My HEART is in Boulder: A Personal Update on the Flood + Money Teaching

written by Bari Tessler September 18, 2013

My dear community,

I’m writing you today from a rain-drenched and tear-soaked Boulder.

As I’m sure most of you have heard, our little community and the surrounding areas have been hit with terrible flash flooding this past week.  They’re calling it our 1000 Year Flood.

All of the roads to and from our mountain communities have collapsed.  Some of our dearest friends have had cars washed away, basements destroyed, and even lost their homes completely.  Many have been left without heat, hot water, or electricity.  Some are stranded in mountain homes, others have been evacuated by foot or helicopter.

Many of you have reached out to ask if my little family is OK.  Thank you, thank you for keeping us in your hearts.

We are safe and dry and relatively sane.  My little family has been one of the lucky ones.  Crazily lucky.  We’ve had minor basement flooding  — I lost tax receipts, Christmas decorations, some books but that’s all! — and lost heat and hot water for a few days.  I’ve been grateful and even disoriented to remain safe and mostly dry while we’re surrounded by such extreme devastation.

mt. sanitas floods

Our trail on Mt. Sanitas

A few hundred yards from our house is our beautiful mountain, Sanitas, where I hike daily for clarity and peace and business visioning. It’s been completely washed out. I’m eager to get out there again and SEE and FEEL what has happened. And, to begin to rebuild the trail.

The past week has been full of tears and community triumph.  I’ve had tender moments where I simply held hands with Forest and Noah and let the tears come.  I’ve cried for my mountain.  Cried for everyone in our community who’s suffered losses.  Cried tears of gratitude that we have food, are safe, and have each other.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ~ Hellen Keller

Our amazing community has come together stronger and more beautiful than ever in the face of this disaster.  People are pitching in with cleanup efforts, opening their homes to the displaced, feeding and clothing and loving each other.  We’re all checking in with each other, keeping track of our loved ones, and holding hands and hearts during this difficult time. 

And, as with everything else in life, this flood deeply impacts our money stories.

I’ll set aside the macro-economics of how this affects Boulder at large, and instead share with you how this flood has impacted my own conscious money practice.

Family biking to see floods

Almost immediately, my survival instincts kicked in.  Scarcity felt real.  Food felt urgent.  We went to the grocery store, unsure if the stores would remain open over the next few days, and completely broke our family’s grocery spending record!  I breathed through it and accepted this as best I could.

Forest and I have tried to support our struggling community, each in our different ways.  He turned to Facebook, posting helpful updates and resources around the clock.   I invited a family to stay over night while they were evacuated from their home.  It turned out to be a little reunion with an old friend from Naropa, from 20 years ago, and her 8 year old son who played well with Noah. 

Food was another compelling way for me to help others!  I offered to make grocery runs for anyone who needed.  It may sound insignificant, but one of my gifts is picking out food for others at the grocery store.  One of my friends reported back that I was the very best “personal shopper” ever!  I felt so grateful to be able to support loved ones in this essential, visceral way.

Many of our friends with local business and practices have taken massive earnings hits.  Offices have flooded, closed, or even been swept away.  My heart is breaking for them and their families.

Meanwhile, I’ve cried many grateful tears that my livelihood is online, and therefore mostly unaffected.  I’ve emerged from the initial shock and grief of the situation more determined than ever to continue my mission of conscious money work.  I want to support our recovery efforts here on the ground — and also nurture my online business, trusting that both of these efforts will strengthen each other.  I know that if I can show up for my work and continue to grow a healthy business, I’ll be able to bring more money into Boulder and be able to show up in more empowered and supportive ways.  So I’m honoring the interviews I already had queued up for my upcoming Money Memoir Series,  I’m so touched by how open-hearted and loving my guests are, and honored that we can meet each other in such a tender way, during such a tender time.

I’m definitely feeling grateful for all the tools I have to meet this disaster consciously.  I’m grateful for body check-ins and my conscious money practice.  I’m grateful for my dear friend and nutritionist Marcie Goldman, who suggested some wonderful, soothing herbal tinctures to keep me calm and present. (ie: Deep Stress by Wish Garden Herbs). And I’m so grateful for my amazing community, and how everyone has shown up, pitched in, and loved each other through this difficult time.

As our dear friend and fellow Boulderite, Ryan Oelke, posted in response to the flood:

“Realizing more and more that the best insurance I can invest in is mindfulness and the capacity to be present with what is arising”. ~ Ryan Oelke

My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

With loving wishes

If you and your family have been impacted by the flood, please be gentle with yourself.  If you find yourself disoriented or overwhelmed — be patient, breathe through it as best you can, and love yourself, right where you are.  It will take some time for many of us to get back on our feet.  Allow yourself to receive support from those who offer it.  Surround yourself with people who will remind you to eat (and eat well!), rest, laugh, and take your time.

For people who need to report their cases to FEMA: you’re in a huge transition, and this will take time.  There will be paperwork, and you will likely need support.  Please reach out for help when you need it!  Here’s a helpful website to guide you through FEMA paperwork and more.  You can also watch Forest’s Facebook page: he’s reporting resources as he finds them.  Community is the most important thing right now, so be present, allow others to help you, and give yourself time to move through this.

How can you help?

Many people have asked me and Forest how they can support our Boulder community from a distance.  Here are a few ways:

This tragedy offers us all a choice.

Here in Boulder, we’ve all learned: at any moment, everything can change.  For example: a friend of mine was saving money to buy a house in Lyons, Colorado — and that dream is now washed away. 

We could choose to look at all this and say, “screw planning, screw money practices, nothing matters!”  But in difficult times like this, what’s really important becomes so very clear.  It’s doing good work in the world.  It’s being kind — to those in need, to strangers, to our loved ones, and to ourselves.  It’s being present to everything that’s happening and swirling and whirling around in and around us. And it’s helping each other get the practical resources we all need to help us through.

Whether you’ve been touched by this flood or are far from it, I wish you presence and community and loving support.

And, here’s to re-building our beautiful town and all of the roads that lead to our beloved mountains and mountain towns. We are a strong community and we will thrive through this.

With my very dearest (and un-rain-dancing!) wishes,


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