A tribute to my first money mentor, Tamara Slayton.

written by Bari Tessler May 15, 2013

In August of 2001...

I moved from Colorado to California, and arrived in a little town called Sebastopol.

I was post-graduate school (in Somatic Psychology), standing at a huge professional crossroads. I was working as a bookkeeper, doing overnight hospice shifts, and leading authentic movement groups.

I was searching . . .

Trying to put the pieces together and discover the next chapter in my life and work.

Just a few weeks after moving, I’m on my way to see my first bookkeeping client in Sebastopol (who, by the way, hired me from a flyer). I’m driving to her house down a dirt road, when I come to a truck blocking the way. I get out of my car to talk to the driver and my jaw drops when I see who it is: “Warren??”

Warren Bellows was an incredible healer and acupuncturist whom I had worked with once in Boulder a few years before . . . a life-transforming treatment, which is another story for another day.

We spoke for a few minutes, I shared with him about where I was in my professional path, and without hesitation he told me I must go see Tamara Slayton, who lived in the same town.

Jaw dropping again, I realized that I knew the name.

Six years earlier, I had received a copy of one of Tamara’s newsletters, a print publication called Cycles. (This was back in the day when you could hold newsletters in your hand!)

I had kept this newsletter the whole time, through multiple moves, including the latest move from Colorado to California. The content spoke to me of course, but also because I felt some strange significance to this particular piece. I couldn’t throw it away. It was a keeper.

Needless to say, I went to see Tamara.

When I met Tamara...

I felt incredibly seen.

Tamara was a woman who pointed people in their true direction, to their North Star. I know I am in a line with many dear souls that were touched by her in this way.

Tamara’s own life journey led her to take on many significant topics, including menstrual health awareness, conscious conception, rite-of-passage work, and more. Late in her career, Tamara realized that there was still a barrier to making one’s livelihood real and actualized, and that this barrier was our relationship to money and all that it touched. So, she turned her attention to economics in the last few years of her life.

In our first meeting, I shared with Tamara that I was seeking and preparing to merge my worlds and training in deep psychology and inner healing with all of the amazing systems, tools and practices from the external/practical world of bookkeeping.

She got it.

We started having regular meetings. I became her bookkeeper! We’d go on walks, we’d vision and philosophize about money and life and wisdom . . .

She was my teacher, and yet I was teaching her the practice of bookkeeping. At some point, it became clear that we were to do a workshop together.

The workshop was called Women. Vision. Money: An Introduction to Financial Literacy as a Spiritual, Political and Economic Practice for Women in America, and it took place in 2002, the year after we met and the year before she passed away.

I recently found the beautiful program invitation while cleaning out my office...

(click it to see the whole thing, designed by Tamara):

Bari Tessler Tamara Slayton Workshop Program

*Note: Tamara was steeped in Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner. Although it's not my path, I have gleaned great insights from these teachings.

Following that weekend workshop . . .

Tamara, in her true work, pointed me to my true work.

Painting Bird Whispering in Ear
Photo: Truls Espedel

It felt like she was by my side, whispering in my ear and showing me a road to take. Tamara felt, and feels, like this image.

Tamara encouraged me (or rather, lovingly demanded) that I give a presentation on my money work. She said she was gathering a group of students to come over and I would need to prepare and share my money work.

She pointed me to ask the big questions about my work in the world, and pushed me to go out and find the answers. With her loving kick in the tush, I went into the woods, asked for guidance, scribbled on notepads, stayed up late with my husband tossing ideas around . . . until I finally came up with the bones of my method.      

Tamara was, in fact, the catalyst for the birth of my entire method for money work. (Formerly known as Conscious Bookkeeping. Now... The Art of Money).

She called on me to truly step into my own work, and I am forever grateful.

Tamara’s teachings for me were vast . . .

So many of them are central themes in my life and work, to this day.

She taught me the beauty of mentorship, and the blessing of a true teacher. And, she showed me when to become my own teacher and find my own students.

She helped me see money as initiation, and teach money as an initiation. I had been steeped in initiation, but somehow never integrated initiation work with money work before Tamara.

She shared that sometimes liabilities are a hidden asset, and opened up a beautiful perspective on the ebbs of our money life. I wrote a bit more about that here.

She fiercely believed in financial transparency. I remember sitting in circle with her, and we all passed around our Profit & Loss reports. Whoa. Powerful. More on that in a future post.

And, oh my goodness, so many more lessons, many too big for words ...

After Tamara passed, (surrounded by family and friends at the age of 53),

I had a very vivid dream about her and a Red Book...

I want to share it with you (enjoy this 5-minute audio):

Tamara was an Artist, Teacher, Philosopher & Mama of 5.  She was the Founder of the Menstrual Health Foundation. She was a beautiful, deep soul and I am forever grateful for her role in my life.

May Tamara and her teachings continue to ripple out through me into this community . . .

Bari Tessler signature

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