27 Apr

Money Makes the World go ‘Round?

Altar Ego began as a dream I had about using my talents as best I could, and following the lead of the Divine to create a beautiful and comfortable space where spiritual journeys could be shared. It seemed pretty straight forward. And I thought, if not now, when?

But it was a scary proposition. Two years ago I was still in my internship for spiritual direction, and it felt overwhelming to add more to my plate. And, I thought, who am I to deign to be a leader when I am obviously somewhere in the muck of my own path? But I felt the longing and the leading so strongly. So through much prayer and discernment, I rented a space and started holding workshops designed for spiritual growth.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. One directee, one spiritual growth group and one retreat or workshop at a time, I’ve been building this thing…this idea…this small business.

Ah, there it is…the cringe. I still have a gut reaction when I call this thing I do a business. I was raised in a faith tradition where  “church work” was very seperate from “career work.” Where it was assumed that anything you did for the church (i.e. spiritual work) was volunteered. You wouldn’t even think of being paid for it! It was God’s work, and being paid would cheapen it somehow.

Add to that the very real debate in the spiritual direction world regarding charging for spiritual direction services. Some very reputable seminaries teach that spiritual direction is a calling, and should be offered without charge.  Other (also reputable) seminaries teach classes on how to market your services.

But what if Wayne Dyer never charged for his wisdom? I’d have never heard it. And I can’t imagine where I’d be now if I’d never had a chance to hear him . Or Ekhart Tolle?  What if Oprah Winfrey never charged for the work she did? I’d have had a tough time folding laundry in the nineties. And how would she help the girls in Africa? What if Father Ure didn’t earn his living by teaching hundreds if not thousands the art of spiritual care at St. Mark’s hospital? Where would I be? Where would we all be?

Traditionally, spiritual directors didn’t have to charge directees (an awkward word, but client is also weird for SD) for their services because they were priests and nuns…and they were suported by the church. But if they hadn’t had the church’s support there would never have been spiritual direction in the past, either.

There has always been an exchange of energy. Even if it was a live chicken for a tea leaf reading from the wise woman down the lane or a day’s work for the shaman’s guidance.

So, I’ve been sending mixed signals to the Universe. On one hand, I consider this work to be a calling, and I would do it anyway, because, well, I’ve been called. On the other hand, if I didn’t try to make a living at this I’d have to do something else, too. Therefore, limited and divided time. Because, money.

I’ve done a lot of work to become comfortable with exchanging energies (money for services). There’s a whole (money making) industry built around helping people, especially women, to clear blocks regarding money, and I’ve worked pretty darn hard to clear mine. Heck, even the modalities I teach are useful tools for this clearing. And I’ve come a very long way.

SC card energy of money

SoulCollage® Card: The Energy of Money

So, why do I still cringe sometimes when I tell people I have a spiritual direction business? If I fear judgement, that’s what I’m going to get…If I offer my work in the spirit of mutual exchange, that’s what I’m going to get. And at this point on my journey, I get both. Don’t even get me started on the question of how much to charge! Which tells me I still worry sometimes about what others think…which is fodder for another blog for another day. 🙂

Jesus (as understood by Paul) did not say that money, or even the love of it, is the root of all evil. There are, sadly, a great many forms of evil at work in the world all around us that have nothing at all to do with money. What he said is that the love of money can take root in our hearts and our minds so that we become blinded by the possessions, prestige and power that can come with it and we make decisions that take us farther and farther away from God’s will and from the plan for our lives. It’s not the money: it’s the attachment.

I pray that I might do my work and accept the good that I attract, whether it be monetary or another form of good. And that I will be a good steward of whatever comes my way. May I remember the original idea: to create support and inspiration for those who come to me as they travel their spiritual paths. And to be ever listening for God’s will in all of this.

So, I’m not hanging up this idea. This business idea. I intend to serve and support as many beautiful seekers as God and my joyous “Yes” can provide. So I also pray I will get through and beyond what I believe to be a pretty normal part of this growth path I’ve chosen. I will keep on keepin’ on. And since you are getting in on the ground floor, as it were, you will have a front row seat to Julie’s Growth Journey. Growth in many areas, not least of which is getting out of my own way when it comes to money.

How do you see money? Filthy lucre? The answer to your problems? An energy of exchange?

Blessings on your path,                                                                                                                                       ~Julie


08 Apr

The Balancing Act

Every January, I pick a personal word for the coming year. This year I chose the word “Grow.” Which is not a surprising word for me. A quest to be better, to always be learning, to never be satisfied with the status quo…well,  it’s my personality type (enneagram 3/INFJ), and it’s part of my pioneer heritage to keep moving no matter the obstacles. Personal, psychological, and spiritual growth is where I live and breath and have my being (just ask my kids)!

When challenges come up for me, I’ve got a plethora (love that word; plethora, plethora!) of quotes, songs, and mottos swirling around in my head to keep me going. Like this one:


And there’s this: Rocky Theme Song

And this: I’m Gonna be Somebody

And my all-time favorite is: with God possible

(With that one, in my head there’s an add-on. I always hear Wayne Dyer saying, “you tell me what that leaves out!”)

But I get tired. I have to remind myself again and again that it’s all about the journey, not just the destination (altaregojourneys.com-duh!)! I pride myself in my ability to see not just black and white, but  shades of gray…but forget the color! The color!

What about pleasure? What about fun? What about what the Universe is offering me right in this moment?!

I have this great SoulCollage® card, pictured above (one I pulled to consider before writing this blog post).  It shows a man who’s so caught up in creating what’s in his head – good things, beautiful things even – that he’s missing the beauty that’s right in front of him: A gorgeous, colorful rainbow! A gift offered right in that moment!

There’s a blind woman in the collage who can’t see the rainbow, but is wise enough to experience it  through her child companion. She plays music. She feels the wind on her skin. I’ll bet she stops to smell roses. The woman and the child experiencing more Grace – more joy! – than the sighted man of ambition.

Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.

So  I’m heading out of town with some of my fun-loving friends. They aren’t frivolous women; they are definitely women of substance. And they know how to let their hair down and get into their bodies. Eat good food, dance, stay deeply present. And for a person who can’t stand small talk, there will be satisfying conversation and insight. That’s what I intend to do this weekend.

But I’m not waiting until tomorrow…I’ll start right now. I’ll savor this beautiful morning. I’ll laugh with my partner. I’ll take Haku (my one-eyed shih tzu companion) for a walk. I’ll take in the pink blossoms and the azure sky. And I’ll get my hair done!

I’m not forgetting my dreams and goals. I’m too steeped in growth processes and maps of consiousness to get that happy-go-lucky! My yearly word will remain “Grow.” But life’s a great balancing act. I’ll continue trying to balance determination with beauty and will with grace. And remember that with God all things are possible (you tell me what that leaves out!). 😉