Money and Physical Health

How to Achieve Financial Freedom

Money may not buy happiness, but studies show that it can significantly improve your health as just like exercise and healthy eating habits.

Anxiety about money can trigger a increase in cortisol, which increases appetite. There’s also evidence that stress can affect food preferences, prompting people to increase their intake of fatty and sugary treats which often leads to weight gain and health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. #Anxiety can also produce significant increase in blood pressure and glucose. Pre-COVID, the average American had less than a 2 month emergency fund, its no wonder that post-COVID, Americans are more stressed and anxious.

Sadly, the more anxious someone is about money, the less likely they are to deal with it. Dr. Mary Gresham, an Atlanta-based psychologist. “Many people who are deeply anxious about money will handle that anxiety with avoidance….” So what do you do? How do you re-train your brain to come from abundance not scarcity?

Start with a commitment to being proactive…stop procrastinating! Make a plan (budget) to deal with debt by practicing delayed gratification. Change your thinking and your results will change. Reduce your costs. Participate in your retirement plan at work and learn to pay yourself first every paycheck. Don’t have a savings plan at work, start an IRA or a Roth and save monthly. Create a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Suze Orman says, “If we do not love money enough to keep any of our income now in savings for emergencies, retirement, and other purposes it is because we do not respect and value having money as we should“.

Harmoney Financial Literacy and Salus Vita Counseling have partnered to help you gain clarity and relieve the stressors that affect your health and happiness. We know it’s not easy, but it is as essential to live a more fruitful, productive, joyful life. Call us today at 202.503.9139 or send an email to to get started on the path to healthier happier you!

Liminal Space

I learned a new word today during the virtual meditation class; Liminal. Thankful that these days we do most everything virtual I was able to look up the word while a discussion took place. Liminal is the transforming space between what was and the next. COVID-19 has thrust us into a Liminal Space. In this space the capacity for peace is present.

COVID-19 brings about many unknowns that activates fear. Am I going to be able to open up my business again? I am going to be able to pay the bill? How far behind will my kids get academically? Will my marriage last? Am I going to get sick? Will my loved one get sick? Will the person I know who is sick die? Will they find a cure? What will happen to our health care? How far will Social Distancing go? Will I have to become a Vegan or Vegetarian because of meat contamination? Questions go on and on and if you watch the news daily you notice questions continue to go unanswered and more questions are created.

Before COVID-19 we lived in a world was a place where we experienced life first hand. We felt the touch of another human being, we hung out together and laughed in real-time. We went to sporting events and cheered on our favorite teams. We went to happy hours, yoga classes, went to our places of worship, and met our neighbors.

COVID-19 has brought on a world of fear. Fear is justifiable in light of the pandemic; however, we do not want to allow fear to cast a shadow over our Liminal Space. The emotion of fear awakens the Amygdala (Fight, Flight, or Freeze response ) which triggers the hippocampus (where memory is stored) into activation which impacts the prefrontal cortex (decision making part of the brain). So we can say, A + H+ PC = Assess Threat after which we can understand if our fear response is based on reason or based on emotion.

Fear is a basic emotion such as is joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, anticipation. Emotions are subjectively based and a reminder that we humans beings who feel. Notice the fear without a narrative and notice how your liminal space grows. This space allows for your journey to continue. The unknown has a great capacity for just that…to transform. The unknown can become anything. Our propensity is to think the unknown means something bad. The Buddhist saying it that, it is neither bad or good. It is.” That’s Liminal Space, a threshold of potential to continue on building a life of meaning and purpose despite the pandemic.

Martin Seligman, often regarded as the father of positive psychology, describes three paths to happiness: the Pleasant Life (Hollywood’s view of happiness), The Good Life (focused on personal strengths and states of “flow”), and the Meaningful Life. COVID-19 has stripped away the Pleasant life and has given each of us an opportunity to transform our lives into the Good Life and the Meaningful Life. If you have been living the Good and Meaningful life, hats off to you and may this time confirm your journey. For those of us we were getting caught up in the Pleasant life may our perspective be that of relishing in what money can’t buy or the ego can’t feed.

It is important to understand that the Liminal Space does not mean pushing away negative emotions or making as if a crisis is not occurring. The liminal space makes room for the inevitable states. If we learn to wait and allow for the Liminal Space our capacity to live out our best life yet will be materialized because we don’t fight against the inevitable. We approach crisis intentionally and rather than being paralyzed we boldly approach the space confidently being assured that beauty to come forth from the ashes. That life may not look as it did before COVID-19 yet it will be beautiful for beauty will come forth from the ashes.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

Carpe Diem,


Being Alone Is Okay

I sat with her, listening to her story of being alone and feeling overwhelmed by her loneliness. It had been years of marriage, then the divorce but still some child was around. All the children eventually leave home  and choose to go away to college. Funny how they choose not to go near the dad nor stay near the mom. They moved to their spheres. After years of a on again off again relationship the relationship finally came to end. The end coincided with the empty nest. Friendship were for not.

She found herself alone and drowning in her loneliness. Was it the impact of being alone? Was it the loneliness? Was it the break up? Was it the empty nests? She went to work Monday through Friday. Attempted to fill her time so as not to sink into her loneliness. One would think that attending events, happy hours, activities would fill her loneliness; yet, she found herself returning home after the events with tears not understanding the waterfall from her eyes.

Curiosity took her to research being alone. Chains unloosened as she gleaned a new perspective to being alone:

  1. Being alone is okay.  Sometimes, no most of the time okay is good enough.
  2. Being alone helps one look at life with curiosity- nothing is mundane. Listening skills are sharpened.  One’s eyes see with renewed perspectives. Like a small child first experiencing a butterfly with wonder life becomes awe filled.
  3. Silence is indeed golden.  Being alone rewires our brain toward an increased peaceful state to experience life’s present wonders  in the now.
  4. Being alone would not last forever. After all we are made for relationships.

Now loneliness is another animal. Loneliness carries a psychological impact that is subjective based on how one feels in connection with others. Loneliness often has the person feeling isolated which makes them isolative. Chronic loneliness has links to struggling with Bipolar disorder, anxiety, stress, and depression. Perceived or  reality loneliness is real.

She became friends with Alone. No longer did she begrudge her time by herself. Being alone became a time of self renewal as she took  time to know herself and love herself.  With loneliness she found balance. She dared to go to Meetups, happy hours, or community events and talk to others. She even dabbled in on line dating and was confident in herself to not get involved in relationship that were not beneficial to her soul. She took time to become involved in causes she cared about but prior for reasons was not able to roll up her sleeves and get involved.

Who is she? She is you. She is me. She is the freshman college student that went away to college. She is the partner that feels distant from her partner. She is the one that feels alone in the crowd. She just moved to a new state or a new job where everything is new and strange. She realized that being alone was part of a transition to know herself and better herself for connections in relationships.

She is daring. She is life to behold.

Please note that chronic being alone or the chronic feeling of loneliness requires some help. No man is an island unto himself. So please, if you find yourself in extended feelings of desolation, withdrawn, melancholy, or gloom reach out – there is someone that care.

Carpe Diem,


Taking My Chance

“To Risk”

by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

Mr. Ward beautifully penned the fortuity in being human. A dance of longings mixed with gambles taken to feel, to love, to belong, to in essence be free. The freedom to self-actualize. Maslow considered self-actualization as the top tier in the human needs rungs. Unfortunately, our emotional scars often make us afraid to take a risks.

Childhood often is the breeding ground for emotional scars that loom over into adulthood. Adulthood is filled with opportunities for an array of predicaments. How shall we self-actualize with these quandaries?

Accepting yourself; which is no small task. Forgive yourself understanding that mistakes are simply growth opportunities. Grant yourself time to mourn over the unrealized dreams. Quite the your inner critic. Offer yourself and to others compassion.

Living mindfully aware. Awareness ushers a sense of realism.  Realism in being in the moment, fully present and in tune to the here and now.  Realism that becomes an art in not being judgmental but opening up the door to  curiosity.

Live true to your values. Make a list of what is important in you life along with negotiable and nonnegotiable.

Laugh. Endorphins hormones are secreted  when we laugh signalling our brain to tell our bodies, relax. Endorphins are associated with exercise; perhaps, we can take the liberty to say laughter is a type of exercise.

To Risk or To Risk Not. The challenge is on  to take a chance toward being  Our Best Selves Yet.

Note: The risk identified in this writing is not one of recklessness, for to live as such is a contradictions to freedom.

Carpe Diem,



Desperation of Loneliness

Where does loneliness take you? Does it take you to on line dating? Does it take you to overusing substances? Does it take you to isolation? Does it take you to depression? Does it take you to low-self esteem? Sitting with the sene of desperation often drags you down to places you would rather not venture. We are after all social creatures who desire, no need social interaction.

Brain science informs us of that the need for social interaction is real.  Deprived of human contact, many individuals  begin to feel rejected, empty, abandoned,  and emotionally distressed.  Research has uncovered  a neuron located in the back of our brain called the Dorsal Raphe Nucleus (DRN). DRN happens to  be a Dopamine neuron. Dopamine we recognize as a neurotransmitter that  helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. And then we have good old Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and his insight suggesting the human need to belong and love. So what am I saying? The feeling of loneliness is real. It’s not just you being needy!

So what path has loneliness taken you? It took me to on-line dating. I do know of two couples who met on line and married. Another couple is engaged. For me, I end up feeling rejected or judgmental. I find people don’t read the profile and or lie. I don’t get it. Why post a picture of yourself 20 years ago when you are going to meet that person in person!  Or they start talking to you and ghost you. Where is the courtesy? My favorite has been the one, after I reached out to end the contact telling me that it seemed I wanted a traditional relationship and that’s not what they wanted. Wait? Did you not read my profile? That’s enough venting. Someone should write a book on the protocol of on-line dating. Perhaps someone already has and I have not read the book.

Paths I have taken to overcome loneliness have been many. I have learned I don’t like waking up the next morning with a hangover and throwing up because I drank to fit into the crowd or numb the loneliness away. As you can tell I have taken some not so smart paths.  However, I am awake now and in the awareness for human connection I want to feed my DRN.   I have uncovered the best way to feed my DRN  is with self-care and compassion. Yes, I have the longing to connect however I will not allow myself to go down the path of desperation. Desperation gives undertones to hopelessness.  I am not hopeless. I have value. I have gifts. I have talents. I am worthy of respect and to be loved.  If that amazing person should come into my life that will make two amazing people. If they don’t show up there still remains one amazing person, me.

Carpe Diem,




The Pain in Being a Helper

Who is not in the business of impacting another’s life? From the cashier to the pizza delivery person. We all impact another’s life. Yet, those in the front line often experience what in the mental health field is called vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, or secondary victimization. We will go with compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue  is characterized by the  some of the following symptom (not an inclusive list):

• Free floating anger and/or irritation, over-eating or under-eating,
difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, dreaming about their clients/their clients’ trauma experiences, diminished joy toward things they once enjoyed, feeling trapped by their work, diminished feelings of satisfaction and personal accomplishment, feelings of hopelessness associated with their work/clients, blaming others, overwork, irritability,  exhaustion, staff conflict, blaming others, poor communication, withdrawal and isolation from colleagues, apathy, blaming others, lack of appreciation,  lack of interest and caring, worried about not doing enough.

The nature of job demands your all. Essential to the field is the ability and capacity of self care. Self care is often spoken about;yet, I often fail to see implemented. Three suggestions for self care. 1. Get a massage or some type of body word done. 2. Eat a healthy diet 3. Keep your perspective. The three points appears simple, however, the reality is that they are seldom practiced.
I encourage you reading to put into practice exercise that will keep your mind fresh and not bogged down. Share your load. You were not meant to carry the load alone. I recently saw Justice League interesting is that the team was not as effective without Superman. Find your superman and let him help you carry the load. You’re doing a great job; but, the load is getting heavy. Just as we want to see those we help grow strong we have to be the proverbial strong to be able to give. We cannot give from an empty vessel.

Se si pude, but why would you want by yourself. We are better together!

Carpe Diem

Emotional Baggage

These days with the airlines charging us for luggage we have become more selective in what we pack and how we pack. Interesting that we are not so selective on the emotional baggage which carries a greater personal cost. The baggage conceals itself wrapped with words of justification or behaviors that ushers in the past. When the worlds of past and present  collide manifestations of  disruptive behaviors, poor frustration tolerance, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, apathy, relationship problems, addictions, medical problems and other struggles in our future.

Trauma is a subjective horrific event either experienced or witnessed that appears to impair the individuals capacity to deal with the event. There are some “things” that happen to us that are not traumatic; yet, the events can have trauma like impacts. Either of these or both of these are what are often found in our emotional baggage.

At the airport the baggage is weighed.  I have seen where the baggage is too heavy and the traveler tries to lighten the load by taking things out and stuffing items into other bags.  Our emotional baggage gets heavy and we get triggered and act out  without knowing why we are reacting with intense emotions.

What helps lighten the baggage? Social support, Personal temperament, Survival orientation,  and of course therapy. I have met with many courageous clients with amazing triceps and somatic sensations and or physical aliments because they have been  carrying around their over stuffed bags.

It is uncomfortable when we start unpacking. In fact it is at times it feels overwhelming. Maybe it’s better carrying around the load? No. It is not.  The pain of discomfort is worth the process of unpacking with the end result  of living free from the past and living free to embrace the best life yet!

Carpe Diem

That Thing

What’s “That Thing” that gets in the way. “That Thing” in which your pride exudes with luster. “That thing” that you just don’t want to re-experience. Most likely it has to do with people. What I have observed most often it is that in them which reflects back as insecurity or judgement.

I was speaking to a individual , let’s call him Edwardo, who at least in his eyes is  accomplished. I certainly would not challenge Edwardo on that subjective aspect.  Edwardo feels a sense of pride that he has become all this and more on his own merit. Possibly. His family is distant both geographically and emotionally. The distance I understood as mutual.

Edwardo speaks of his family as dysfunctional and with disdain. My question is who would Edwardo be without his family? Having a family without our consent creates emotional ties and patterns that influences one another’s behavior. Family systems pioneers such as Dr. Murray Bowen, Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, Milton Erickson and or Cloe Madanes,  would have their perspectives on the dysfunctional family interlocking dynamics.  I sum them up humbly in saying, our family influences our character.

We don’t want to give family members that credit, I understand. I have a few cutoffs in my family with triangles being form to create a bands of unity. I have read quotes that families are blessings, how important they are, how family is a unique gift. Let me tell you, not all family are blessings or gifts. Some are cruel and heartless. In that hardness one finds tenacity and creates resiliency.  Would we go up to those in our family that have hurt us and say; “Thanks your lack of love or the pain you caused in my life made me this person I am today.”

Who would Edwardo be without his family roots. Edwardo could not be who is is if not for his family with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I appreciate the quote by Steve Southerland that reads: I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.

Edwardo grew. I too have grown. I have grown in the way that although my childhood was filled with dysfunctional inclusive of  alcoholism,  sexually abused, emotional cutoffs, parentification and other not so great happenings I have chosen to grow and hold grudges. My parents were good enough parents despite the mayhem. My siblings, well let’s say we each had to protect ourselves – and that we did.

I do believe if forgiveness. If  possible forgive. Forgive not the actions; more so, forgive the person, they were trying to survive (however dysfunctional). That forgiveness does not have to mean placing yourself back in situations that were harmful before and have capacity to be harmful today. We are adults today with the capacity to choose to live beyond the memories of yesterday that we had stored behind the wall for protection.

What’s that thing that gets in the way? Oh, it’s me! It’s how I think that influencing how I feel that is impacting  my behavior and many times my health. I invite you to explore “that thing” and be free to live you best life yet.

Carpe Diem.

Learning Curve of Personalities

People and Personalities. Every where we go we are wittiness to both people and personalities for after all personalities is a reflected from the person. At a meeting I recently attended I took inventory of the personalities in the room. Okay full disclosure at some point the meeting became, at least for me, unproductive so I had to entertain myself someway. Back to personalities.

The first individual, whom we will call Jose, sat taking it in what was being shared though obviously disagreeing with what was being said. Jose makes several comments about how things were becoming complicated. Several times during the meeting Jose would look across the room and make eye contact with another person and nod his head side to side as if exasperated. We shall  call Jose Cool Cucumber.

Another person, whom we will call Silva,  interjects respectfully; yet, does not hesitate to identify those with which they do not agree. Silva is passive aggressive  disposition comes to life when she can no longer make as if new demands are not bothering her and becomes verbally softly aggressive.

Teresa now, she can be different. Teresa appears confident in herself and for sure is one of the Alpha’s in the room. Teresa often does not let others complete their thoughts before interrupting because she knows best.  Teresa has good intentions though by many is seen as insensitive,  bossy, and unsympathetic.

Then we have Margaret who was suppose to be running the meeting. Although at times the meeting was being run by one of the Big  Three mentioned in this writing.  Margaret  know her stuff, no I believe Jose , Silva, and Teresa don’t have a vote of confidence for Margaret because of a managerial style.

I sat observing the dynamics within this group and came up with several take away:

  1. Be aware of where I am going to sit
  2. We all have a voice; it is important when to use the voice.
  3. Just because I have an opinion doesn’t mean I have to share
  4. Drink Water
  5. Respect is essential to listening and hearing
  6. Fidget when necessary
  7. Be Comfortable in your own skin
  8. Listening is easy
  9. Hearing is not easy when we are already thinking of a response
  10. Mindfulness shift thoughts toward awareness

The meeting ended two hours later. One hour to long for my liking; however, I learned my lesson well. What life lesson will you learn today?

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The
willingness to learn is a choice.”

 Brian HerbertHouse Harkonnen

Carpe Diem,


Rescuing Self

Rescuing happens when recognizing the value of that which is in danger outweighs being a bystander. I think of the First Responders such as law enforcement, firefighters, our men and women in uniform and many others that stand in the front lines to help. Thank you for First Responders!

Who rescues those who quietly are in danger, in danger of losing themselves to drugs, alcohol, suicide, to an unhealthy relationship, to not being able to say no, to loneliness,  to food, to hopelessness?  You name the addiction and or the affliction?  I wonder what do you see when you look in the mirror or are you like an acquaintance  I knew who had not mirrors in their home because they couldn’t stand to look at themselves. I wonder who will rescue us if we don’t start the process of rescuing ourselves.

Far too often the courage to rescue ourselves doesn’t come until we hit the proverbial rock bottom. What keeps us living in this silent danger? Fear? Shame? Guilt? Repeated disappointment? Pride? I have heard people say, “Well the Bible says God helps those who help themselves.” As a Biblical Study major the Bible does not say that-just to set that record straight.  However a point can be made that  until “those” recognize they are in danger they cannot find the resources to help them out of the danger.

Rescuing Self

It takes courage to be a First Responder. It takes courage in being a First Responder for Yourself. I want to tell you that YOU HAVE VALUE AND THAT YOU MATTER. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress has been you  are still way ahead of those who  have stopped trying or those who have never tried.

Rescuing yourself first starts by finding that mirror and looking courageously into the mirror and asking yourself: What do I see?  When you get the answer no matter the answer offer yourself compassion. You have been resilient regardless of life’s curve balls (Baseball season just started).  Don’t give up on yourself. Remember when you…….and if you haven’t….. remember what you dreamed of doing.  Rescuing starts when you recognize value in the object that is in danger.

A nine year old client shared with me how they thought going to therapy was for crazy people. “I’m not crazy. I heard some adults say that. I am not crazy. I needed help with the sadness inside of me because my dad died.” That nine year has started rescue process. You can too….

Carpe Diem,