SEPTEMBER 28, 2020



The artists in my family don’t starve. We don’t believe in the “starving artist” cliché and we don’t play that game. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to believe in it or play it, either.


I first noticed the artists in my family were conspicuously successful when my father’s cousin—a painter and former gallery owner—took me into the garage of her stylish California home and we got into her gold Mercedes convertible…the play car she drives for fun when she’s not hauling art around. Were were giving a joint show—her friends set up tables on the patio of her sunny garden and she was in her studio, a separate little building she had built in a corner of the fenced-in backyard. She was selling her paintings of California landscapes, scarves she knit, and jewelry. I too was selling jewelry, along with silk purses I made under the Cashmere Bark brand I started in 2001.

It’s not that I didn’t try to play out that dreary romantic fantasy of melancholy destitution as best I could—the one where it’s drizzling on the roof of the proverbial creaky Paris attic while I sip on my tea and paint dreamily in a sketch book while a single delicate tear makes its way down my cheek ever so slowly. I did everything I could to be an adventurous spender and dedicated pleasure seeker while I struggled with creative frustration. At one point in my mid-twenties, I landed at a suit-wearing, office-going, executive-assisting-in-the-C-suite day job and sewed glittering mermaid tails for my friend and myself at night. Halloween was my favorite holiday, as it is for many of you creatives—the perfect combination of inspired creative artistry and dramatic misfortune. My carefree, broke and debt-laden struggle all came crashing down one day, though, when I walked into an entirely paid-for and almost-brand-new house that my grandfather bought me when his wife, my ever-gracious grandmother—also a successful painter—left her body the night the tsunami hit the shores of Japan in the spring of 2011.

What do you say when your grandfather buys you an entire house with cash? And he’s been dead for years? I understand now why you didn’t want to replace that broken toaster that “worked well enough”? I understand now why you said, “If you don’t have the money don’t spend it”? Maybe I should return to those conservative values my family was built on, because suddenly they don’t seem so restrictive after all? How could I step up to deserve such a turn of events? Where did I start, to feel worthy?

It took two months from the time I declared that I would get into a Sthapatya Vedic house that I would not be renting until it happened. The realtor told me later she didn’t think I could do it. I was just as surprised as she was that I did. I was not only completely broke and in debt, but also essentially homeless when I made the proclamation and set out, ever so stubbornly, to complete the task. I had not a clue how it would happen. I only knew that God was on my side—that much was clear. The experience shook me. And it changed me. I was hushed and humbled, not sure who I was or how to act, now that I was suddenly blessed with my own home. I would never be the same, and my relationship to money would also be changed forever. Now I needed to figure out how to honor my grandfather, his sacrifice, and his blessing of a legacy. I eventually found Dave Ramsey. (More accurate to say I finally discovered a financial teacher my mother had been trying to tell me about for years.) I had tried other financial coaches, but I needed one who yelled at me and told me how stupid my decisions were…because they really were.

To get into that house, I quite literally traded in my BMW M Roadster convertible…the one I bought while I was filing bankruptcies for clients in a bankruptcy law office downtown, as a lawyer’s assistant. The car I bought on credit.


Here is the absolutely true story of that epic, life-altering adventure.


My fabulous two-seater convertible was Estoril blue, much of what was so beautifully designed under the hood was also blue, and the purring engine sounded sooooo pretty when you turned the key to start it up. I lost a lot of money on it, and then the fifteen year old named Daniel who bought it from me tried to sell it to my father for a profit. I still have a hard time regretting that purchase, if I’m honest. To be honest, that purchase was not at all wise.

“Daniel! I want you to help me sell my car.”

“I want to BUY your car!”

We’ll get to that part in a minute.

To tell the story completely, you’ll need to know about the tattered, run-down, and falling-apart apartment I lived in not once but twice. The landlord was fond of duct tape as a maintenance strategy, and I was fond of the gold radiators. Turns out, you don’t make real estate choices based on fabulous gold radiators. Who knew? We were a perfect match, this neglected hovel owner and me. My rent was $265 a month. I learned (through how many years of living there?…twice?) that cheap rent has its own way of being expensive.

One of my friends from that era still teases me about the ad frequently run in the paper in the days I lived in that dilapidated apartment building—LUXURY APARTMENT. People would come around the corner and start to walk up the stale, dark wood stairwell with all its vintage elegance while dust sparkled in the southern sunlight that streamed through the lovely leaded glass window. They would look up and around at the ancient, stained wallpaper peeling off the faded walls, a bewildered look on their faces. I would wave hello on my way down the stairs while they turned around and walked out of the building…never making it up to the landing to peak at the apartment across mine that perennially became empty and available for rent to anyone that deseparate. That house had good bones. I saw so much potential as the place crumbled down around me. Remind me to tell you about the horrendous cobwebbed basement, where the laundry was. It was dank, damp and smelled truly awful. Okay, that’s all you need to know about that. One day, I told my mom the landlord would like to sell the building and we should buy it. I only remember two words from that conversation: “money” and “pit”.

Yes, that friend who was amused by my humble-but-romantic dwellings—a shrewd business man—got plenty of laughs from that sad, neglected property and my starry-eyed attachment to the possibility of its greatness. Me? I don’t often remember that I lived there. Thank you, Grandpa Miller. You knew what were doing when it comes to leaving behind the kind of financial legacy that saves the day for your granddaughter and finally smacks some sense into her. Like a tsunami.

I’m going to tell you my side of the story—the manifestation of a house that fell out of the clear blue sky, much like the house fell on the witch in the Wizard of Oz, except I get to live in the house instead of getting squashed by it. And then I’m going to tell you the practical side of the story, and list for you the principles my grandfather followed to create the legacy that bought the house. And through both sides of the story, I want to remind you about how you—my dear creative—are uniquely positioned to succeed financially. You are uniquely positioned, as a visionary full of resourceful creativity—an infinitely-talented artist who is intimately connected with the divine flow of life—to manifest all the opportunities you need and desire, and build a legacy of wealth and generosity for yourself and those you seek to benefit.


I hadn’t always been careless with money. As a child, I was both a saver and a spender. I babysat my way through junior high. In high school, my friend and I were given a summer job by her father, tearing the covers off paperback books so the company he worked for could get some money back from the books that didn’t sell in grocery and liquor stores. I also got paid by my mom to clean the house. I don’t remember the going wage at the time, but I remember it took six hours. I was comfortable and inspired while floating along in my balanced save-to-spend mindset, and I remember always having money in the bank. That mindset evolved into “save to invest”. I opened a 401K during college.

My grandfather was old school—a strict, frugal, high-integrity, and highly-skilled practical man who put education, virtue, and hard work at the top of his list of life priorities while providing for his wife and family. After college, I thought I would shake things up and get a little more creative than that. In the process, I learned why my grandparents lived how they did. I’d like to encourage you on your path to creating your own wealth, using both my grandparents’ frugal strategies for creating generational wealth, and my free-spirited adventures in manifestation. You’ll have tools you can use immediately to create financial peace and material abundance in your own life, including a full range of both practical and creative fortune-creating tactics. Let’s get in the flow of the immutable natural laws of God’s design, and bring forth the miracles already laid out for you, waiting to be yours.

If you’re ready to ditch the tired myth of the starving artist and give up the idea that true art is born of struggle and real artists are broke, then read on because what I’m about to share with you has the potential to completely transform your life.

[Work in progress…to be continued…]


Read more about my grandparents’ legacy here >

It’s time to BE the thriving artist.

The art of using one’s full potential requires that life as a whole should have a solid basis. Without this, life will be as unstable as a building on a weak foundation. For stability a solid foundation is the first requisite.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi / The Science of Being and the Art of Living


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