At 14 years old, living in small-town Vermont, I was starving for glamour.

I’d do just about anything to get just a bit more glitter into my days–even spend my Friday nights drenched in garbage water.

In early childhood that need for glamour didn’t exist. I loved spending afternoons in the woods and fields. Hours would disappear making flower garlands for my horse Julep or floating leaves of wild mint down the rippling currents of the nearby stream. 

Then puberty hit, Vogue magazine came into my life, and I was transfixed by glamour. I would pore over pictures of Alek Wek, Kirsty Hume and Stella Tennant who were the models-du-jour. I would study their physical postures and bold fashion. I just loved them. 

Thus bloomed my desire to attend Barbizon School of Modeling.

Reaching for Glamour in Small-town Vermont

Barbizon wasn’t quite up to the Vogue level. It was basically a finishing school for young women. It coached girls on how to apply makeup and style an outfit. How to be polite and pretty young ladies.  

Nobody was headed from Barbizon onto a Milan runway. But it was the closest thing I could get in Burlington, Vermont. 

The women who ran Barbizon weren’t from Burlington though. They were from the Barbizon headquarters in Boston, MA. This made it even more glamorous. They would travel to Burlington once a month (for six months? A year? I can’t remember how long the program was) to host the weekend training in a big carpeted conference room at the Radisson hotel near the waterfront of Lake Champlain.

At the audition for Barbizon I was super nervous. I wore a short black shirt dress and foam platform shoes (and I likely listened to Hole and Tori Amos to get pumped for it). It was the 90’s afterall.

The older headmistress lady at the auditions picked me out and told me how much potential I had. In retrospect, she probably did that with everyone. But I felt so special! When the acceptance letter to Barbizon came in the mail a few days later I was elated.

Now I just had to figure out how to pay for it…

Figuring Out How to Earn $1,500 at 14 Years Old

If I recall correctly, the course was about $1,500, which sounded astronomical at the time! I was desperate to do it though. I asked my mother for the money. She told me she couldn’t afford to pay it and I’d have to find a way to get the money myself.

So my friend Christyn hooked me up with a job washing dishes at a local Italian restaurant called Cafe Espresso. I interviewed, was hired, and my starting pay was $5.25/hour. I got the Friday night and Wednesday night shifts. I was off and running toward my glamorous new life!

If you have ever been a dishwasher, you know that it’s a pretty unsexy job.

You wear clothing that you are willing to throw away one day (I used to wear Umbro soccer shorts and an old tee shirt and sneakers). Bin after bin of dishes stacked with partially eaten meals pile up. You spray them off with a powerful scorching hot sprayer and bits of food flick back onto your face and clothing.

You’re surrounded by steam that smells like garbage. Your fingernails turn translucent from being in the sogginess all night. Your clothing, all the way down to your underwear, gets soaked through. 

This is when I learned one of my favorite life lessons: if you focus and apply yourself on achieving a big glamorous goal, even if the road there is made up of small, tough steps, you can get there.

Hard Work Is Glamorous Too With the Right Mindset

14-year-old Ariel during the washing dishes and going to Barbizon days

I learned that hard work is glamorous too. Because when hard work is infused with a goal that lights you up it makes you feel proud, radical, vibrantly alive. 

My favorite weekends were the ones that I worked late Friday night, and walked out at the end of my shift stinking of dishwater. Then went home, showered for a loooong time. And in the morning got up and went to the Radisson for Barbizon and was surrounded by cool chicks, makeup and hot rollers.

There was something about doing BOTH in the same weekend that filled me with glee. I was so proud of myself. I was so glad my mom didn’t pay my way.

That year, when I was 14 years old, chipping away at that $1,500 fee in $5.25 hours of hard work, I learned that if I commit, I can make any dream come true. And it’s always worth it.

This past couple years I’ve gotten back in that mindset I learned over 20 years ago when I was washing dishes to go to Barbizon: I’ve fallen in love with my future goals the way I fell in love with glamour back then. I’ve refused to accept the comfort-worshipping auto-pilot that can set in during adulthood.

I’ve gotten hungry for the extraordinary once again. 

Saving is Easy When You Know What You’re Saving For

This is why doing the work to get out of debt was essentially easy. This is why saving piles of cash to buy my Scamp camper trailer and used truck is no problem. I’m so excited about where I’m going and that excitement makes the daily focus contain its own kind of pride and sparkle. I feel an inner sense of purpose.

I want this for you too. I want you to create the freedom to pursue activities, careers, and experiences that make you feel most fulfilled.

If this resonates for you at all, check out my online Financial Realization Course that runs Wednesday nights, July-August. All classes are recorded so if you can’t attend live, you can still attend. This time around though, I’m including three one-on-one sessions during the beginning/middle/end of the course.

Click here for MORE INFORMATION on the Financial Realization Course.

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