finance · learning · parenting

The Road More Travelled.

12.3.18.jpgOn Friday, I went to the San Anselmo library to find this book I’ve been itching for: The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money.  I’d taken a photo of the cover over 2 years ago when I was working in a school and they hosted a book fair.  (In fact, I took many photos of the parenting section, as there’s little difference sometimes between parenting and teaching.)  And, as I begin to gel my ideas and intention around a blog uniting parenting, finance, and spiritual principles, I wanted to get some inspiration.

I knew that I didn’t have to start from scratch, that there are resources out there—and I’ve fallen down a mini-rabbit hole with a blog site about living frugally, below your means, and retiring early, as part of the “FIRE” (financially independent, retired early) movement!  But, it took me a little while to re-discover the title, as when you’re looking up “money and kids,” you get a lot of results!

This is encouraging.  It seems that part of the backlash of the financial collapse is: How do we help this not happen to our children?  I’m grateful people are asking this question, and are also offering some answers.

As I was cooking dinner yesterday (producing amazing ratatouille from the kitchn website), I was listening to the podcast, “Make me Smart.”  The other day, it was “Conversations from the Corner Office” (you can tell I have a thing for Kai Ryssdal from “Marketplace” on NPR!!).

I’ve been listening to Marketplace for several years, eons before I knew what the numbers meant, before I owned a stock, before I understood why at all I was listening.

I suppose the answer is, because I wanted financial literacy!

I still do.

And one of my intentions in wanting to absorb information on finance, parenting, and values, is that I want to learn to live better in that realm.  And once I learn it, I want to share it.

There are roads that are paved before us; let’s not bushwhack just to say we did.


habits · learning · renewal

Mindbending Mobius.

9.21.18.jpgAfter close to a decade of listening to a friend reference wisdom from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I purchased a hard copy of the book last year.  Whereupon it has sat on my bookshelf for as long.

Recently, having finished most of the books of appeal on my shelf, I pulled out the volume to see what the hype was about and have finally begun to read it (intermittently at best, but still!).

I’m struck by the minor hilarity of competing ideas I’m learning:

From Covey’s book last night: A proactive person is not affected by the weather; all is able to be done despite external circumstances.

From Deepak & Oprah this morning: Our mood entirely creates our reality.  What is internal is external.


What is created inside me is my mood, perspective, attitude.  How I bring that out into the world is my effectiveness.  For example, I can change how I experience the world, as the Chopra meditations espouse, by painting it with a gouache of gratitude.  This doesn’t change others’ reality, but it changes how I engage with a reality that includes other people.

Erk.  My mind crumples like a mobius strip in a rock grinder.

What I think Covey is trying to convey is we ought not internalize external happenings, and Deepak is saying we can improve our experience of external happenings by modifying ourselves from the inside out.

Somehow, I think these two ideas are compatible!  But frankly, it’s too early for me to meddle with metaphysics.

Thanks for reading anyway…and good luck!;)


excitement · finance · learning

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”


On Wednesday, I read an article online about investing and the author suggested a book title.  I went to Amazon, found the book, but poked around the “Other Suggested Titles” section and saw one by Tony Robbins — yes, motivational speaker Tony Robbins wrote a finance book, two in fact!

There was something about this intersection of financial and personal growth that appeals/appealed to me much more than a dry, or avid, or Greek-speak, or “for dummies” book on money.  This is ALL NEW TO ME, and along the way, it would be nice to have someone who’s enthusiastic about the information, but also espouses values that align with mine: personal development, gratitude, giving.

So on Wednesday, I used my Audible “credit” (as in, you paid $15/mo for this) to buy the audio book of Money: Mastering the Game, and started listening.

On Thursday, I bought the hard copy, now at my bedside!

I am LOVING this.  I am loving all the new information, trying to understand how these things are working, feeling excited to open the door to a world that not only felt closed off to me, but that I didn’t even know was there.

I’m brushing the mean and meager concepts at this point, reading a bit, asking J the difference between a mutual fund and an index fund, reading more.  I love Robbins’ way of writing/speaking in his book: he curses(!), yet he also doesn’t presume that I, the reader, know anything about personal finance and doesn’t write his explanations in a righteous, pedantic manner.

This. Feels. Accessible.

And what he stresses again and again is that the “game” has been somewhat written to be overcomplex so that you rely on people to do it for you who take a huge chunk of your earnings.  He’s not anti-Wall Street, and explicitly says so in the book, but I’m in the “debunking the financial myths” section, so he’s certainly focused right now on not giving away your power because it’s all too much to follow.

He’s psyched by what he’s saying.  He’s psyched by the possibilities for the reader.  Which is to say, he’s psyched for me.

And, damnit, so am I.

(NOTE: when googling Tony Robbins just now, up come articles that say he’s embroiled in MeToo controversy.  I just want to acknowledge I’ve seen that.)

community · compassion · learning · levity





While waiting backstage last night for a long scene I’m not
in to finish, I leafed through an old book of opera history, the only book in
the room.
In it, are pages and pages of photos, and I was struck by
how similar everyone looked to today. Yep, there’re the same cheeckbones, facial
structure, haughty gaze we still see in others and starlets today. Some of the
photos were dated 1898.
Over a hundred years ago, people looked relatively the same.
They portrayed the same stories of love, hatred, betrayal, and sacrifice. And I
commented to the other actor who was also waiting backstage on how shockingly
similar we looked, and how our stories, our desires haven’t changed for tens of
thousands of years. Mythology and the Bible tell the same stories, and people probably looked
relatively similar too.
Sure, we might be a little more refined about it, not
sacrificing goats or children as often. Not slaying enemies in the street. But
for the most part, looking back through time, we’re the same people we were
thousands of years ago.
And my co-actor said something that struck me: Well, yeah,
because we have the same brains we’ve had for thousands of years.
For some reason, this made me pause, and things clicked into
place in my head. We’ve been retelling these stories through pictoral, oral,
and written history for eons. Homer wrote about the same passions and impulses
as Shakespeare as Langston Hughes as Brene Brown.
We’ve all been processing the same emotions for millennia.
There’s something kind of humbling and shocking about that realization. Perhaps
even a little bit disheartening! But mostly, I think, connecting.
It makes all humanity more relatable.
I remember reading a story of a therapist who was going to
be working with a group of Rwandan refugees. She was worried that she
wouldn’t know how to relate to them, how she would be able to talk to them
about what they’d been through because it was so alien to her experience.
What she found was charming: Her first client wanted
to talk about how the guy she had her eye on was hot for her cousin.
We all have the same impulses. We all have the same
chemistry and wiring, inhibitions and ambitions. Beyond the length of recorded
time, we’ve all been trying to make a go at this thing called life.
And I find that oddly comforting. 

community · desire · fear · lack · learning · science

Moving the water-cooler.




I was at dinner with a friend on Tuesday
night, election night. And she was dispirited by how little she’d gotten to
talk with anyone about the election, the issues, what’s going on in our area.
That it’s just not the water-cooler chatter that’s around her. That there’s a part of her
intelligence that doesn’t feel fueled and fed in the current iteration of her
I replied that I knew precisely how she felt. That there are
conversations I don’t have any more on an intellectual level, not just by being
out of school, but by being out of the groups who talk about topics that make
me think (beyond the emotionally intelligent conversations I can have until the
sun burns out).
I told her there was an informal dinner a friend from grad
school hosts every Wednesday, and how for 2 years now, I continue to get his
weekly invitations. I haven’t gone once.
Well, that’s not true. I went once, with an ex, and he felt
awkward, so it was awkward, and we left. But I have a feeling that dinner’s one
source of the higher conversations I want to have.
Meanwhile, this morning I get a text from a friend saying
it’s her annual birthday party this Saturday. She’s the founder of a non-profit
that provides medical birthing supplies to women in Africa, and has visited
more times than I can count. I can see from my text history that she invited me
last year, and the year before, and I still haven’t gone.
My friend at dinner on Tuesday night challenged me to accept
an invitation to events like these. To go, to meet, to talk, to learn, to be sparked. To
see if there’s a level of conversation I can have beyond my normal scope.
I haven’t wanted to go alone. But that’s usually the best
way to meet people. And so, today, this morning, I replied that I
would be at my friend’s birthday party this weekend.
I can’t attend the Wednesday dinners at the moment because
of rehearsal, but I promised my Tuesday friend I would go after they finish.
It’s not that these opportunities aren’t available. It’s
that I’m scared to go. Scared I can’t keep up. That I don’t know enough. My Tuesday friend told me we both know enough to have *some* kind of a conversation about anything, and she’s right. 
There are science lectures I want to attend at Cal. I have wanted to
sit in on classes there for a long time. Maybe it’s different from a party
that’s social, and I’ll want to bring a wingman, someone to discuss it with
afterward or — and here’s my real desire — I’ll meet people there who will want to grab tea afterward and discuss it, our own little study group of lecture-junkies.
I’ve written before about wanting to seek out conversations
and friends and classes that will again spark the kind of thinking I miss
so terribly; that in the absence of such conversation, I begin to feel stagnant
and short of my potential. I know I’ve hemmed and lamented about it
before, but maybe, with this one Yes for this weekend, I’m changing the
direction of my action. 

auditioning · fun · laughter · learning · theater · trying

Jazz Hands.

Yesterday was quite the hilarity.

I was called back for the dance audition for Addams Family the Musical, and it was just too funny and fun! There was a choreographer, who taught about 25 of us in a small side room off the theater, that had a wall of mirrors and a ballet bar.

There were people who were obviously dancers, and many who obviously weren’t. But, we’re shown this whole dance routine for about 40 minutes, going over part by part, to make up about only 2 minutes of dancing! Then we were called in groups of 5 to do it on the actual stage… Eek!

It was awesome and hilarious and super fun. I did alright. Everyone had to go a second time, and about half of us forgot it by then. Witness! Human’s amazing short-term memory!

I was called to stay afterward to read for one of the leads, and although I would certainly love to take that role, I don’t know if I have enough experience. I do think that I’ll take a role in the chorus if I get it. I mean, it was a lot of fun.

And the whole concept is just ridiculous enough to be my kinda ridiculous. And FUN.

A friend of mine always used to tell me: Don’t forget the “f” word: Fun.

That is the point of all this for me. Yes, theater is meant to be moving and evocative and a distillation of real life for two hours in a way that makes your hours outside of it gain meaning, at least for the few days after you leave the theater.

But, for me, knowing what I do about this very short mortal coil, I’d really love to have fun while I’m at it.

(Monday’s truncated blog due to workout studio shift.)

acting · community · confidence · fear · learning · smallness · theater · trying

Be a Royal




Yesterday, I auditioned with the weird, avant garde theater
company I saw perform briefly on Saturday. Last week, after telling me I didn’t in fact get a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ role as I’d thought, the producer of the company I’ve
been auditioning with these past few weeks continued, “You must know your
height gets in your way.….
“But, we’re doing this ‘Queen of the Amazons’ play, and I’d
like to introduce you to the director.”
So, I met the director last Saturday. At the weird hippie
commune cult Renaissance patchwork crystal-wearing children-of-the-corn-toting ensemble performance.
I’m hippie, people, but I’m not that hippie. Really.
Nonetheless, I spoke with the director for a little while,
he invited me to stay for the performance, which I could only for a few
minutes, and then the producer called on Wednesday to say the director would like
to audition me. And yesterday he did.
He asked at our initial meeting if I really played bass, as is
listed on my resume, and I said yes. So he asked me to bring it. And I did,
along with my guitar, since I really am only a novice at bass, and can’t really
improvise how some might.
We met. He showed me binders and binders of photos from his
previous performances. Despite being achingly weird, some of them, they were
interesting. Achingly weird. He said American theater bores him – he’s Italian.
And then I played two songs I’d written on the guitar, and
sang. And it was strange, just us two, but so nice to be back behind an
instrument again. My throat is sore from it, from being out of practice – just
another muscle, you can’t just decide to
run a marathon without training.
And then he had me read some of the scene. The main role,
the Queen of the Amazons.
It was challenging. I’m not that experienced, you know, and
it was great to have his feedback on what I was doing, like a private acting
lesson. “Be more open, more proud, you’re a queen.” Smile, melt us with your smile, make us love you even when you’re
angry. Speak from down here, not up here. Crouch, get physical, you’re an
It was weird, and fun, and hard, and intimate, and
vulnerable. And it’s still unclear to me if I’m “in,” and because of my “too-soon” (my brain can’t find the word I mean – need more coffee) — PREMATURE!! — that’s it — premature declaration the other week about landing a role, I’m
cautious to do that here. But. It seems very positive. And even if not, I got
some great notes.
It’s clear to me that I have some education to continue
around acting. That it would be worth it for me to look up classes or lessons
again. If I do get this role, it’s
intense, starring, physical, musical, and (word for pushing & challenging I
can’t think of). It may be more than I can chew, but I’ll face that if I get
the role.
The piece that stands out to me about the audition yesterday
was the director inviting me to be more queenly, assertive, confident. To allow what he saw as I played my instruments and sang. To let that person out. To not
be a queen through me and my mishegas (not his word!), but to be a queen as she would be.
I drove from the audition to a very long, but good meeting
at work, and on the ride asked myself aloud, “What does it feel like to be a queen?”
Role or no role, it’s my job to find out. 

dating · fallibility · growth · honesty · humaness · learning

The Longest Lesson




There is a phrase around here that says something like,
“Life is day at school: Some of the lessons are easy, and some of the lessons
are hard.”
I went back into my email this morning to grab an old
“Oprah/Deepak” meditation (because even though the last 21-day meditation
“challenge” ended a while ago… the link still works!). The one this morning
centered on the thought, “I attract that which I am.”
Sometimes I love this idea. I feel full of love and
potential and vigor, and love that I am attracting that into my world and
Today, however, I heard that phrase, and my guts steeled a
little. I attract that which I am.
This isn’t a tear-down of myself, but these few days, I’ve felt
scared, inexpert, impulsive and mistaken. – I sent the blog that said I don’t
want to “escalate” things with the 25 y.o. to the 25 y.o. … I wrote with it, There’s
probably a better and more graceful way to let you know why I have to cancel
Saturday’s date, but here.
And like pulling the pin on a grenade and handing it to him,
I pressed send.
You can imagine this brought about a series of results and
reactions, which I am now attempting to repair. Inexpertly. And perhaps unsuccessfully.
Yesterday morning, I did some writing about my motivations
for doing this and had a conversation sharing this with someone else. It’s part
of the reason I wasn’t able to write yesterday morning.
It feels sucky, is how it feels. It feels shitty to know
that there are different ways to do things, and know you did it otherwise.
I feel sad because I (rightly) pulled the cord on a
potential relationship, and I feel ashamed of how I did that.
It’s okay. I’m human and inexpert, and learning and growing
and trying.
But, that also means I’m attracting into my world people who
are the same – AND WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST BE FUCKING PERFECT?? Be kind, and honest, and simple all of the time? It would
make this “lesson” much easier, wouldn’t it?
Can’t we all just get A’s, and “go to the head of the
class,” and all be valedictorians?
Can’t we all just stop stubbing our toes against our own
fears and hardships and boogeymen?
Can’t we all just have lives where we feel confident,
expert, proud, self-admiring, and kick-ass?
Why, in order to get to all the above feelings, must we go
through all the stubbing first?
It sense no make.
And I’m tired of being a flailing human being. I’m tired of
doing it almost right, of showing up almost fully. I’m tired of almost feeling
whole and complete and awesome.
Sometimes, I do. I won’t lie. Sometimes, I really really do.
Sometimes it’s for minutes, sometimes for hours. And even a few times, for
days, I feel like I’m really walking on a yellow brick road toward Oz.
And then the trees start to throw apples at me.
I *get* that “this is all part of the process.” But
sometimes the process sucks.
And in my attempts to wriggle out of discomfort, I land in a
higher degree. By being dishonest, abandoning my truth, trying to make someone
else deal with feelings that are uncomfortable or pave a way for me that is
less rocky, well—I know it’s the very absolute best that, as fallible,
learning, human, I can do today. But I wish, well, I wish I didn’t take that
person and potential friendship down in the process.
(End of tantrum)