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Life Weaves

06/13/2019

It started with a desire to walk by the ocean. I then discovered the only ocean-walkers were golfers enjoying an 18-hole round of golf. Satisfying my desire for a trip to the ocean, I invited a friend on a lunch walk to the beach. The walk was lovely, don’t mistake my words, but it wasn’t the stunning cliff ocean scene only Golfers were privileged to experience. The sight tempted my desire to pick up a golf club and swing it. My beach-walking friend shares his tee time for the next day and before my next breath, my presumption came over me and I invited myself on their tee time as a walking observer. He was too kind to decline my self-invite and I am too naïve about golf to know if inviting myself was a major taboo.

But can I tell you how wondrous the experience was? Just walking, witnessing, wowing, wondering. I wept a couple of times gazing at the beauty and feeling the awe of it all. The morning excursion filled me with joy and wonder, for sure a desired state of mind, and particularly as I continue to mourn the passing of my father.

Weaving life – losses and joys – as the natural way of life is my new area of study. After my father’s death, I went into overdrive to complete practical tasks. In my mind, tasks complete first, then space to grieve would be available. But grieving doesn’t work this way and there is no doubt in my mind that you, the reader, know this. I knew it before this experience and still, somehow, the pattern snuck up on me.

Watching these gentlemen, a particular breed of men who are kind, intelligent, impeccable with their word, generous with their heart, and share my profession of financial planning, I came to see golfing as the weave of life. The vast open space of the golf course and a feminine quality of openness and care, then the focused determined practice of hitting the ball down a fairway to a smaller green and finally skillfully precisely into the hole, with a masculine agentic quality of determination and forward action. We require both to weave life well.

When we focus our attention only on action and getting the ball in the hold, we burn out and miss the vast view. When we neglect the need to swing our club, put objects in the air and complete the hole, we wander aimlessly perhaps, without ground, without progress. Financial planning, like life, requires both.  Good planning tees up (pun intended) the opportunity for choice, and when to preference one area of attention over another.

Right now, my need for more grieving space means that any strokes to the green or putts to the hole are limited, colored perhaps by sorrow energy that does not belong in today’s decisions or decisions for the future.

When a state of mind like grief is present, we pause. I encourage you to pause. Pausing is the kind and generous action; it is the invitation to weave our personal and financial life. Grief accompanies any form of loss, which of course can be the loss of life. But loss can also be in other forms – lost dreams, lost youth, lost discoveries. Our children graduate from high school and college. Job opportunities evolve and some even vanish. Friends scatter and require effort to reconnect, even with social media. Health shifts as we age, especially if we ignore nutritious consumption and favorable exercise.

As summer season enters, do not hesitate to pause, particularly if a sense of loss stands by your side. In these times, weaving slowly and intentionally provides room for exceptional care and better decisions – both vital for financial planning and life.

Weaving,

 

 

 

Dynamic Flow.

05/09/2019

Prior to April 10, I would have sworn I was well-practiced in flowing with the unknown. Then, on Wednesday, April 10, my father fell, and I was on the earliest direct flight from Boston to Tampa. He did not recover from the injury to his state of health. Five days later he died peacefully in his sleep, at home, with my mother closely by his side.

As we navigated my father’s declared final wishes for his body, memorial and post-death affairs, the flow of actions consumed our energy. Clear actions from earlier decisions were activated: his body given to science for further study, his memorial with a selected funeral home. Just call this number. His estate documents dictated who, what, where, when—but not why. And I flowed, dynamically.

I continue to flow, dynamically, as the date on the calendar reads April 29.

Flow contains movement, of course. This movement runs fast and furious, and also like a slow trickle, and then like a barely perceptible breath. I am waiting for the pause. A true moment of timeless stillness to simply Be. Here. Now.

Did I mention, that the day after my father’s memorial, my mother entered the hospital? Did I mention, she contracted a nasty virus in her lungs that took more than a week to get her into rehab? Did I mention the leakage of all of the hidden emotions and feelings of birth-family trauma (we all have trauma)?

I take my own pause. I turn my attention to the teachings in this pivotal transition. The death of a first parent marks a distinct growth point in human experience. I do not plan to miss it. I turn my attention to a teaching about gratitude. In this moment, I am very grateful for…

•    My father’s estate, planned, sufficiently, so that in the most chaotic, grief-stricken moments all we had to do was make a phone call.
•    Conversations with my father about his after-death wishes, many years ago.
•    A drafted obituary to use as a starting point for the final published version.
•    Friends, who showed up with food, flowers, calls, loving support and soft shoulders.
•    Condolence cards waiting for me upon my return home – balm soothing my heart.
•    Ears, listening even while the heart was breaking.
•    Dignity, enough that we saw behind decades of hurt.
•    Connection, a realization of ultimate love.
•    Safety, a melting of the illusion of aloneness.

Returning to dynamic flow, I make an offering to you: consider your plans.

What are your estate plans?
What is your life legacy?
Have you given attention to the final wish of your corpse once you take your last breath?
Have you prepared documents to minimize costs and confusion?
Have you held clear conversations with those appointed to take action on your behalf?
Have you communicated all that you want loved ones to hear?
Have you given attention to these practical and non-practical matters?

Please follow these links for information and practices to address your desires. Estate laws are dictated by the state of residence. Begin here with your plan: State Checklist. Your unique situation dictates which documents you need to create and execute, but wills, health care appointments and durable powers are necessary for every plan (Basic Estate Plan Checklist). For encouragement and communication practices, click here to read ideas and considerations for writing, speaking and clarifying your wishes.

It doesn’t matter the age on your driver’s license. If you are in your twenties, or nineties, complete your legacy planning. Give attention to this post-period of your life on behalf of your loved ones. Allocate three to six months of attention, and do it with gusto. Consider those left dynamically flowing, as you transition to what is next.

Dynamically flowing in the unknown,

 

 

 

Get Your Giddy On

01/17/2019

There’s a razors edge of momentum that is both exciting and tilting known as giddy. It is an experience where the unknown, anticipation, trepidation and possibilities swirl together like a spiral of rainbows and snow flurries. Transitions, like the ones we experience at the ends and beginnings of years, or when we move to a new town, or change direction in our careers, or even the loss of a loved one are often saturated with giddy.

I’m suggesting that giddy – with muscle and intention – has great benefits and now, 2019, is a great time to start exercising that fresh muscle. The old adage, there is no time like the present, is the precursor to get your giddy on. Get your giddy on evaporates time and recognizes presence. Presence to the razor’s edge of life, and what brings you to the edge of your heart, your drive, and your purpose.

The last time I felt a surge of my giddy was driving and then walking to the entrance of the Concord public library. The public library is where I devote my energy to writing, more specifically, writing for the book about Somatic Finance®. Giddy feels electric, ecstatic, pure, fluid, a ginormous smile residing in my belly. Giddy is good for our soul, and it helps us gain perspective for how we center our plans, prioritize our actions, and optimize our energy.

When we get our giddy on, the potential to sustain giddy for ourselves and generate giddy for others expands. A few points to recognize about giddy…

  • Giddy is inside us
  • Giddy is linked to our unique way of being
  • Giddy often inspires generosity
  • Giddy may not make sense to others
  • Giddy can even scare others
  • Giddy is both personal and impersonal
  • Giddy is for us and yet gives beyond us

Are you familiar with giddy? If you read this message and shake your head, trying to figure “it” out, move to curiosity and practice. Practice getting your giddy on. First, ground and commit to giddy, and second, energize movement with your body to activate more awareness.

Commit to growing giddy. You may not know how, why, or what. In fact, committing to anything is necessary for the true how, why and what to reveal themselves. We really know very little when we commit!

Commit verbally and on paper. In simple form, “I commit to growing my giddy,” or more complex: “I commit to growing giddy to support my development and vibrant health.” Or, include a feeling state: “I feel uncertain and I commit to growing my giddy.” Trust the words and phrases that arise from your heart and mind. State them out loud. Write them down. Post your commitment in your environment.

Second, grow giddy with a daily practice a minimum of 2 times a day. In the morning, reflect for two minutes on your day ahead. Select two specific events of the day (e.g. a moment, project, meeting, conversation) to give unbridled attention to giddy – a state of newness, nowness, edginess, where you both know and do not know. You skate (perhaps very slowly) on the razor’s edge.

In these two moments, notice the interior of your body: 1) thoughts, 2) sensations in the form of pressure, temperature and movement, 3) body location and 4) emotional state. Rate on a scale of 1 to 10, your level of giddy.

At the end of the day, reflect back on your two moments, your experience, where your body is most and least alive when giddy, and your rating. Review and respond (in thought or writing) to the following wonder question:

I wonder what barriers to getting my giddy on want to be revealed and released?
I wonder how getting my giddy on serves my growth and how to magnetize giddy in my life?

At the end of the week, reflect on your practice experience and how your body plays a significant role (or not) in getting your giddy on.

Lastly, have some fun. There is much in the world to give our attention, that breaks our heart. And, the more we live fully in presence, the better equipped we are to meet each situation with our brilliant minds and open hearts.

Giddy up!

 

 

500-Year Plan

At a training fifteen years ago, Gay Hendricks asked all of us, “What is your 500-year plan?” The mind-blowing question woke me up. Longevity takes just a few lucky ones past 100 years — 500 years is clearly beyond our existence in this physical form! Five hundred years takes us beyond the age of the United States. Five hundred years is how we age trees, arctic ice melting, family generations, cultures. Five hundred years is a long time — particularly when our common view of planning is days, weeks, months and a few years.

As a seasoned financial planner, for me planning is like breathing. Astute financial planning consistently projects to timelines of now – next month – next year, and specific goals (retirement, move to a warmer climate, assisting grandchildren.) Planning with these types of goals and needs in mind is important. And, as human beings, once we fulfill our own life aspirations – feeling embodied sufficiency – we long for something more. This eventual openness and generosity is my direct experience working in this profession for over 30 years.

One path of life may lead us to have, experience, and fulfill our needs and our wants, while our heart aches to give back in gratitude for our good fortune. This way of going, on the Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance, reflects tending to feelings of scarcity, which naturally give way to feelings of sufficiency.

One can also arrive at embodied sufficiency from the other end of the spectrum: generosity. This reflects those of us who hold a belief that giving is better than receiving. When we give out of balance, our own needs of sufficiency are not met. But through thoughtful examination, growth, and the honoring of our self-worth, we learn to meet our own needs as we give attention to others.

These urges to give are gentle invitations to gaze into the horizon of life toward the next 500 years. We recognize how our goals, actions and behavior today, directly affect the lives of humans of tomorrow. The weaving of now and next has vibrant potency. Power-punch: those who plan while holding a 500-year view of both/and (now/next), often wish they had held the vision earlier.

Pause for a moment to let the gravitas as well as joy of the above statements permeate your mind and heart. We won’t be here in 500 years, so how are we “doing” now?

Gay’s most recent book, The Joy of Genius, offers simple and powerful practices to ignite your journey on the “Genius Spiral.” Genius energy is the longing in our hearts, nudging our creative expression to awaken and brighten — the creative expressions becoming timeless gifts.

When we pause and reflect on 500 years, what experiences do you recognize in your own life?

We seek, find and engage work to survive, thrive and create in the world.
We spend, save and invest income generated from our work.
We train and continue our education for the benefit of growth, potential and enjoyment.
We pause formal education and seek meaning from other lines of development.
We might travel.
We might raise children.
We volunteer our time and talents.
We maintain our health.
We nurture relationships.
We buy or rent homes.
We create.

And then, what else happens?

We feel satiated with life. Our heart grows with an ache of love. This swelling in our chest is a call for more. We are seeing, feeling and recognizing the sufficiency of our lives and wondering, what else? What is my work in the world? What kind of legacy will I leave? What can I do to make the world a better place for all beings?

A 500-year plan makes much more sense to us. We open our eyes, long-closed, towards that horizon which beckons our attention.

Recently I had the good fortune to visit the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Standing on the solid ground, gazing in the distance at clay and rock formed and shaped by the cosmos… millions and billions of years old. Sobering to say the least. We are living in an interconnected web of life. Humans are one teeny tiny piece of that existence. Our guide shared a fun fact. If humans became extinct, nature would erase our face on this planet within 400 years. How’s that for a 500-year plan?

Planning for 500 years,

 

 

 

Cosmic Curse Jar: Compost for Gratitude!

I use curse words. My favorite is fuck and various versions of it… fucker, fucking, shitfuck and my utmost favorite – unfuckwithable. I am not proud of my “potty mouth,” nor am I ashamed of it. It happens. And I know I am not alone. I have tried to quit, and sometimes, only a curse will do.  When in the company of someone who would be offended by strong language, my words are chosen with care. As an adult, hopefully my intention and awareness supports this outcome. But as children in development, parents are the source for good manners and how we kindly relate to others.

When my son was around ten years old, he began to use poor words like the above and my spouse and I knew our parenting needed a boost. Our solution was instituting a curse jar. For every bad word spoken by anyone in the house, a dollar was placed in the jar. Money activities are meant to be motivators to change behavior. Let’s see how this experiment worked.

Our son was all in the game and willing to participate. His competitor persona, vibrant and alive, was ready to play. Our daughter refused unequivocally—and when I suggested that suck was a bad word she told me to “buzz” off. My spouse, ever the polite one, of course was in—but his version of a curse, darn, only highlighted the severity of my obscenities and my bad influence on my growing son’s vocabulary. What came next was not pretty or successful.

The jar was front and center in our family room—ready to receive the cursing cash. We all (except for our daughter who said suck) leaned into the competition and placed our dollars in the jar as the curse words slipped out. More often than not, my purse was not in the vicinity. I asked my spouse for a dollar. His one-dollar bills gone, he gave me a ten. A ten, perfect, I had credit for 9 more cusses. The situation continued for a month. While the money accumulated, cursing moderated, and our son asked incessantly, what’s going to happen with the jar of money?

We never clarified the prize money aspect of our exercise. I made some reference to a fun night out with the family (is that a prize?). Without the clarity of the connection between the financial reward and changed behavior, the activity was doomed to fail. And so, the experiment dwindled over the weeks following our initial gung-ho month. Eventually, the curse jar sat with cash for a few months, and as I cleared the clutter in the kitchen and family room, the cash went into my purse and bought groceries for the week. The outcome lacked impact, but at least the curses were composted for our nourishment.

Returning to the experience and sharing with you cultivates old wounds… a tender place of shame, frustration, and doubt, along with present clarity… and a good dose of humor, reality and acceptance.

In addition to how we are human and sometimes fail at our attempts to change, what is the jewel in this month’s news? It is, in fact, November, the month of giving thanks. Where is my gratitude? I am grateful—for failed attempts to change and the self-acceptance of at least trying. We don’t know what we don’t know until we try. When it comes to change and the lining of money, it gets tricky. So let’s go closer to the money.

First, when money is part of the behavior change, it needs to mean something and that something needs to be clarified. In our example, we needed clarity on our son’s question, what happens with the jar of money. How are we tracking our behavior in relation to the jar of money accumulating? In other words, what is the benefit of our individual and collective decreased cursing? … for me, set a better example for my son. For our son, receiving the jar of money for his own use? For my spouse, support family unity.

Second, metrics to track progress provide encouragement for behavior change. If there are no external markers of success, it requires extra internal mental energy to fuel the game. Are we tracking the money accumulating in the jar? In relation to who is cursing? How do our curses get measured? Who is on first? What is on second?

Third, what is the tension tug? By tension tug I mean where does awareness get activated with tension to shape new behavior. For me, putting a dollar in a jar meant little. And I did not go deeper – activating tension – doing this for the benefit of my son’s development. Not my best mothering moment.

There are many who have successfully changed potty mouth behavior with money. I just Googled swear jars and wasted 20 minutes reading stories. Jar motivation works best with one person, not collectively. But, if I had the chance for a do-over, here’s how I would set it up: a challenge with my son, just the two of us. Curses cost $1.00. For each curse we put a dollar in the jar and we track on a sheet – curses spoken, for a month. At the end of the month, person with the fewer curses wins the jar. Repeat another month. Only this time, we look for decrease in percentage of cursing from prior month for the winner. Repeat another month. At the end of the third month, pause and have a deeper conversation. Besides the reward of money, what else has happened?

The jewel of this month is this: money is a valuable start to behavior change. However, it is not lasting because a lasting change in behavior requires a connection to what deeply matters in the heart. Money did not matter enough to me. Curse words, even today, do not cause distress – in comparison to other life events. I trusted my son, and still do, to navigate his development despite my limitations and negative language influence. I mean he did have his father, who stills says darn.

Cosmically cursing,

 

 

 

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

The Golden Rule is most often attributed to words spoken by Jesus in the Bible. But as the following author ponders, this way of being was followed many years before Jesus walked the earth.

What’s truly interesting is that all decent people (not just believers in God) adopt a rule like the Golden Rule. Thus, there really doesn’t seem to be a religious basis for the rule. At bottom, it is a call for empathy. The more I consider morality, the more I think that it is empathy that is the basis for all workable moral systems. No matter what else a supposed moral system is about, if it’s not founded on widespread empathy (not just empathy toward the small circle of one’s own friends and family), it’s not really about morality.    ~ Erich Vieth

As children we are indoctrinated with this rule and it is a valuable, simple and effective rule for kindergarteners to follow. But soon after this age, unless we are blessed with conscious loving parents and caregivers, it is common for a deterioration to begin to occur, for us as individuals, along with our self-esteem. We begin a slowly depreciating self-development that withers away self-worth. Some of us begin practices at an early age (our 20s), that allow us to clear away the hurts, the shoulds, the harm that life presented to us. Some of us take a bit longer and require an “event” to wake us up and find a path to freedom. Some of us may not get the wake up call and remain in a trance for the duration of our life.

Where I am going with the do unto others as we would have them do unto us is illuminate the problem with this phrase – because of our own lack of self-esteem and self-awareness. Since most, if not all, of us are not enlightened beings, we carry insults waiting to happen. These are not apparent insults; they are hidden in our own bodies, waiting for us to see them, love them, clear them, and heal them. If we don’t, our do unto others will be our debris waiting to be cleared up.

Said another way, the golden rule doesn’t work because we are not aware that we are worthy of being loved unconditionally. Most of us harbor doubt, confusion, and in the worst case, self-loathing. When we do not love ourselves completely and unconditionally, then any doing unto others carries the same impression, including self-loathing, but directed outwards. We only have the capacity to do unto others, what we do unto ourselves.

The best practice, in a world where much distrust, envy, deceit and anger is floating around, is to love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we soften and attend to the lingering debris in our bodies that calls for attention. We heal the tender holes and tensions with love, self-love. Then, from that place of wholeness we can truly love others. Do unto others what you would do unto yourself, AFTER you have loved yourself with your whole heart and whole mind.

My theory is that bad things happen because unconscious people are spreading their pain to others – doing unto others as they would do to themselves. They don’t know any better.

Do you love yourself fully?
Where might shreds of doubt, insecurity, and self-hindering be lingering in your life?
What sensations do you notice in your body that could be invitations for deeper exploration?
How does money affect your self-love? What pops up with that question?
Where does money live in your body of sufficiency; meaning, feeling whole and nourished with self-care?

These wonder queries are potent places for development.
My suggestion is, don’t go alone in your queries; ask a friend, be with nature, sit in vast silence with the world. We all, and I mean all, have places to heal in our bodies, minds and spirits… and money is nestled in each of those crevices.

It is mind-altering to recognize that as I become whole, heal and love myself unconditionally, everyone and everything around me benefits. In this stage of human development, our motto of loving with the Golden Rule actually has merit.

Self-loving, all-loving,

 

 

Questions. What are questions? How do we relate to questions?

We might believe that the act of being present, open, loving, receptive and clear is easy. Or, if not easy, we might believe that being with another person is an improvisational skill that can be called upon at a moment’s notice. With authentic heart connections, neither of these beliefs is true. In my experience, we all have debris covering our hearts that prevents the nakedness required to connect deeply, authentically, and without barriers.

What is ripe and alive for me today is questions: the art of asking, receiving, and navigating questions. Recently I assisted in the development of new mentors at a meditation teacher training. The relationship skills being developed are that of support – like a spiritual friend. One of our areas of focus was the practice of fostering connection with another person.

In the training process, we staged simulated conversations (for practice, but naturally drawing on real feelings) for viewing, supporting and critiquing, in service of mentor development. The safe training container allowed for vulnerability to shine, along with a naked presence to strengths and areas of growth. So from where does my curiosity about questions arise?

As we progressed each day with each participant, more often than not the questions posed by the developing “mentor” to their student were self-relevant, meaning the questions attended to something of importance and meaning for the questioner, rather than being of service to the recipient. Time and again, questions arose from the following:

  • a need to know – holding urgency and anxiety.
  • a need to fix – as if given enough information an answer to the problem would arise.
  • a need to understand – the more I resonate with this situation, the more I can be here.
  • a need to connect – the idea that our thoughts are the best connector between people.
  • a need to feel in control – fear of intimacy held at bay by controlling how close I get.

In work, in family life, in everyday regular occurrences, and of course with money, we relate to others with questions. It seems, though, our practice of asking questions is limited. It seems that we are tethered very closely to habitual patterns – see above – that likely arose from our childhood days. I hold the same habits and it looks something like this.

When a question is posed to me, I do not automatically answer the question. Instead, I look underneath the question, resting in the space between the other and me, sensing what else might be going on and what is “really” being asked. While this way of relating to questions requires more energy and bandwidth, it is the result of childhood patterning where just the answer to a question was unsatisfactory. More often than not, something else was being asked and it became beneficial to my health, happiness and well being to answer what was underneath the question versus the “face value” question. On the flip side, my questions to others are very intentional, and somewhat limited. I do not ask a lot of questions. I typically try to figure things out for myself. Again, this is not a suggested or preferred way of being; it is my childhood patterning I carry into adulthood.

In this space of curiosity about questions, in the training environment and beyond, I am seeing the various ways that we relate to questions. I notice that when I receive many questions, particularly pointed questions that desire a specific answer, I tend to freeze. As my mind works, there is rarely one “right” answer. So my mind begins to sort and make connections and figure out the most likely or the best answer. At the same time, I am looking underneath for the clues and context as to what is really being asked.

A superior practice is when I rest in the openness of the situation, with my heart wide and my mind curious. The responses – statements, questions, joy, resonance – arise from something other than a habit. Relating to another with generous questions is a very different experience.

We all have our preferences and this message is an invitation to get curious about your way with questions. How do you relate to questions?

In this training, I asked one mentor in training “who is being served by the questions you ask?” She responded with immediate recognition of serving herself and the desire to “buy time” when she struggled with relating from a different place. This simple question dove straight to her pattern where uncertainty and fear resided.

There are simple questions with direct clear answers. How many stamps do you want? What time does the movie end? Do you want lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise with your burger? A small part of life happens on this level; but maybe we are comfortable staying here?

As an evolving species, we are called to develop a better relationship with questions. In the world of money, elegant beautiful precise questions are imperative. We must hold multiple perspectives in most situations, in order to arrive at an answer that serves what is next. And always, questions are meant to serve the other, our clients.

My body receives a very clear signal when I am being questioned for the benefit of the questioner. Depending on my day and present state of mind, sometimes I manage the questions with skill and finesse. Sometimes, however, I feel the tension in my bones where my jaw tightens and patience thins. Rest assured my response is common. When we pummel others with question after question, it feels like an automatic rifle to the gut.

By now you might be wondering, can questions come from another place other than the head? Yes, I’m glad you wondered. When we connect and relate from the heart – there is a deep somatic reality to heart connection – the questions that arise are very open, spacious, kind, curious. They feel very different than the ways of questioning above. We know by heart that the best way to connect with another is through the heart.

The art of relating with questions through the heart lives in a doctorate program. Seriously. Few of us are well equipped in this area of relating. Let’s wonder and wander as a placeholder for exploration and gain new and valuable muscle for the benefit of connection, and the benefit of others. This is generosity in motion.

Practicing heart questions,