Past events

Drinking Wine and Talking Money

Drinking Wine and Talking Money

I recently hosted another wonderful Strong Woman Salon, and was reminded yet again how much I love coming together with other women with a shared purpose or intention.  I imagine people used to do this more often.  In today’s increasingly compartmentalized modern world, we may sip a cocktail and kvetch at a girls’ night out, or madly scribble inspired notes at a motivational seminar, but it seems increasingly rare to come together in someone’s living room to share ideas without irony.  The Strong Woman Salon is my humble stab at remedying that.

Some of the lovely wines on hand from Dry Farm Wines

Some of the lovely wines on hand from Dry Farm Wines

We started the evening off by cracking open a couple of bottles of Dry Farm Wines‘ amazing bio-dynamic wines.  In case you haven’t heard me yelling from the rooftops about these guys already, Dry Farm is an online wine seller that specializes in finding small, old-school family vineyards that produce wine according to traditional winemaking methods.  They don’t dump tons of chemical additives into their wine, as is the norm in conventional winemaking.  (Most persnickety foodies would be shocked to know the number of additives allowed in their wine; this New York Times piece explores the emerging area of natural wine and the call for more transparency in labeling).    We enjoyed a 2014 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Aligote (bright and lively) and a 2013 Marc Bredif Chinon – an earthy, berry-fragranced Cabernet Franc.  (Dry Farm is offering 10% off to Strong Woman readers; see promotion code at end of post.)

But enough about the grape. The evening was devoted to discussing “Financial Strength,” and our guest speaker was Lysa Kristensen from Laurel Terrace Finance.  Lysa specializes in helping regular people and families get their finances together.  She sits down and helps people organize where they are, where they want to be, and how to get there.

I shared some of my own experience in getting conscious about money.  In my 20s I was living as a struggling actor in NYC and flat broke (shocker, I know), but lucky enough to have some decent health insurance which paid for the therapist I was seeing.  I would find myself in her office once a week, weeping about all the bills I couldn’t pay and wondering how I was going to make ends meet.  She recommended I attend a Debtors Anonymous meeting to learn how to get a better grip on my finances.  While I didn’t much care for the idea (somehow as soon as you attach the word “anonymous” to any concern, it automatically feels that much more shameful), but in the interest of doing something to get out of my hole, I started going to DA meetings.

I learned that they do indeed teach people how to get clarity about money at Debtors Anonymous (the blueprint for the work is contained in an excellent little volume called How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously).  I’ll never forget the woman who became my sponsor – a gracious, grey-haired Park Avenue resident, who regularly schlepped down to a grimy downtown church basement because she believed in the program.  She told me, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been in debt; and I’ve been poor and I’ve been in debt.”  That was my first understanding of the truth that how much money you make is not as important as how you relate to that money, and how you manage your money.

Which brings me to Michael Phillips’ 1974 book The Seven Laws of Money, an underground classic I’ve always been fond of because it channels a savvy bank executive perspective (Phillips helped to develop the modern credit card) through the crunchy-spiritual lens of the early 1970s.


Phillips’ First Law is as follows:

Do it!  Money Will Come When You Are Doing The Right Thing

I love this idea for its simplicity and because I think most of us recognize the basic truth within it.

Phillips writes:

“The clearest translation of this in terms of personal advice is ‘go ahead and do what you want to do.’ Worry about your ability to do it and your competence to do it but certainly do not worry about the money.”

And he goes on to give different examples of people in various business and creative pursuits.  When people get mired in the minutae of where the money would come from, they often had a failed venture on their hands, whereas when they focused the bulk of their energies on what they were actually doing (the creative work itself), they generally succeeded.  “Money is secondary to what you are doing,” asserts Phillips.

“Money flows in certain channels, like electricity through wires.  The wires define the relationship, and the flow is the significant thing to look at.” This has definitely been my experience with raising money for artistic endeavors (in my case creating films).  Money follows the flow of energy.  This is why rather than chasing money, it’s better to chase the ideas that excite us… because eventually the money will follow.

I used Phillips’ First Law as a jumping off point to explore the Japanese concept of Ikigai, an idea I love to help gain clarity about this oft-elusive notion of what exactly is “the right thing” for us.  The best translation for Ikigai from the Japanese is “A reason to get out of bed in the morning.”  Ikigai lands in the sweet spot between the following four things:

1) That which you are good at

2) That which you can be paid for

3) That which the world needs

4) That which you love


The Japanese don’t believe you can necessarily find your Ikigai lickety-split; but rather there is usually a good bit of searching and experimenting during the course of a person’s life for their Ikigai to be made clear.

I’ll be covering Lysa’s talk, “Top Five Money Tips From a Financial Strategist,” in tomorrow’s post.


We enjoyed the following real-food, paleo-inspired offerings at the Salon:

Paleo crab cakes from Paleo Cupboard

Quinoa Taboulé Salad from Le Pain Quotidian

Easy Roasted Broccoli

Almond Butter Protein Balls from The Hearty Vegetarian


To learn more about Debtors Anonymous, visit their website.

An abridged version of the original The Seven Laws of Money can be found on Amazon.  This cleaned-up version lacks some of the more charming 1970s crunch, like financial advice and drawings from the migrant poet Jug n’ Candle.  Used copies of this original format can be found at Abe Books.

Lysa Kristensen’s bio and blog can be found at Laurel Terrace Finance.

To get 10% off at Dry Farm Wines, use promo code THESTRONGWOMAN when you place your order.


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