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Even I do not like to go to the bank.

It occurred to me that the prevalence of online banking and electronic money flow could be a result of the prolonged arduous banking experience people want to avoid. Institutions recognize this distasteful experience as they desperately try to change history and tradition to current reality and something disguised as appealing. Can you see the “café” at Capital One?

Today I opened a business checking account for Somatic Finance® and it took almost an hour. Arriving at the empty bank and being told to sit in the reception area was my first twitch. A limp weird attempt at a handshake from the bank personnel about to help me was my second twitch. My third twitch was sitting at the desk and struggling to hear the questions delivered fast clip and without eye contact.

My demeanor became crusty. I could feel niggles, knots and my contracted energy swirling inside with the already suffocating energy of the cubicle. There were several more twitches before I chose to try something different. Rationally, I knew this person was simply doing her job and the best she could. She had nothing to do with the forms, the requirements, the disclosures, the CYA papers, the popping Merrill Edge advertisements, or the second-grade writing for the two choices of checking accounts. She had nothing to do with the lack of integrity I have always felt when I enter into a bank and they try to sell me on the newest deal – if I change something about my present banking situation.

Once when I was with my young son at the bank helping him open an account, I abruptly and blatantly responded to the clerk – “No, I am not interested in your new system. I do not trust that it is beneficial to me or to my son at all. I believe it is designed to make more money for the bank. Therefore, I would like to remain with my current choice.” My son was completely mortified. He asked why I was so upset. I did not have a great answer. I behaved like a jerk.

Presencing the truth that this clerk really was doing her job and trying to help, I connected with her long, perfectly manicured nails. Complimenting their beautiful color and her ability to type skillfully on the keyboard with long nails, play-energy opened up the space, and I was able to breathe a bit easier. (Notice that I practiced this month’s 5 Minute Try-It: Play, from Presence, Connect, Play? So fun and easy!)

In the softer space I saw all that I am offering now, in this writing. Isn’t it remarkable how immediately disdain arises? My body was pissed off before it walked in the heavy glass door. Way too many embodied memories of being in this place, or others like it, brought tension to the surface – the “bottom line” truth that I do not trust large financial institutions. I do not believe, for one nano-moment, that my interests are at the forefront of their policies or the resulting offers to their clientele.

And, I am guessing, that you do not believe they have your interests at heart either.
You may be hoping for some inspiring conclusion, a remedy to in-person banking, or a swift way to avoid the experience altogether. I have none of those. This inspiration is even a surprise to me. What is alive, though, is my curiosity. I wonder…

What is happening here?
How can any money experience be tuned with truth – even if I am the only presence bringing it?
What’s the larger story?
What wants to be revealed for the betterment of all?
How can my energy be generative to the situation?
How can my presence catalyze others for generative output?
What is it within me, closer to home, that is ready to be released, as it relates to banking institutions?

As I ask and feel into the last question, my breath deepens. My back tingles. My belly rounds out and full. My eyes close. My fingers pause. And a single thought appears.

On behalf of humanity, we matter too.

Constructive rest arises. How interesting. I remember I promised more about constructive rest last month. Constructive rest is. My tip for now is to release any specific or general ideas about what rest is, how rest arrives and the way it takes shape. I’m now resting with ease as the words come forth. My spine is lengthened, my chin is slightly down, my eyes are lower as they view the screen, and my breath flows with ease. And you are here with me, resting.

My rest is pulsing between no movement and slight movement, constructively. Energy is rising in my core, a flow from my lower belly to the top of my head. My motivation is writing in the present moment to honor my statement that I would offer more about constructive rest and constructive action. Perhaps, my action is to answer the beliefs that financial people don’t care. When in reality, many, way too many to count, are fiercely stomping on behalf of humanity in response to systems that no longer work, if they ever worked.

To meet whatever is arising, we practice constructive rest, and abide there – embodied – while life takes shape in the money world. Rest then reveals constructive action.

Rest with me now.

Resting and Responding,

Fear. Big fear. Subtle Fear. All Here.

Last week I attended the Financial Planning Association annual retreat. It is an intimate conference of 400-ish thought leaders who have been gathering at this advanced program for more than 30 years. When I reflected on the topic to share in this written conversation with you, fear was what came to mind, surprisingly. Here’s why it came up and why I choose to talk about it.

In each education session I attended, fear – subtle or blatant – was the sustaining factor. The content of the session was meant to address that implicit fear in a practical way. Because of my work in Somatic Finance® and my conviction in the importance of body intelligence, I am hyper-aware of when body wisdom is absent. I am also hyper-aware that when emotions, particularly fear, are present in the experience, the worst answer to meet the fear, is a “practical solution.”

I write about this phenomenon in my forthcoming book explicitly and in detail. As I state frequently, fear is the underbelly of money. Please quote me on that if you like. While I am certain that most of the speakers were not aware of the fear-thread woven in their presentations, the truth is, in our financial world, and even within the most grown-up and conscious places of financial planning, fear continues to hold constant presence that we are called to face skillfully.

Fear of not having enough money to retire.
Fear of not having enough as a retiree to sustain lifestyle.
Fear of rising health care costs while aging.
Fear of economic forces that impact our investment plans.
Fear of confusion in the tax laws.
Fear of losing control.
Fear of technology.
Fear of what money can buy.
Fear of family dynamics and effective estate plans.
Fear of negative fiscal policies.
Fear of decisions. Change. Life.

With each of the above fear matters, nothing new will emerge with the same cognitive right-brain exploration, discovery and action. In other words, as Einstein says, you can’t solve the problem in the same plane it was created. Many of the retreat sessions offered food for thought and deeper conversation, interesting tools to employ, or beautiful questions to ask, related to important topics. Many of the sessions inspired right action for professionals to serve their clients well. But none of the sessions invited anyone into the unique and deepest inquiry of what is this fear? Can we as humans explore the foundations of fear, as instruments for optimal service for human growth, well-being and peace of mind?

Dick Wagner, a beloved recently-deceased pioneer in our profession stated, “Money is the singular most powerful secular force on the planet.” This is a gorgeous statement to sit with for months. As I reflect again on this statement and include the essence of fear, I believe fear is the singular most powerful energetic force on the planet, just behind Love. But when it comes to money, fear is more prevalent.

The way for us to do money well, to relate authentically with the energy of money, to weave our purest values, our precious life aspirations, and our unique genius offerings into a meaningful life tapestry, is for body intelligence to be welcomed.  Fear can only be thoroughly attended to through the physical and subtle body. We attend to the tension, pain and fatigue we hold in the body through practices; myriad practices that allow us to reveal what is hidden, to observe contracted energy, and move toward new possibilities.

Any exterior solution will be momentarily satisfying. But the fear will remain and arise again at another future moment – about this I am certain – beckoning attention for a deeper resolution and experience. As humans we will always experience fear. It is our human nature. How we experience fear is our choice and our invitation.

Yesterday, I was practicing squats in my circuit training. Still fatigued from the workout a couple of days earlier, these four timed exercises – do as many as you can in 24 minutes – were burning my butt, literally. The instructor of the class provided me suggestions on how to dip lower in my squat. Anger surfaced and I was dismissive with a “give me a break” attitude and complaints about tender muscles from her workout two days earlier.

This morning I shared with her my learnings from that exchange. Generally I am not rude to this amazing fitness instructor. In reflecting on what happened, I realized that I hold shear terror in my body when I squat to the floor! My squats have improved significantly since I began weight training, and anxiety has diminished over time along with new ability to squat lower. But, upon deeply asking my body where the anger reaction came from, I realized that I feel quivers, doubt and uncertainty, stemming from the need to be able to move if I am under attack! I am scared for my survival!

My sharing may seem far-fetched. It seems strange to me sometimes too. But when I tune into my body intelligence, there is no doubt. When I integrate my insights from this exploration, with the experiences I am having with my aging parents and their declining mobility, the revelation of this response makes interesting and profound sense to me.

Do you resist fear?
Do you allow fear to inform you?
Do you welcome fear with open arms?

Fear is undeniable energy – arising in the form of fighting, fleeing, fainting or freezing. Two of these forms mobilize the body (fight & flee); two of these forms immobilize the body (freeze & faint.) All four responses are signals from the primitive brain, the beloved amygdala, informing us that survival is in jeopardy.  We are called to utilize fear in constructive action (fight & flee) or constructive rest (freeze & faint.) The body is the vessel for the effective utilization of fear. Stay tuned for more about constructive action and constructive rest, next time.

Until then, connect to your fear. Feel the sensations that course inside your body. Notice pressure, temperature and movement. Give descriptions to those sensations. Relating this way to the fear energy in your body is like giving a glass of cold water to a thirsty, parched-lipped traveler.

Connecting education, knowledge, wisdom, and body… with you,

 

 

Efficiency, Effectiveness, Excuses

Friends, I am on the other side of an experience and I want to share what I learned. Undoubtedly you have had one of these experiences yourself, but perhaps you haven’t had time to delve into the intricacies and refreshing learnings, after the task is finally checked off your list. Let’s explore together using my recent example.

With the popularization of credit cards, mileage rewards, and the plethora of shenanigans to “get a deal,” I recently switched my United Airlines Mileage Visa card for a Southwest Mileage Visa card, with the same banking company (Chase in case you wonder.)  Due to frequent travel visiting my aging parents on a more convenient airline, I found that I have not been traveling on United for quite some time. In my desire to “get a deal,” I called to cancel my United card. The request, consuming an inordinate amount of time to get a real person on the line, was met with a lengthy dissuasion speech. I was told that surrendering the card with its 19 years of credit would eliminate all of my rewards miles and my excellent credit. Eventually I ended up keeping the card. (It is in my file cabinet not being used.) I negotiated a no-annual-fee for this non-using card.

This month, I received my United/Chase billing statement and saw a $60 annual fee. I was annoyed, and in a rare free moment, I got on the phone to remedy the charge. I had been on the phone for over an hour when the situation was finally all said and done. It had taken me several attempts through a crap-shit-frustrating load of select-1, -2, -3, -4 or -5, to link up with a real human being. After answering all of the security questions to prove that I am indeed who I say I am, I was able to recount my issue.

I’ll bypass the final remedy in my sharing with you because it is not of interest. Nor is the scolding I gave to the customer service representative when I said I did not want the new no-annual-fee card which was coming in the mail; she said I had to have the card; I said if it is stolen from my mail or home it is another issue to deal with; she said well fraudulent activities are covered; I said well my time, energy and attention to deal with the potential fraud is NOT covered, just like this call dealing with my current fee charge is not covered. She apologized.

In my frustration, I paused and began to share what was really happening for me. I said I do not want an apology. What I want is presence; intelligent presence. If I had spoken to you within 15 minutes of my trying to reach you, I would not be so angry. But since I had to go through many calls and navigate an impersonal electronic system, being cut off and toggled between the bank and the airline, my demeanor is ugly. I know you do not deserve my reaction. People do not want to be treated this way. But, I do wish you a good day.

In efficiency, we sacrifice effectiveness. Then, the excuses arise. In our monotonous world of finance, we have many obstacles to give attention to rather than address money matters. When we as a society have little interest in dealing with money, we delegate actions to artificial intelligence to complete transactions. It is true that for some routine tasks, these mechanisms work. And we forget about our unpleasant interactions because, you know, the task finally gets handled and life is too short. But when and where does the pendulum swing, or at least inch, the other way?

This year’s Somatic Finance theme of dignity came forward when I said to the customer service representative, “People do not want to be treated this way.”  I would not want my parents, my clients, my friends, my colleagues or anyone, to be treated this way. Punching buttons through limited menu choices that do not address a nuanced situation, or repeating yourself to a robot with no option to reach a live human, does not inspire dignity or presence. It is dehumanizing. Well, of course it is; in those instances we are talking to automated metal and wires. I would rather speak to dirt, leaves and rocks than to a heartless, impenetrable network of technology.

Being able to receive attention for attending to a situation lands us in a place of dignity. Our culture is wrapped up in being efficient, shrugging off a problem with apologies, and losing the essence of effectiveness. Do we recognize that effectiveness is the ultimate objective? Follow me here.

Effectiveness is not perfection. Effectiveness is taking all of the matters into consideration – efficiency, perfection, attention, care, skill – and allowing the outcome to be the optimum result for that UNIQUE situation. The optimum result is being effective for what is happening in that moment. When we are attending to money, finances, handling of “rewards and too good to be true” deals, we must hold in the heart and ground of the situation – what deeply matters – in that moment – to us as humans. All humans want dignity, especially when money is involved.  Holding this torch for all of us and gathered from my internal dignified strength, my dignity inspired me to speak up and share with the customer service representative my point: People do not want to be treated this way.

We don’t. She doesn’t. Her boss doesn’t.

These are the nano moves to nurture a dignified culture. Because as we begin to embody our own dignity, we see where it is missing, and we begin to cultivate the space for it to exist for others.

May we be awake to real connection with real interactions when the situation calls for it.
May we benefit from technology to quickly complete a task when the situation calls for it.
May we be wise to recognize the difference, and apply presence when a human needs attention.

Softening the edges of my dignity meter,

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.

Dance.

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.

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

Dignity.

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.

http://www.testingwaters.co.in/

http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/from-a-robotic-arm-to-an-app-that-senses-bumpy-roads-young-minds-showcase-innovations-at-the-iris/article9967411.ece

To donate: https://www.impactguru.com/fundraiser/help-testing-waters

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: https://www.treesisters.org/

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: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/

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,