Participants: Dick and Kathy.
Questions posed by Kathy
draws you to the discussion topic of making money?
I have an ardent interest, both personal and professional,
in money from the psychological and spiritual perspectives.
My father died young, leaving a financially illiterate
widow and financially sensitive offspring. We did not
suffer, but life was tight and a little bit raw.
college, I was a religion major who would have entered
the ministry but for a distinct sense of non-call and
an abiding frustration with what I perceived were unfortunate
implications of Christianity for living a real life, including
financial. I could not grasp how to be both a Christian
and an actor within the world. Instead I went to law school.
My early 30's career crisis resolved with a switch into
financial planning. A couple of years later, I started
my own financial planning firm with a partner.
am also an "inheritor-in-law" who has been around an entrepreneurial
family that created a successful small business and then
was forced by death to engage in the generational transition
and inheritance process. This has affected everyone in
the family in a variety of ways, some good, some bad.
For me, part of the bad was allowing financial security
to sap essential vocational vigor. The good was that it
gave me venture capital and a personal safety net. Although
I have worked hard to create a business that is successful
in its own right, I much appreciate that I have had fewer
financial pressures and temptations than many entrepreneurs.
Outwardly, I am living the American Dream in California's
San Francisco Bay Area. I live in a 1920's colonial house
(complete with a swimming pool, studio apartment and children's
play house) enclosed by a white picket fence with my husband
and two children, golden retriever, 4 cats, assorted saltwater
fish and hamster. My Volvo station wagon has plenty of
room to heft around our bicycles, kayaks and miscellaneous
success of my husband's business makes it possible for
me to devote myself to nurturing my children's unfolding,
including schooling them at home, rather than work for
wages. We are out of debt and are accumulating significant
savings that should leave us financially independent (according
to the requirements of our current lifestyle) in five
to ten years.
I feel both liberated and imprisoned by my husband's money.
I am grateful to live free of financial pressures, and
yet I suffer and wrestle with the incongruities in my
life. In the heat of certain situations, it becomes clear
that my husband considers the money primarily "his" and
feels that I place an unfair burden on him by not being
a wage-earner myself. Sometimes, I don't feel I have a
free voice in how the money runs our life.
making money provide you the lifestyle you really prefer?
No, but it is part of a lifestyle I have chosen. I have
accepted that "making money" is part of the deal and have
reconciled the compromises that necessitates. All lifestyle
choices have compromises, and fortunately I have been
fairly successful at combining work with my sense of mission.
the harder questions come with the shackles built in the
context of success; namely, I have created something of
value that requires ongoing energy. I might sometimes
prefer to put that energy elsewhere-yet stewardship of
the business demands otherwise.
I am grateful for the comforts of our lifestyle... but
does it trap us or free us? The "American Dream" I'm living
isn't my truest desire: I dream of living with others
rurally, where people are more conscious about their values
and choices, and where bartering is the norm so people
are freed from the arbitrary valuing of one person's work
over another's. Given the financial track our family is
on, I don't see how to make that dream a reality. y
making money synonymous with your sense of self-worth?
Hardly. However, I believe that my profitability reflects
the fact that others see value in what I do and are willing
to pay for it. I like that.
No. But at times I feel that others use the fact that
I don't make money to diminish my worth. I resent it.
Life on unearned income presents some significant and
genuine issues, ones that can sap your life force if you
let them. No one empathizes with people living on unearned
income. People repeat as litany that "money doesn't solve
all problems" but then refuse to believe that people with
money have any! If we all are to live with money in a
healthful manner, we must understand that money is neither
evil incarnate nor an unmixed blessing.
Inwardly, I have a lot of mixed feelings about money.
While I no longer believe that money is the root of all
evil (I now award that prize to unexplored and suppressed
pain in the individual and collective human heart), I
do believe that those fortunate enough to have money in
their lives have the responsibility to explore what that
means to themselves and to others. It seems to me that
a person's ability to be of service in the world is directly
related to the degree they've uncovered their authentic
self and have begun to walk their life's path. Wealth
can either assist a person in that life path, or mask
making money synonymous with your sense of security?
Money is one form of security. Given current demographics
and anticipated life spans, it's one form that I wish
more people would take seriously. I'm afraid there will
be significant rippling effects of bad savings habits
multiplying over the next fifty years. However, I recognize
money's limitations in providing security. "Money" is
a belief system. Within this system, it is to be taken
seriously; if the belief system crumbles, "Money" is not
worth much at all.
I definitely feel more secure having money. However, in
the wider scheme of things, I suspect that much of the
energy spent in the activity of making money serves to
dilute and distract people from more important and primal
types of security. For me, "wealth" is not what I have,
but what I am and what I do. It is measured not in money,
but in the richness of my relationship to myself and others.
how you make money congruent with the deeper meanings
in your life?
I find my work deeply fulfilling. I believe that accepting
responsibility for the nurture and education of children
is crucial for the health of society-yet, to my great
frustration, there is a pervasive and pernicious attitude
in society that says work not exchanged for money is of
lesser value. I sense the same attitude in my other non-paid
work; assisting a local nonprofit organization, and training
in an inspiring counseling approach I can offer to families.
For me, the way I support myself must be integrated with
the deeper meanings in my life. If we lost my husband's
income tomorrow, I would do all I could to continue meaningful
I try to be realistic. As much as I like what I do, I
fully recognize that I am not in a constant state of bliss
and that substantial pieces of my work are just plain
dull. Much of what brings satisfaction does not necessarily
bring either financial reward and vice versa. I feel fortunate
that I can live productively and profitably, with both
integrity and spiritual fulfillment. Blessings come in
a variety of forms, with money as only one of them, and
most of us are considerably blessed within our lives.
We are all responsible for treating our blessings with
respect: determining their best uses and making it so.
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