Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We Gotta "Cut to the Bone"

Oprah sets such a high bar for excellence on her show that I can only watch it occasionally. I get tired just thinking about doing all those energy-sucking self-improvement projects, so I generally flip to MASH reruns.

I did watch the segment with Suze Orman last week, about surviving the recession. A beautiful couple in Southern California revealed how quickly their carefully-planned financial life fell to pieces. They did everything right, and they represent the people I admire (yes, and sometimes envy) for the prosperity they earned through hard work and self-discipline. It was a revelation to me that people who "did everything right" are hurting just as badly as those of us who are never quite sure we're doing anything right.

Those of us who aren't sure we're doing anything right aren't surprised our plans aren't working out. We're used to it. We're lying low, waiting for a new inspiration (that hopefully doesn't involve serving french fries.) Those poor, stunned people who did everything right, but got slammed by the economy anyway, have to overcome a huge shock before they can move forward. I feel for them, and I hope french fries won't be part of their new reality, either.

Suze Orman told everyone to "cut to the bone"--figure out how to live on half of what you've been spending--and stop looking back at what you had so you can figure out how to work with what you have. She was more directive than Ben Stein on CBS Sunday Morning News, whose recession-survival advice was, "Get a dog."

For once, I feel like part of the clever and accomplished crowd. I cut to the bone months ago (OK, so it wasn't by choice,) and I got a dog. Survival feels like excellence in these circumstances! Maybe Oprah will ask me to share my secrets on her show.

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