On Motherhood, Money Stories, and Finding Clarity in the Choppy Waters of Life.

written by Bari Tessler July 24, 2014

Welcome to my Guest Post Series! For the rest of 2014, my team and I are in deep creation mode, writing my book, The Art of Money. Yay! While we’re away, I’m thrilled to present voices + perspectives about money (and much more) from some of my favorite colleagues + thinkers. Don’t fret, though! I love you all too much to stay silent for long. Look for the occasional article (and book excerpt!) from me … meanwhile, soak up this fresh + eclectic wisdom from my friends. Enjoy!


Dear Community,

So. You’re face-to-face with a spending conundrum.
Put it in savings, or splurge on that vacation?

Or, you’re wondering what to charge for your services.
What is this worth, and what’s the magic number I’d feel good charging for it?

Or, you simply feel overwhelmed by all the places money shows up in your life, and don’t know where to begin feeling peace of mind.

All these situations might be boiled down to one fundamental question:

How can I feel clear, grounded, and confident in my money decisions?

Welcome to the pursuit of Money Clarity. This is one of the most cherished pillars of my work — and one of the top reasons people seek my help.

In my experience, Money Clarity is a multi-dimensional creature: to get to know it, we need to play in the realms of body wisdom, practicality, honest relationships, purpose, and much more.

I’ve shared my own suggestions for making great money decisions  (in this live case-study from our family as well as this 5-step how-to)  — so today, I want to pass the mic to a new friend of mine, who has some fresh perspectives to share with you all!

Today, we bring you a guest post from Kathy Stowell: Money Clarity with a Side of Mama Bliss.

This post reads like a wild, insightful romp through a wise woman’s mind. Kathy gets vulnerable and shares some of the oh-so-real challenges of birthing and motherhood, what she’s learned from them — and how all of this relates to creating Money Clarity.

I’ve taken the lessons learned in motherhood and applied them to my money story, which is waaay more spiritually intense than the pre-kid, martini-drinking, shoulder pad-wearing Kathy I used to be would have ever predicted.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy at last year’s World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. Turns out, she worked with me many moons ago, way back when my business was still called Conscious Bookkeeping! Now, she teaches mamas how to create sustainable, work-from-home businesses — now, that’s a woman after my own heart!

Read on for Kathy’s guest post, including her Four Pillars of Mama Bliss (all of which she also applies to Money Clarity): Self-Care, Creativity, Values, and Simplicity.

I’m so delighted to share Kathy’s fresh, imaginative voice with you all, and so grateful she’s taken the time to share her thoughts with you, while I’m off writing my book. I hope you love it!

Now … I’m back to chocolate and book drafting land!

With my dearest wishes,






P. S. While I’m away writing the Art of Money book, I’m still posting regularly on our new Art of Money Facebook page, as well as my new Pinterest page (my new social media love), and my Instagram. I hope to see you there!

Money Clarity with a Side of Mama Bliss

This is a guest post from Kathy Stowell. (For more about Kathy, see the bottom of the post.)

The one thing that gets me more excited than two back-to-back triple shot lattes is finding myself in the same room as a first-time, expecting Mama. I can’t help but share my two positive home birth stories with her, as a way of supporting her approaching-birthing-day psyche.

Eventually, I tell her that the moment you first become a mother is like cranking the awesome dial of life all the way to the right — very quickly. But, paradoxically, it is also like cranking the not-so-awesome dial at the same time.

And the back-and-forth jiggle between these two dial adjustments never completely goes away. It hasn’t for me, anyway.

Luckily, the baby birthing process prepared me for so much more than sleep deprivation and perfecting my donkey mating call. It prepared me for a pivotal turning point in my spiritual journey, as the intensity of motherhood led me to explore the internal energy exchange between light and dark, action and rest, giving and receiving, holding and releasing.

I’ve taken the lessons learned in motherhood and applied them to my money story, which is waaay more spiritually intense than the pre-kid, martini-drinking, shoulder pad-wearing Kathy I used to be would have ever predicted.

Each journey into the birthing labyrinth has tested my resiliency more than the last.

My anxiety kicked in almost immediately after the conception of my second child. The dangers of the world were amplified, while the beauty of the world (which my daughter introduced me to) only served to remind me that there was more at stake now, at a time I deemed to be “the beginning of the end.”

I had anxiety episodes that made my heart beat so loud it kept me awake as I tried desperately to sleep; waiting for the morning sun to offer me hope.

I had wild imaginings of the worst possible outcome for our lives. I actually drummed up a contingency plan to literally head for the hills, foraging for berries and using foliage for toilet paper. I was overcome with the desire to stay close to home, where we were all safe.

When the anxiety knob dialed back down (as it eventually did), I shone the light of what I had learned on my money story. I had witnessed similar symptoms when tensions rose around money, whether due to family meetings; making decisions on how much to invest back into my business; or which system, if any, to adopt to keep track of my earnings and spending.

I applied what worked for me — just as I coach my clients to do — to my never-officially-diagnosed-but-always-just-a-sniffle-away Mama anxiety and then, to my money healing process, too. I focused on four important pillars: Self-Care, Creativity, Values, and Simplicity. They became the foundation of what I call “Mama Bliss.”

The Four Pillars of Mama Bliss

I invite more calm into my life with frequent and loving self-care check-ins, creative play, a focus on my individual and family values, and by seeking simplicity in every aspect of my life.

When I lavish attention on each of these four areas, my internal compass and energies remain strong and I can clearly navigate through the sometimes choppy waters of life, with all of its quaint surprises.

This creates a domino effect that clearly trickles into my money healing journey; an area of my life I didn’t always realize needed nurturing. But, like the journey into the birthing labyrinth demonstrates, there are always layers to our healing (generations worth, even) and much of that healing can spare our children — and then their children — from pain, confusion, and discomfort. It’s time to baby ourselves, Mamas.

The First Pillar: Self-Care

I check in on the state of my “SHOES” at the beginning of each season: Sleep, H20 Intake, Organic Living, Exercise, and Stillness.

Luckily, sleep deprivation wasn’t much of an issue in my mothering experience, but when it did creep around, I felt way more susceptible to the anxiety that reared its ugly head from time to time.

I find stillness through a nightly meditation ritual, right before bed. I calm my mind using the simple technique of focusing on my breath and releasing tension wherever I might discover it in my body. The same technique helped me birth my babies into the world. (Braying like a donkey helped, too.)

I also invite a state of stillness to process and honor my body’s reaction to indecisiveness or shame when a similar wave of strong, anxious sensations rushes in due to a lack of Money Clarity. I pinpoint where it resides within my body, bless it, breathe it out, and allow my bionic Mama intuition to guide me to the first step in the healing process.

I know SHOES might be deemed “Mission Impossible” for some Mamas, but just imagine how much simpler life could be with a more well-rested, hydrated, and less stressed state of being. Do what you can and get the support that you need to ensure that you have the five points of your SHOES covered – or, at least, meditate on how you can improve upon them, even if only by a fraction.

The Second Pillar: Creativity

Becoming a Mama really kickstarts the creative process, what with all of that cell-dividing business. Thanks to all of the Mama Bliss research I’ve been swimming in over the last decade, it’s become apparent that whenever I stifle this creative urge, feelings of edginess, resentment, and even more anxiety are apt to crop up.

Keeping creativity flowing doesn’t require a huge time commitment or the most Pinterest-worthy studio space. Even a five-minute Morning Pages session before the kids wake (or even if they’re up, staring at you) can get the juice of Mama Bliss flowing forth and invite more clarity to all aspects of your life.

In the realm of Money Clarity, I imagine abundance floating along with my creative flow, in all aspects of my life. Money manifests in the most surprising and poetic ways. And not just in passive and airy-fairy ways, either. By keeping my creativity cap nice and pointy, like a smart-looking dunce cap, I’m able to think up brilliant and crafty ways to invite more money flow into our lives at the perfect moment. So empowering. Kind of like giving birth.

The Third Pillar: Values

I check in regularly with my values to help me contend with another aspect of Mamahood I was unprepared for: the inability to make even the most simple, straightforward decisions at times.

I have a theory that, for every placenta that a Mama expels, she also loses a handful of decision-making cells.

Becoming clear on my values has diffused many major life decision-making situations that might have otherwise caused more internal strife than necessary. I also frequently check in with our shared family values, which often leads me to the same decision on those issues that seem to crop up more than once in our lives: homeschooling, private schooling, living in the boonies, living closer to town, getting a cow, getting rid of the cow(zah).

I think I’ve cried during each of these decision-making conversations because, like most Mamas, sometimes I simply want it all. But having the tough conversations has brought clarity to the individual values we uphold, as well as the values we support as Team Stowell (insert family handshake here).

In my business, it feels like I have about a hundred decisions to make every day. But keeping my values front and center has helped me move away from overwhelm and toward my perfect Mamas: coaching clients, coaching students, and new mentors and colleagues.

When faced with tough decisions, whether for my family or my business, it’s easy to see which choices are aligned with my chosen values — or the feelings I want to experience more of — in a particular season of my life.

The Fourth Pillar: Simplicity

I noticed another interesting phenomenon after becoming pregnant for the first time: my tendency to “anti-nest.” I found myself instinctively fending off baby stuff that friends and family were well-intentionally trying to pass on to me. Then, once I had my baby girl, l discovered I wanted to simplify other activities as well. (Or maybe I just wasn’t that into play groups and “mommy-and-me”-type lessons.)

I noticed that, not unlike a baby, my nerves were soothed by a slower pace, a predictable rhythm to our days, less toys cluttering the house, and a quieter, no-battery-operated-gadgets-beeping ambiance.

I craved simplicity. I craved less to make room for more, though more of “what” I couldn’t quite describe.

Now, when I notice my anxiety creep back up, I pay attention to this pillar and ask myself: “How can life be made more simple?” (It helps to revisit the third pillar – “Values” – for further clues.) Then I turn up the simple knob.

I have found that Money Clarity is often closely related to my desire to invite simplicity into all areas of my life. I love asking this small, but powerful question in the context of my work and finances.

Sometimes our dream for a more simplified life actually translates into unprecedented complication (milking cow, anyone?). But a regular check-in with yourself can help you gauge what is — and is not — serving your vision and what is truly the path of least resistance toward bliss. Simplicity, or discarding whatever’s not in alignment with your values, offers you room to breathe. Then you can enjoy your many gifts: those that simplicity brings to the forefront of our awareness.

I have found that one of the greatest takeaways from Bari’s teachings, the Body Check-In, is more easily accessed and interpreted when each of these four pillars is properly and regularly tended to. It’s like, along with the bionic sense of smell that I was granted with my first pregnancy, I have the superpower ability to read my body’s response when confronted with the sometimes muddling situation of my money choices (or perceived lack thereof).

With this Mama Money Clarity, I’m hooked up with and guided by an internal compass that always moves me, with chubby-footed baby steps, toward the dreams I hold in my heart for my family, myself, and the world of Mamas out there raising a future blissful generation.

Kathy-Stowell-150wKathy Stowell is the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School, a 12-week coaching training program for moms. She’s a full-time work-at-home mom (WAHM) who coaches other moms, who coach other moms, and helps them build sustainable, bliss-centered businesses. Her work has been published by Leonie Dawson, Tiny Buddha, Simple Kids, The When I Grow Up Coach, and more. She can talk birthing analogies until the cows come home to calf and is mildly addicted to warm lattes and hot yoga.

Experience her free 3-day ecourse, which will help you dive deeper into these four pillars and all the WAHM bliss within: Money Bliss: Earn an Income from Home (and still be an awesome Mom)

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