Thursday, April 14, 2011

From practice to principle

“I feel so connected when I spend money in someone’s store. I really feel how money I spend supports people that I care about, how interconnected we are. From the newspaper to Toby’s to Shorty’s, we are all connected. If feels really good to have the flow of money circulate within the community.
By Shari Faye Dell

A practicing psychotherapist for 30 years, recently published author Kate Levinson says, “I realized after I wrote a dissertation on women with inherited wealth that I hadn’t ever looked at my own psychological relationship to money–not in my own therapies or while I was doing research for the dissertation.”

A licensed marriage and family therapist since 1981, Levinson runs a private practice in Oakland. “For individuals and couples, problems with money are reflective of other issues in our lives. Individual conflicts and confusion manifest in difficulties that arise around money. Understanding what underlies those difficulties, allows us to find better solutions.”
Thirteen years ago, Levinson began teaching workshops designed to lead women through the process of examining their own relationship to money. “The workshops inspired the idea of a book,” she explains. “The workshop participants’ stories were so moving. I realized we were denied hearing these stories because of taboo–talking about money. We didn’t share these stories with others, let alone ourselves.”
“While numerous financial management books have been published, there is an increasing number of books written directly for women. However, there are no books for a general audience dealing with our psychological relationship to money, not in depth. Amazingly, very few professional psychology titles deal with money.” Levinson noticed, “Additionally, it is clear that we are in the midst of a radical change in demographics. Women earn more and have control over more money than ever before.”
Levinson shelved several book-writing proposals before committing her work to print.

New project: a blessing in disguise
A little over nine years ago, Levinson explains, “Steve woke up one morning and said he wanted to buy the bookstore. I said fine. We never would have bought the bookstore if I had not already worked through some of my money issues.”
In her book, Levinson describes a thrifty course of spending that ruled her decision-making skills with an iron fist. Operating from fear of not having money, conservative spending placed a heavy thumb on her habits.
Fortunately for many whose lives are impacted by the numerous projects Levinson and her husband, Steve Costa, as Point Reyes Books, have set in motion, “I was no longer in that place of fear.” Levinson recalls, “I had always put the brakes on–can’t do it, can’t afford it–I always felt there was not enough. A year or two before, I might have said no, I would have been terrified of going into that kind of debt. In this case, it turned out to be this wonderful thing, an incredibly enrichening experience to have the bookstore.”
Levinson describes one on many benefits in leaving the fear behind, “Operating the bookstore has increased my love for books and introduced me to many others in the book publishing and selling world. At times, I saw the bookstore as a distraction but ultimately, it supported me in being able to write the book.”
Owning a small business changed many of Levinson’s perceptions. “It opened my eyes in all sorts of ways,” she says.
Bound to write
During the first Geography of Hope conference, produced in 2009 by Point Reyes Books, Levinson came into contact with an agent that took an interest in her book proposal. He gave her some contacts. From signing to submitting the final manuscript, six short months–the publisher, Ten Speed, wanted to fast track the book due to the timely economic down-turn.

Emotional Currency workshops and book are all in the service of women getting in touch with their own relationship and emotional responses to money. “If we get curious about how we relate to money,” says Levinson, “rather than judging ourselves harshly or pushing reactions away because they are messy, we can explore this vein. It has everything to do with our psychological life. Then it becomes clear to us, what we need to understand or do differently.”

Levinson took time off from teaching the one-day workshop to complete the book. New workshop schedules and information are available on her website at
Join Kate Levinson Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. for a publication party celebrating the release of Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money at Toby's Feed Barn.

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