Mindful Happiness

Mindful Happiness

The pursuit of happiness has long been the goal of humankind. But, what is happiness?  For us, it could be a feeling of calm and security. For others, it may be a feeling of success on a professional and/or personal front. Happiness is truly subjective! One of the keys to unlocking the path to being happy is to practice mindful happiness.

Mindfulness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” So how does mindfulness increase our feelings of happiness?

By utilizing the power of awareness of the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to connect with our heart, mind, body, and spirit with crystal clear transparency. When we allow our thoughts to be focused on the “now,” we invite our clarity to serve as a compass, guiding us toward the happiness that may have eluded us in the past.

When practicing mindfulness, we pay close attention to the signals that our bodies are sending us, those pangs of guilt, shame, regret, and learning to bless and release them through allowing those signals to remind us that we are a work in progress. Through the mindfulness practice of breathwork, we empower our bodies to cleanse some of the adverse biological reactions that our bodies and minds have created in reaction to our perception of the lack of happiness. 

Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice! Our bodies and minds have a natural tendency to fight stillness. If you have tried meditation and find your mind racing with that list of “to-dos” or constant distraction, it’s not your fault! Our brains are designed to be the operating system that we rely on both consciously and subconsciously. Taking some small steps in quieting your mind will lead to training your brain to power down temporarily. Here are some steps to try when working on quieting the mind:

  1. Find a space that will allow you solitude and quiet
  2. Start with an intention of a short time period, perhaps 5 minutes. You can always increase this as you increase your skill level!
  3. Pay attention to your breath. Using this awareness as a focus increases the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and increases the “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine: both of which are “happiness hormones.”
  4. Notice your body: find a seated position that is comfortable to you and that will allow you to relax.
  5. Allow your mind to wander. Remember, when your mind is sending you messages, it’s doing its job! Work on recognizing the thought without judgment.

Mindful happiness occurs when we align our mind, body, and spirit with our unique strengths. Happiness is not a destination, but a journey of the authenticity of our truth, a lifelong practice of pursuing a wholeness that is genuine and unique to each of us. Each moment in our life gives us the opportunity to be keenly aware of the path to follow, even if it’s one that you need to create. By following your individual journey through mindfulness, you will own the key to creating a life of fulfillment, which in my view is “happiness.”

The Money Story: A Journey of Awareness

The Money Story: A Journey of Awareness

Have you ever thought about writing your autobiography? Chances are, it sounds daunting! To recapture your life and all that’s happened may take quite a bit of time and energy. Who would you write it this for? Documenting your life experiences would be an interesting read for your family and could serve to pass down some wisdom you have gleaned through your lifetime.

Your Money Story is a piece of each chapter of your life. It is uniquely yours, as there are no two stories that are identical. Although writing your story may feel as daunting as an autobiography, it can be broken down into specific chapters, that when pieced together, can impart some important clues around how your beliefs are driving your emotions around money. Even more interesting, how these are affecting your behavior with money.

Having written my own Money Story, I can attest to many “aha moments” that have given me insight into “why I do what I do” with money. As I have been working on my story for several years, I have learned that by documenting each chapter I have been peeling back layers of messages and emotions that hadn’t been leading to the behavior I knew I wanted to embrace.

We’ve all been given sage advice as to the best ways to manage our money, such as “spend less than you make,” or “pay off your credit card every month.” But turning this guidance into action steps is a struggle for many of us. In my past, I would beat myself up for the decisions I made, because I knew better…

I knew that spending more than I was making wouldn’t turn out well. I knew that my increasing credit card debt was going to lead to more worry, stress, and guilt. I kept asking myself, “what’s wrong with you?”

As it turns out, nothing was wrong with me! The unhealthy money habits were a result of a disconnect I had with my money story: mixed messaging, misguided perceptions, anger, and fear around money made for a perfect blend of a looming disaster. I hit rock bottom twenty- five years ago. I was broke and broken-not able to muster up the energy to tackle the enormity of my situation.  The isolation was the frosting on the cake of my situation and carried my mindset to an all-time low.

It wasn’t until I started digging deep into my story that I could start my own journey to financial confidence. By unraveling my perceptions, and getting curious about my emotions I began to understand my behavior with money. Little by little I began making different types of decisions that were based on the emotional outcome I so desired, using that emotion as a guidepost in my everyday spending decisions. I was in the early stages of changing my goal from paying off a HUGE amount of debt to making decisions that would result in building my confidence.

I have written my Money Story! Each time I reflect on it I have new insights to incorporate into the story, leveraging my awareness of some behavioral blind spots, or messaging that can linger for decades.  The transformation that I have experienced is a big part of why I founded my financial coaching business. I believe that everyone deserves clarity around their money behavior that can lead to a life of stress- free money management. Using our money story as a tool to build awareness, along with a plan to leverage the numbers we are working with can lead to a truly holistic approach to money management.

Brad Klontz, author of “Mind Over Money,” and founder of Yourmentalwealth.com, states, “Recognizing that our financial habits make sense given our history and the beliefs we internalized about money allows us to reflect on our financial mistakes with compassion and grace.”

By authoring your money story, you will triumph over the habits that are holding you back from reaching your financial goals, and give yourself the compassion and grace that will allow you to get un-stuck. Get ready for the next chapter of your Money Story to finally be told from the perspective of confidence!



What does financial independence mean to you?

Maybe you think being independent financially doesn’t pertain to you because you are in a marriage or committed relationship.


Perhaps you think that if you are independent, you are excluding your family and loved ones from your financial decisions.


If you’re single, it may be that you take your financial autonomy for granted. Financial independence is your way of life.

As a Financial Coach, my perspective regarding financial independence has changed drastically over the years. I used to think in traditional ways about money and independence. Through working with female clients, I have learned the importance for women to have their own sense of independence in managing their money. Statistically, we are more likely to be in situations that require us to be autonomous with money. Women live longer than men. We earn less than our male counterparts, and as a whole, we are more likely to live alone either by choice or circumstance.

While I was single, I was the only one who I needed to consider when making financial decisions. After getting married, I made the transition to sharing my finances with my husband.  These were easy tasks: creating a joint checking account, adding each other as beneficiaries on our retirement accounts, making sure that both of our names were listed on our assets, all of which felt like a rite of passage. In addition to our marriage vows, I felt these steps were a part of “sealing the deal.” It wasn’t difficult, but I now know we missed a few crucial steps in the process. Steps that would have saved us from financially stumbling and ultimately falling through the first decade of married life.

The first (and most important) step we missed was not talking about money. We were in love, and talking about it didn’t seem necessary. We were optimistic about everything! Our love buoyed us above the mundane topics, floating on the optimistic notion that this love would see us through, no matter what the future had in store for us. We had no idea of the dangerous waters churning below the surface that would pull us down to despair, almost drowning both of us.

Early in our marriage neither of us had an independent voice in making money decisions. We found ourselves making these decisions on the fly, not wanting to rock the boat. We didn’t discuss how the decisions we were making early on may have long term consequences. The tsunami of financial fallout wouldn’t overcome us for a few years, but the emotional queasiness was already taking hold. My inner voice was sending me warnings, but was drowned out by my outer voice-the one who wanted to pretend that we were navigating our finances with ease.

The next misstep was not understanding what each of us valued. I valued being perceived as being successful. I wanted the beautiful, shiny things that I thought made us look well-off. The cars, the clothes, and the perfectly decorated house, all to show the world that we were prospering. Little did I know that my husband valued doing whatever made me happy–not rocking the boat that was already being thrashed about by the huge wave of consequences that would almost sink us in the not too distant future.

Our vision for our future was wrought with unspoken truths, and navigating the unruly waters of denial would prove to drown us in overwhelming debt. There would be no future without finally speaking our truth and committing to a future by starting over. In order to save ourselves, we took the step of talking about our individual visions for the future and worked toward a common vision for us as a couple.

Sometimes, in order to move forward, we need to step back. The choppy waters of finance can be navigated by finding your voice and understanding your values and vision with money. By using these as your inner compass, you will bring true authenticity to your relationship with others, and more importantly, your relationship with money. Financial independence is the lighthouse that will keep you (and anyone you may share your money with) on the right course!

To learn more about Jane’s approach to financial independence, attend her evening retreat, Be Independent on May 30th from 5:30-7:30 pm. 

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at [email protected]


What are you afraid of? I have several “top of the list” fears: heights, bees, and certain types of reptiles! These fears are easy to manage. I don’t step too close to the edge of anything that is way up in the sky, I don’t wear perfume in the summer, and I hardly ever have to deal with reptiles. These sources of fright can be managed by lifestyle choices.

There is another type of fear that is more challenging to navigate. It can keep us from everyday activities, or trying something new. It holds us back even when we know it may be in our best interest to meet new people, try something new, speak up, shut up, or show up. Doubt plays a big role in this insidious version of fear. Doubt is the voice of the naysayer, the one who attempts to shout over our inner cheerleader. Both voices compete in our minds when we are trying to be fearless.

The naysayer lurks in a self-induced shadow of doubt and hides behind our feelings of inadequacy. It reminds us of our previous failures, the times when things didn’t work out. It’s comfort zone is a deep cavern of uncertainty.  It can smother our hopes and dreams like a security blanket that is woven with the yarn of perfectionism, comparison, and scarcity. We can find ourselves sleepily going along in life, listening to the lullaby in this safety zone.

cheerleader; fearlessness; coaching; take risks; take chancesI have learned that when I listen to the cheerleader, I become more confident. The voice that is telling me to “go for it” has rarely been wrong. She encourages me and reminds me that anything is possible. Sure, I’ve been premature with some of my fearlessness, but I know that the more I trust her, the quieter her competition becomes. The shadows of doubt dwindle in the light of her spirit.

Fearlessness takes practice. I have found that taking some small, courageous steps creates the building blocks I’ve needed on my journey to finding my bravest self. Like a toddler learning to walk, I’ve steadied myself with each step. Sometimes, I’ve fallen anyway.  When I do, the cheerleader reminds me to get back up, face the fear again, and step towards the courage I am seeking. These steps have ultimately led to leaps of faith, the ones that feel scary, but also exhilarating!

Listen to your cheerleader…you know who she is. She is the one saying, “You got this!”

And you do!

If you would like to learn more about being fearless…especially with your finances, I invite you to join me for the next Wholistic Woman Evening Retreat: Be Financially Fearless on September 27th from 5:30-7:30 pm in Frederick, MD. 

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at [email protected]



Confidence is a work in practice—after all, practice makes perfect, right? As a new entrepreneur I am working on my confidence every day. Having taken the leap into a world of self-reliance and exercising my new muscles of courage, I find myself building confidence in the same way I have done during earlier challenges I have faced.

One pivotal lesson I learned in building confidence was when I started taking ballet. By all standards, I had started late in life. I was twelve. Most of the girls in my class had started much younger, some at three years old. I had taken modern dance, where dancers are allowed to not have their shoulders pushed down, and toes didn’t have to be perfectly pointed. Where I could lift my leg as high as I wanted AND lift my hip too! I found myself in a world where total body control was expected, and realized quickly that this expectation of precision and conformity would be a daunting undertaking. In the mirrors, I watched my peers move with their bodies in perfect alignment, with their hands shaped identically in a dainty half-grasp. They held their heads high (and lifted their legs without any hip movement at all!). Those mirrors. I was always looking in those mirrors! Observing others and myself—would I ever measure up? I was amazed and intimidated. The peer pressure in ballet is fierce and when combined with a stern Czech teacher, counting out each step, pointing out every mistake, I was overwhelmed. I wondered if the reflection in the mirror would ever ever provide a glimpse of hope. Would I ever be able to let go of the barre that was steadying me? There were so many times I considered quitting. But I didn’t. I kept practicing and practicing.

Repetition was the teacher. Every class was the same routine—plies, releves, and adages over and over and over. For a long while, I was mediocre, easily identified by my trembling muscles, by the wobbly pirouette and the leaps that made audible sounds upon landing. The practice, practice, practice was the key to learning the skill. Did I mention practice? All the while, through every practice and rehearsal I was learning the intricacies of each move. Holding my head up high as my feet and confidence hesitated.

ballet; confidenceAfter years, I was finally chosen for toe shoe class—a goal in dance for sure! I couldn’t wait to put on the light pink shoes with the satin ribbon and be in the group that was elevated to this status—the “badge of confidence” had been bestowed on me!

If you’ve never worn a pair of toe shoes, here is a peek at the experience: THEY HURT!!! These shoes are fitted to your foot without a centimeter to spare. Rising up on the toes created a shockingly stinging, burning pain that sometimes went straight through my spine. Again, I was looking in the mirror. None of my classmates showed any sign of pain as they stoically held their heads up with assurance and grace. I came to realize that all of us had bleeding toes that ached and throbbed. Regardless, we would all rise again on top of the toes that already had oozed with agony, over and over and over again. Practice. Practice. Practice. Push through the pain. Do it again.

Today I feel that same kind of pain—sometimes that sharp, burning pain—and learning to navigate my new business has me looking in the mirror again. Am I measuring up? I’m new in this class of entrepreneurship. I got a late start (again). The muscle that trembles is all mental, and I have wobbled through navigating the dizzying pirouettes in all of the roles I have taken on in the classroom of business, while steadying myself on the barre that I cling to: the calling to share my passion for empowering others and bring hope to the financially challenged universe. To let me be the example in the mirror. To let me count out the steps. To help my clients practice the practice of practicing.  To remind them to hold their heads up high, no matter the pain.

Step by step, we build our confidence.  I am raising the barre for myself, looking in the mirror, knowing that these early days of entrepreneurship are the dress rehearsal for the years to come. My confidence is on the move, growing with each step I take.

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is an Affiliate Coach with the Wholistic Woman Retreat group and co-founded the Bring Your Own Business Success networking group. Jane can be reached via email at [email protected]

Goals vs. Intentions

I had always believed that setting goals was instrumental in staying on track and getting things done. Goals are always related to a future result. They helped in advancing my career, improving my relationships and especially in creating a life of financial well -being. To achieve a goal, we know we need to make specific, measurable steps towards a desired outcome.

Goals can be tricky, though. They are easily sidelined by everyday life. Goals, while moving us toward what we say we want, can take us out of the moment and create a feeling that what we have isn’t enough. A background feeling of unease can come over us if our goal-oriented life discounts our present moment. In short, while goals can move us forward, we can also feel victimized when we aren’t moving towards achieving the goal as expected.

I once set a lofty financial goal of having a certain amount of money in my savings account. I strategized, re-worked my budget and was determined to save as much money as I could. My focus was completely centered on a number. Over the next several months I experienced a few setbacks including an unexpected vehicle repair, and unforeseen medical expenses. Within a short amount of time I felt discouraged and demoralized. In this case, the future result that was opposite of my goal–I was exasperated. I almost decided that it would be easier to give up on the possibility that my future would include any version of financial security than to focus on such a goal.

Living your intentions, on the other hand, is much different than having a goal-oriented focus. Being intentional allows you to focus on how you want to be in the moment, independent of whether you are winning or losing. Allowing intentions to guide your moment to moment focus, means you are living your values and what matters most to you.

Focusing on our intentions does not mean we give up our goals or desire for achievement. By partnering goals with intentions we enjoy the journey as much as the destination! Here are three differences between goal setting and intentions:

  • Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
  • Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  • Goals are external achievements. Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

Instead of setting a specific goal, had I set my intention regarding my savings account, I could have focused on feeling financially aware and empowered rather than frustrated and defeated. Even though several emergencies had taken actual dollars away from my goal, I could have focused on my intention of being empowered–I was able to pay those bills!

When our intentions are aligned with our goals we can experience a life of authenticity. What better gift than to spend our lives in being true to our core values and beliefs!

I am excited to share the power of intention at the “Be Intentional” Evening Retreat and hope you will join me there.

This will be an opportunity to shift your focus to what is possible when we connect with our inner values, allowing our intentions to be the guiding light to living in the moment.

Click here for details and registration information.


Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is an Affiliate Coach with the Wholistic Woman Retreat group and co-founded the Bring Your Own Business Success networking group. Jane can be reached via email at [email protected]