We fill our lives with
We fill our time with
Our plates often hold too much.
Our homes could spare more space.
Abundance is the child of the age,
Prosperity is her sister.
Wealth, the distant cousin
Is so often discussed but remains
Elusive at a holiday meal.
More is less since her surgery,
And less has put on considerable weight.
It is a very rare occasion that they all get together
Yet whomever does not show is discussed.
After the candles have dripped
Before the last flicker of flame,
We dream of the everlasting:
The plate that is never empty,
The closet full of clothes,
Overstuffed pillows and a cozy quilt,
The comforts of having a home.
We cherish the laughter,
We fondle our joy
Grasping for more
As friends leave out the door.
And there in the twilight
The daylight departing,
Alone again with only the dust,
Is the enchantment of lace.
The space between,
The irony of emptiness.
Can you identify with one or more of these?
- If I could just get the word out to more people about what I offer, my business would succeed.
- If people understood the value of what I offer, they would stop complaining about my prices!
- If I could just figure out how to get better results from networking, I’d be able to grow my business.
- If the economy were better, then people couldn’t complain about my prices so much.
- If I developed a marketing plan that really worked, I could get more customers.
- If I were more organized and focused, I might get more business done.
- If I just really knew what to do, I could………..
“If – If – If –“ all these wishes and dreams that things would change and somehow you would become very successful.
Well, the truth is: Business success is NOT random. There are strategies and guidelines that can almost ensure some degree of success – IF you are willing to implement them.
Something brand new and completely different is coming to Asheville! WNC Woman and Saralyn Collins are bringing a new “Lunch & Learn” Series to the area that will provide you with the strategies and training to absolutely turn you into a “BUSINESS MAGNET”!
What is a “business magnet?” Someone who has learned how to:
- Explain who you are and what you do in a clear and positive way so that anyone listening instantly “gets it!”
- Knows how to design a business growth plan and put it into action so that it actually produces specific results that will…
- Attract your specific target market customer who both needs and wants what you offer…
- Have them willing and able to pay your prices and use your solutions….
- And because you have learned how to deliver exactly what you promised, they become “raving” fans and tell others who need and want what you offer.
- Thus the growth cycle repeats itself over and over as the business grows and prospers!
This unique “Become a Business Magnet” series of luncheons will occur each month. There will be directed networking with a specific purpose, lunch, and then a workshop on a critical topic of business growth. Each month’s topic will build on the past month so that as the series develops, attendees will develop an amazing and powerful understanding of how to grow their business.
This will not be a training where you just sit back and listen. Each session will provide a plan of action strategy. You will leave the room with a specific idea of exactly what you need to do to implement that idea immediately.
You simply cannot afford to miss this series of luncheons—IF you want a method to truly grow and develop your business. As these grow, more opportunities for marketing and growth will be added—so get started at the beginning. Don’t miss a single session. That may be the very one that has the strategy you need to really take a giant step! And, of course, it’s open to both men and women who want to become Business Magnets!
Event location: The Crowne Plaza
Date: 3rd Thursday of each month
Time: 11:00 AM Informal networking and check in
11:30-1:30 Guided networking, lunch, workshop
1:30-2:00 Reconnection for those who can linger
Cost: $35 includes lunch
Pre-registration required: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Look for a formal invitation coming soon and register quickly. Seating will be limited.
This year and this month mark the 20th anniversary of the sudden death of my middle nephew. The pain of that loss is not as strong as it once was; in fact, I think my sister and the rest of the famly have fully accepted the reality of it. Yet, I’m recognizing that we continue to have relationships with loved-ones who have passed on from the physical world and need to find healthy ways to acknowlege and embrace that.
Several years ago I met some distant family members for the first time and fairly quickly into the conversation they pulled out a worn photo of a small child. Their son, they said. And then they said he had died nearly 50 years before. They still carried his photo and introduced him to strangers after all that time. I was surprised, but that was because at that time I had not experienced the death of anyone close to me.
Now, I fully understand that the fact that someone once loved is no longer available to touch, to see, to hear doesn’t necessarily diminish the connection or feelings about them.
I’ve known several people in recent years whose child had died; some through accidents, illness, even suicide. One thing that struck me in conversations with them was that so many friends or family had urged them to “get over it” and move on. Yet, they weren’t ready to let go of the person fully or had not grieved enough. Often they were filled with not only the pain of the loss, but anger or guilt—especially if feeling they could or should have done something to prevent the death.
Along with that “move on” mentality is a sense that it’s best to forget the person; best to put away photos and not mention their name. This is all from good intentions, for sure. We may feel that if we talk about the one who has died we will just bring up emotions our loved one had finally put aside. Or perhaps we are not able to deal with our own grief and so want to gloss over the loss and rationalize that it is for the best to “get over it.”
I feel now that our healthiest response is not to let go and move on. Certainly it is not healthy to wallow in our grief and refuse to get on with our life as it now is. Yet, can’t we find a way, bit by bit, to reconcile what we wanted for that relationship with the new reality? Can we allow the love for that person to be full of memories and present-day feelings without fearing we will be overwhelmed by grief? Can we accept a new form of relationship; a new identity for ourselves vis a vis that person?
It seems that we must allow the pain of loss to be as sharp and deep as it is; acknowlege the heartbreak and that alllows us to move forward into new meaning in our lives.
By: Kathy Godfrey
Because we were all so moved by Kay Loveland’s nomination of her husband Bruce for the Room Makeove Project, we decided to profile them this month, even though they were not chosen for the makeover.
Author’s note: I had the pleasure of sitting with Bruce Schell and his wife Kay Loveland. We talked about the challenges of two life-altering diagnoses; we talked about their relationship to each other and the world; we talked about living and dying. What follows is an impression that remains much with me.
You say that sometimes you Sufi-twirl to the get the morning paper. You say that twirling shuts off the habit-brain. Allows you to connect. Then comes that euphoric experience of the moment in which colors are so luminous that you are the sky and the hemlock, and the woman in the kitchen next door, and you are the earthworm writhing where your dancing foot left off. You forget for one second and eternity that the part of All That Is called Bruce is on the path to goodbye sooner than you two planned.
Then, you say, the shadows of afternoon fall and with them fatigue, frustration. The gardens and the cottage office and the big house remain less changed than you planned for them to be at this point in ticking time. Your portion of infinite energy apprehended like Saul on the way to Tarsus. Blindsided, enlightened by a hijack. And she says it just sucks, that divine interruption, revelation notwithstanding. It sucks, it’s awful and awe full and as your Kay confesses, not worth the trade off.
A new humble aware version of self grown from your new blind-sighting or the old healthy arrogant version? No matter which you choose, something is lost. You see her as she was before her own Saul interruption, the golden athlete with the golden life, before the constant uncertainty threatened to show up in immobility, debilitating exhaustion, suffocation that you say caused her to claim spoiled goods status, that made her refuse your proposal. You see her.
She sees you, stoic doubled over to rock the pain into grudging momentary submission. She says that she is happy you allow her to make you eggs for dinner, that you accept blankets warm from the dryer, from her hands, from true knowledge of your grief. You say that Hildegard says there is no pain like impotently watching the one you love suffer. You two look into the terrible beauty of her face, of your face, see pain circling like reeling black carrion birds, feel ragged wings scraping your own image.
Now, she says, you can take in how much she loves you. That’s been a major struggle, she says with soft eyes on your face. She says she tries to think of things to make you go ahhh, make you smile. You nod, agree and confess stoicism, especially now. Calculate the damage of sharing the pain. Weigh it against the damage of shutting her out. Apologize for both. Neither is right. Both suck. When you hold her at the end of a dark afternoon already in bed at cocktail hour, you say sorry sorry sorry for causing her to suffer, for having no good choice. Sorry too for skipping B12 even though it helps, for eating pickled herring even though you shouldn’t. Sorry and pissed off and sorry she is the target when you’re pissed off.
We are nobody special, she says, not nobler or better at this than anyone would be. The truth is you and she feel angry, get sick, love, and argue about what to do or be and whether to get a new puppy which you have. She with multiple sclerosis drove all the way to Alabama to get a puppy she didn’t want you with gastric cancer to have. She went because your reason was sound: you wouldn’t tell a therapy client to postpone enjoyment until he felt better. You enjoy the puppy. So does she.
You collaborate on your story of coming together. She tells of your work partnership, dating other people, finding yourselves kissing, declaring that she would not marry you. You tell of her erroneous belief that she would be a burden, of your frustrating pursuit of the right time and place and words to change her mind. She finally said yes. You two have spent a decade and a half in sickness and in health, your own and others’. Is it irony that two healers live with such dis-ease? Does it feel like mockery? Like absurdity? Or just, as you say, an awe-full gift.
She says there is a cancer gene in your family, that you lost your son years ago when he was only forty-three. He was so dear, you add, and doing such good work. He was a clinical psychologist too. One day he forgot how to work the latch on the garden gate and it was brain cancer. You are grateful that he soon seemed to know nothing of his condition relative to anything. Then he was gone. Your father and uncle too died of cancer in their fifties, she goes on. You, she says, thought you were home free at fifty-nine, but it came at sixty-four. After you and she bought the lovely old house where Thomas Wolfe visited, where you planned to have gardens and friends and sweet life. After you made plans, before you could live them, it came.
You say you have a new plan: a rendezvous with the new Goldendoodle puppy, a good bottle of rum, falling snow, your mountain, and death on your terms. That, you say, is your fantasy and that you somehow failed to consider the excruciating pain that comes with the awful gift. It lately has reminded you of your negligence. Then what? I’ll be dead, you say with only a little grin. Then what? She says that you two differ on that issue. You are the more spiritual. You both agree. Spiritual and comfortable with uncertainty. You agree with Thich Nhat Hanh that we inter-be with everyone and everything else. You think maybe some part of you will join with something greater, some essence call it god or not, that field where we inter-be. Or not. How can we know from here? You’re OK with the dying, she says, but the pain scares you.
Then what for her? It will be hard. She says she may not be able to live in the house where you planned so much life, but that she doesn’t really know. Can’t yet know. You talk about it sometimes. You worry about leaving her alone. In a way, she says, all the loss and recovery she has experienced in twenty years has prepared her for this last leg of your journey together. It has been a toughness training for life she says, and admits she’d rather have been left alone in her lovely life. The self-improvement does not seem worth the pain. Yours or hers. It sucks. She says that maybe we are here to learn to connect and love in the midst of loss. Is she quoting you?
Looking at her? You say that beauty is god’s way of reminding us that we are more. You say don’t plan a life. Live it now. You say get the puppy.
In your office without you, she says do you see what an amazing man he is? Just so wonderful? So beauty-full. I see, I say.
I do, Bruce. I see.
UPDATE: Bruce completed his transition and began his next adventure on the evening of December 27, 2011. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/citizen-times/obituary.aspx?n=Bruce-Schell&pid=155234962
Kathy Godfrey is a writer who was born asking, “Is there more to life than this?” Now she writes from mountain forests, island beaches, and infinite inner landscapes and knows the answer. There is definitely more.
THE GIFT THAT GREW!
Do you remember how the “ROOM MAKEOVER GIFT” began? And then how it grew? If you are reading about it here for the first time, at the end of this article are links to the story as reported by WNC Woman over the past few months.
A summary to date:
In gratitude for the support of their clients and community, three friends and local business entrepreneurs invited residents of Buncombe and Hendersonville counties to participate in a “FREE ROOM MAKEOVER” gift opportunity. People were asked, “If you were gifted a free room make-over and told you must give this gift to someone who touches lives in positive ways, who would you choose to honor, and why?”
Nominations came flooding in, sharing stories of wonderful friends, family members and acquaintances – inspirational stories about people helping people. It was indeed a difficult task for the judges to choose one nomination as the winner of the room makeover.
Gayle Sovinee, founder of the nonprofit, Helios Warriors, received word that Space Spiffing Decorating and In the Spirit of Décor would be making over a room in her home as a gift to her in honor of the services she offers to veterans (Helios Warriors offers complementary and alternative therapies to veterans to assist in their healing from chronic physical and emotional pain).
Ms. Sovinee was happy and excited to learn that she’d won a much-needed update to a room in her home; however she now paid it forward and gifted the room makeover to her nonprofit (by asking that a serene and quiet room be created in the newly leased space of Helios Warriors!)
Current Status of the Project:
Volunteers have been busy putting up walls and making other renovations to Helios’ new space to create the treatment rooms, meditation/quiet room, and office space. Jeff Bragg, a board member of Helios, is heading up the job–donating both his time and materials! Dennis Mather and Kenny McGann are helping him put up the sheetrock and Jason Kokoska is volunteering his electrical skills.
Meanwhile, Barb (Space Spiffing Decorating) and Lyna (In the Spirit of Décor) are busy working with Gayle to select carpeting and the colors and treatments for the walls that will bring warmth and a calming energy to the interior spaces. Barb has also been frequenting the project’s sponsors’ shops (see the list of these generous businesses in the January issue, page 54) to select furniture and accessories for the meditation room.
Stay tuned for next month’s edition of WNC Woman to find out when the reveal and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Helios Warriors’ new space will take place and to see before and after photos of the space!
In this issue and in upcoming issues of WNC Woman you’ll also be able to read many of the inspirational stories/nominations that were received for the Free Room Makeover Project. We could only select one winner but we felt our readers would love to read the other, very deserving, stories. See page 54 for the first of those.
*At press time we got word that the reveal of the room makeover and the ribbon-cutting for Helios Warriors (with the Mayor attending) will take place on March 7.
Lyna Farkas, Barb Burless, and Sandi Tomlin-Sutker ( editor/publisher of WNC Woman) are grateful for the opportunity to combine their talents and energy with the generous donations of several sponsors to create a space which will enhance the healing process for the Veterans who are treated at “Helios Warriors.”
Check out the previous articles about the Room Makeover Project at wncwoman.com:
By: Julia Nunnally Duncan
When you took my arm and guided me down the bank
to keep me from slipping on leaves and loose soil,
I saw the boulder, like a monolith,
upon which we would rest.
The hemlock’s limb lowered to shade us,
the creek whispered to us to enjoy its music,
and the woods watched us
as we lay on our cool, moss-quilted bed.
I touched your face as you leaned over me,
your fair throat exposed by unbuttoned flannel,
and then I glanced at the sky,
blue peeping through Virginia pines.
Tops of oak trees swayed and dipped in the breeze,
as if lost in their own pleasure.
Julia Nunnally Duncan lives in Marion with her husband Steve, their daughter Annie, and their border collie Bandit. They enjoy spending time together, hiking in the woods and fishing at their pond. Julia’s poems have been collected in two books An Endless Tapestry and At Dusk. Her latest book is Drops of the Night, a novel rereleased by March Street Press in 2011.
I heard a whisper in the night–
I awoke to no one but the stars to listen to.
Somehow their light broke through the window
And spoke a language my heart recognized and remembered.
It turned me towards myself again–someone I had silenced years ago.
It seems we let strangers into the house, only to turn ourselves away.
Carrying the soft carcass of our longing
Like a burden–for a later that never comes.
Or listening with no holiness in our ears.
It causes the wild and magnificent pinions of our lives
To fold into an empty field,
Rendering us earthbound
And strangely disconnected to the conversant sky.
Now, like an infant in your arms,
Open the closed envelope
And read the invitation you crafted so long ago–
An ancient verse calling you back to yourself.
Cradle the parched spoken and unspoken words
Like a template.
Can you hear it?
The sky has opened up again into a raucous symphony of sound–
Happy that the part of you knocking at the door for re-admittance,
Clothed in forgotten light
Has come home.
Tracey Schmidt and the Inner Image
By: Laura Hope-Gill
Asheville poet Tracey Schmidt knows the power of the creative path, that it will often begin in a darkness and carry us out of it to a new life. “Right after I began writing poetry, I was driving down I-26, and a poem knocked on my window to be let in. I knew, as a photographer, what happens if you don’t let the muse in when she comes to visit… She goes to someone else’s house. So I pulled over, after desperately attempting to hold the poem in my memory for the 10 minutes before I could pull over, and then downloaded it. I read it, and read it again. It started out like this: ‘I have fallen in love with the world.’ I thought to myself, ‘That does not express how I feel about my life at all.’ I had been dealing, very uncharacteristically, with a serious depression that I could not shake. Sitting in my car under a blooming dogwood tree, reading that poem again, I realized that it was true. That I had fallen in love with the world, and that I had not realized it had happened. When I understood, in that moment, that poetry has the power to tell us when our depression has ended, that it has the power to inform us about what we are feeling when we ourselves don’t know, that is when I said. ‘I’m in.’”
It has happened to many a seer over the centuries and millennia: this immutable awakening that cannot be resisted. It is the soul’s call for us to abide, from one moment on, to what James Hillman calls its “code.” The code requires we hold fast to life as it churns and renews us, even as it carries us through our darkest hours, trusting that, in the words of Rumi, via Robert Bly, the soul is here for its own joy. This joy is the journey, wherever it may take us.
Tracey continues the tradition of embracing life in her collection I Have Fallen In Love with the World, published locally by Logosophia Books, an independent house that celebrates the mystical realm as poets and writers such as Schmidt and also James Davis, discover it. Tracey has always written poems, as many have, yet it was not until five years ago that she began “writing in earnest.” Her journey is one that many can recognize. A moment came in her life when the world seemed to be telling her it was time. These instructions often come in the form of other people. For countless creatives, James Navé is this figure as he runs his globally attended Imaginative Storm workshops, opening people up to the creative forces within. Tracey and Navé have been friends for years, and together they have, as poets do, urged one another on into the creative sphere.
“I moved to Asheville in 2000 from Atlanta. Literally three days later was at a WomanSong concert, where Glenis (Redmond) opened. I think a seed was planted. I saw that this is a city that supports and appreciates poetry. A bit later, I had just typed up one of my old poems on my Mac, and local poet James Navé happened to walk into my office. He is now a great friend and compatriot, and I trust his views on poetry and performance immensely. He asked me who the poem was written by. I very reluctantly admitted I had. ‘It reminds of Hafiz,’ he said. My response: “Hafiz? Is that like Prince or Cher? What’s up with that—why can’t people get last names?” He responded,” No, Hafiz is a 14th century Sufi master, more read in the Middle East than the Koran, and one of the newest translations is just out.”
Navé was referring to the work of Daniel Ladinsky who would become Tracey’s collaborator and friend.
Tracey discovered that the voice within her resonated with an ancient voice, one that has influenced and inspired many a 20th, and 21st, century poet, from Robert Bly to Western North Carolina’s Thomas Rain Crowe. The voice of the Sufi vision also rises in the works of Rumi and Sultan Bahu, poets for whom the lyric tensions exist not so much within the things of the world, as they do in a majority of American contemporary poetry, but soar above the material world in a realm where the Soul dances with the Divine. They are poems of communion.
Tracey embarked on a path to further comprehend what this voice rising within her was. “So my work had had this Sufi-Hafiz quality, even before I knew who Hafiz was, or that poetry was such a revered and ancient art form in the Middle East. Navé told me about Daniel Ladinsky’s translations; THAT was interesting to me. We went to see Daniel read six weeks later at Malaprop;s. I sat on two inches of my chair, bought seven copies and gave six away. I was literally amazed poetry could have that kind of effect on me, as it had truly never happened before.”
Having discovered a connection with a tradition, Tracey wholly took it on. “I was inspired by Maya Angelou’s insistence that people memorize poems and began memorizing Daniel’s work. I would recite them to myself while driving, whip them out when I found myself in a bad mood, and share them at dinner parties. I found they had a remarkable quality of transforming a bad mood immediately.”
The next figure to enter into Tracey’s story is the much-beloved author and writing teacher, Peggy Tabor Millin. “Writing nurtures the inner life and transforms the outer world of women writers,” reads the mantra on Peggy’s website, Clarityworks.com through which she offers retreats, prompts, facilitation and classes that support a woman’s writing practice. “A friend gave me a scholarship to Peggy Millin’s writing class, and she used poetry as a warm up tool.”
Confluence plays a major role in the soul’s journey toward the kind of communion celebrated in Sufi poems. Tracey’s journey was no exception, “I went to her classes because I was trying to finish a book I was working on about my time with Native American elders. I created a museum-touring photography exhibit about Native Americans while I was living in Atlanta, and many people have asked me to write down the text panels, made up of extensive interviews I conducted with them. Poetry just kept coming out of my pen while writing the book.” The confluence here expands beyond the mere need for a “teacher” and into the broader picture of the universal awakening occurring in America.
Tracey’s images comprise an exhibit entitled The Awakening of Turtle Island: Portraits of Native Americans which has toured eighteen museums and was included in the Olympic opening ceremonies in Atlanta. The work, visible at Tracey’s website, presents tribal elders in traditional dress. At first, the extractive images of Edward Curtis of the 19th century daguerreotypes come to mind, but then it becomes clear that Tracey’s photographs propose to expand awareness of tribal teachings. The accompanying text states: “… our delicate relationship with the environment and of the original Native Americans who viewed themselves as an integral part of nature and as its stewards. Turtle Island is the name given by Native Americans to America. Hence, the name of the exhibit infers… the spiritual awakening of America.” While certainly Tracey was committed to conveying the teachings of the union between people and nature, it would seem the process of writing carried her deeper into her own awakening, and opened her path further.
“Then a client, to whom I was teaching photography, gave me some money to take a month off to finish the book. It was Carol Koury, who started Sow True Seed Company here in Asheville. I went down to a retreat center to work on the book, and poetry just kept rolling onto the paper. I would grab total strangers there and begin reciting the work I had just written. It was the kind of place where you could do that, and everybody just loved it and asked for more.”
As her path continued to open, Tracey developed a friendship with Daniel Ladinsky. “He heard from some mutual friends that I was there writing, and came to meet me. We recited poetry over tea and mango sorbet with Thomas Rain Crowe, who happened to be there on retreat as well. A visitor heard us reciting; he was trained on sitar, and he came in and began playing these stunning classical Indian ragas while we were reciting. Basically I thought to myself, “God, go ahead and take me now, because I will die a happy woman.” I simply felt like I had died and gone to heaven.”
Daniel and Tracey kept in touch through email and occasionally running into each other at the The Meher Spiritual Center, where Tracey goes once or twice a year. They read there last year together, for the first time, “and it was heaven all over again. So we decided to do a few more readings together.” They will read together in Tryon, Asheville, and then in Charlotte (see details below) followed by a few more readings scheduled for spring in Georgia and summer in Colorado. This is the first time in nine years that Daniel has agreed to come out and read, which adds yet another luminous thread to the ever-weaving story of how creativity brings people into one another’s path at just the right time.
Looking back at her journey, Tracey recalls it has not been an open-armed freefall into the Creative. “I fought the idea of writing poetry quite intensely at first. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, that’s just what I need: another hobby that does not make any money!’ But I had a number of experiences with poetry that showed me the power that it has to help us be more in touch with our hidden and elusive feelings.” She has also discovered that while poetry facilitates communion between the Soul and the Divine, it also facilitates the same among people here in the world, “I also realized early on, while sharing my work, that experiences I have had which I thought were unique to me, were actually extremely universal; and that lifted some kind of kinetic burden I had been carrying for years. It pushed me right into the poetry ocean, where I have been swimming ever since.”
Tracey Schmidt is the poet of I Have Fallen in Love with the World (Logosophia Books). Daniel Ladinsky has authored many translations and interpretation of Hafiz, among them: A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations. His work is quoted by Eckhart Tolle and Matthew Fox, among others. Tracey and Daniel will read at The Bookshelf in Tryon Thursday, February 16th and at Malaprops on Saturday, February 18th. For ticket information for Malaprop’s, please call 828-254-6734. To view and read Tracey’s images and poems, visit TraceySchmidt.com.
Laura Hope-Gill is the founding director of Asheville Wordfest and Marketing Director at Grateful Steps Publishing House and Bookshop (now Foundation). She has written The Soul Tree and two books about Asheville architectural history, Look Up Asheville I and II (all from Grateful Steps). She lives in Asheville with her daughter.
By: Marie Bartlett
She could be a Renaissance woman with her many talents and rich, multi-faceted career. But Linda Saylor says at heart, she is simply a teacher. Born in Texas, she grew up in Raleigh, NC and was educated at five different colleges, majoring in music and German before leaning toward primary education.
“I taught three-year-olds how to play the violin and viola,” she said. “But I also had two children of my own and a husband who sold insurance to teachers. Over time, I began to wonder how we were going to pay for our children’s college tuition.”
So like any intelligent, resourceful female Linda set out to reinvent herself. Though her love of music would remain (she went on to play in the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and is still a strong supporter of the arts) she decided it was time for something new.
“One day I attended a convention with my husband where someone stood up and said they were looking for the right candidate to sell insurance. I called a contact in human resources and told them, ‘I know the perfect person – me!’ At first he laughed and then realized I was serious.”
Linda got the job.
“But I had to prove myself from the get-go. It was hard and I really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I wanted to become certified in financial planning and insurance underwriting. There was a ton of complex material, with up to ten exams for each certification. I studied everywhere I went, on weekends, at the beach and at the dining room table, because I knew I was competing against attorneys and CPAs.”
That was nearly a decade ago. Today, Linda is a certified financial planner (CFP) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), working with A.G. Edwards, now Wells Fargo Advisors. Among her specialties: helping women learn how to make better financial decisions.
“I’m still a teacher,” she said. “Only this time I have something different to offer.”
In 2007, Linda was featured in a WNC story on “Top Ten Money Mistakes Women Make,” in which she said females of all ages are often woefully uneducated about their personal finances, including their financial futures. That was true in 2007, when about 30 million women were head of households and 95 percent of married and unmarried women were responsible for a family’s financial decisions. And it’s still true today, she says.
“The deadliest combination for women,” she said, “is lack of financial understanding and a tendency to provide too much help to adult children. Women continue to do that because we are socialized to help others. But here are the best two financial gifts you can give your children: (1) the knowledge they will never have to support you and (2) learning the ability to live within their own means. In other words, don’t impoverish yourself by helping support grown children.”
One of her most memorable cases in financial planning involved a woman in her fifties who received an inheritance but had no clue about how to handle her finances. Her husband had always managed their bills, accounts and major purchases.
“She had never done anything for herself financially,” said Linda. “I helped her through settling the estate and figuring out how she would conduct her business affairs. It was satisfying watching her grow through each stage, as though we were untying the knots in a string of beads.”
Her words of advice for women who come to her unsure of their own financial footing:
Take control of your financial future and remember that “a man is not a financial plan.” Don’t count on someone else to pick up the slack. Instead, take time to educate yourself. Read, take classes, or consult a professional. It may be tempting to let your spouse or significant other control your money. But it’s up to you to take the time to understand what’s best for your own future.
Avoid debt, or if you’re already in it, make a plan to get out and stick to it. If you need help, ask for it from consumer financial advisors or free consumer counseling services within your community.
Make a plan. The best time to fix your roof is when it isn’t raining. The best time to protect your savings from a downturn in the market is before something happens. Work with an investment professional to develop strategies to manage any risk in your portfolio. Once a plan is in place don’t allow emotions to rule your investment decisions.
Finally, think long term. When are you going to retire? How do you plan to get there? Consider the “what ifs.” What if you or your spouse dies or gets sick? What if you become disabled? Are you adequately insured?
An estimated 76 million Americans will retire in the next decade including a large number of the nearly 48 percent of women who make up the workforce. Yet, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, less than half of pre-retirees have even tried to calculate what they’ll need to save for a comfortable standard of living during retirement.
Linda has an answer for them too.
Beginning Tuesday, February 21, 2012, she is offering a series of free seminars aimed at older women, boomers, and anyone in the pre-retirement stage. The February 21 seminar, titled “Changing Course: Retirement Savings to Retirement Income,” will be held at Wells Fargo Advisors in south Asheville from 6-7 p.m. (See her ad page 56 for contact information.) Other free workshops run through May, 2012 and include help with understanding Medicare and Social Security, Estate Planning and best ways to utilize time in retirement.
In her own spare time, Linda, who lives in Fairview with her retired husband, volunteers with Land of the Sky Regional Council, Toastmasters and other civic organizations.
When asked what she enjoys most about her second-stage career, she says, “I love my clients, love helping them transition into the different stages of their lives. My main focus now is to look for decent returns on their investments, but also provide them with downside protection.”
“It’s gratifying to see their financial confidence grow, especially during dark times in the economy,” she continued. “My clients have worked hard and look forward to enjoying a secure, comfortable retirement. While they may not have the time, inclination or knowledge to manage the details of preserving and nurturing their funds, they understand that I treat their hard-earned money as carefully as my own.”
Today, Linda says she feels blessed, not only for the career path she once took, but for all the life experiences she brings to enrich her own clients.
“I keep a little sailboat in my office,” she said, “and it reminds me that no matter what the economy is doing, where I’ve been or where I’m going, I can help steer others and teach them to adjust the sails. In that respect, people need me to help them reach their hopes and dreams. That’s a good feeling.”
A member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA), Marie Bartlett, who lives in Hendersonville, has more than 25 years experience as a freelance writer. Her published work includes four nonfiction books and hundreds of articles in magazines and trade journals. Visit her online at www.onceawriter.com
By: Maria Bollack
We are extremely social animals with many relationships enriching and complicating our lives. What are your most important relationships? Your partner? Your children? Your dog? Your job? Your money? If you want to improve your relationships start with yourself and your relationship with the universe.
RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF (VIEW OF YOURSELF)
Your relationship with yourself is of extreme importance, because from there all others flow. Your relationship with yourself includes how you speak to yourself, view yourself, judge yourself (or not), treat yourself, and value yourself. It’s reflected in how others speak to you, treat you, view you, judge you (or not), and value you.
We project onto others how we see ourselves, thereby providing a mirror that we might not otherwise see. The first trick is looking into the mirror with courage, conviction, and compassion. The second trick is attending to those parts that we have ignored thus far. Perhaps they need healing and expression or simply to be noticed, acknowledged, and accepted.
Your relationships with others directly reflects how you feel about yourself; the way others treat you reflects how you treat yourself. Given that, you can see how you feel about yourself by the way others treat you. This is one aspect of mirroring; by looking into the mirror so graciously provided by those around us, we glimpse our relationship with ourselves.
How we view others says much about us as well. Who they are is less important than how we see them. According to Jung, we are projecting our shadows outward; therefore, our projections land on those around us.
If, for example, our shadow harbors jealousy, we will see jealousy in people around us. Here’s a suggestion: if you find yourself encountering jealous people, own it. Rather than attempting to change them or avoid them, consider what that might say about you. Are you harboring jealousy that you would rather not admit? Were you wounded by a jealous person in your past? In either case, jealousy resides within you that must be expressed and healed.
Here’s another suggestion: be compassionate with whatever you see in the mirror, because the projection is neither good nor bad.The image is what we don’t want to see, what we’re afraid to see. Looking into the the mirror with judgment,makes clarity difficult and devalues who you think you are.
We all see things we don’t want to see, but our unconscious reflects what is important for us by the only means available. This is a gift in disguise.
You may recall the Law of Attraction which simply states that as you resonate, so you attract. In order to have a relationship with a partner who values you, you must value yourself. If you don’t, the only way to change the situation is finding a way, from the inside, to value yourself.
Too often, people see that others do not value them and mistakenly conclude that they are not valuable. In fact, if you don’t value yourself you will look for and find confirmation in the words and actions of everyone around you. In the oft-quoted passage of Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you shall find.”
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNIVERSE (VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE)
Your relationship with the universe is also extremely important, because that is the filter through which you view everything and everyone, including yourself. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This filter governs how you interpret the actions of people around you and what you imagine their intentions toward you are. This, in turn, influences how you respond to them.
Albert Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” He didn’t say why this is our most important decision or which was the better choice. Let’s explore these choices and their implications.
Imagine that you are in a hostile place where you can’t trust the people around you. You don’t know when or how they might strike at you, but you’re sure that, sooner or later, they will. Mumbled phrases become probable threats. Adrenaline flowing and stressed, you remain on the defensive and constantly prepared for the inevitable attack that could come from anywhere.
In order to survive in this hostile universe, you must be on guard and resistant to everything. You live in constant fear.
What’s wrong with being on the ready for danger? What’s wrong with resisting dangerous things? Our ancestors, the cavemen and women did and were protected from lions and tigers and bears. That makes sense to me.
For one thing, you can’t selectively resist energy. Your wall keeps everyone out. Have you ever tried getting through to someone who is resistant and closed? Not an easy task!. When you resist anger from one source, you resist love as well from all sources. Think of a kinked garden hose that blocks the flow of all water, not just the unwanted particles.
Now imagine that you’re in a friendly place where you trust everyone. Everyone is nice to you, looking out for your best interest. Mumbled phrases are probable compliments. People offer assistance at every turn. You’re at ease and happily going with the flow, because the flow is taking you to pleasant places.
That sounds good to me. What could be wrong with that? Maybe nothing, but what happens when you encounter someone who decides to slap you in the face? How would you handle that?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Will you choose universe nasty or universe nice? I see the universe as a very big place where friend and foe reside. No one’s life is so charmed that no adversity crosses her path. (At least no one I know.)
I was born into a hostile land. I’ve moved to a place that is sometimes friendly and sometimes not so much. I work to make my place increasingly friendly by noticing and appreciating things that please me. I also notice things that are not so pleasant and tend to them from within.
In difficult times, I am comforted by the passage from ‘A Course in Miracles’ (Chapter 18, section 4:”If you knew Who walks beside you on THIS way, which YOU have chosen, fear would be impossible.”
I can’t really get my arms around the enormity of the universe, but I can sense my immediate surroundings. Whenever I shift my focus to the presence I feel behind me and, I find comfort and support.
I predict that to the extent you trust and connect to the powerful and loving presence that constantly graces you(even if you cannot sense that presence at first), you will move through life with more fulfillment and ease—no matter what.
If you come to the place where you feel that you are not alone, no matter your circumstances, you will experience the universe as a friendly place starting with your corner. You can arrive at a place where you understand that everything in your path has been placed there on your behalf—even if it feels really bad.
As for me, I’m working on it.
Intuition expert Marla Bollak works with midlife women to create the rest of their lives. She awakens them to intuition, their most powerful tool, and teaches them how to align with their highest potential. Her websites are SageOfEnlightenment.com and Tarot4Insight.com.