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Dynamic Flow.

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.

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,

 

 

 

Wisdom Includes the Body

Knowledge is acquired by grasping things.
Wisdom is acquired by something grabbing us.

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

The above quote came to my attention as I searched my files and folders for something else. Does that spontaneous strategic sidetrack ever happen to you? It was saved in my files a while ago… I love when these surprises arrive and divert my energy toward something better.

Some of you are aware I am writing a book about Somatic Finance. Somatic Finance territory is vast and the quote above meets one big issue presented in my work.

Finance is largely utilized and engaged in the world through the lens of knowledge rather than wisdom. Knowledge is a perpetual grasping of facts and figures to satisfy the head center’s thirst for more information. It is very common in finance to want more data to meet a perceived need than it is to try a different move.

A different move takes on more perspectives and definitely more territory, more territory in our body. Seeking of information comes at the expense of our heart and our soul. Heart and soul are not metaphorical or the lyrics to a favorite song. Heart and soul have visceral locations, enabling wisdom to flourish.

Wisdom has legs, application, spirit, and depth that knowledge supports.
Wisdom grabs our heart with connection.
Wisdom grabs our belly with vitality.
Wisdom grabs our spirit with meaning.

In money, what we think and what we learn come largely from books, professionals, analysis, magazines, media and more. These external sources are tainted with motivations that may or may not be of benefit to you. Knowledge cannot discern the difference between what is grasping for attention and what is grabbing our essence. Wisdom offers us a new way with money by engaging our body and sourcing body intelligence.

Every new move begins with a clear understanding of why, followed by somatic practices that engage our hearts and bellies. Powerful body practices available right here, right now, are timeless, priceless and our invitation to evolve our money relationship and our money world.

I can’t wait to introduce you to the power, relief and wisdom of Somatic Finance.

With joy and anticipation,

 

 

What’s Your Woo Woo?

Last month we were giddy up, this month we are woo woo. No I am not eating funky mushrooms, going crazy, soft, or losing my mind. I am highlighting the wisdom of Daniel Pink, from his book A Whole New Mind, a best-seller from over a decade ago. Mr. Pink offers discourse about right- and left-brain skills.

Artsy-fartsy, flaky, spacy and woo woo are words used by Pink in a beautiful discussion with Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul podcast. How fantastic that we can open the door a bit wider to explore the concepts of left and right brain, which manifest different qualities in our human expression. From more recent studies, we see that talking about the right/left brains is a convenient way to “handle” a complex subject.

As we humans attempt to simplify experience with language, our “two brains” are linked deep in the body and are not really separate. One study in 2013 from the university of Utah discounts the left/right brain separation by demonstrating activity is similar on both sides. Robert Shmerling, Faculty Editor at Harvard Health, posted an article highlighting the earlier study finding, after examining brain scans of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 7 and 29. The researchers divided different areas of the brain into 7,000 regions to determine whether one side of the brain was more active or connected than the other side. No evidence of “sidedness” was found. The notion of some people being more left-brained or right-brained was concluded to be more a figure of speech than an anatomically accurate description.

While these studies are fascinating, I’m particularly interested in how the work of money – typically held in the “left brain,” and creative problem solving – typically held in the “right-brain,” come together to support how we improve our lives and the lives of others. Left-brain skills of planning and problem solving, believed to be critical to financial planning, open to the need for right-brain skills.

Pink emphasizes that while abundance explodes in our culture, we might be liberated from some wants but we are not fulfilled. The technical systems that allow for more material goods and services are not cultivating joy. Oprah and Pink review the six abilities that Pink says we need more of in our economy – skills linked to right brain – that have the chance to touch what lives in our hearts.

  • Symphony – Seeing the big picture, connecting the dots
  • Meaning – Finding our why, our deepest calling
  • Story – Seeing the world and relating to others
  • Empathy – Feeling the heart of another, standing in another’s shoes
  • Design – Creating beauty, innovation, and value
  • Play – There is no definition but I call it Joying

In a world of abundance, apparently we need something that we do not know we are missing. We need our body and our six senses (linked to our “left brain”) to fully experience a satisfying life.  In other words, abundance is not what we really seek but rather enriching experiences that are felt and experienced in our body, embodied experiences.  Routine or automation, is disappearing from this country. Routine is a series of steps that provides a “right answer.” Right answers don’t require curiosity or out-of-the-box exploration. Certain kinds of automated work formerly the work of USA, is now outsourced because it can be completed for a much lower cost. What cannot be outsourced are creativity and innovative capital; central to the six abilities.

Not only are these capacities the future of a developed mature country, they are the proficiencies of our financial journey. In other words, though we have technology to plan and systematize our finances, we long for something more satisfying. Satisfaction and well-being come from the integration of vision, heart longing, relationship, authentic connection, beauty, and joy.

The six abilities begin with curiosity – opening to a softer, artsy, woo woo space – followed by a commitment to practice. Practice means we are aware of engaging activities that root us in linear planning and weave the unknown innovative surprises in our lives. Certainty does not provide what makes life worth living. Not even close.

Woo wooing,

 

 

Get Your Giddy On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giddy up!

 

 

500-Year Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, what else happens?

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

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

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

Planning for 500 years,

 

 

 

Cosmic Curse Jar: Compost for Gratitude!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cosmically cursing,