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Reality checks and balances


Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Reality checks and balances

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Sometimes a little biblical inspiration can lead to great rewards. Just ask Donna Every who actually penned her first book, What Do You Have In Your House, largely due to the widow in the Bible who used her oil – what she had in her house – to earn money and survive her own hard times.
In Donna’s case, she was trying to find a job after years of working as a consultant, to help out financially.
“After building our house, I thought I better get a job to help pay for this house,” Donna said. “Even though I had my MBA and worked as a consultant I didn’t seem to have any experience that matched the jobs that were advertised. I started wondering how people who didn’t have the qualifications I had were making it if I was having it so hard. 
“That’s when the story of the widow and the oil came into my head. I said ‘you know what, I’m going to start a course and teach people some of these principles. Then I said when I get some success stories then I’ll write a book, but I realized I knew people who were success stories who had used their oil and earned incomes so I wrote the book first.”
You might call Donna’s decision to pen this book a bit prophetic considering she wrote it in 2008, way before the recession hit.
“It was really timely when the book came out,” Donna revealed. “The book is my oil really because that’s how I’m earning my income through speaking and selling books and teaching.”
Donna admits that the greatest joy from this book is the effect that it has on people who have read it and have been impacted by it.
The oil for many people is that metaphorical gifting or talent that they’ve been sitting on perhaps not utilizing it out of fear, or too busy with their other commitments.
“People knew they had oil in them but when they read the book it moved them to action,” she said. “For me it seems so far it has been women who have been impacted by it. Maybe subconsciously they were my audience. My heart is really to see women empowered and they are running with some of the principles in the book because they admit it has pushed them to do something.”
Unlike many people who have seen the recession as a terrible time in history, Donna sees it as a chance for people to focus and shift our thinking and spending patterns. 
“We’ve become so accustomed to having and doing and living beyond our means, now that things are really getting tight, this period forces us to really start looking at the money we are spending and asking why we are doing certain things with our money,” Donna said. 
“All of it is based on the financial decisions that we make. Some of it is things beyond our control, like a pay-cut, or whatever, but we can really control our spending. Is it to impress? To keep up with the Joneses? So it requires some serious introspection on our parts so that we can resolve some issues perhaps that are deeply rooted from our childhood, and really start spending our money properly, not on consumable items or depreciating assets. 
“We’re so bombarded with visuals and all these images of things and it creates a want in you . . . sometimes to our detriment,” she said.
Donna admits that she had to do her own soul-searching as she sat down to write and really look at her own spending habits and patterns which she had to change.
“As I was writing it having gone through it, I was able to write from my perspective,” she revealed.   
Donna even realized that her mother had used her own gift and love for baking to start her own business.
“Even something as small as baking coconut bread which my mother used to do on the side as a business. She would come home from work, bake and sell them to the supermarket and earn a little money on the side.”     
But Donna does admit that a person’s decision to find their oil really depends on how much they’re suffering.
“This financial crisis is a blessing in disguise,” she said. “While it may seem hard, it is forcing us to look at ourselves and be resourceful and find creative ways to stretch the money,” she said. 
“We literally have to take a look at our houses because we have so much stuff in our homes that we’ve accumulated and we need to start looking at how we can turn this stuff into dollars. Whether it’s used books, used toys, the things that we bought and never used like the juicers that we can sell at a garage sale and the money we make from that we can invest or start a business.
“You might think this is the worst time to start a business, but this may actually be a good time. It reminds me of that part in the Bible when everyone was running to Egypt because things were so bad where there were and God said ‘stay where you are and plant the seed there’ and they did in a time of famine and brought forth a hundredfold. So really it’s about faith and trusting in God.” 

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