As I was going through the experience I’m about to share with you, I knew I’d ultimately turn it into something I’d share as a teaching tool. But in order for that to happen, I needed to wait until the process was complete and we were on the other side of it. It’s important to steer clear of projections and opinions while in the middle of the journey. Brené Brown confirmed my intuition when I read in her book Daring Greatly, “I only share stories or experiences that I’ve worked through and feel I can share from solid ground.”
However, this story sharing has taken much longer than I thought it would because between the experience and now, I experienced another cycle. My mother was diagnosed with advanced lymphatic cancer and then died from acute myeloid leukemia. This story simply lost its significance during that time but it’s now ready to be shared.
Since 1997, when I began the priestess process, I started holding all aspects of life as sacred and looked at my patterns and experiences through the deeper lens of soul development. This is easy to do when things are flowing, smooth, and graceful. But on the occasion when I’m in the muck and mire of a challenging life situation, and my ego has me in its talons, it often takes a longer time to process and gain perspective.
One of the things I know from the observation of my soul development is that I’ve often had to experience something I’d previously judged. And often, what’s wrapped up tightly with judgement is emotion, which magnetizes the incident. The thing is, I don’t know it’s happening until after the fact and I look back and say, Wow I really did have a lot of judgement about that.
Swimming alongside judgement, in this particular experience, was also my ego. “That’s not who I am,” it cried out. “I’m too good for that,” it admonished as it held on tightly to my false pride.
I’ve been a “bootstrapping” entrepreneur most of my life, and I’ve loved my work over the years along with the money flowing from it. I’ve continued to learn, grow, and expand my business and financial skills. I’ve wanted to create financial freedom for 25 years, but until now, I just haven’t focused on it enough. Financial freedom is simply enough money to cover your expenses from passive residual income streams. This goal to gain financial freedom is an important piece and plays a strong part in this story.
So what is the story? And how does it begin? It all started with what I can look back on now and clearly know was false pride and ego about my credit score and judgement of others’ experiences that I didn’t even know I had. You see, leading up to 2012, I was very proud of my good credit score, and was very protective of it.
But what I didn’t know when it all started is how the unknown bucket loads of judgement that were hovering just under the surface would soon have me going through something huge in order to see it clearly. Post experience, I have lots of compassion where judgement was the only thing rooted there before.
I’d danced with a little debt before all this started, having a credit card balance I had to concentrate to pay off but always doing it. Always careful to pay my bills on time, I’d generated income well as an entrepreneur in multiple fields. I wasn’t great at saving, investing, or building passive income streams yet but knew I wanted to learn.
Back in 2007, I was guided to put the core priestess and Natural Rhythms teachings I’d been sharing in my programs into a book, and I thought that would begin a passive income stream. My guidance was to get the first draft of the book into form by my 50th birthday on August 7th. I didn’t consider myself a writer at the time, and it was painful to sit and turn my experiential teachings into the written word, but I did it. I scheduled a 9-day stretch and a 7-day stretch with nothing but writing on my calendar that summer.
I spent long days out on the screen porch writing like crazy. I finally finished the first draft by my deadline and set about finding an editor. An author friend suggested an editor, and my husband and I made a decision to proceed with hiring her at $75 an hour. Because I wasn’t able to do all the work I’d been doing previously while spending the necessary time getting the book into form, I started earning less business income. Because of that, my husband and I agreed to charge the book editing on a credit card, and it ended up costing about $7500.
I also ended up self-publishing, and because we had no other funds to support the book yet, I added the printing fees for the book to the credit cards too.
At the time, my husband was a contract/freelance illustrator while working alongside me in my business. In 2008, as I began taking the Natural Rhythms message to a larger market, we quickly realized it required a much bigger and longer learning curve and much more capital than anticipated. I needed to up my visibility, get known by more people, and reach more prospects than I had ever done before. Because there was no other means of capital available to us then, we began funding our plans for incremental business growth and visibility on credit cards as well.
The debt started racking up quickly. I naively figured once the book was released our financial situation would turn around quickly too. But there were two other things I didn’t know that came to haunt us later.
The first was what it actually takes for a book to make any money. I’d been teaching for years and generating high 5 figures but my following was still pretty small, and it costs even more money to travel around to promote a book. And I also began taking courses to learn how to build an author platform, which I knew nothing about at the time. That led to my realization that I had to learn technology in order to expand my outreach.
I needed to learn to build a website, so I put website development training on the credit cards. I needed to learn how to build an online business and launch online programs, so those trainings went on the credit card too. Travel expenses and fees to attend mentoring workshops, photoshoots, speaking engagements, conferences, and networking events. Virtual assistance for product creation. Production of workshop manuals and collateral materials. All went on the credit cards along the path to enhancing my visibility. Yikes! I’d entered a whole new territory, and there was no going back. We had to push through.
The second thing was the economic crash of 2008. The financial constriction made it harder for those I was teaching to afford classes, and it dried up my husband’s contract illustration work. Our house suddenly was $50,000 under water so we couldn’t sell and make our way out from that position. I was extremely frustrated when I couldn’t figure out a way to move the economic energy in a large enough way to make a difference.
We not only experienced the huge loss in value of our home during the housing crash. Things compounded further when the neighborhood flooded in 2009, and a house, only four houses away, at the end of our street had to be torn down as a result. Additionally, several houses were abandoned, and we were also robbed. My husband and I had gone to lunch with my father; it was daylight and in the middle of the day. We came home to find our television, his iPod, our DVD’s, and tons of collectible DVD’s he had in an upstairs closet, gone. It was frightening to be so violated.
We had to face the fact that our neighborhood demographic had changed tremendously. On top of everything else, there was a structural issue with the house that we did not know about when we purchased it, which added to the complexity of the issues.
I was deeply committed to spreading the word and helping others understand Natural Rhythms so I kept at it. In 2009, my CPA suggested I file for unemployment like so many others were doing because I was able to take so little in payroll from the corporation. But my pride and the internal timing that was pushing me just wouldn’t let me do it. I was working my ass off in order to turn everything around, working more than I ever had in business.
I had great credit, and most of it all paid off when all this started but the expenses and associated debt began growing and kept growing as I had to learn so many more things in order to get this new aspect of being a published author to produce.
In 2010, the credit cards were pretty full but we consciously decided to put one more thing on them in order for me to attend the Hay House Movers and Shakers workshop in Boston. This was so important to me and my precious Natural Rhythms book because it would shine a light on what else I needed to learn.
I signed up for the Hay House Movers and Shakers workshop, thinking it was a great opportunity to learn more about building my author platform. What I didn’t know until I arrived at the event was if I entered their video contest, I’d have an opportunity to be named one of two selected as that year’s Hay House Movers and Shakers. I filed that information away as a side note since my primary reason for attending was to learn about author platform building.
When I got home, my husband and I were busy with other projects and ended up producing the Hay House video entry at the very last minute before I went out of town to another event. My attitude was, “Well, it doesn’t really matter if I do it. At least we’ll have a good video for the business.” I never anticipated or put any energy at all into winning. I was merely following through on one of the workshop assignments.
To my surprise, I won one of the two coveted spots. Being chosen as a Hay House Mover and Shaker provided such an upliftment at the time. Such a public boost helped me and my business tremendously.
I began making a decent income again but we weren’t generating enough to get us out of the hole quickly enough, and it began to really weigh on me energetically. Even though I had been and still was paying everything on time, we just weren’t making any economic headway, and we were getting older.
The stress was interminable. I was working harder than ever before, taking NO time off at all. While an online business means working from home or virtually from anywhere, it also means I was ON almost ALL the time. I’d always been the responsible one. My Capricorn moon and Saturn everywhere else in my constellation meant playing by the rules of life was super important to me. I thought if I just kept doing the right things, and enough of the right things, all would turn around for me and my business.
A dear friend of mine who was also doing my books at the time said, “Lisa, I think you need to file for bankruptcy.” I was shocked, but listening to her tell me how many other successful business owners had to file at different times, I began to consider it. Enter the judgement and ego I spoke of earlier. I had both when it came to bankruptcy,
A few weeks later, I headed out of town to produce a workshop with a precious CPA friend in another state. Over lunch the first day, I told her what my bookkeeper friend had said about bankruptcy, and to my surprise, she said, “I think you should.” All weekend long she kept giving me reasons why I should do it.
Two things she said which really made an impression: bankruptcy is designed to help people get a fresh start; and she thought someone needed to do it in order to teach others not to be ashamed about it. My ego was pitching a fit. I started to realize my ego had my self-worth partially tied up with the false measurement of my credit score.
My CPA friend suggested I call a bankruptcy lawyer she knew in another state who helped people understand the process without shaming them. My conversations with him were profound. He asked my husband and me to consider what we really wanted in the next phase of life.
“Bankruptcy gives you a fresh start,” he said. “And while you can keep your house when you go through it, do you really want to?” He added, “In bankruptcy, you can keep any retirement funds you have and also keep your car.”
My husband and I began a series of deep conversations about what we wanted for the next phase of our life without all the baggage. Until these financial issues escalated, I had always been diligent about timely payments on everything I was responsible for paying. Because my credit score and being financial responsible were extremely important to me, considering bankruptcy was a serious struggle and a very difficult decision. But consciously decide we did, and in 2012 we filed for bankruptcy.
It was challenging to go through every detail of our financial life and to decide where and how we wanted to live next. Interestingly enough, however, it pulled us closer together and into much more conscious collaboration and co-creation with one another.
I’m so grateful to have made it to the other side of such a deep, personal, and multi-faceted journey. It’s added a new level of compassion, a renewed commitment to financial freedom for myself and others, a desire to support others in releasing any shame lingering in their past financial experiences, a compelling inner call to help others develop income streams designed to support one another in a co-creation team-based model, and a longing to join with like-minded, open-hearted, spiritual souls who feel pulled to come together to make a difference in the world.
It’s easy to forget the rhythms of nature include the process of destruction and death as well as birth and creation.
The bright shiny side of birth, creation, and inspiration feel magical and fun. On the other hand, the letting go, the destruction of something so closely held as important, and the dealing with death can feel dark and difficult. But to live in wholeheartedness we must embrace all the aspects of life, developing as much grace as we can along the way.
My experience of debt and bankruptcy really brought forward how in creation we must be willing to let go in order to create new things—a new life and business, full of new experiences that will continue to build on what I bring forth to share with others. Being open to shifting out of a judgement and ego-driven place, while difficult, was Divine Guidance shining through.
In her wonderful little book Web Thinking, Dr. Linda Seger shares this: “Although we may think of progress as occurring in a straight line, most growth happens by circling around the same situation a number of times. If we transform each time around, we see the situation differently, responding with more maturity and insight. We work around it, get above it, finally move beyond it.” Progress is made when we spiral to the next level.
Here are a few closing questions for you to reflect on and respond to in your journal.
– Where are you in judgement of yourself or others’ experiences around spirituality, money or business?
– Where are you beating yourself up over choices you’ve made?
– Where do you have shame or guilt about how long things have taken or how much they’ve cost?
– Where is there old baggage that needs to be released for you to move forward in a stronger, richer, more fulfilling way?
– Where do you need to forgive yourself so you can fill your life and business with more love and grace?
Now, circle back, and consider what Dr. Seger says.
– How might you see the situation differently and with more maturity and insight?
– What needs letting go of now in order to create new beginnings according to your Divine Guidance?
– What might be your next step to uplift you to the next level?
Sending you love and massive priestess support.