abundance · humility · wealth

Whatchu Got?

9.14.18.jpegAfter meeting with my new financial advisor this week, I was moved this morning to do a different kind of accounting: Gift certificates.

I carry around in my wallet: a punch card full and holding a $20 discount, a gift card for a free massage, a free entry to an SF museum, $70 to a local clothing store, $50 to a book shop, a $50 online gift card, and 5 free movie passes!

It’s all well (very well) and good to tally up my financial records, but if I’m not taking account of these bits, too, then I am not giving myself an accurate picture of my abundance.  I can look at my bank balance and see one number, but forget that I have over $200 in freebies IN MY WALLET.

May seem silly to warrant this a place in my daily blog, but when we stack up our assets and liabilities, are we being complete?  There are the obvious places to look for what is good and positive, but what about the forgotten heroes of our selves, and wallets?

Being where I am in my spiritual house-cleaning, I recognize the metaphor I’m playing out in real-time, collecting and tallying up the disparate assets of mine.  And I appreciate its showing up, because sometimes this self-/internal accounting can be written in red ink alone.

It takes courage, humility, honesty, and something like joy to allow myself to look at the assets written in black, the places where I have more abundance than I like to admit—whether that’s in my wallet, or in the mirror.


abundance · authenticity · deprivation

The Junk Man Cometh


When I moved into this apartment, I was a 28-year old, about-to-be-graduate student.  I came with a free-to-me mattress and boxspring that lived on the floor, and “night tables” that were actually cardboard boxes draped in colorful scarves.

The coffee table (dubbed the “Earthquake Table” for its seismic gyrations everytime you knock into it), the pull-out sofa (from craigslist with cat scratches down to the wood), and the kitchen table (with one sloping leaf) came with me.  Each piece was free.  They were “from the Universe,” they were “manifested”!  And they were junk.

Over the 8 years I’ve lived here, I’ve traded up a bit, but on the whole, much of the broken and battered that came with me is still here.

At one point while still in my SF apartment, a man/boy/living-on-the-floor-in-a-basement-literal-dumpster-diver (don’t ask) reflected as we ate dinner off my curb-find, chipped dishes: “I love how everything you own is in a state of decay.”

Good lord.  What am I doing with my life!?

The man/boy and the dishes had to go.

For a very long time, I’d identified with “Second-Hand Rose.”  I thrived on and cherished the idea that I was “getting away” with not spending money on what I could get for free!  (“The Universe is totally listening!”)  Or extremely cheap at a thrift store.  My thrift store plunges were always post-scripted with a breakdown to friends about how many pieces I got for such little cost!  I even made specific trips into San Francisco just to go to my favorite Good Will.

Now, believe me when I say that I still find nothing wrong with thrift, as an adjective or noun.  However, when a few years ago I was at my women’s new year’s retreat sharing about what my just-glued vision board meant to me, I began to well up at describing how I didn’t want to be Second-Hand Rose in Second-Hand Clothes anymore.  That yes, a core value of mine is still not to add more consumption to the machine, but did everything I own have to be in a state of decay??

It didn’t make me feel powerful or high on thrift anymore.  It made me feel less-than.  It made me feel like I didn’t value myself.  I wasn’t taking pride in the 5 dollar shirt anymore (with just one hole that no one could see).  I was feeling shame.  I was feeling like hiding.

While I am absolutely still a reusable item junkie (I just purchased organic cotton coffee filters that I can rinse & reuse when I’m in Amherst … as there will be NO COFFEE MAKER!  Cue song from How to Succeed.), I do not have to make a sacrifice for everything that I own, consume, or purchase.

Self-deprivation isn’t hot.  And I’m allowing the pendulum to swing a little closer to center, a little closer to balanced.  I can buy something that I’ll use for a long time.  I can buy at the trendier consignment (not thrift) shop.  I can sleep on a bed frame.  I can even continue to grab up street finds, though I am much more judicious in what comes into my home.

Every day I choose to make a purchase that aligns with my values — about the earth and about myself — I feel closer to who I truly am:  Not. A. Hider.


abundance · action · possibility

A bigger database.


I’ve heard it said while languishing in scarcity-mind: G-d has a bigger database than you.

And this is good, because frequently it’s hard to imagine a life bigger, more full, more “optioned” than the one I invent from my brain.  In particular at present, I’ve been having a brain-expanding (exploding?) moment around property, homeownership.

Perhaps if you’re like me, you’ve considered that owning a home is something for people who have saved a ton of money, who have worked in high-earning fields, or who have family to help them out.  I’ve certainly thought this way.  I’ve made homeownership to mean “something for other people.”  People who are lucky (and in my darker moments, ungrateful) enough to have family to support them (ingrates).  People who earn copious amounts of money that I never imagine I’ll attain.  People who’ve scrimped and saved, while I’ve rubbed two pennies together, hoping for a nickel to pop out.

But.  G-d’s database is bigger than mine.  I don’t know everything.  (Luckily, cuz then I’d die!)  For example, I didn’t know that my paltry-for-the-Bay-Area salary means I qualify for affordable housing opportunities.

Like this one-bedroom condo on Lake Street in San Francisco.

This all came to pass because of an email describing a program I don’t even qualify for.  At work, my boss forwarded an email from the County Education Office heralding a program for teachers to get assistance in the downpayment on a house.  Galvanized by this idea, I emailed the company and they replied that it’s a program only for public school educators, not for a private school teacher like me.

But between the moments of excitement and deflation, I went to their website and used their calculator to discover that with my (paltry) salary and their loan terms, I could afford a house costing $350,000.  So I went onto Redfin, typed that number into the search features in San Francisco, … and found the most wonderful home.

Wait a second, even teeny tiny condos on Lake Street go for $600,000 — what is this?  Well, it’s an Affordable Housing unit where the prices are held artificially low for people, like me, to have a chance.

This led to a flurry of activity.  I discovered yesterday that to qualify to be considered for this property, I have to complete a housing education class, I have to apply to the program, I have to talk to one of their loan officers, and then I have to wait in the lottery to win the place or any place in their program.

Huh.  Okay.  …  Well, I can sign up for an education class.  I can apply to a program, talk to a loan officer, and carry on with my life while my number may or may not come up.  In other words — I can do this.  I can do this.

Absolutely zilch may come of it—it is a lottery after all—but you can’t win a lottery unless you buy a ticket.

And furthermore, the remarkable idea that a person “like me” could own a home in this crazy messed up market makes my little heart flutter with possibility.


abundance · authenticity · expansion

“Damn the Man, Save the Empire.”

2.27.18 captain-planet.jpg

I met with two women this Sunday to review my and their financial situations.  We meet about every 6 weeks to go over our “numbers” and to offer feedback or advice wherever the other person wants it.

We particularly focus on what is “pressuring” us — where do we feel out of balance or unclear, where do we need ideas or support, encouragement or caution.  And I brought up this idea of Stocks.

As you read a few weeks ago, I recently bought my very first share of stock (in Tesla) and the following week, I bought a few shares in Starbucks.  While this has been a pretty cool exercise, and I do like watching the numbers go up or down (as they will do!), as I look toward a next investment, I begin to feel stymied.

Despite my affinity for renewable energy and Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial style, Tesla mines an incredible amount of precious metals and minerals from the ground, and their batteries will only last a decade at max, at which point they’ll be trash.  Despite having installed a new executive board that is purported to be full of innovation and forward thinking, Starbucks produces a ton of waste per minute.

If you know me, you’ll know that I compost voraciously, I use handkerchiefs that I wash weekly, I carry reusable bags and bottles to the grocery store, I purchase consignment clothing, and I donate to organizations working to fight the conservation fight.  My values around conservation of the earth are virile.  So how can I rightly invest in companies that have such a harmful impact on the earth, even if, in Tesla’s case, the ecological benefits in the long run may outweigh the costs?

So, I brought this up to my financial group of ladies, as I’ve also known that the investment funds that support “eco” or moral entities do not perform well in the stock market.  It seems that in order to make money in the market, I cannot live by my values.

My ladies said: Yep.

One did suggest my looking up the sustainable investment bundles, just to check out their recent performance (which I’ve not done yet).  But the other woman said something that struck me even more brilliant:

Soon, I won’t need to invest in others’ ideas.  My own success will fund me.  My own ideas will fund my life.

This was a welcome thought: I do not have to play the game if I don’t like the rules.  To me, it had felt as though there were two options: profit from Earth-raping and the demise of the planet or don’t profit.

That there is a third way doesn’t surprise me — though at the moment of realization, it always does!  There seems always a third way; always a path I’ve not considered.

Consider that my own success, in whatever realm, will lead me to be financially prosperous and financially independent from corporate malfeasance?  Yes, please.


abundance · action · courage

Never Have I Ever…

2.8.18 stocks

Yesterday, I bought stock.

This is what a first time should feel like!  With all the nerves and excitement and planning and pondering and reading of others’ experiences… and then, finally, the just doing it.  Omigod.  I should have smoked a cigarette afterward.

At the start of November, I looked into what kinds of low-fee brokerage houses were out there.  Even writing the words feels like marbles in my mouth.  Brokerage house.  What do I know from investments?  The lady with less than $3 in her bank account every 2 years?  The woman crawling back from chemo and its resultant absence of paycheck?  The person who ran in to a room of folks, desperate, angry, and frustrated at the slicing paycheck-to-paycheck existence I’d been living?

Well, I suppose what I do know is that I’ve stayed in that room of people, for nearly 7 years now (the length of time for all your cells to turn over) — and maybe all the braincells that had been attached to deprivation and loneliness and despair have come to the death throes of their lifespan, and I’ve begun to take action using the new cells with the new programming and the new ideology I’ve learned.

What I do know is that none of this has been as simple as a click on the laptop … and yet, in the end, it was as simple as a click on the laptop.  The final action step (or start of many): click “Buy.”

Why so many months since the opening of the account to the purchase of my 1st stock?  Oh, procrastination, avoidance, inconvenience of the way it was set up, stymied by a technical error that prevented me from moving money into it.  You know, hurdles.

But when, yesterday, I opened The New York Times and merely read the word Tesla, something within me shifted to high gear.  Google the price of a share; pull up the brokerage account; try to remember what on earth I’d chosen for my password anyway; and lo! The account could link today!  Link it; transfer it; choose it; buy it.  Done.

It’s not much; it’s one share that may tank at any point in the future.  But, for today, it feels like the most goddamned abundant thing I’ve ever done.




abundance · beauty · fill the well


culcha 2 2 18

It’s dark out.  My mom’s hand is tight in mine.  My patent (p)leather shoes tic-tack on the pavement of the New York City sidewalk.   At this time of night, all the streets look the same: wary, hiding, ominous.

Between two looming building, we turn.  Open before me is a plaza centered around a circular fountain blossoming with timed water displays, patrons in dark and clicking shoes, and columns regally flanking the Lincoln Center square.

From the time I was about 7-years old, my mom took me with her to the New York City Ballet.  She’d long since realized that my dad was only going to snore through the performance, so she needed a date for the other season-long ticket.  Though I quit ballet around that time (it was more fun to “cut” with the preacher’s daughter, leaving the basement class where my cohort was now on pointe–but I was too young for it–and go across the street to the candy store, or raid the church’s kitchen for snacks), the lusciousness of the art was not lost on me.

The Christmas tree rising majestically out of the stage of the Nutcracker, the stilted mechanics of movement of the marionette-like Coppelia, the tightening swarm of sound as the Swan plunged to her death.

For long, I’ve loved what is considered “high culture,” and in my cash-poor 20s, it was recommended that I volunteer usher at the San Francisco Ballet, which I promptly begun to do.  Ballet for the cost of greeting people in fine clothing and pointing toward marble-laced restrooms.  But I moved to Oakland a decade ago, and the commute to a free ballet became too costly.

Enter the present.  Wherein, over the last year, I’ve identified “The 4 Pillars of My Life Need” (yes, that high-fallutin):

Input:      (Spark) Intellect;  (Have) Adventure;

Output:   (Share) Self-Expression;  (Create) Beauty.

Attending the ballet, or symphony, or latest Marvel movie(!) is adventure for me.  It fires my intellect and imagination, and enables me to fill that well so often depleted by demands of quotidian life.

The delight experienced by that 7-year old in her black velvet dress and opaque white tights has never dimmed, only been shunned for aching periods of time.  So, tonight, across from the San Francisco Opera House, my bf and I will tic-tack into Davies Symphony Hall to be graced and inspired by the orchestra underscoring West Side Storyand Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno will dance my imagination into flight.



abundance · joy · scarcity · time


chunk 8 20 17

During a professional development on Executive Functioning last week, they expressed the need for students to Chunk.  “Chunking” is looking at the big picture of an assignment and breaking it down into bite-sized chunks of Time.

Have a 5-page paper due in 2 weeks?  Here’s how you back-track and pencil in smaller tasks… so it’s not the night before with 5 empty pages before you.

To varied success, I use a chunking practice for my own time, much as I use a spending plan for money.  To write my “time plans” I sit with a hot cup of coffee, a fresh piece of paper, and (most importantly) a pencil.  From there, the first item is always, “8 – 8:05am: Coffee and Time Plan.”  And I catalogue the day’s tasks on.

The frothy thing about a time plan is that it’s…fluid.  Moveable, crunchable, expandable.  And by “frothy,” I mean “maddening beyond all belief.”  Took 6 minutes to write your time plan, not 5?  Mom call you at 8:10, during your 30-minute journaling?  Run into a friend at the store and spend 15 minutes in a chat? **Eek!**

Time plans are fluid because my day is not a Swiss clock.  I find this troubling.

When I put my time into a plan, I feel like I have order, control over my day, my life, my emotions, destiny, successes and failures. But time, and experience, are wily bitches and I can’t pin them down any more than a mud wrestler.

Because I’m scared, much as with money, that there will never be enough. Our time here is short.  Yet I don’t want to strangle life so firmly that I don’t enjoy it!

Time is not to control, but to partner with. Time is a kid running up a forest trail ahead of you, then lagging behind to witness a beetle’s progress up a leaf.  I must be open to that fluidity… but I also must have a general map of our path through the forest.

There can be side trips and cavorting in crystal streams — indeed there must be, or I shall die — but without a destination, I am too lost in the forest of life (and procrastination and Netflix).

So my task for now is to be looser with my time, to recognize the abundance of it.  To deeply know that if I aim my time in the direction of my dreams, there will always be enough — whether or not I finish my blog at 8:55am.