I had become a lawyer like my parents wished. I was working at their law firm. At first it was okay with me because I was helping people (or so I thought) and it seemed like a reasonable fit because I had my dad’s lawyer-like way of speaking.
Me being a lawyer served to protect the family too. That’s because only a lawyer can own a law firm, and even though my mom was just as involved and responsible for its operation and success, she would be forced to sell it if something happened to my dad, since only he was a lawyer. This would keep the firm in the family.
But just months into my legal career, I started to hear a quiet inner voice tell me, “this is not my life.” And then, after 26 years of marriage, my parents divorced, and there was no longer a family to protect.
Being a full-time lawyer was miserable for me and I saw what it had done to my parents. It didn’t cause the divorce, though I’m sure it contributed to it, but there was cancer and other unfortunate outcomes too. My mom fought through two harrowing battles with lymphoma (and won!) Beyond that, there was serious disconnection in our family and wild spending that did not cause happiness – just an ever growing, insatiable, fragile ego that exploded if ever questioned.
It was not the lifestyle I wanted. I vowed to myself that if I ever made the kind of money that my parents did, I would do it differently. I would do it in a healthy way — not just healthy for me personally but a way that would make me a healthy member of society who contributed something meaningful. Something that was based on values and treating people with kindness. I was lucky that I didn’t have student loans trapping me in a career I hated. I could do whatever I wanted.
So I pivoted. I quit working at the firm and became self-employed. I didn’t open my own firm. Instead, I did depositions on behalf of other attorneys. This was amazing part-time work that actually earned me more than I was making at the law firm and allowed me to travel a ton! There were so many great adventures.
Meanwhile, during the divorce, my mom retired and launched a 501c3 non-profit called the Financially Fit Foundation, to help people learn how to make the most of their money. She’s more of a behind-the-scenes person, so when the groups that gathered in her living room outgrew her comfort zone, she asked me to become the workshop facilitator. I did — and I loved it.
I decided to become the workshop facilitator because I saw that it was a way that I could meaningfully help people.
Remember how I thought that I was going to be helping people as a lawyer but it didn’t turn out that way? That’s because I saw how winning large chunks of money was not as life changing as you’d think.
Most people don’t know how to manage money, and it would fall through their fingers like water. So all the years of endless fighting for these awards felt like it was for nothing.
Teaching was actually my favorite part of being a lawyer — preparing my clients for depositions and helping them understand the system that they were a part of was very fulfilling — and I was told that I was good at it.
So becoming a workshop facilitator seemed like a natural fit. This was an opportunity to teach something that could really make a difference in people’s lives.
One day, a participant of a workshop approached me about coaching her to apply what she learned in the workshops to her business, and my career as a financial coach was launched.
My approach to coaching is very much informed by the coaching I had as a gymnast. I love my coaches and have immense gratitude for them. They raised me through critical adolescent years (ages 9-14) and instilled in me some of the traits that I am most proud of, like discipline. My coaches made me an excellent gymnast, but they were tough. They could be harsh and relentless, ignoring well-founded fears and minimizing of any physical or emotional pain. I felt bad about myself when I didn’t perform to their standards. There was punishment — framed as conditioning (like push-ups) that while good for us, could crush the strongest spirit.
I am not this kind of coach. My approach is non-confrontational, and I will never shame you for what you’ve done. I know how sensitive finances are, and I respect and honor the delicateness of our work, and the trust you have placed in me. I operate on the assumption that our mistakes are an invitation for learning and healing. I help you work through the reasons for less-than-ideal habits, and to resolve the underlying issues that drive the behavior. My coaching is part therapist, part instructor, with a side of accountability. I also coach through the lenses of asset and liability protection (as a lawyer) and taxes (as the daughter of an accountant).
I believe money really can make you happy — if you earn, save, and spend it in alignment with your values, not ego. It is my work to help you see this come true in your own life.
To that end, I have written a book called S.A.V.E. Yourself: Develop the financial fitness to Spend in Alignment with your Values, not Ego, (see what I did with that acronym?!) My intention is to help readers establish a solid foundation for their finances and the happiness they derive from their money. The system described in the book is the same one I use in coaching businesses and their owners to success.
Here’s to your money and happiness!