Money changes everything, but it wasn't
going to change me. I wouldn't quit my job, change my friends,
or be like others who had inherited money. I had created
a life for myself offering workshops around the country
and I wasn't going to change it just because I'd inherited
When it happened, I was forty-two, single,
and a workaholic. I was at the top of my field, yet I had
no social life. I loved my work and hated my lifestyle.
Then my mother died and I inherited a monthly income twice
what I was making in a good year. Suddenly, I didn't need
to work for money. What a life-shattering thought.
I didn't let it shatter my life, though-not
at first. I decided I wouldn't stop working, though I would
stop getting paid. I worked more and more, without taking
a salary. It turned out to be an untenable shift for a business
partnership that had started out as equal. Neither my partner
nor I could deal with the fact that I was not working for
money and she was. I soon left the company I had co-founded
nine years before.
For the next several years, my life followed
the classic pattern of a Vision Quest: Severance (leaving
the known world behind), Threshold (entering a sacred time
and space that is permeable to new possibilities), and Reincorporation
(bringing the learnings back into daily life and community).
Gradually, I severed from my old life and entered a period
of questing that took years. During this Threshold period,
I studied, traveled, and moved halfway across the country.
I got married and learned how to be a wife. I met new people
who were in the same situation: recipients of excess resources
learning how to use them in creative and socially responsible
ways. I began to let joy and fun guide me, rather than fear
Eventually, out of the chaos of the Threshold
period emerged a vision of where to go next. I knew it was
time to commit to life anew and begin the process of Reincorporation.
Over the past few years, I have forged a new life with new
rhythms and patterns, new people, in new geographic regions.
I have become a philanthropist and an activist. I have recreated
my work in entirely new forms that are exciting, fulfilling,
Looking back, I see that for a while I believed
that inheriting money had changed my destiny. I had been
going in a particular direction, had things pretty much
in order, and thought I knew what was next. Then, like a
flash flood, a torrent of money eroded the banks of my former
life and the structure of my life collapsed. I was swept
off into an alien universe for which I had no orientation.
What really changed, though, were the resources
available to me to manifest my destiny. Inheriting money
forced me to change the form my life took in the world,
the "container" through which I poured my life force. I
couldn't stop the money from coming toward me, so I had
to find some way to be in relationship with it. My inheritance
had been generated four generations ago. I could no longer
turn away from my ancestors and my lineage. I had to take
on the destiny of my clan line, for better or worse.
My central question became: how would I
do that? What could I do with the money that would be in
alignment with who I am and what my gifts are? Gradually,
I learned that the money hadn't changed the core of my inner
values: consciousness, compassion, beauty; honor, humor,
humility; unconditional love and personal accountability.
So I asked myself: what does a life look like that reflects
these values, when it can look like anything?
Grappling with these questions has become
a profound spiritual journey. My commitment now is to develop
a sacred relationship between who I am and the resources
I've been given. Money may have changed everything about
the old container that was my life, but it hasn't changed
the nature of my soul. It has allowed me the time to question:
what motivates anything I do if I'm not trying to survive?
What qualities do I want to have motivate my action? To
what is my life dedicated?
My choice now is be fully present for who
I am and what I have. That is the gift of having more money
than I need. I am a wealthy, white, well-educated, fifty-two-year-old
American woman. Now I say to myself: what is the most creative,
loving, passionate, challenging, healing and beautiful life
that I can create with those givens?
My journey has taught me that money changes
everything, except that which is most essential.
Lynnaea Lumbard, Ph.D., has been a workshop
leader in transformational psychology for thirty years.
In 1986 she co-founded her own national seminar company.
More recently she and her husband formed
offers transformational training programs.
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