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They can’t take that away from me~

George and Ira Gershwin’s 1937 jazz song introduced by Fred Astaire in the film Shall We Dance welcomes us into this month’s exploration. While I am not intimately familiar with the movie, in this context, what can’t they take away from me? My dignity. Your dignity. Their dignity.

Dignity abides in the interiors of our whole body vessel. We access our dignity by paying attention to the spine and the back line of our body from the back of the neck to the lower sacrum. Try it right now.

You might notice that your spine naturally elongates, your chest opens and your lower body roots closer to the ground. Our body – embodies – dignity, a natural truth of our human existence. As we continue to explore and gain practice in our own dignity this year, let’s look at the ways dignity can be falsely stripped from us in times of vulnerability.

In our birth family, it is common for our dignity to be tampered with, as parents and perhaps siblings address situations where their own sense of dignity is being challenged. Often power, force, and unconscious patterns are used to protect a sense of self-respect in desperation, fear or confusion. Most of us have encountered those moments with family members where we were told to “shut-up,” or perhaps physically shoved or spanked, or verbally abused, or even subtle shaming. The possibilities of disrespect in family life are endless, unfortunately. It is in the family situation where we may have our first occurrences of disrespect. As the youngest of four children, I was often on the disrespectful receiving end of slams from my parents and siblings. My parents did the best they could and the lack of care for each other trickled down the line.

Recently, I was in a heated discussion with my sister, five years older than me. The argument was intense and I stayed present in my spine, noticing the tension of the moment as well as the history of being the youngest and doing what she instructed – without regard for my needs or desires as an adolescent. But as an adult, I stood my ground, so to speak. I spoke my truth. I did not waver. My body held me in my dignity. My respect was not “taken away from me” – respect can never be taken away when we abide in our truth. The outcome offered us a new experience of connection and support, which would not have been available had I repeated an old undignified pattern.

In school we have another place where dignity gets taunted, by unskillful teachers and classmates. The scenes look like bullying from our peers and perhaps humiliation from teachers.  If our dignity is trampled in grade school, the probability is high for junior high and high school to be equally as difficult. Like parents, teachers are doing their best and our social groups are navigating the complexities of growing up in a challenging world. School is a breeding ground for competition. In present day, new systems such as group learning have been introduced as superior ways of learning and growing together. I imagine that this shift has supported dignity. But in my day, academics were a race. I never fell in love with learning, despite my longing to be engaged. It was not until my career began that I found stimulating and inviting ways to grow and thrive, holding my dignity. In grade school through my undergrad, I was often scared. At those times I outsourced my dignity to teachers, friends, sorority sisters, and classmates, those to whom I wanted to connect and gain acceptance. When I outsourced dignity, I lost a healthy sense of self and my ground of being.

Money is another breeding ground for humiliation and decreased confidence. Yet, my sense is that our ability to attend to money dignity is different from other devaluing experiences of dignity. As we develop and grow up as adults, we are invited to reflect on and address childhood wounds, and much of what we experience in family and childhood are common areas for exploration and healing in multiple therapeutic settings. However, money morphs into a different twist. Our society doesn’t know how to attend to money dignity. It’s very elusive. Financial professionals have tried to address these issues with money psychology, behavioral finance, money therapy and more, but just tending to the hurt does not build dignity.

Money dignity requires four components that spiral together and build on each other. First, we face the limiting money beliefs and stories that have held us hostage. Second, we gain knowledge about finances to navigate the modern world in which we live. Third, we gain access and tend to the felt sense in our bodies that hold the money stories, financial knowledge and intuitive wisdom. Fourth, as all of those muscles are strengthened, our dignity begins to shape, and eventually soar. We slowly, carefully, and intentionally build the essence of our inherent dignity—abiding along our backline—connecting our belly and heart. Just recognizing the history of how we developed limiting money habits is not enough to build dignity. Just knowing how to make financial decisions is not enough to build dignity.  The way dignity is built and sustained is through gaining insight, understanding and healing, then taking action as a doorway to the true essence of our dignity, which is always held in the body.

Once embodied, they can’t take that way from me, or you, or anyone—and that’s the perfection of body wisdom.

Practicing embodied dignity,

Dance. Patience. Dignity.


My beloved and I began a beginner’s ballroom dancing class after many years of postponing the activity. It was simple and spontaneous. My text: Honey, do you want to join a ballroom dancing class tonight? His response: Yes.

The basic instructions to the men (or the lead person of the couple) were to follow the sequence of the steps, with timing and to the beat of the music. The basic instructions to the women (or the person following) were clear: follow your partner. From my experience that evening, I could embellish the instructions – under any and all circumstances, follow your partner. Never deviate from his moves even if he is screwing up the steps, loses the timing or has no capacity to follow the music.

We learned the basic steps to the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rhumba and Swing. The introductory segment of the class was moderately calm as we separately learned these moves. When it was time for us to dance together, that’s when our experience offered a glimpse into my lack of patience.

Let me say right off, I was a royal ass. My behavior was contracted, triggered, and on alert. It was not my spouse who triggered me – at first – it was the Attila the Hun instructor who gave me, only ME, feedback on what I needed to improve.

Let me paint the picture.

All nine couples are lined up across from each other Cotillion style. We take turns following one after the other down the middle of the line. With no musical accompaniment, my honey leads me without rhythm, skewing our straight movement to his left. I am trying desperately to follow his lead, while my body is communicating that the movement is off. My body is saying, what are you doing? He’s stepping on my toes, I am stepping on his. We are supposed to be doing the Foxtrot: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow. We stumble down the lane twice. He is a bit frustrated, and I can feel a montage of feelings inside – humor, horror, perseverance, disappointment, and simmering dread.

Next, all couples are in their own space, practicing putting the steps to music. I forget this is practice and become anchored in the belief that we are supposed to be good at the Foxtrot. I feel frustrated, flipping between following with keen attention, and growing aggravation with his lack of ability.

Then, I take charge. My patience, what little was present, runs out. I begin to lead. He goes limp. His cage droops. I speak out loud, “Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick, quick.” There is slight improvement. But not enough, as Attila the Hun arrives and begins to chastise me for the poor performance. [She was trying to be helpful. She did not chastise me.] I become angry with what I perceive as her less than helpful attention. The once delightful idea of learning to dance with my partner becomes sour. We end the night somber, not angry but disappointed – for different reasons – which led to my exploration of several things, including patience.

Practicing dance, I was able to see: 1) the beauty of somatic intelligence, 2) the strength of the brain to function, 3) the perfection of response to situations out of coherence, and 4) the delicacy of relationships and the importance of patience, openness, light-heartedness and practice.

I appreciate my body letting me know we were off beat. This was the truth of the situation. Not good or bad, right or wrong – just the truth. This is the opening to grow and become a more fluid dance couple.

I appreciate my mind working to learn the dances and at times to take over, to allow me to relax and let go. My frustrated body was able to follow the wrong rhythm when my mind said, “Just let him lead to the wrong beat!” So I did! My body moved with him, letting go of dance precision. And guess what? I had more fun in those moments of connection, trusting that I could follow without having to lead. (These were fleeting moments but moments nonetheless.)

 I appreciate my reactions to myriad situations from the evening. Each reaction pointed to the coherence or lack of coherence in energy. My body moves toward coherence and in that space my mind settles, ease expands, and joy flourishes. Without coherence, a trigger pops to give attention to the lack of coherence. I either move toward creating coherence, or move away to find coherence.  Dancing – perhaps – is ultimately moving with the flow of going in and out of coherence; but I have yet to master that on the dance floor.

This experience relates to money.

Your body knows when the rhythm is off, related to money. However, you have not been taught to listen to the wisdom being offered. The power of the money systems is loud, obnoxious and rude. Our modern world has no respect for a new way to engage money. There are ingrained and rusted rules, regulations, controls, manipulations, structures and systems that have no interest in changing much less considering a better way.

We are taught to engage money from a narrow alley, from concepts. Walk through here and attend as quickly and carefully as you can to this issue. When the body signals something is off and we attempt to articulate what doesn’t seem right, we are shamed, or shoved answers, or glistened over.  In defense of the individuals working in financial organizations who give you these answers, they are not to blame. They simply mirror society and the culture. They have not been given the pathway to learn, and grow, and meet you where you ultimately want to be met.

How it is:

Your body gives you a signal. While you may not know exactly what is being conveyed, you share whatever realization may be available. The money world cannot meet you. It arrives from the rational mind, with answers, solutions, strategies and tools. As your heart aches, information bombards. You close off your heart and body wisdom, shrink in size, and focus on the mental details. As long as I follow these rules, these specific steps, this process, I will be OK. It doesn’t matter that all of you is not being seen or heard, what matters is you address this narrow situation and leave the alley as soon as possible so you can breathe.

In the dancing story, my body knew we were not on track. Yet I did not have the skills – the Patience – to shift the situation and I promise you, the Waltz did not care… just like money doesn’t care. And sometimes you don’t have the skills to shift the situation either.

Money gets shoved to the side – distinctly separate from you and your meaningful life. It is painful to shrink into smallness. It is painful to close our hearts. It is painful to still the passionate energy of the belly that wants to engage with truth and vitality. If money is treated this way, how will we ever abide in the virtuous flow of somatic finance?

Is it up to the rusted money system that has less than zero interest or capacity to change?

Or is it up to you?


Patience can guide the way. Patience has been in my field of awareness lately. When I say field, I mean smack in my face. It is burning alive as depicted in my dancing story! One of the six Paramitas in Mahayana Buddhism (or ten depending upon who is talking), Patience is offered as a view to support our capacity to not react (or be less reactive) in the face of challenging situations. Wholehearted practice – meaning with the body and mind – is the way of engaging these principles.  Whether the Buddha is your teacher or not, embodied patience is vital to sustained Dignity.

You are invited to see how patience is the strength that allows us to remain grounded like a mountain, yet uplifted like bamboo, regardless of what is happening in our life. Patience is not giving up, closing down or pushing through. Patience stays in with grace and grit (January’s invitation!). What does patience look like in your situations? Explore. I’ve shared what it doesn’t look like! J


Patience is an essential gateway to developing and strengthening dignity. I imagine dignified dancers perform perfectly, not getting each step, but abiding in integrity with an open heart and genuine joy.

Polishing Patience,

Grace and Grit

Grace comes in the form of staying in bed with a blossoming cold even when scheduled for a workout.

Grit comes in the form of shoveling snow off of a roof for the first time even though heights are terrifying.

Both of these happened within the last five days.

Grace comes in the form of a pause, holding spikey thoughts and allowing words to wash away like a breeze.

Grit comes in the form of expression clear and direct to cut through clouds of lingering false beliefs.

-I’ve held my thoughts and expressed firmly within the last month.

Grace comes in the form of compassionate bridging when systems are now riddled with fear and polarities. Grit comes in the form of action when insanity is so harmful we muscle courage toward the unknown.

Last year I danced and slogged through being and doing – filling the ground of pretty and ugly.

Grace and Grit became familiar to me first when reading Ken Wilber’s 2001 book by the same title. Over the years these two words have been used together – for countless situations and occasions. In October of last year, these bookends held Emerging Women founder Chantal Pierrat’s keynote. Today, this month, as we begin a new year and a new opening for Somatic Finance, I offer Grace and Grit as vital capacities on our fluid map of discovery. Grace and Grit are the pith capacities to embody dignity. Dignity, an essential nutrient of human existence, is the theme offered for 2018. Dignity is energized in our spine connected by the heart and our belly. Grace moves through the heart. The belly holds grit. Grace and Grit enable us to get through the fiery realities we face, today; not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now.

Grace and Grit are both essential skills.

Grace and Grit key into situations quickly – silently – precisely – compassionately.

Grace and Grit are the mother load of feminine warriors.

Grace and Grit are mastered through three centers in the body – head, heart and belly.

The fruition of Grace and Grit is Dynamic Dignity, an ever-flowing ability to be attentive to life with warrior skill, kind attention and an evolutionary nudge. Dignity allows for the tendency to fade and constrict in challenging situations to be strong, clear, and here.

Money consistently presents opportunities for practicing and embodying Dynamic Dignity, whether a “positive” or “negative” situation. Whether seeking answers for accumulated savings, or making a choice for charitable giving, or navigating insurance claims for property loss, or evaluating health coverage options, or holding the pain of financial injustice… Dynamic Dignity reveals fresh truer insights and energy to move in a beneficial direction.

Let’s emphasize these words offered together with clear intention. We’ve covered dignity. Let respect be meaningful to you now and always. Dynamic is moving – forward, pausing, sideways, energized and precise. Dynamic is putting the force into something happening. Dynamic means it is now, time, to get going. Once your insight provides sufficient J clarity, take action. Get moving. Do something.

For your money, this means it is not sufficient to understand where overspending beliefs and behavior originated. Take that new understanding into a practice to heal, be generative, improve money health, and resolve permanently the ticks and tugs that have held you back. Grace and grit will lead and hold the way.

It’s 2018. Put a stake in the ground to integrate money – in all ways – through the body – in your life. Begin by committing to dignity. Then, practice with this month’s 5 minute Try-it – Dynamic Dignity – to feel this precious nutrient come alive in your body.  Practice until your Dynamic Dignity is embodied… in all situations, you remain steadfast, present, clear, compassionate and right action follows.

May Grace and Grit feed our way,

Celebrating Life

It’s my birthday month. I’m a few years shy of the big six-o. My birthday is not big news and rarely do I call attention to it, but this year feels different.

Upon contemplation, I realize that this year my birthday feels to me to be about otherness. Meaning, I’m feeling the intersection of all beings, and feeling inspired to give rather than to receive. As in, the giving is receiving, and receiving is giving. Despite a phantom list of all of the problems happening in the world, our country, my home, my work, my family…I live a blessed life. (I use the word phantom as a way of noting my view of problems. Problems can just as easily be seen as openings for change, for love, for clarity, for taking action. If you are curious about seeing problems from another vantage point, make “problems” your object of exploration. In a crucible kind of way, problems catalyze new possibilities. How can that be a problem? J) Good fortune surrounds me and fills me. I enjoy more food, material goods, leisure time, intellectual pursuits, healthy activities, meaningful work, and treasured relationships than 99+% of the people walking our earth. On my birth, I had good fortune that has continued to bless me. With each passing year, I recognize the depth of my good fortune, the choices I have made, and the motivation that has held me, clearly highlighting the truth of our collective well-being, or lack thereof.

It feels challenging to celebrate when our environment is suffocating from human pollution, unconscious behavior and lack of care. The vitality of our waters, earth and air is depleting. The very beneficiaries of these nutrients are destroying nature’s life giving essence.

It feels challenging to celebrate when new government policies are severely skewed to the self-interests of those voting in favor of deplorable policies and rules.  I’m distressed that supposed servant leaders have morphed into egotistical power hungry self-grasping leeches. Their actions, limited to benefitting the few, have widened the chasm of “us and them.” The polarized and tension-stretched rubber band is poised to snap. The hit will be fierce and it seems like the cascading aftermath will be ugly. Crowds will be left pointing a finger outward when in actuality, the events are pointing toward a mirror. We are all in this together.

It feels challenging to celebrate when I read the newspaper or listen to the news and another act of violence has left innocent people dead, wounded and with life-altering trauma. How is it we have come to a period in our history where mass gun shootings feel familiar and the initial outcry fades quickly like the outgoing tide?

My celebrating life message is not meant to be dreary. But the truth of present reality is the gateway to celebrating authentically. Life is begging us to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds, in order to see clearly and where we fall short in nourishing her and where we are causing harm. When we see clearly we are able to act with intelligence, precision, and purpose.

The times feel challenging, and a challenge is a call to action, not resolution. Life doesn’t get resolved. We do not come to a conclusion wrapped in a bow. Life co-exists and co-creates with us. Life is asking for us to take action with our hearts, and move toward something better.

There are three causes that I have chosen for donations for my birthday. If you are moved to give in celebration of Life, please follow the links below the descriptions that follow for my picks, or feel inspired to research a cause that speaks to your own values.

Testing the Waters is the inspiration of Pranav Shikarpur, the son of a longtime friend. I am inspired by the ingenuity, creativity, intelligence and “generativity” of our next generation. The collective impact of this innovation has the potential to benefit the world. Testing the Waters is one of twenty projects selected to represent India at the Intel ISEF Science Fair in 2018. Polluted waters are widespread in Pranav’s native land in India. He and his partners have developed a portable prototype to easily test the purity of water (lakes, ponds, oceans) for public use. Their innovation gives evidence to support necessary actions to clean up the polluted waters and provide clean water for Life. Links to more information and the opportunity to donate are found below.

To donate:

TreeSisters is an organization founded by Claire Dubois, “committed to the creation of an evolving system that learns as it goes and continually models itself upon the flows and forms of living systems. Her aim is to reclaim balance, to revel in freedom and health and to be a ‘walking permission’ for those who are fed up of being held back, and just want to have a go.” I was inspired by the engagement and authenticity of Claire as I experienced her presence, care and wisdom at Emerging Women 2017 in Denver, Colorado this October. As well as by Claire herself, I am motivated by the generative mission of the organization for the planet and all people.

TreeSisters exists to elicit collective responsibility for planetary restoration at the grass roots level with a focus on women and tropical reforestation. We are growing a global network of women who donate monthly to fund the acceleration of tropical reforestation as an expression of collective planetary care.

To donate and learn more, follow this link:

The Ocean Clean Up attends to the vital waters of our earth and all the beings that dwell in the oceans by cleaning up the world’s oceans of plastic that have entered the ocean from human consumption. From their research, “a significant percentage of this plastic drifts into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres. Once trapped in a gyre, the plastic will break down into microplastics and become increasingly easier to mistake for food by sea life. The Ocean Cleanup is developing a passive system, moving with the currents – just like the plastic – to catch it.” CEO and founder, Boyan Slat says, “for society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves.” I couldn’t agree more.

To donate and learn more, follow this link:

As you read and reflect on the above inspirations, you may notice a common theme. I am moved that they each benefit the greater good, the collective, and all beings on earth. Happiness, authentic happiness, comes from realizing we are all in this precious life together AND connecting that realization with kindness in our thoughts, words and actions.  Do you recall these gentle sayings – given during vulnerable learning places in your life?

What goes around comes around.

Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

When you point one finger out there are three fingers pointing in.

The Gift, the Giver and the Receiver are all the same.

May these reminders be an inspiration to you and your actions. Even if you are not able to give monetarily, you can be generative in your actions. A few suggestions follow:

  • Eliminate use of plastic (straws, bags) and use only recyclable material.
  • Establish powerful intentions with clear actions to be earth friendly.
  • Plant a tree or water a public tree in the city.
  • Read – articles, real news and studies about our planet; be informed about planetary sustainability.

Celebrating, my birth and yours,

Flourishing Feminine

Last month I had the good fortune to attend Emerging Women Live 2017 and to facilitate a coaching circle on Somatic Finance©. The experience, energy + presence + women + motivation, saturated me for four days. My body was electrified with feminine power. I felt juiced and alive with joy, vitality and expansion. Feminine power has that quality. The feminine cares big — wide, deep and high. And when immersed in that space, we reflect that reality. Below I captured a few favorite quotes from the speakers, just for you. There were many more. This is a taste for you to savor. As you read and receive, imagine the intention behind the words. Feel the energy that lights up in you, in your body

Before we begin…
This is not about men versus women. Feminine energy is alive in all beings.
This is about seeing beyond a narrow view.
This is about opening our hearts to a reality beyond our familiar.
This is about the simple ways of life – kindness, joy, and truth – that enable all lives to be better.

My suggestion for reading: pause, turn off disruptive devices, get a favorite beverage, retrieve pen and paper and practice savoring. Enjoy. Relish. Take pleasure in receiving these offerings.

When someone on the other side of the world is doing well, 
we feel it whether we know what was done or not.
Kindness is the greatest tool to recognize a person’s value.
It doesn’t require you to be anything other than you.
~ Orly Wahba, Kindness Boomerang
Achievement of women’s dream is central to our civilization.
Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community.
If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go with others.
Hospice the death of the old systems that no longer serve us.
~ Dr. Tererai Trent, Humanitarian and Author
Make a shift from being a consumer species to a restorative species.
Let your savings save something.
~ Claire Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters
Behind every criticism lives a wish.
There is no way to live an interesting life and be sure. 
We must be in uncertainty. If uncertainty is not for you, respect it.
~ Esther Perel, Psychotherapist and Author
When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.
Our home zone is the way you find your way to speak. 
The home zone is human and not always comfortable.
Comfortable is forgettable.
~ Gail Larsen, Founder of Real Speaking
Pausing is in service of the doing.
Pause is a feminine value.
~ Rachael O’Meara, Author, The Power of Pause
What comes through me is an answer to someone’s prayers.
Work requires us to be the women we are meant to be.
~ Liyana Silver, Author, Feminine Genius
It’s not personal; it’s physics.
If we don’t resonate with something, it’s just not aligned for our energy.
What if – it’s just physics? – 
allow your internal GPS system to guide you to be the greatest expression of what you are.
~ Suzy Batiz, Founder & CEO Poo-Pourri
Have a mission that is so much larger than you that fuels you from your identity.
The vicious cycle of wealth can be as vicious as the cycle of poverty. ~ Mother Theresa
~ Lynne Twist, Author and Activist, The Soul of Money
In any moment we all have the capacity to lead.
Leadership is created by all conscious decisions made along the way.
~ Cheryl L. Jones, The Mindful Path
Be bold. Your heart already knows what is best for you.
We can be change agents for a kinder world.
~ Shiza Shahid, The Mahala Fund
The one thing we are held accountable for at death: How did you love? Not who you loved.
~ Colleen Abdoulah, Chair of World Pulse
Create the experience you want if you don’t like the present experience.
Create something new in the WE sphere.
A rubber band stretches with tension. Owning the experience means the tension resolves.
~ Chantal Pierrat, Founder of Emerging Women
There is no number.* There is only flow. 
As life changes, numbers change. 
When we embody sufficiency, access to life and flow expands. 
It doesn’t matter what the number is when in flow.
~ Gayle Colman, founder & dreamer of Somatic Finance®

Thank you, Chantal, and all emerging women, for co-creating and nourishing our inner space, for connecting our outer space, … to benefit the world.

Relishing, receiving, respecting,

Practice Practice

Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

The above definition of insanity is most frequently attributed to Einstein. At its core, the message is about the behavior of someone who is not aware, particularly of how specific action relates to results. When we want to improve our circumstances, we need to be aware of the crucial issue, in order to make choices, and, we need to practice, in order to improve our capacity. In short, awareness creates choice, and practice creates capacity. Desiring change, and being aware of change, is only half of the equation required to create change. The second half of the equation is practice.

All too often, we mistake cognitive recognition for capacity. We read information. We gain knowledge. We acknowledge new ideas. We take different perspectives. We experience “aha” moments. We see new choices. These moments of insight brighten our mind. However, they do not build embodied muscles that enable us to perform differently in the world. Taking better action requires practice.

Awareness creates choice. Practice creates capacity.

Being aware and having capacity are two different aspects of development. Being aware ignites the motivation to practice. Engaging in practice is consciously harnessing energy in the service of embodied growth, to cultivate sustainable capacity.

I have a lingering beef with people’s lack of motivation (courage, vulnerability, humility, truth, discipline, heart, determination and choice) to practice, particularly from those who “know” something. Nothing changes unless practice is part of the experience. Nothing changes just because a concept is understood. We need to choose practice and we need to choose practice with awareness, even if the practice is to be here content with what is.

Practice is a conscious activity that allows wisdom to co-emerge with action. Ultimately this action, when coming from pure wisdom, is compassion in action. But most of us are practicing for a long, long time before this realized way of co-emergent wisdom and compassion materializes consistently.

Why do I harp so fervently about practice? Because practice really matters.

Insanity isn’t a healthy state of mind to engage life. Repeating harmful patterns causes unhappiness, frustration and a downward spiral of suffering. When it comes to money, the lack of awareness and practice is pervasive.

The money field is notorious for a lack of embodied intelligence. Housed primarily in the left-brain strategic mind, we know many facts about money and the systems in our modern world. We recognize that many situations need to change to improve – individually and collectively.

Financial professionals are typically taught to discover problems. Define problems; analyze problems; develop strategies to alleviate problems. But as emphasized above, only being aware of the problems does not change the problems. It simply makes the problem evident, in order to make a different choice. Unless there is a skillful practice to engage the situation in a new way, preferably a practice that includes the body, there will be little to no progress. In fact, more suffering ensues because the problem is clearly known, perhaps new choices made, but remedies are stalled. Working with clients and their money limitations requires both an understanding of the issues and focused practices to build muscles to address the issues in an optimal way.

Going deeper and further, practices that only engage an exterior mechanical activity rarely attend to the essential issue because they do not touch the heart of the issue. Unless we access the root, what touches our hearts the most, we will continue to circle with band-aide solutions that look like viable practices.

Here is a common client issue: overspending. Overspending from an exterior practical view is having more cash outflow than inflow. It is a math equation, the amount of money coming in is less than the amount of money going out; it is called deficit spending. A negative balance is created at the end of a period of time (month, pay cycle, accounting period). One way to address this issue is to create a budget, a spending plan that dictates all income sources and where that income will be allocated over the specified period of time. One can call this a practice. However this practice rarely succeeds. There is no connection to the real issue that stands in the way of a balanced cash flow. A budget accesses the rational linear mind; it does not actively engage the body with awareness.

A superior and more successful practice for spending will combine a spending plan with meaning and somatic awareness. Here are a few examples:

  • When you reach for your credit card to make a purchase, pause and bring your attention to your belly. What sensations do you notice? What thoughts are running through your mind? Do you feel tight, warm, agitated, calm, or confused? Our bodies provide accurate information about purchases. For example, do you feel tight, agitated, and are you running a fear-based commentary? Look directly at the purchase: am I satisfying a need, a want or a rush? If it is an unconscious pattern, put the credit card back in your wallet and walk away. Note that refraining from the purchase is in service of saving for a higher priority. Appreciate yourself for shifting unconscious spending. After weeks and months of practice, a new way of being with credit cards emerges that allows you to stop spending before getting to the register.
  • If you are in a depressed emotional state, do you go shopping? If this is a pattern, disrupt the pattern with a healthy alternative choice: a 15-minute walk in nature (or a hallway or the sidewalk or the house) giving attention to your heart with self-acceptance. This practice, multiple times over a period of weeks and months, enables the pattern to shift to a healthy habit of loving kindness and decreased reactive depression spending.
  • At the end of a pay cycle when reviewing your budget, note where your income was allocated. Appreciate conscious spending choices, such as: mortgage/rent, grocery store, gym. Visualize the safety and comfort of home, eating and preparing meals in your own kitchen, a healthy body and mind from exercise, respectively. As the visualization intensifies, feel appreciation in your body. What do you notice and where in your body do you notice it? What does conscious spending feel like to you? Claim and feel your progress.

With each of the above somatic spending plan practices, powerful chemicals in the body get activated as a result of our body’s intelligence letting us know at a cellular level that we are changing in a positive way. We activate calming responses (through the para-sympathetic nervous system) that release dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.  These powerful natural chemicals feel good and support building new muscles aligned with optimal choices toward what we most want to achieve.  Connecting the somatic response with cognitive recognition reinforces the feedback loop to repeat the practice again. Eventually, the practice becomes embodied – sustainable without needing to think about doing it.

Instead of practicing insanity, disrupt insanity with a powerful practice.

What stands in your way of making progress with your life? Delve deeper into the situation and connect what matters deeply to you with the issue you discover. This connection is the seat of your motivation – typically we are moved when we get to the heart of the matter. Develop a somatic practice (or ask for help from a trusted friend/coach) to bring your awareness to the issue, to see better choices and to engage your body intelligence.

Give generous attention and discipline to your practice over time. Be determined and kind. Allow progress to grow by recognizing the changes in behavior and new insights from those changes.

Practice enables us to grow while having a rich human experience – fully embodied.


The World Expects Something from You

This summer at my annual meditation intensive, I noticed a deeply ingrained pattern about achievement and expectation, held firmly in place since childhood. Witnessing others achieving and making progress on practice forms, I realized that I am not motivated by achievement, at all. For those familiar with the enneagram assessment typology, I scored only 1 answer within Type 3 (the Achiever). Typed as a 7 (the Enthusiast), I used to consider this amusing. For those familiar with Integral Theory and the Quadrants Lens, I orient from Upper Left, which means that I am motivated by meaning, in order to take action, see broad patterns, or relate with others. Finding meaning before anything else has always made the most sense to me. I mean, why bother with Life – in any way – unless there is a deeper meaning. Right?

Hmm, maybe, but what is here to explore?  It sounds good and looks good; and there is more.  Delving deeper we find truer meaning; here are a few “pith points” …

  • Sitting in open space on my cushion and walking the dry woods, wondering about achievement, I realized that in order to achieve, an expectation of achievement is usually present, preceding the accomplishment. In other words, expectation to realize a goal comes before accomplishing the goal.
  • Achievement, the inspiration to generate, is part of all human development. Depending upon our genetic make-up (nature) and the environment we are raised (nurture), our motivation and capacity to achieve comes to life.
  • Finances are fueled with expectations: spending within earnings, retiring at a certain age, going to college or sending a child to college, investing within a healthy risk tolerance. Expectations about these objectives drive achievement.
  • The body, my body, your body, brings us closest to the truth of expectation and achievement.

As the youngest of four children, each two years apart, my untrained parents had their hands, arms, legs and body filled to the brim with caring for us. As we grew up, the state of the home did not change much. The environment was active and my mother was always tending to dinner, a sick child, an activity, housework – movement of any kind.  My father left for work early in the morning and returned in the evening just before dinner. The routine offered little time for anything more than noticing my existence.  Reflection, conscious teachings, much less deeper nurturing, were beyond their abilities by the time I was born. My child’s mind interpreted my family’s expectations as the following: 1) Don’t mess up, i.e. don’t go to jail and embarrass us, 2) Don’t become a star or be wildly successful, i.e. don’t shame us by shining too bright, and 3) Just be average, i.e. graduate from high school and college.

If my life achievements are examined, they are sufficient. J Compared to western statistics on education, studies indicate that I am in the 28.8% of Baby Boomers who have earned a college degree.  Other achievements that matter to me, relationships, career, health, service have their own metrics. Ultimately how I engage and experience life in my body – heart opened and generous – is my primary metric on achievement. So, I am not complaining about, nor minimizing my accomplishments. Far more interesting for us is exploring expectations of achievement, and what comes before expectations.

My parents did not instill expectations around adult accomplishments; for one reason, they did not see me as an individual but as a part of a group of children. One must be seen fully – individually – in order to have expectations impressed upon them. I’m guessing that most, if not all, of us were not fully seen by our caregivers. Expectations implanted by caregivers may have been inspiring (or not). Your achievements may have come from the environment in which you were raised, or not.  But your accomplishments and actions come from some motivation that inspires you to be who you are and do what you do.

At the airport returning home from my retreat, with a renewed sense of the importance of seeing my children as individuals and the power of parental expectations, I called my freshly graduated son who is working full time at a job he loves. I shared my discoveries and stated, “If Dad and I have not impressed upon you that we see your gifts, and we expect you to nurture those gifts and share those gifts with the world, then it is your job to realize the world has these expectations.”

The world expects something from you. The world expects you to shine and share your gifts with others. Why bother having any talents if they are not shared? Gifts hoarded are not gifts. The world shares her gifts with you by teaching 1) recognition of unique abilities, 2) achievement of what is possible and 3) offering generously. The world asks nothing except that you recognize your gifts and share them. Otherwise your gifts become stale, atrophy and are lost forever. (See Be Moved and wisdom from Martha Graham!) Achievement, oriented toward recognition, development and sharing, fulfills the expectation the world asks of you. The beauty and magic of sharing is that when shared, the benefits return ten-fold. This means that our life fulfillment deepens and brightens.

If you are at a loss for how to share your gifts, begin with your motivation. What is, or are, your inner desires? What’s the practice that supports your understanding AND growth? Don’t go to your head. The answers will come from a memory, a “should”, or an idea planted from outside. Do go to your heart. These answers come from an authentic truth of your current motivation.  Explore this month’s 5 Minute Try-It as a suggestion. Click this link to view podcast

If you are fully aware of how to share your gifts, keep them coming and expand your capacity for impact. Include impact in your motivation… and watch how your gifts grow. How’s that for achievement?

Awake Achieving,

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