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What Matters Most

Today I was challenged, by a long-time friend and colleague, to reveal…

• What matters most to me about Somatic Finance, my motivation for giving time and energy to this work, and,
• Intimate and personal feedback from recipients of my work over the years.

One way to answer the above is to frame the conversation in stages of life. My professional training for financial planning ignited in college and my early twenties. For the last four decades I have given my professional life to the work of money through the practices of financial planning; more accurately, Integral Wealth planning. During the same period, recognizing and practicing integral theory, I engaged in other human developmental trainings and practices (somatic meditation, breath and movement, energetic healing) to name a few. Through direct experiential discovery, I realized that all of our life choices are optimized when we include the unique intelligence housed in our body. Even though throughout life our work, play and practices and our body may appear separate, they are not ever separate.

One experience always informs another. We are, in fact, integrated beings. The more I delved into interior practices and exterior manifestations, the more my spirit was stirred to offer my direct experiences and insights for the benefit of others. After all, my motivation when I started at age 22 to become a financial planner and help people make wise financial decisions has never wavered. This motivation remains, in a mature form; I have discovered wise financial decisions did not arise from our brain, but rather from our heart.

All disciplines grow up and mature along with the evolution of our human species. Financial disciplines, the profession of financial planning, are included. In the early 2000’s I understood that the ways of money were limited and needed something more. Through my study, training and engagement of somatic practices, I discovered directly the essence of body intelligence and how this unique wisdom applied to our work in finance. My calling to bring this forward in 2006 has only grown stronger with each step and each breath.

Though crazy to some and weird to others, a few curious beings have received these ideas with a leap of faith and willingness to explore. With growing interest from an evolving culture, it has been deeply satisfying to witness the outcomes of those open and willing and able… to engage in an expanded approach.

By the way, I am careful and very intentional about clarifying that this new way is in addition to the effective and essential financial practices already present. Nothing is taken away. Whatever is working for you, please continue. Body wisdom complements everything that benefits you. Opening to our interior wisdom is kind of like a super-power waiting to be your best friend.

Working with clients, and most recently with a group of seasoned financial professionals, I offer a few paraphrases of communication to me, after engaging in a somatic practice I offered.

There are no words to describe my experience. But each time I am in one your sessions, I am moved deeply. Something happens that enables me to see more and feel more.

You and your work are instrumental in how I show up for clients. Meeting you and receiving your wisdom has been essential to my development as a financial planner. My clients benefit from all that I have learned from my body, taught to me by you.

Whatever is happening, as difficult as it might be, I know to come home to my breath and body. This is the first and most powerful step that allows me to let go of external baggage and allow good decisions to follow.

I learn so much from you that is far more important than all other tools combined. I wanted you to know how important you have been in my life.

As I recall and write these responses from people who are learning to access the wisdom of their body, several thoughts arise.

The first and perhaps most prominent is – none of the wisdom they gain is from me. The appreciation is directed at me and “my work”; however, the beauty and profundity of their experience is all their own. I did very little except create the space, point the way and let them know what is possible if they are willing. While I do not deny my motivation, capacities and wisdom, I am also keenly aware that each of us possess innate wisdom ready to be revealed through somatic practices.

Second, when we touch an aspect of ourselves where fresh wisdom resides – it is often difficult to put into words. We are not familiar with our expansion of insight, coming from within us. Our natural tendency in these situations is to project it outside, hence, appreciations to me for their experience. I am humbled by and receive these points of gratitude, as I clap my hands to encourage further practice.

Third, far more interesting for you, the reader, is to take these words and statements as fuel for your own practice, your own journey. Allow these nuggets to be inspiration for you to get curious about the wisdom your body holds for you. Are you willing to engage practices and seek new intelligence held in your body?

Let me know. I offer my unconditional support, guidance and joy.

Revealing truths and encouragement,

 

 

 

Meet Donald, a Somatic Chef

Last week I attended an intimate meditation retreat with my somatic meditation community. Treated daily to three fresh, simple, delightfully nourishing meals made by Donald, we quickly fell in crush. He promised that the food would be good, and good food supports our meditation practice. Simple. Fresh. Clear. (Pith instructions for life!)

One afternoon while washing dishes, a friend asked Donald, “Do you taste your cooking as you are preparing it?”

Donald replied, “Oh no. I always ask someone else do my tasting. Their body immediately tells me if it is good or not.”

Startled by his value of body wisdom, I expressed my delight in his way of seeing. A true somatic chef!

He continued by saying he can gauge the quality of the dish by the movement of the taster’s body, their facial expressions, their eyes, the way they swallow, and after swallowing, a smile and a hand resting on the belly. I admired Donald’s perfection in body-wisdom, particularly with our daily intake of food, a form of nourishment—a form of currency.

Did you know that our bodies also offer signals when we delve into money matters? Yes, they do.

Most often our bodies are stiff and constricted when discussing money. Our attention centers in the head, trying to figure out an answer, or force a particular outcome, or determine a pressured next best step. The message our body gives in these moments is, I am scared, fatigued, working really hard to get this right.

Sometimes our bodies are more relaxed and at ease. In relaxed moments, clarity is front and center, confidence in our decisions is booming, and we are enjoying a space of freedom. That’s right, “financial freedom” is not just a cute elusive phrase. It is a direct visceral experience of feeling free. What does free feel like to you? At ease. Hopeful. Confident. Peaceful.

On more rare occasions, when facing a money decision, we intentionally access our body intelligence, along with knowledge from our brain. In these situations, we trust in our practical money knowledge, and that this information is available when we need it. In addition, we are curious about what we do not know, and how our body intelligence—in the form of sensations, movement and feelings—can support us in clearer approaches to money direction.

Donald is one of the rare ones who trusts his practical culinary skills and uses them daily to prepare meals. He is motivated to prepare good healthy food for the benefit of his guests. He adds his curiosity and trust in unique body wisdom to gather insights from another’s somatic response to his cooking, and receives these responses as a valuable gift to improve his results.

Let’s take a lesson from Donald and make a vow to include more body wisdom in our life pursuits. If going directly to money is a challenge, practice with food, or conversation, or another safer activity, to build a stronger muscle. Once practiced, including money will be just the next “thing” to integrate somatic awareness with your precious human life.

Smiling and holding my palm on my belly, I can taste Donald’s savory soups even from my memory.

Somatically savoring,

 

 

 

It won’t be Perfect, but it will be Better

08/08/2019

Six months ago, a dear friend who lives thousands of miles away, a gifted potter who began her passion later in life, sent me two gorgeous pieces. The five-inch green square and three-inch blue rectangle sat on my desk receiving my admiration. One day last month in a hectic frenzy they fell to the ground. The five-inch square broke into three pieces.

I can fix this. I moved the ceramic to another table for repair… when I had more time.

Today, after confirming plans to connect with my potter friend, it was time. Gorilla glue, rubber bands, wet paper towel, dry rag and toothpicks—the damaged tray and I consummated the repair. The work was not hard, but the result was not pretty. In a focused but “need to get done” state of mind, the repair broke apart—three pieces became five.

Though not headed in the direction I intended, the phrase, it’s not perfect, but it will be better came to mind. I glued unskillfully. I did not pay close attention to how the ceramic pieces fit together, and the last two broken parts did not fit in the tray. No problem. Let me glue this together with my creative juices, and with my new teaching: it is not perfect, but it will be better. And it is. The tray is glued back together. Not perfect, but better. (See below for a capture of my creative expression.)

All too often, our efforts seek perfection. Our brilliant minds create ideas about what we want, and that want gets amplified with a concept of perfection— often unrealistic perfection. Perfection misses delicious sideroads, off-the-trail surprises, and spontaneous potentials. Perfection grasps. Perfection clings. Perfection excludes. Perfection exhausts.

Sometimes, all the situation requires is better. Better offers us a way in, a deeper breath, a warm space. Better is better. Better allows us elbow room and with that openness comes perspective. The work of money is a perfect place, pun intended, to explore the idea of not perfect, but better.

Let’s move in with a metaphor. What happens if we view the mountain top as perfection? What happens to the ascent and descent of the climbing experience? How long can we stay at the top of the mountain and survive boredom, hunger, weather? Often in our money journey we seek a top (usually retirement) attached to a number. We might miss the ascent—spending on current life experiences, saving for the future, and giving generously. In the process of accumulating and navigating money flow and growth, we might miss our “better.”

You may recall the well-known phrase and teaching called, the myth of arrival. This idea of perfection will be experienced when this _________ (fill in the blank) manifests. At the top may occur the myth of arrival experience, and the glow of achievement begins to fade. This is perfect! I can see for miles and miles, from here to eternity—the horizon beckons me! And then, just like that, we begin a descent. We fail to recognize that on the descent – spending, saving and giving are the same activities held with fresh eyes. Is climbing down a mountain a problem?

With better, when we know that we cannot make a mistake, we gain access to better decisions. Most harmful decisions come from the belief that there is only one right answer. Right answers close down curious possibilities. When we finally make a decision with a “right answer,” the ability to change is near impossible because we were seeking the perfection of that one right answer.

Now, as this missive comes to a close, consider better in an open curious way. Consider how better might be best. Consider what possibilities might emerge in decisions when we soften the grip of “right” in service of … restorative, rejuvenating, replenishing, revitalizing, revolutionary, reverent.

My repaired ceramic mishap does not appear perfect, but it is definitely better than broken or discarded. And I love it!

                     

Bettering life,

 

 

 

 

Somatic Integral Mastery

07/11/2019

Last week a seven-month coaching engagement closed with a gorgeous completion conversation. I had the unique pleasure and honor of serving as a coach for another Master Integral Coach®. This engagement was a reminder of how much growth is possible when we are open, willing and committed. My client was all of these – ripe for each session to delve deep and wide so that focus practices came fresh and easy for her to make potent meaningful progress. She was able to integrate prior stuck points with generous space, created in movement with practices which included body awareness.

Last month three members of Colman Knight attended the first Online Taster Course for the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, work developed by a group which includes a longtime Hendricks training mate, Diana Chapman. The foundation of their model is openness to learning, and a recognition of the same – am I open or closed: am I open to learning or am I closed and defended?  All CK members have been exploring these commitments together with monthly trainings followed by individual practices. We are learning more decisively that the answer to openness or constriction is in the body. We are practicing “above or below the line” as a way to strengthen our openness to learning and create more meaningful connections.

Today, a client of over twenty-five years arrived for a conversation about her finances and repeating issues with her partner. The difference in the conversation today, as compared to the many other conversations in the past, was her openness to learning for herself. She recognized that she needed support with areas of development that would support her ability to make optimal decisions. We touched upon the financial matters swiftly and skillfully; the majority of our connection was tethered to the “real” issue and the superior way of attending to her situation. In conversation, she was repeatedly invited to check in with her body, to register the truth of her discoveries. She was stunned – in a good way – at how the meeting unfolded and the possibilities we uncovered.

The link among these three different vignettes may be obvious: openness to learning. Also, perhaps not obvious but the essence of integral mastery, is the link of our body intelligence with each arising situation, whether it is about finances, relationships, emotions, or gardening (my favorite spring time activity).

If we want to make leaps and bounds progress, allowing the dots to connect, the swirls to spiral, the giggles to guffaw, we include somatic intelligence to supercharge our insights and tether them to our bigger field of connections. Let me unpack this statement. One plus one equals two. You may have also heard, that sometimes one plus one equals three. Meaning, we move from a linear perspective to a dimensional perspective. Dimensions take us to a larger view which means that if this is true about this situation, I see how it is true for these situations.

An example from today: I might believe that my anger at my spouse for walking without me this morning (when we agreed to walk together the night before) comes from my judgment of him not listening to me, breaking an agreement, and a lack of care. But when I look closer, open to learning including my body wisdom, I see that I am hurt. In my hurt is sadness aching in my chest; in my sadness and hurt, I see it is closer to my desire to connect; in this desire, I see it is not current day, but a thread of hurt and sadness back to childhood, of wanting to connect with my father.

If I stayed in my closed mental judgment, the anger would constrict my view and demand something from my spouse, perhaps re-creating a pattern for both of us to justify our position. Being open to learning, valuing our relationship, I stayed with my feelings and body awareness which created more space to view the situation from other angles. My natural response provided pops of insight, including a deeper connection with my beloved.

With money, we are on the bleeding edge of discovery, growth and fulfillment when we bring body intelligence into our work. Money can be substituted for any situation examined. Mastery is only possible when we include our body. Mastery means that our life becomes easier, sustainable, more enjoyable and more impactful.

Thank you to all of the people co-creating with me to gain these insights and offerings for the benefit of our world.

Expanding with optimism,

 

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,

 

 

 

Love. Appreciation. Gratitude.

04/11/2019

Love, appreciation and gratitude come alive only when activated and experienced in the body. Otherwise, they are roaming concepts. Concepts don’t support authentic connection so don’t bother trying, unless you find your body. In my somatic practices, when love, appreciation and gratitude blossom – I notice that they often arise in that order.

When I open and move with love, appreciation for the experience quickly follows. Then, gratitude arises as a powerful bow. Picture a trio playing instruments, or a pick-up practice of basketball. Each player has a unique chord or move – but they all move together in beautiful rhythm.

I am not clear why I am writing about this topic. But my heart has been very active (sore and achy) for many months and it is in my heart (in all hearts) that love, appreciation and gratitude reside.   Serving as a Lead Meditation Instructor for an online meditation program, I recently offered the following instructions to the Meditation Instructors when they hold videoconferences with their students. I said, “Love the people in front of you.” It reminds me of the lyrics from the Crosby Stills and Nash song, “Love the One You’re With.”

It has been said that if you really want to see – you need to love what you are looking at. What is more important than looking at and loving the people in front of you? Seeing registers that which we can appreciate. Thus, we feel grateful.

Before we go all ice cream, rainbows and sparkles… loving the person in front of us is not always easy. I get cranky and close down. In the best of moments, somatic awareness reveals that my body is contracted. To open, I move, usually with breath, or if needed, a wiggle or shake. In a less than stellar connection, I stay closed and barrel through the familiar sludge. Later, when I reflect with a relaxed body, I am able to make a better move. I see what happened and gain muscle to shift quicker next time. This is how development works. This is how love, appreciation and gratitude grow.

How do we love the people in front of us if the content of the conversation is heated?

When money is the topic of conversation, heat easily arises and the importance of heart work becomes explicit. Daily, I’m not exaggerating, clients struggle to connect with what really matters because of heated tugs and contractions about money.

Money, bound in fear, gets hit by outside forces which are not ready to include heart wisdom. Media, big investment houses – adrenaline-pumping sources.  It is up to us, those of us willing and committed to face fear-emblazoned money ways, to create new open generous pathways of money love. Yes, I did say money love.

Money, in the best way, is an expression of that which we most love and appreciate. It then expands our gratitude and the gratitude of those around us.

Here are a few creative moves to consider in your practice of love, appreciation and gratitude. Try it first without the subject of money. Gain new muscle. Then, allow money to be a potent muscle-strengthener.

•    Get willing and committed to love what is – even though you might not “know” how.
•    See others as works of art moving, breathing, living at whatever level they are capable.
•    Look at the idea of “level.” Eliminate the tendencies to evaluate and to need to help.
•    Allow heart curiosity to replace the notion something needs to be different or improve.
•    Expect and welcome surprises.

As I offer this to you, I receive a juicy reminder for myself.

Love, appreciation, and gratitude are potent presence that transcend all boundaries and ideas. No other subject in our modern world has more conceptual ideas than money   . Our heart intelligence is practically void. Any profession, any money situation, any money struggle asks for this kind of presence: loving attention.

The potential we bring to every relationship, every situation, and every money-second is a more evolved state of consciousness sourced through love, appreciation and gratitude.

Let’s practice this way together and see what happens.

Loving, appreciating and feeling gratitude,