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The Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron, Review by the Divorced Breadwinner Mom

Title: The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of “Enough”

Author: Julia Cameron with Emma Lively

Synopsis: This book from the author of The Artist’s Way offers readers a 12-week program to create prosperity in their lives. By combining practical financial tools with creative actions and spiritual principles, the program helps readers shift their focus from how much money they have in the bank to true prosperity, while at the same time looking at the actions and beliefs that keep them from achieving financial security and lives of “enough.”

The book begins with an introduction of the basic tools, followed by a simple focus for each of the 12 weeks. These are:

  • Week 1 – The Money Myth
  • Week 2 – Having Enough
  • Week 3 – Trusting
  • Week 4 – Cleaning House
  • Week 5 – Finding Community
  • Week 6 – Kindness
  • Week 7 – Forgiveness
  • Week 8 – Velocity
  • Week 9 – Generosity
  • Week 10 – Staying on Course
  • Week 11 – Prosperity and Our Dreams
  • Week 12 – The Prosperity Plan

Who Would Benefit? Any divorced mom experiencing financial challenges, especially those that continue to crop up over and over again, may find insight and help in this book. Ms. Cameron is a divorced or single mom with periods of prosperity (e.g., author of the bestselling The Artist’s Way) and periods of hardship. The organization of the book into 12 sections (one per week) make it feasibly for busy divorced moms to tackle and work through the questions and exercises included in each chapter. The combination of practical tips and insights may be just the right mix to create more abundance and financial peace of mind.

Why I Picked it Up: Last year I participated in a 24-week recovery group. A small group of women met every other week for 24 weeks to share our experiences of reading and working through the exercises in a book called “A Gentle Path through the 12 Steps.” As we wrapped up that book and began discussing what was next, several members of the group suggested “The Prosperous Heart” as an excellent resource for looking at financial issues and developing an abundant life. Although that wasn’t our group’s decision for our next book, I decided to give read it on my own and work through the exercises.

What I Liked: The mix of stories, examples, instruction, and exercises was a good combination. The stories and examples made the material accessible, and the way Ms. Cameron included elements of her own story throughout makes it clear that even having a bestselling book and the accompanying fame and fortune don’t make financial well-being automatic. While I didn’t follow all the practices she recommends, I found the questions and exercises to be helpful in looking at some of my underlying money practices and beliefs; making these conscious allowed me to release some of them and to take steps toward changing some related behaviors. The exercises also include looking at what’s working and what you do well, not just the negatives, and I appreciated the balance.

What I Didn’t Like: The emphasis on morning pages and abstinence (i.e., not debting) as the only ways to achieve financial well-being and abundance struck me as overly rigid. I think there is more than one workable practice, and I would encourage readers to find what works for them rather than simply following these practices as the only ones that will work. I see the morning pages as one way of beginning your day with prayer and meditation, and you may already have a practice that works well for you (as I do); if so, I’d continue with what’s working. Abstinence (not debting) may be necessary for those who have serious spending or debting addictions (e.g., those who might benefit from a program like Debtors Anonymous), but it may not be necessary for all divorced moms. Or it may be a temporary step to get spending under control. Again, this depends on the individual. For example, I use credit cards for business and for my online purchases. I pay them off in full each month as a general rule, so I consider this an acceptable practice. I did make some changes in my use of credit cards, however, as a result of some of the book’s exercises, such as not buying anything online after 9PM.

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