Category Archives: money personified

Truth, Love and Money

My friend, Chris Venn ( and I were talking awhile back about his idea that what we really need in life is Truth and Love.  I’m sure he’s been having this conversation with others, and it’s one that is well worth exploring.  The idea rang true to me.  When either or both Truth and Love are missing we are in trouble. Like a lot of things that I really get engaged in, this is an idea this is simple and elegant at first glance that cascades into a deeper concept. Allow me to delve into it a bit more before I add money to the mix:

truth-and-loveTruth: for me truth usually means something that is always the same, as opposed to belief which can be mostly the same.  In what Chris and I were discussing, I think truth is more about the absence of fantasy or illusion.  I’d hate to have to admit how many time in life I held out hoping something would be different than it was—I chose to believe my dreams instead of the reality in front of me (and yes, that does have to do with relationships with others). So truth is what we really know for sure, right?

Love: My interpretation here is that Chris and I were talking about compassion, caring, thoughtfulness, generosity, etc.  Loving as a way of being with oneself and with others, not so much the romantic thang!  And for me, love and being loving have something to do with living in my values.  Treating others and myself with respect, compassion, and caring.

Okay, now with definitions in place, what’s this got to do with money?  Everything!

Money just tells the truth.  It can’t help it.  If it was an actual person, that person would be incapable of lying.  Now, I don’t mean that we can’t use or spend money chasing illusions, we do that all the time!  But Money itself doesn’t lie.  It tells us we are chasing an illusion.  Well, actually it doesn’t come out and say, “Hey there you!  You are chasing an illusion!” Instead it says, “You just spent this much money on that item.”

joe-friday-just-the-factsFor those of you who are as old as I am, Money is like Sgt. Friday in Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Now I’ll admit he was grumpy, and terse—check this out ( —but, he’s also all business (and pretty funny to me).

So that brings us to the emotional part, doesn’t it?  Love is certainly an emotion, and Money doesn’t actually have emotion, in and of itself.  So how does Money help with that? It will reflect your emotion, by showing you how you choose to use it.

It’s actually one of the gifts of Money.  There is no ‘spin’ on Money, except what we put on it.  It’s the most neutral source for us to see what we are up to.  That parental voice in your head that says you shouldn’t spend money on THAT, whatever ‘that’ is, isn’t your Money, it’s your inner critic!  Money, unlike your mother, or your spouse, or your friends, doesn’t actually have an opinion about what you are up to.  All it does it tell you what you are doing—without judgement.

That’s a really good thing to know, and use.  It’s a source of information, right there, under your nose.  If life is not rolling along well for you, Money can will tell you where things are wonky.  You have to do the interpreting.  Money says you bought yourself a new car.  You need to notice what the car means to you, what it is reflecting.  Do you love it?  Is it about status?  Did you somehow settle for a car you don’t like?  What’s going on?  All that is your part, the application of Love and Truth—Money’s job is that Joe Friday gig of “Just the facts, ma’am.”


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to explore what Money is telling you about Truth and Love in your life? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website:

Think of your Company as a Person

Back when I was deeply immersed in “Corporate Land” I tried to hold the standard of: “What is best for the company?”  I truly felt that if something was good for the company overall then it was worth my time and effort.  Most of you reading this are in essence your own Company.  You are the company or the company is at least all yours.  So now this “What is best for the company?”  and “What is best for you?” can get a bit tangled.  Sometimes it’s even hard to tell where the boundary is, isn’t it?  When is it about you?  When is it about the company?  When is it about both?

Thinking of your company as a person can be a great exercise for a small business owner or sole proprietor.Thinking about that led me to the idea that it’s just like a romantic relationship:  Yours, mine and ours.  You are the decider for all three entities.  Yep, entities.  In a way they each have a voice and thus each need a say in what is going on.  That works in a relationship and it will work in your business, too.

Let’s agree with that metaphor for a moment and imagine that your company was actually a person.  What might happen if you started to think of your company as a person?  As a partner with you in your business?  How might that collaboration benefit both you and your company?

What would that person look like?  What would they be wearing?  What are their hopes and dreams?  Really envision your company as a person.  Give them a name, or a nickname based on the company’s name.  Start to give the company a voice so you can balance the conversation.  After all, if it is truly your company then whatever is good for it is at least worth giving serious consideration, yes?

Of course, what you really want is what’s best for both you and your company.  That’s the best result.  And just like in a relationship sometimes one side needs to give in or at least compromise.  How would that work between you and your company?

What’s currently going on in your business?  Which side seems to hold the power?  What would balance look and feel like?

Many of us sacrifice too much of ourselves for the company.  We pour time and energy there and get exhausted.  We forget to take care of ourselves and reinvigorate our enthusiasm for the work.

On the other side some people try to ignore the company side and just do the parts that seem engaging.  One of the things the company side really wants is all that crunchy numbers stuff and that fiddly administrivia… yawn!  And yet those thing turn out to be really helpful stuff in the long run.

See if this idea of actually anthropomorphizing your company into an entity gives you a new way to balance the scales.  Play with it.  Have meetings with your company.  Even go on retreats together.  It’s amazing what the two of you can do. Wow! Power couple on the rise!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Having trouble envisioning the company as a person? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Emotion Based Money

Here’s the real secret about money in our society:  It’s not supply based, it’s emotion based.   The market responds to emotion.  It responds to rumor and innuendo.

Sand $ SignIt used to be that the success or  failure of economies and businesses was  based on things like the Gold Standard meaning there was actual gold stashed away to back up the value of the money.  The gold is no longer there.  Now the value of money is much more amorphous.  It’s based on what “experts” say it is.  When it was based on gold there was the possibility of determining how much money there was.  Now it’s based on numbers.  A super computer could probably determine how much money there was at some magic moment in time but it’s like counting grains of sand.  There truly is plenty of it for everyone.

Even the treasury knows that.  For example, the US government doesn’t actually care how much counterfeit money is floated.  The government wants to stop counterfeiters, not because the fake money will devalue the dollar, but because we, the users of money, might be afraid it has devalued it and panic.  See how it’s “emotion based money” even for the government?

And you, too, are bringing emotion to your money.  You feel good about some purchases and bad about others.  You have emotion and even shame around debt or bankruptcy.  You have emotion around how much money others do or do not have.

Money itself isn’t actually emotional.  These emotions belong to us, not to money.  Money is just a human construct.  All it does is keep track of what you are up to. If it were a person and you asked it how you were doing it would say “you have $545.39”. It wouldn’t say “fine”, or “not too good”.  It just doesn’t work that way.  It’s literal and non-judgmental.

Emotions in themselves are wonderful things.  However, when we assign emotion to symbols, and money is really nothing but a symbol, we lose track of what’s real.

Maybe it’s time to take a good long look at your emotions around money and to see if they are serving you and your goals.  Perhaps you might let go of your anger at others who have more and focus on enjoying what you have.  Perhaps you might choose to have more so you can help others.  Perhaps you might choose to have less money in order to remove stress and enjoy life more yourself.

What might be different if you choose to stop having money be emotion based?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want some help taking the emotional charge out of money? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Money’s Wish List

So what do we do with Money over the holidays?  Most of us use it and ignore it at the same time.  We spend it with the idea that we will catch up with it in January.  Actually, it’s more like April.  It takes that long for many people to catch up with, or recover from, their holiday spending.

At the very least it seems we put our money thinking on hold.  And yet what do we expect from Money during December?  We earnitexpect it to be there.  We expect it to stretch to meet our needs and desires.  We expect it to magically appear.  And we expect it to do all this cheerfully.  Hmm.

Remember that thing about how we are going to be in relationship with Money all our lives? How about the question: “If we knew we were going to be in relationship with a person forever how would we want that relationship to be?”  I’m guessing that we wouldn’t expect anyone we were in relationship with to do what we expect of Money over the holidays.

So what might Money want?  What’s on Money’s wish list? You’ll have to ask your Money to find out. (Yes, talking to your Money is a good thing.)

Here’s what I think Money will say to you.  I think it wants what everyone really and truly wants.  It wants your time and attention.  It wants to have a shared experience of deep caring with you.  Well, isn’t that what we want from our loved ones?  Stuff comes and goes and frankly it’s very few presents that make a lasting impression.  What we want is positive time together.  Money just wants some of your time and attention.  It might even want your acknowledgment and appreciation for the frenzy you put it through during the holidays.

And Money as a loved one?  That may be throwing you off but think about it.  Sometimes Money doesn’t give us everything we want but neither does family.  Sometimes we have to work really hard to keep things going with Money and the same with family.  Sometimes Money seems to let us down and so does family.  And sometimes Money comes through and helps us, just like family.

Money will be with you longer than family.  You will interact with Money every day.  What’s the relationship you want?  What’s the relationship Money is asking you for?

Oh, and Money has some obstacles in communicating with you, doesn’t it?  It can’t talk to you; it has to get your attention in other ways.  What if you tried to notice what it might be trying to say?   What might that bounced check be saying?  What might the pile of unopened bills be saying?  And what might the unexpected money that lands in your lap be saying?

So check in with your Money and see what its wish list looks like for this holiday season.  Can you possibly fit in giving Money a bit of what it’a asking for now?  Maybe there is something on Money’s wish list you could give it?

If you’d like to explore how you and Money can get along together better, give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Money’s Job

Most of us have an odd idea of what money’s job is.  We treat it as if it was a sentient being.  It’s amazing how much this abstract construct has become a force that we presume acts on its own.  We wait for money to give us signals before we act.  We blame money for our not being where we want to be in life.  We refuse to look at our money because we are sure that it will lecture us or shame us.  Money is doing its job, it’s just different than what we expect.

Many of us are waiting for something from money.  Some sign that we are okay or have “arriveMoney-Talksd”.  I’ve talked with people who feel that they can’t actually pursue the life they “really” want until they have somehow earned enough money to deserve it.  At the same time others feel that not having amassed “enough” money is a fatal character flaw that they must hide.   Others tend to spend what they don’t have.

These and other similar ideas come from not really understanding what money’s job is.  All money is doing trying to tell you what you are doing.  Money doesn’t tell you what you wish you were doing, it tells you what you are actually doing.  It has no judgement, it just reports and reflects.  As a matter of fact, it reflects very clearly.

Remember that old thing about “Try to pick up a pencil?”  It was one of those things I experienced in a Personal Growth training years ago.  You can’t actually “try”… you either pick it up or you don’t.   There is similar way that we “try” with money.  We want money to be there before we take a step or make a choice but money can’t do that.  All money does is show what we are up to.  So what it shows is that we are “trying” to have money do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

There is more truth than we know in the “Do what you love, the money will follow,” statement, because that’s all the money can do.  It follows or reflects what you are doing.  It shows that you are waiting.  It shows that you are accepting things that are contrary to your dreams, hopes and desires. It shows whether or not you are doing “what you love.”

Okay, I can feel your inner critic voice rising up and saying, “That’s nuts, I can’t just ignore all the responsibilities I have!”  That’s absolutely true.  And is it at all possible that you could honor your responsibilities in a way that has you also honoring your dreams and desires?  What if you stop waiting for money to tell you when? What if you changed to you telling money, by how you use and earn it, what is truly important to you?   It’s your job after all, not money’s.  Money is doing its job.  It’s reflecting what you are really up to.  It will show you if you look.   Money isn’t designed to generate something on its own.  It’s designed to convert your energy into your wishes.  That’s what it’s doing.   If you want something different it’s up to you to change your actions, then money will reflect those changes.

If you’d like to explore this tangle give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Messages From Money

We all know the sorts of messages that money has to tell us – or do we?  For many people, most of the messages they get from money, or by looking at their money, are negative.   There isn’t enough.  I should have done better.  I made a mistake.  Messages fraught with judgment and often a feeling of shame.  What is true about those messages is that they aren’t really from money: they are from our inner critic.

There are other messages we can get from looking at our money.  Ones not based on ‘should’ but more on desires, hopes, dreams and values.

So, for the moment, let’s set aside all the negative noise, and look at what else is going on. messages For many of us there are things that we spend money on with less worry or care.  They are just irresistible.  We don’t really need them to survive, and yet somehow they get a bunch of our time, energy and money.  They are both big and small the things dreams are made of.  For me those things are:

Almost anything having to do with art, including books and supplies;

Home ‘décor’, including furniture, painting, making slip covers, drapery, etc;

Food, usually on the exotic side, but sometimes not, such as Tater Tot’s.

I have one client who is just nuts about boats, another horses.  We’ve all known a few car nuts in our time.  These are all passions, great passions.  I don’t spend as much on clothes, shoes or purses.  My garden gets some, but not as much as inside.  It’s all telling.

We spend money on what we are passionate about.

So what about you?  What’s that thing that always gets your attention?  The thing that you can somehow always find money for?  If you don’t know, money will tell you!  Look at your spending for last year.  It’s close to tax time so I know you are fussing with gathering money information anyway.  So while you are putting stuff together for the taxes, take a gander at those credit card (or debit card) statements and see what money is telling you.  Are there bunches of tickets to concerts?  Maybe there is a lot of weekend getaways?  Maybe it’s movies?  Maybe it’s fabric or yarn?  Whatever it is, if you look at money it will tell you.

Now, once you have done that, there is another step.

Yep, it’s not really about what you spend the money on.  It’s about what that symbolizes for you.  It’s about the deeper meaning.

I’ve had many clients where we have played with this.  One was a woman who was remodeling her kitchen.  She wanted the ‘perfect’ kitchen and she wasn’t going to settle.  It wasn’t just about efficient cooking, the work-triangle, and storage.  It was about the deeper meaning that a kitchen had for her.  Family, nourishment, warmth, peace and beauty.  Those were all very passionate kitchen-related concerns for her.  Core values if you will.

Another client had a motorcycle dream, and yet with another it was about having her own kayak.  Although for each of them there were components in there about freedom and independence, each had other aspects that were distinct to them.

It’s one of the reasons to dig a bit deeper here.  No one else gets exactly the same juice out of what impassions you as you do.  We all have our own take on it.

The really important piece here isn’t that you take this exploration as a reason to buy more of what you are passionate about, although that is more than tempting.  The important thing is that by getting clear about the metaphor, you can find more and different ways to honor it.

Let’s say for a moment that you have always thought that having the perfect house would make life wonderful.  You thought it was about the house, the floor plan, the number of bathrooms, and maybe the yard.  You didn’t look deeper than that.  You work and work and strive and finally get the house, and yet it’s somehow not ‘it’, so you decide it must be about getting a different house, a better house.   Sorry to tell you, but it was never really about the house.  It was about honoring what the house meant, the deeper meaning.  Get clear on that and you can have it with or without the house.

Get clear on what money is telling you about your heart’s desires, your true passions, so you can accurately pursue them and live them in many ways, with or without spending money on them.



Solving Mysteries

Apparently, the mystery as a genre for literature and, by extension film, has been around for only about 200 years.  Prior to then, police weren’t really trying to solve crimes.  Seems odd doesn’t it?   We are used to finding answers.  We want to know how it happen, what caused it, and who did it, don’t we?

Before there were “mysteries” there were other stories that had something to discover, solve or bring to resolution.

The point is, as humans, we don’t really like being left in the dark.  We want things to be explained, to make sense.  We want to know.

Think of all those questions kids ask.  For example, as Bill Cosby said: “Why is there air?”

Personally, I think one of the things that we learn to accept as we ‘mature’ is that some things will never actually be revealed to us.  In spite of Facebook, we may never know what happened to our best friend in 2nd grade.  We may never find out where the missing cat collar is.  We may never know what happened to Amelia Earhart.

We want to know, but mysteries, large and small, surround us.

mysteryIronically, most people think of money as a mysterious thing.  They don’t know where it goes, what happened to it, how it got so messed up.   It’s baffling.

Or is it?

Our favorite detectives use clues and forensics to solve their mysteries.  They gather evidence, make hypotheses and deductions, and come to conclusions.  For them, the issue is getting the evidence.  When it comes to money, that is actually a fairly simple piece.  The evidence is, as it often is in the TV mystery, found by following the money.  Or more precisely, actually looking at what the money is telling you.  Money has oodles of information to share with you…what you have to do is actually look at it.

If you choose to look, you can solve the mystery, understand the why, and change the pieces that aren’t working for you.  Money won’t judge you, or nag you, it will just tell you what you have chosen to do.  And if you don’t ‘ask’ then money won’t ‘tell’, and we all know how well that plan works in the long run.

You can ‘talk’ to your money by looking at your credit card statements, saving your receipts, noting what you are doing with it.  Think about it, your money could tell you when you were sick, when you feel sad, when you are happy, when you moved; all sorts of things.  If you look at how you spend it and how you make it, it will tell you what you are doing.  Part of solving your mystery may be discovering that the reason why you feel like money isn’t working for you is because you are spending it on things that you don’t really value or care about.

So ask money what’s going on, and solve the mystery!

Start With A Blank Canvas

Our money brains get stuck.  We come to conclusions and there they sit.  Every once in awhile it’s good to stir things up a bit and change the perspectives.

In that light, it’s time for a creative money untangling project.  You can do it any way you like.

You can actually draw or paint things, you can imagine, you can cut and paste.  Any which way is just fine.  What we want to do is look at things a bit differently and see what you notice, what shows up.

A great way to uncover more of your money beliefs is to play with the idea of money being a person, or at least an entity in your life.

Yes, I know money isn’t a person, and yet there are many ways in which most of us have given it both a personality and a certain sense of power.   How do you actually think of money?  Is it friendly, or not?  Does it support you, or does it seem to desert you when you need it most?

The first step is to bring to mind the things that you believe about money, and then translate those beliefs into qualities.  Stingy might be closed fisted, or covered in patches?  Angry might have a mean scowl, or maybe horns?

Let your imagination run wild.  Colors, textures, images, tails, fangs, whatever.  Think of it as a warm up to Halloween.

How are you doing?  This first piece is the image of money as you have held it in the past.  Notice all the things you decided were money’s fault.  Notice where money felt negative or tough.  Create the image.  Really get it.

Now, step two.  Set that image aside.  You don’t need to hide it, but understand that it’s now outdated.  It was no doubt an image that you inherited from family and culture.  You may have adjusted it a bit, maybe had the hair grow longer, but it came from that basic source.  You didn’t actually choose it.

Step three, create the new money image.  An ally, a champion, a friend and a companion.  Someone who will really support you around your money.

The possibilities are endless.  Over the years my clients have picked the likes of Ben Franklin, Superman, a Tiger, an Owl, Xena Warrior Princess, Elizabeth I, Uncle Fred, and many people with magical or even mathematical qualities.

It’s a great thing to both day dream and get creative about.  And by looking at the metaphors, the archetypes and the images, you will likely come to some amazing “aha’s” about your relationship with money.

Let me know what you come up with…and share on the blog if you’d like!