Take The Wheel

To get a better understanding of your portfolio,” my financial advisor began, “I want you to write down everything you spend monthly on your current home and cabin in Tahoe. Then, we’ll dig deeper into your personal affairs.”

“Ok, so just what I spend on my houses?” I asked. “You don’t care about hair, manicures, facials, and massages for now, right?”

Hearing a pause on the other end, he let out a long sigh, and said, “Right. We’ll tackle those later and where you can cut back.”



“Cut back!” I thought as I got off the phone. “What would I cut back on? I like my life the way it is.”

But, wanting to one day retire, I decided to follow his instruction.

Sitting at my desk, calculator in hand, my freshly painted nails did a Ginger Rodgers tap dance over the keys, adding up the mortgage, taxes, insurance, monthly maintenance, and a sundry of other expenses. When it was all said and done, I looked at my bottom line and nearly threw up.



“Woe!” I cried, staring at the ginormous number blinking before my eyes. “And, this doesn’t include the taxes I pay on this or any other stuff in my life. How have I survived all these years?”

In the 1970s, I was a whizz at my affairs. Each month, I put into piles pieces of my paycheck: rent and food, a little for entertainment, and always a portion of savings. Then, my four incredible babies were born, and it’s been downhill ever since, especially in their college years.

Juggling their higher education, clothing, and trips home, while at the same time managing my checkbook, became overwhelming. So, I decided to let the latter go and used the ATM as my litmus test. If the receipt indicated I still had funds, then I was good to go.

Turning off the calculator, I did what comes naturally when my life is off kilter; I blamed God.

“How could you let me get to this point?” I cried. “Aren’t you supposed to swoop in and save me from my stupidity!” Then, remembering a song by Carrie Underwood, I yell, “Jesus, take the wheel! I can’t do this anymore on my own.”

But as I wiped away the tears that were now soaking my cheeks, I suddenly had a revelation. Ever since I became a single mother 16 years ago, a force beyond my awareness has been guiding me. Call it Jesus, God, Spirit, or whatever, something stronger than myself has always helped me land on my feet, even in my darkest times.

Going back to the calculator, I added up the numbers again, now realizing I’d been living a true miracle. No matter what type of year I had as a realtor, good or bad, all those bills were paid, and on time.

Feeling ashamed I blamed the Almighty for my troubles when it was clearly my l undoing, I bowed my head like my father taught me, and prayed, “Thank you.”

There’s an old saying, “Let Go and Let God.” In other words, surrender back to Him what you can’t handle. But sometimes we don’t even know we’re in trouble, and yet we’re still taken care of.

So, going forward, I plan to live my life awake when it comes to money. And, when I’m in a pickle, which is sure to happen, I’ll kindly ask Jesus to take the wheel. But, I’ll be doing my part as well with my GPS in hand for it never fails; when the Divine and I join forces, I always find my way.

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Jackie Madden Haugh

Born in San Francisco in 1952 to the son of Irish Catholic immigrants and the daughter of silent movie actors, Jackie Madden Haugh was the only girl surrounded by three brothers. With a life filled with loud noises and testosterone, she found herself often hiding in her room, complete with journal in hand. Years later, those journals would lead to her first memoir, My Life in a Tutu. As the mother of four, she often reflects on their life together in her monthly column for the local newspaper, The Los Altos Town Crier. Jackie loves writing in memoir. It is her opinion, “why make up stuff when your own life is fascinating.”

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