Money Coaching Blog

We sure do get this money stuff tangled up, don’t we? This is the place where I untangle pieces of it. Most of it’s about money while some of it’s about something else that strikes my interest. All of it is about noticing how things get knotted up and how to untangle the knots. Oh, and if you have a topic you’d like me to explore, just let me know. I’ll be happy to give it a good shake and see what untangles.

Humans as Pattern Makers

We humans are particularly adept pattern makers — it’s one of our most effective survival methods — except when it’s not.

Long ago I was an Anthropology major, and one of the things we learned about ‘us‘ is that we are pattern makers.   We tie things together in patterns or ‘baskets’ in our brains so we can lump similar things together. It’s pretty effective in lots of ways.  It helps us focus on the task at hand and ignore other things that might distract us.  It can serve to keep us safe too.

There are places where this type of learning gets a bit quirky, and others where it can be dangerous.  I’ll go quirky first — you kinda knew I would, right?

For many years I sat on a ball chair, you know, sort of like the inflatable Swiss ball things at the gym.  I like them, they are more comfortable to me, especially when sitting for a long time.  It’s something about always adjusting a wee bit to keep your balance and minimize stiffness. However, this is not actually a plug for the ball chair.  It’s an intriguing look inside my brain, oh and my cat’s brain, too.

For years I had been using a little technique to get my own attention.  If there was something important for me to do the next day, or after lunch, or even after I went to the Ladies, I would place the piece of  paper about that on my chair.  That way I would see it or at least notice it when I sat on it!  Great plan.  I had it as a pattern in my brain.  This worked really well until I got the ball chair.  It was pretty funny how long it took me to figure out that paper was going to slide off the ball.  Hmm… ball was something I sat on so it went into the ‘chair’ pattern place in my head, however: ball is round, chair is flat… You can see the problem.

Apparently primates aren’t the only pattern makers.  At that time, Agate — the kitty — was used to jumping up on my desk via the chair.  It only took one time for her to learn that balls, even ones I sat on, are round, unlike chairs.  Neither of us were pleased about this learning experience. She lost some dignity — which if you have a cat, you know “simply isn’t amusing!” — and I had to replace the ball because her claws let out the air.

For both of us the learning was something like, just because different things have some elements in common, they do not always create the same results.

Now for the dangerous part: where we lump together things about people and experiences but using the faulty logic created by our intrinsic pattern making.  Here is an example of that.  I was dating a guy named Gary in high school, who was a Taurus.  My parents had a friend named Alan who was also a Taurus.  Additionally Alan also smoked weed.  My mother wanted me to stop seeing Gary because obviously Gary would smoke weed because he, like Alan, was a Taurus.  (Kinda not — Gary really was a mid-western “rule follower”… no weed.)

Now I grant you this association was wacky reasoning, and yet we tend to do it all over the place, don’t we? It’s the fundamental problem with many conclusions we come to especially around relationships, both personal and professional.  For another example let’s look at Jeff. Jeff was a young, studly programmer I worked with in a start up.  He had just broken up with his girl friend and was getting some counseling.   We talked about it over lunch and I asked him what conclusions he had come to?  He said that he’d decided to no longer date blonds.  Really?  Can you see how the pattern making part of his brain was narrowing on something that probably wasn’t really the issue?

So think about where in your life you might be applying this useful — but imperfect — pattern making logic.  Can you find of any of your own associations that might not really be logical?  Most of us can find at least one time when we applied a pattern thought  extension to the wrong thing.

I’m not suggesting that you just forge ahead and ignore the signal of familiarity with a pattern.  Instead I’m asking you to dig a bit deeper, and see which patterns to apply where.  And there is a really simple solution for how to check out where you are applying old patterns that don’t fit, or are not applicable.  See how it’s different this time.  Spend a bit of time considering what fits the pattern and what doesn’t.  Notice when you are avoiding a new possibility by being overly cautious.  Also, notice if the hair on the back of your neck stands up and tells you to avoid the situation altogether.  It’s all good information.   Basically, check to make sure that there isn’t a baby in the bathwater you are throwing out!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about your own pattern making, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Boomers and Personal Growth

First, in case you didn’t know, I’m a baby boomer—a fairly early one since I was born in 1951.  Lots of individual ‘boomers’ have been pioneers and changed the world.  Paul McCartney is just one of many.  In addition to contributions by many of us individually, there are some remarkable changes they we were the first generation to actually experience.  Things like computers for individual use, space exploration, and the one I really want to talk about today—’personal growth‘.

Actually ‘personal growth’ is  the catch-all phrase I’m using to describe a big cultural change.  I’ve decided, based on my own experience, that my generation is the first one to embrace the radical idea that we can work on changing the baggage from our ancestors and our past without necessarily being considered out-and-out crazy.

Things have shifted.  When I was in high school and having a very hard time with a bunch of things, I asked my dad if I could get some counseling.  His response was: “Sure, we can send you to Camarillo!”  Which meant ‘No!‘  Camarillo was that state mental hospital.  It was a stigma for people of my dad’s generation to get help with their emotions.  He even declined the psychiatric help offered to him after he was liberated from a German prison camp at the end of WWII.

As I grew older there was a shift happening in the mental health field.  It was becoming more and more common for people to seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist.  It no longer meant that you were ‘totally crazy’ if you tried to untangle your thoughts and behaviors.  There was still a stigma, but it was much less severe.

It’s an important change for all of us.  For literally centuries people kept doing the same dysfunctional things their families did over and over and over.  There was no way to stop the patterns unless you were willing to accept the judgement involved in ‘getting therapy’.

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Phil’s statement: “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”  And I would add the obvious idea that you can’t acknowledge what you are unwilling to look at, work on, or talk about.

I’m really writing this to answer a question I get from a lot of my clients, which goes something like:  Why didn’t my parents do better with this?  The answer to that comes from another quote —this time it’s a paraphrase from Maya Angelou:  We do the best we can until we know better, when we know better we do better.  Our parents didn’t know better. How could they?  Their parents, grandparents, etc. didn’t either.

And then in late 1980’s and early 1990’s all sorts of things started to happen around new ways of not only becoming more aware of our thinking and behavior, but actually consciously doing—as Maya would have said—better!  One of the best of these new ways is the one I work incalled Life Coaching.  Imagine, assisting and supporting people to have better lives,! Helping them to let go of the way it was always done before, be it around work, relationships, or even money!

And it’s all been in my lifetime. Wow!

You know I used to think my grandmother, Cupcake (* see below) had seen the most important and remarkable changes in human history in her lifetime.  She was born in 1900 and died in 2001.  In her hundred years there was electricity, automobiles, flight,  computers — a myriad of amazing and miraculous inventions that changed our lives.

And now I think that it may just be possible that the most miraculous thing is happening in my lifetime — people are readily choosing to break the old patterns and embrace their lives and talents in new ways.   They are doing it through workshops, coaching, counseling, retreats — there are all sorts of paths to personal growth.

Wow, just wow!

(*Okay, I recognize an explanation is in order here—as a little girl I nicknamed her that.  She was short and round and had white hair, thus frosting on top.  The name “Cup Cake” stuck!)


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about this idea of how you can break the pattern, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Hard Won Learning

Many of us were taught that when there is a conflict or a problem we should talk about it, discuss it, resolve it, right?  And one thing I have learned the hard way over the years is that there are some times when that just doesn’t work!

Recently I have had a couple of clients who are learning that too.  It’s a hard habit to break—for many of us it ‘goes against the grain‘ to not actually untangle the knot and examine it!  And yet I am fixin’ to bring up the idea that there are times when it’s neither smart nor effective to bare your soul.

Like most things in life it’s about balance, safety and boundaries.  And it’s also very much about who you are dealing with, and their perspective.

Actually one of the things I do as a coach is try to help people explore what is behind their habits and beliefs—to dig deeper and expose the thought processes and obstacles.  And we do that in a confidential, safe place.  In this instance we are both coming from the place of untangling the knot for the sake of the client.

However their are people in our lives that don’t come from that perspective.  Some may put their own agenda before yours.  Some may actually use the information you give them to hurt or manipulate you.

Unfortunately we all find that out the hard way: we expose some vulnerability and then experience the pain of being hurt by the other person using that information in a negative way.

Truly, I do wish—for all of us—that people would stop doing that. Stop lashing out! And when others lash out it is beyond our control, right? So the thing we need to do is learn to stop giving those that hurt us more ammunition.  And we do that by not sharing the things we have been taught to share with those who will use that information in a negative way!

In essence by “opening the kimono” we share our vulnerability.  It’s a wonderful way to share and create intimacy.  People who are both in the same place of caring and respect in a relationship honor that place.  People who aren’t in that same place, or are compromised by  life-long habits of confrontation and other challenging circumstances, will use your vulnerability against you.

You can’t change that.  You can’t change them.  Sacrificing yourself by continuing to give them more ammo won’t help anyone.

Give some more thought to what to share, and with whom.  Recognize that you really aren’t required to bare your inner thoughts to everyone.  And as the song goes:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

I’m happy to help you sort through who to ‘bare your soul’ to and who to ‘keep it under wraps’ with, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Communication Lines Open

One of the greatest things about working with clients is the phrases they come up with to help them develop new habits and techniques.  A favorite of mine, an homage to Star Trek, was a mindset one client came up with to help him focus on several goals when facing difficult situations and conversations.  It went: Shields Up, Weapons Down, Communication Lines Open!’

Basically that would translate to something like:

  • Shields Up — be cautious, don’t let your guard down, and feel safe against a perceived attack with no need to be “defensive”
  • Weapons Down —  stay calm, no “horses” (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling, per John Gottman’s Four Horsemen), no need to feel like you have
    to “fight back”
  • Communication Lines Open — be ready to listen carefully, really paying attention to what the other person is saying, and respond thoughtfully

It’s much easier to say the phase than it would be to relay the underlying meanings. Your brain already knows what all this means—unless of course you have spent the last 60-plus years on the planet “No-television-us“!  In a way it’s even more spectacular than knowing “exactly” what it means.  When you set up a situation with this Star Trek reference in mind, the neuro-pathways in your brain, where all those characters and species live, light up. You tap into an amazing library of techniques and approaches to employ.  You have models in front of you for diplomacy and “calmness under fire“.

Which leads me to digress, ever so slightly, to that favorite question to ask your friends.  “Who’s your favorite Star Trek Captain?”  Again, one of those places where the one bit of information tells you more about the person than you might think.  There is a big difference in the way Kirk handled a crisis and the way Picard did—pretty telling stuff!  Kirk was a ‘cowboy’ rushing in with guns blaring.  It made for good drama, but is “drama” what we want in our exchanges with others? Picard was thoughtful and diplomatic, which meant less fist-fighting and phaser fire, but usually far calmer interactions with whoever was on the other side.

What do you really want from a challenging interaction?  Create a list of how you want a troublesome conversation to go.  No, really, make a list right now.  I’ll wait…

Okay, list made?  Now what items on your list are out of your control?  You know those ones like:

  • They admit they are wrong
  • They agree with me
  • It is 100% my way
  • They believe what I believe

I’m sure you have more, and the main point is that trying to get others to actually think and feel the way you do is like that old saw:  “Don’t try and teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and irritates the pig.” What you can strive for is improved communication and an understanding by both sides.

Which leads to another sticking point in difficult conversations.  Many of us feel like we have to tell everyone everything, all our feelings, all our reasons.  Frankly my sense is that most of this comes from being in families with sticky boundaries.  Not only do we not have to tell all that, it’s frequently better not to.  I like to think of this as the “need to know” principle.

  • Is it really relevant to the discussion? (I.e., will sharing it really help to resolve the problem?)
  • Is it more personal than you’d really like to share?
  • Would it create more problems than it would fix to share that bit of information?

The next time you have a complaining customer—or get into a political discussion with Uncle Fred—give these ideas a try, and see how it’s different when you are prepared and ready to “Make it so!”


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d test out a couple of new techniques to help you boldly go in the direction of easier conversations, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Removing the Harsh

Back in the last century, actually the 1990’s, I was an Adult Advisor for the Young Religious Unitarian Universalists.  I was involved on a local, district, and national level, and literally “wrote the book” on being an advisor (Youth Advisors’ Handbook, 1996—it is still out there kicking around and had more than one printing!)

The thing that was so amazing and intriguing about this organization is that it was youth led with adults acting as ‘advisors’.   From my point of view  the role of the advisor was really to create a safe  place for teens from 14 to 20 to explore and practice life skills.  One of the places they really excelled in that was in how they ‘governed’ themselves.  Certainly different churches and districts may have done things differently.  The groups I worked with came up with a very democratic and inclusive model for how to get things done.  There were two ‘deans’ who where elected, and an elected council to run an event like a weekend conference.  They had a couple really interesting rules, like “Don’t harsh on someone else’s mellow.” (Really! I couldn’t make that up!)  There was also a “Spirit Committee” for some of the larger ‘cons’ (conferences) which was all about checking in with the ’emotional field or mood’ of the group, and then shifting it when necessary to something more positive or inclusive.  Pretty remarkable stuff.  And I must say that working with these brilliant youth and helping them to find their way (not my way!) was a huge impetus to my becoming a Coach!

Over the years they came up with some absolutely amazing perspectives and solutions—many of which were far more ‘mature’ than those of the adults that surrounded them.  I think we all could use some of that energy now.  It feels to me like there is an extra level of angst abroad right now, and ironically something the youth of the early 90’s modeled for me seems like part of the solution.

At one particular conference the elected council was divvying up jobs and had paired two girls to work together coordinating and managing something—I think it was the workshops for the weekend, but I can’t actually remember!  Here’s the really amazing thing.  Once they found out they had been paired together they came back to the council and said something very close to this: Um, we like each other, but we know that we don’t really work well together.  Could you please move one of us to a different job so we don’t have to work together?  We don’t care which one.”

Really, this happened.  I was gobsmacked!  I can’t imagine two grown women actually coming to that agreement, let alone coming back to a governing body and asking for it!  The only reason I think I might be able to do so myself is because I had this great modeling to follow supplied by two teenage girls!  Wow!

They didn’t have all the unspoken rules that said you couldn’t actually ask for what you wanted. They didn’t ‘suck it up‘ to work in a less than positive situation and then bitch about it later.  No, they jointly asked for a different solutions.   How cool is that?

How do we get our entrenched selves back to a place of clarity and discovery?  How do we stand for what will work better for us all?  I think part of the answer is back there in the experimentation of those youth.   Perhaps it’s all about trying something different to remove the harsh from our own mellow?

Let’s find out

Shell Tain, the Untangler

How I Learned About Money

First, let me say that this is a blog I’m writing particularly for Adam Naor to share on  Pennybox is an app for kids to learn about earning and using money in a practical and fun way. I was delighted to find out Pennybox is doing something directed specifically to kids around money.  Adam asked me for a blog to use on Pennybox—about myself and how I learned about money—so I, of course thought I should share it with you.  Here goes!

The story is all about me and my dad, A. C. Royden Stone, known as Stoney.  A little bit of context about Dad and money.  My dad was 1957 Dad and Meborn in Oklahoma in 1925, he lived through the dust bowl as a little kid.  My grandparents moved to Wyoming in the 30’s and opened a ‘lunch room’ which was run by the family.  Dad served in WWII and was a POW held in a German prison camp.   When my parents first met he was riding the rodeo circuit and dealing poker for a living.  By the time I was five he had sold insurance, had ‘made it rain’ for farmers in Washington by selling ‘seeding clouds’ and was managing a Pepsi plant in Minnesota.

He was what one calls a ‘self-made’ man.  Later in life he went on to become a TV producer, manage cable TV systems, and—even later—motels.  This background sets the stage for his relationship with money.  He always had a bunch of cash, and was likely to buy a round for the bar.  I don’t think he ever really tracked it or accounted for it—which makes his earnest and engaging methods of getting me both comfortable and savvy with it all the more remarkable.  I was an only child, born in the early 50’s, and a girl.  He wanted to make sure I was smart and self sufficient when it came to money.

He started me early, and he made it engaging, fun, and emotionally rewarding.   When I was really young it was more about numbers than money.  The tool he used then was to teach me how to play poker.  Important life lessons were learned through learning old gambling terms—about “breasting your cards” (not flapping them around), and “not betting on the cards to come” (assuming the right cards will show in the next deal).   Really good things to know in addition to the numbers piece.

When I started getting an allowance part of the deal was that in order to get the allowance I had to keep a ledger of my spending.  It had two columns:  Income and Outgo.  If it was up to date and balanced, I got my allowance.  The brilliant part here was that he had no judgement around what I spent, he just wanted me to account for it.  Trust me, if this had been my Mother, she would have had judgement about every entry, and I would have not been able to succeed.  I think that was an inherent part of his strategy, he wanted me to feel good about this money stuff, so he framed it in a way that I would.

Amazingly it was only a couple of years ago while talking to a client about my dad’s ‘money training’ that I had a clear insight about this one thing he did.  He would borrow money from me on a Friday night in order to take my mother out.  This started when I was about nine.  I was delighted to help my dad!  I felt so ‘grown up’.  And he would always pay me back on Monday with interest, so there was that cool idea of ‘investing’ thrown in there.  What I didn’t realize, but am now sure of is that he never actually needed to borrow the money!  He ALWAYS had a wad of cash.  He was doing this so I would learn about money.  Yay, Dad!

There were other examples and the last one I’ll share is no doubt his favorite!  I was about 13 and wanted a sewing machine.  My dad said that if I saved half the money he’d give me the other half.  I saved and saved money from baby sitting for quite awhile—in those days baby sitting was 50 cents to a dollar an hour!  When I had the money together I went to Dad and he asked how much the machine I wanted was.  I said: “$125.00”, and he said: “Okay, then I’ll give you $62.50” to which I said: “No, just give me $60.00.  I want owning interest.”  In that moment he was the happiest man on earth.  He had successfully taught me about money!

It is no wonder that I ended up an accountant.  The actual magic is that I ended up a Money Coach.  See, my deeper nature is not about crunching the numbers but about understanding why people do what they do.  So with the great relationship that my dad helped me create with money, I was not only able to manage and understand money, but to notice when others were bewildered by it.  When another executive I worked with came into my office one day and, after closing the door, sat down and said: “Shell, I need your help, I can’t balance my checkbook!”, I knew that this was not a skill set issue.  It was deeper than a method—it was in his head.  That was just another event that led me to my current career of helping people untangle their money knots…and fundamentally, without my dad and his loving care in helping me be at ease with money, that would never have happened.  I’ll love him forever, for that, and so much more.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Other People’s Money… Knots

This week I have invited my friend, Arthur Breur, to be a ‘guest blogger’.  He came up against a very interesting “money knot” while asking for contributions to support an overture he composed for the Tualatin Valley Symphony.  And it you want to come see its debut performance here’s where to get your tickets for the May 21st, 7:00 p.m. concert. Take it away, Arthur!

Tualatin Overture by Arthur BreurI recently experienced an interesting “money knot” situation that Shell and I thought you might find value in.

First, a little bit of my own history.

I have composed music my entire life, and I consider it my best talent and skill. But I have never worked “full time” as a composer. I have worked in print, graphic design, and website design, and many years ago started my own “multimedia” business that currently focuses on web development.

Around my 40th birthday, as many people do, I started to think about my life and what I really wanted to accomplish. Where had my dreams gone of composing? I still thought of myself as being a composer, but I had barely composed anything for years.

I pulled out the old sheet music from my various compositions, in every state of completion, and started working on them again. That was about nine years ago, and in those nine years I have easily composed as much music as I had over the twenty-some years before that.

A few years ago, I took these efforts one step farther and joined the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce as a composer. I have always made sure my company belonged to the local chamber, but I wanted to make it official that I was now also “in the business” of composing music.  It was a first step toward getting paid for writing music, and therefore being considered as a “professional” composer!

Then, through an event put on by the Chamber of Commerce I was introduced to the Tualatin Valley Symphony. That’s right: a symphony orchestra performs practically in my own back yard! Well, to make what could be a very long story very short, in late October 2016, I met the orchestra’s Conductor & Music Director, Mark Perlman, and he offered that if I composed a piece for the orchestra’s May 2017 concert, they would perform it—which was the moment of inception for my new work, the Tualatin Overture.  Through all this  I was deftly stepping over the idea of my composing actually generating income!

Enter the Chamber of Commerce “AM Networking” events.

When I first conceived of the Tualatin Overture, I did not spend any time imagining that it was a commission. It was an offer from the conductor of a non-profit community orchestra to perform a work, but it was not the offer to pay me for it. I was eager to create a piece of music that would be performed by an orchestra, and I strategically planned that it would be something I did for the City of Tualatin, hoping that doing so might give the work extra “legs” beyond a single performance—but I was not expecting that I would be compensated financially by the orchestra or by the city.

At some point it occurred to me that, even though this was not a commissioned work, I need not be entirely on my own spending so much of my own time and money (sheet music needs to be printed out, copyrights need to be filed, etc.) on the project. While I was the only person who would be creating the music, surely members of the Tualatin community—businesses and individuals both—would feel that this project was something that they could support. So I came up with the plan to appeal for patrons of the work, and I planned that the first group I would reach out to would be local businesses. The perfect opportunity for this kind of request was the Chamber’s weekly AM Networking event, which includes the opportunity to pay $5.00 for one minute of time in front of the members of the Chamber—usually more than 50 business owners and representatives.

So I stood in front of the Tualatin Chamber and reminded them that I was composing the Tualatin Overture, and announced that I was looking for patrons whose names and businesses would be included on the score and in the program notes I would be creating for the composition. I had come up with the initial target of getting total commitments of $1,000 that day, and asked for five or more contributions of $200 each.

And here comes the “money knot”—and the surprising outcome.

After the AM Networking ended that day and people were milling around chatting, a member of the Chamber—who happens to also be a fan of my music—very forthrightly, and with every intention of helping, suggested that asking for contributions of $200 was just too much, and I should have asked for contributions of, say, $20 instead. Yes, it would take more contributions, but I would get more people contributing at a more “manageable” cost.  (I immediately noticed that this person’s perspective was influenced by a money knot, of not ‘asking for too much’ and that my situation was an example of what Shell refers to as others dumping their ‘money stuff’ on us.)

Then, right as I was having that conversation, another chamber member walked up and said they wanted to be a patron for the overture, and offered a contribution for $500 on the spot. They certainly had a different money perspective of how much was ‘enough’ or ‘too much’, and suddenly with just a single patron, I was halfway to my starting goal!

Later that same day I reached out to another chamber member who had not been able to be at the AM Networking. This was someone who is a long-time fan and who had previously commissioned me to compose a song as a birthday gift for a relative. Without my mentioning a number, they offered to write a check for $500.

So within the day I had achieved my initial target of $1,000 from just two eager patrons. I have continued pursuing more patrons and will so until I have to print the “final” score and program notes for the premiere performance.

I can’t help but wonder how the day might have turned out if I had asked for $20 contributions—or if I had asked for $500 contributions.  It’s very interesting to look at how our thinking about money can either limit or expand our possibilities.

And now here I am, a working composer, making money at my craft.

— Arthur Breur

Thanks, Arthur!

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit more conversation about how money thinking effects your money results, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at



Now, there’s a juicy topic!  In the world of finance liquidity means having money available for your use.

My guess is that you don’t think of yourself as a ‘finance’ person, but you do handle, use, and need money, right?  And one of the things you need from money is to be able to get your hands on it, right?  If all of your money was tied up in a retirement account, in order to get your hands on it you would have to go through hoops, fill out forms, wait, and then would only be allowed to take out so much without a penalty.  You are willing to have the money “out of touch” like that so you can sock it away and hopefully let you money grow for your retirement.  That’s a good thing.

However, a bunch of people I know are also reducing their access to their money in another way, and it’s an interesting money knot for sure: They overpay their taxes.  One friend does it because he feels that it will make him safer from the possibility of an audit.  Others do it because they actually think of their taxes as a savings account.  And yet others think of it as a way to put aside money for fun things.  Hmm…

Personally my sweet spot with taxes is to either get back or owe both Federal and State less than $1,000.   The reason I like that spot is because I’m not in essence lending my money to another ‘entity’ to use all year long.  Sure I can’t make as much interest on my money as the government can.  They can put my money with your money and invest it at higher rate than you or I can get.  But beside that point, I also don’t have the use of my money when it is waiting to become a positive tax return.

Allow me to digress for a moment.  I must admit that I do enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching some daytime Judge shows here and there.  My favorites are Hot Bench and Judge Milian from the Peoples Court. These things are always about money, because money is the basic way that courts have of solving issues. It’s amazing how many times people end up in court because they borrowed money from someone with the promise of paying it back once they got their tax return—and then somehow didn’t pay it back.

Here we are just after Tax Day, maybe you filed early, maybe you filed on time, maybe you got an extension.  The more interesting question is, did you give the government a bunch of your money to use free of charge for months, and at the same time deprive yourself of having the money on hand during the year? Oh, and while we are at it, during the year, did you incur or pay any interest on your credit cards?

If you did, you are certainly not alone, and I get it. Overpaying in taxes to get a bigger return can feel like a good idea.  My guess is the part of you that makes the decision isn’t really your competent adult part, but more your kid side that wants to be handed some fun money all at once.  There are other ways to create some fun money—really!—and they don’t cost you as much in liquidity or interest.

Whatever happened with your taxes in 2016, you have a choice to do it the same way or differently in 2017.  What’s your choice?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit of extra support untangling this liquidity thing, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Backing Away From Money?

Have you ever found yourself doing that? Backing away from money? People do it way more often than you might think. If you pay attention, you may even find yourself doing it. Let me give you a couple of pretty interesting examples.

When I first started being a Money Coach I noticed this weird thing that would often happen to me at networking events. Someone would introduce me as  a Money Coach and people would literally back away from me. It was pretty disconcerting. I’d find myself checking to see if I had an odd odor emanating from me, or some part hanging out that shouldn’t be… nope, nothing like that. It was simply because I represented Money and it’s a big, scary taboo topic.

Here’s another one.  Year’s ago when my then husband and his brother inherited a fairly large chunk of change this odd thing happened.  I was in the kitchen getting some food ready to take to the table and my brother-in-law was standing there.  I asked him if there was anything particular he was going to do with the money, and mentioned something like “hiring a financial planner” to help him.  He literally backed up, and went to another room.  Ah the faux pas strikes again!

More recently, I was at an Opening Studio event being held by Sari de la Motte of Forte.  Her company works with people around making sure that the messages they are sending with tone and body match the verbal messages.  This event was specifically for attorneys.  I was part of a mock jury, and the attorneys were delivering their opening arguments to us, and then getting feedback from us, and coaching from Sari.  Of course, I can’t tell you anything about the four different cases, which were fascinating!  What I can tell you is that when each one of them got to talking about money they backed up.  Wow!  Trial attorneys!  Amazing.  Money is the vehicle they use to determine damages and worth of their cases.

And just to make the point even clearer, let me give you one closer to home.  There is a listserv that I belong to, it’s primarily people posting about events, things for sale, classes, etc.   I post a notice of my blog on it when I write one.  That’s mostly twice a month.  You probably get a similar notice via email.  The one on the listserv is simpler in that it doesn’t have any photos.  So I posted a notice of my last blog—the one titled ‘Rehearsing Conversations‘—and I got an email from someone that said: “Please stop sending these.”  I assumed he didn’t want the listserv at all, but no: he didn’t want me on it.  What he said next was: “I like the list. I don’t want to unsubscribe. I just don’t like you over using this for self-promotion.  Too many ‘contributions’ from Ka-ching.”  Wow, talk about gobsmacked!  Even writing this out now, I feel my own personal Defense Horse chomping at the bit to zoom out and gallop all over this! Instead, I’d like you to notice that this guy is in essence backing away from what I have to say. My guess is he hasn’t actually read anything I’ve posted, he’s seen word “Ka-ching” and assumed it’s something about money and that was enough for him.

We often get backed up around money, and it’s pretty likely that we don’t even recognize it’s happening because it’s so overwhelmingly taboo.

And here’s the really important and sticky part of this.  How effective do you think you are going to be at making and amassing money if you avoid it so stridently?  If you can’t bring up your fee without backing up, how do you think the potential client is going to react?  Backing up when it comes to money is frankly antithetical to acquiring it.  We back up and avoid things that are harmful, dangerous, scary, and oh, yes, taboo.  If money is all that, then why do you want it?  Our brains avoid things with mixed messages, and backing away from money, while saying we want it is definitely a mixed message.  Which way do you think your brain is actually going to align with?  You body saying: “back up” or some other part saying: “lean in and get some”?

How about you try taking steps toward your money?  Getting closer?  Getting friendly?  Take a deep breath and step toward it – just see what happens.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit of extra support is moving toward your money, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Rehearsing Conversations

We’ve all done it, haven’t we?  We go over and over the conversation in our head.  If I say this, and she says that, then I’ll say this.  Over and over and over—ad nauseam.  So here’s the real question:  “Does practicing or rehearsing the conversation actually help?”   Frankly, I don’t think it does.

Imagine for a moment that you have a conflict or problem with someone and you need to talk with them about it.  Sure you want to get clear on what you want out of the conversation.  You also want to have your facts and persuasive points lined up.  Okay, fine.  But this isn’t you being a lawyer presenting a case to a jury.  This is you trying to have a conversation with your spouse, boss, co-worker, teenage son, best friend—whoever.    One definition of ‘conversation’ says: the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.  So it’s not a lecture, right?  It’s a conversation, an exchange.

What we all tend to do is start nattering about it in our head. Personally, I think what all that fussing actually does is  guarantee that it will NOT go the way you rehearsed it.  I don’t have scientific evidence of this, but I have lived a long time and nattered over many a conversation—and my conclusion is that they NEVER go the way I rehearsed or planned.  I have several explanations for this:

  • The “entity” that is in charge of this stuff is fickle.  Once a perspective has been brought up and played with, the “universe” is bored with that result.  It’s not going to actually happen the way you rehearsed it.  Personally I have had this result be so consistent in my life that I’ve decided it’s an actual law of the universe—after all gravity still works whether or not you are aware of it.  So does this: if you’ve played it out in your head, it will happen differently when you actually do it.  Maybe we could call it “the law of unique occurrences“—the only thing that seems consistent is that it will not be the way we imagined it.  You may be snickering at this idea, but I’m guessing you’ve experienced it!
  • All the rehearsing has us focusing on what we are going to do and say—not how we are going to be in the situation.  We all know that there is much more going on in any exchange with another person than what we say.  There is tone, posture, attitude, and a bunch of other cues and signals that we are sending and receiving.  What I’m referring to when I say we want to consider how to be in the conversation is the compilation of attitude, tone, presence. Saying that a different way, it’s “how we want to show up”.  And an interesting secret in all this is that how you show up is likely to be absorbed and reflected  back to you.  For an easy example, if you come on strong and lecture the person, how do you think they are going to respond?

The point is not that you shouldn’t prepare for a challenging or difficult conversation.  The point is to spend more time considering how you want to behave and react in the situation and less going over and over the possibilities.  Think about it.  If you are clear about the qualities you want to embody in a challenging conversation, then you really can’t be derailed, can you?  I don’t mean the other person will necessarily agree, what I mean is the conversation will be an exchange of ideas.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I have been using this concept with clients for years, and that I have a tool for it.  I call it the Focus Tool.  It’s just a one page guide to help you get clear on your goals, the attributes you want to bring, where the boundaries are, and how you’ll know if you succeeded in bringing all that to the conversation.

If you’d like a copy of the tool, or to chat with me about it just contact me.  It feels to me like many of us are nattering excessively these days, so I’m happy to offer the Focus Tool to you at no charge.  Consider it my contribution to creating more effective results in challenging conversations.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you want to take me up on the offer of the Focus Tool form give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at