eowyn Levene  55:02  

Maybe not love every minute. 

KJ Nasrul  55:03  

I don’t love it.  I might still cry. But I don’t peace out after two seconds.  I’ll sit with it.

Eowyn Levene  55:11  

Oh my goodness. Well, it’s been such a treat to speak with you.

KJ Nasrul  55:15  

I’ve loved this. Who would have known that I would love speaking about money. I’ve loved conversing with you about it. 

Eowyn Levene  55:25  

Likewise.Yeah. if folks want to know more about you and your work with healing the healers, where do they go to find out more?

KJ Nasrul  55:33  

Let’s see, I’d say two main places right now. You can find me on Instagram at – I have a couple places – but you can start with @blissbeginswithin and I have a secondary more, it’s more personal and a little more casual account @musingsonother. And then my website is www.blissbeginswithin.com

Eowyn Levene  55:54  

I love that. And side note your most recent Instagram post about you had a picture of sort of like this big cave with a light at the end or some kind of cave like something or other. And just talking about bringing the light from within. And I think that ties right back into what we’ve touched on about staying present with ourselves and being kind with ourselves.

KJ Nasrul  56:17  

It starts it starts with our own modeling, and our own acceptance and compassion.

Eowyn Levene  56:22  

Hmmm.  Thank you so much.

KJ Nasrul  56:24  

Thank you.

Eowyn Levene  56:28  

Special thanks to Michael P. Atkinson for help with producing this episode and for composing it’s beautiful music. If you enjoyed listening today, I hope you’ll return and tell your creative friends and colleagues about it. And also to take a moment to leave a review wherever it is that you listen. positive reviews make a huge difference in getting the word out about creatives to money. And in the meantime, wishing you all money, business and life success, whatever that means to you.

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