4 Minutes 4 Hard Times – Necessary Losses

Last week I asked if 4 minutes was too long. Response was mixed, so I’ll start with a quick summary and if you want to go deeper, more follows.

 (1 minute version)

 In her book, Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst discusses the “loves, illusions, dependencies, and impossible expectations that all of us have to give up in order to grow.”

Viorst writes,

In the course of our life we leave and are left and let go of much that we love. Losing is the price we pay for living. It is also the source of much of our growth and gain. Making our way from birth to death, we also have to make our way through the pain of giving up and giving up and giving up some portion of what we cherish.

We have to deal with our necessary losses.

We should understand how these losses are linked to our gains.

For in leaving the blurred-boundary bliss of mother-child oneness, we become a conscious, unique and separate self, exchanging the illusion of absolute shelter and absolute safety for the triumphant anxieties of standing alone.

And in bowing to the forbidden and the impossible, we become a moral, responsible, adult self, discovering—within the limitations imposed by necessity—our freedoms and choices.

And in giving up our impossible expectations, we become a lovingly connected self, renouncing ideal visions of perfect friendship, marriage, children, family life for the sweet imperfections of all-too-human relationships.

And in confronting the many losses that are brought by time and death, we become a mourning and adapting self, finding at every stage—until we draw our final breath—opportunities for creative transformations.

(3 more minutes)

There is plenty we have to give up in order to grow. For we cannot deeply love anything without becoming vulnerable to loss. And we cannot become separate people, responsible people, connected people, reflective people without some losing and leaving and letting go.


So there we have it. Times in our lives will hurt us. But because of that hurt we will stretch and grow and be more than we were. Like my Grandma used to say as she rocked me, “This too shall pass.”

We might regain what we lost, but more likely we will grieve and hurt and then learn something along the way. We will deepen our character. The more we grow, the greater our peace and happiness can be in this life, as well as in the next.

Here are some times in our lives when we must let go, followed by what we will gain by doing so:

Childhood’s End

Saint-Exupery writes, “To be a man, a woman, an adult is to accept responsibility.” We make and keep commitments. We don’t blame our current lives on our childhood. We give up a belief that we can be kept safe and receive instead the freedom and responsibility to make our own choices. We accept reality, and with it accept that we don’t get special treatment, absolute control, compensation for past loss, or perfect companions.

The Married State

We learn that no person can meet all our expectations all of the time, nor can some expectations ever be met. Our spouse can’t make us be happy, heal all our hurts from the past, or fill all our needs. Those unfulfilled expectations are necessary losses in order to truly love our less-than-perfect spouses.


Letting Children Go

In parenting we fear our imperfect love will harm our children, or we will fail to keep them safe. Facing our fallibility as parents is another of our necessary losses. We must let our children become steadily more independent and let go of them and our dreams for them. It is also through parenting that we accept that some things we wanted from our own parents we will never receive. We learn to give thanks for imperfect connections.

The Loss of Youth –

Time will repeatedly force us to relinquish our self image and move on. We travel stages of our adulthood and must move out of times of stability into times of transition. We leave youth and health behind. We lose abilities and strengths. We let go of dreams as we realize we’ll never accomplish them all. Yet we gain experience, inner depth, acceptance of others, patience, and self-control. We move from body preoccupation to body transcendence. We move from identifying ourselves by what we do or whom we parent to who we are. We can become an integrated whole, accepting our weaknesses along with our strengths.

The Loss of our Loved Ones –

Mourning is the process of adapting to the losses in our lives. We travel through and revisit stages of numbness, denial, intense emotional pain, bargaining, anger, guilt, and idealizing whom or what we lost. But as we find our way through the mourning and learn to let go of our pain, we can come to acceptance.

Accepting our Mortality –

By letting go of our pretense that we will live forever, we acknowledge the importance of the present. We live enriched lives, knowing that each day is vital. We make the most of the present to find a way to leave a legacy to the world for the future.

 So yes, being alive means we will suffer loss. But the loss will open us to new possibilities. Jesus lost his life, but by doing so, regained for us the Kingdom of God. He rose to new life so that we will, too. In that life, there will be no loss.

Blessings on you and on your week!

Betty Arrigotti

To read more:

Viorst, Judith (1998). Necessary Losses. Simon & Schuster.

4 Minutes 4 Hard Times – Gratitude Attitude

I’ve heard from some of you that you are behind in the 4 minute posts, so this one will be very short; it should only take one minute.

 What is the best (and perhaps hardest) thing to do when times are very difficult? Choose gratitude.

  • I may not have as much money as I want, but thank you, God, that I have enough for today. (And enough that I can share with those who have less?)


  • I may feel desperately lonely, but thank you, God, for loving me always. (And for all the people who have loved me.)


  • I may not be as healthy as I was, but thank you, God, that I can breathe. (If I can do more, like see/hear/walk/move, I am blessed indeed).


  • I may be confused about my future, but thank you, God, that I can think. (And pray and analyze and read and make decisions.)


  • I may feel stressed to the point of breaking, but thank you, God, that you know and care and want me to rest in you.


Rest in God for 15 seconds. Close your eyes. Breathe in your thanks and breathe out your fears.

That’s all for today. Rest. Thank God. Breathe. If you miss having 4 minute posts, rest in God longer, or read this 3 more times!  😉

 Blessings on you and on your week!

Betty Arrigotti

 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

4 Minutes 4 Hard Times – Financial Fix

            Did you undertake any tips for reducing worry and fear from last week’s 4 Minutes 4 Hard Times post? You might want to try some deep breathing now, because the topic of the week is money. Please note that I am not a financial expert, and even the experts quoted below don’t know your particular circumstances. The advice below is general.

 Today’s first points are highlighted from Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and also his website, www.daveramsey.com .

            Ramsey’s plan for getting out of debt consists of “Baby Steps” that must be done in order and with “Gazelle intensity”—not a grazing gazelle, but rather the intensity of prey as a predator attacks. To prepare for the baby steps, set up a written budget for the month, every month, and if you are married, agree on the budget together. If a change is necessary mid-month, both spouses must agree and must still balance the budget. Also, stop buying anything on credit.

  1. Save $1,000 as a Starter Emergency Fund – This must be done as quickly as possible, less than a month. Have a garage sale, sell something, work extra hours, whatever it takes. Don’t touch the $1000 except for a true, unforeseeable emergency. If an emergency comes up and you use part of the $1000, replace it ASAP.


2.      Pay Off All Debt With The Debt Snowball – List your current debts, other than the house, from smallest balance to largest.

Pay the minimum payment to stay current on all but the smallest debt. Pour every dollar you can find from anywhere in your budget into paying off that smallest debt.

When it is paid, take what you paid monthly on the smallest debt and add it to your minimum payment on the next largest debt, continuing until all debts are paid.


[Advisor Suze Orman (see below) recommends paying the debts with the highest interest rates first, but Ramsey believes motivation builds faster as you see one debt after another cleared.] Except for the house, if you can’t be debt-free on any item in 18 to 20 months, sell it.


3.      6 Months Expenses In Savings – Pour all you had been using for debt payment into federally insured, accessible savings for serious unforeseen emergencies, like injury or job loss. If it is likely that your job would take longer than 6 months to replace, save more.


[Advisor Suze Orman would advise building savings before debt reduction if you are in danger of losing your job.]


 Read about Ramsey’s remaining steps to financial fitness in his book or online:

4. Invest 15% of Income Into Roth IRAs And Pre-Tax Retirement Plans

5. College Funding

6. Pay Off Your Home Early

7. Build Wealth And Give!


Another excellent book on personal finance is Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound, with her advice for this economic downturn.

What you must do in 2009 about:


  • Make it a priority to pay off your credit card balances.
  • Read every statement and all correspondence from your credit card company to make sure you are aware of any changes to your account, such as skyrocketing interest rates.
  • Work to get your FICO credit score above 720.
  • Be very careful where you turn to for help with credit card debt. Debt consolidators are often a very bad deal. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a smarter choice.
  • Resist the temptation to use retirement savings or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay off credit card debt. Stop thinking of credit as a safety net. The only true safety net is savings.


Retirement Investing

  •  Make sure you have the right mix of stocks and bonds in your retirement accounts given your age. (See her book or website www.suzeorman.com for more information.)
  •  Don’t make early withdrawals or take loans from retirement accounts to pay for non-retirement expenses.
  •  Convert an old 401(k) to a rollover IRA so you can invest in the best low-cost funds, ETFs, and bonds.
  •  If eligible in 2009, consider moving at least a portion of a 401(k) rollover into a Roth IRA. Or wait until 2010 to convert to a Roth, when everyone, regardless of income, will be able to make this move. Just be aware of the tax due at conversion.



  •  Make sure your bank or credit union is covered by federal deposit insurance.
  •  Check that what you have on deposit is eligible for full insurance coverage in the unlikely event your bank or credit union fails.
  •  If your savings is in a money market mutual fund sold through a brokerage or mutual fund firm, consider moving your money into the Treasury money market fund at that company.
  •  Build up your savings to cover 8 months of living expenses.
  •  Move all money you need within the next five to 10 years into savings. Money you need soon does not belong in the stock market.



  •  Separate wants from needs.
  •  Get over your guilt that you aren’t “providing” for your kids.
  •  Strike the word “deserve” from the conversation. What you can truly afford is all that counts.
  •  Try to negotiate better terms on a car loan you can’t keep up with.
  •  Be very careful when asked to cosign any loan, no matter how much you love the person who is asking for your help.


Real Estate

  •  Push for a “mortgage modification” if your current loan is too expensive.
  •  Do not use credit cards or retirement funds to pay for a too-expensive home.
  •  Stay informed about new programs, from lenders and the government, in the months ahead that aim to keep more homeowners out of foreclosure. Check www.suzeorman.com .
  •  Build a real savings fund; a Home Equity Line Of Credit should not be your safety net in 2009.
  •  Focus on your home’s long-term value, not its price change from month to month.


Paying for college:

  •  If your child is heading to college within four years and your college savings are in the stock market, you should begin to phase it out of the market, so that you are 100% out by the time he or she is 17.
  •  If you have a child who will enter college in 2009–2010, look into getting a Stafford loan.
  •  If Stafford loans are not enough, parents should consider a PLUS loan. Significant changes to this program last year make this a viable option for many more families.
  •  Stay away from private student loans at all costs.
  •  If you are graduating from college in 2009 with student loan debt, know your repayment options.


To protect your family and yourself:

  •  Build a substantial savings account today so you will be okay if you are laid off.
  •  Do not—repeat, do not—go without health insurance.
  •  Shop for private health insurance if you are laid off; it is often less expensive than COBRA.
  •  Purchase an affordable term life insurance policy if anyone is dependent on your income.
  •  Make sure you have all your estate-planning documents in order.


            An excellent book on personal finance written especially for women is by Suze Orman: Women & Money: Owning The Power To Control Your Destiny. Orman points out that due to the high level of divorce, as well as the likelihood that a woman will outlive her husband, it is irresponsible for any woman to avoid understanding and directing financial matters.

 I’m certainly not a financial expert, but today’s economy requires we all become more informed. I hope I’ve given you a starting point.

 Blessings on your week!

 Betty Arrigotti

1My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,…5save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Proverbs 6:1a,5e

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have in order to impress people we don’t like.” Dave Ramsey

 To Read More:

Orman, Suze (2009). 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound, Spiegel & Grau.

Orman, Suze (2007). Women & Money: Owning The Power To Control Your Destiny, Spiegel & Grau.

Ramsey, Dave (2003). Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

WordPress Themes