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Truth with Prosperity:  Seven Steps to a Simple & Elegant Life

Author's Note

This is a book about retaining and cultivating your innate spiritual power.  Your power to determine what is true for you.  Your power to determine what success means for you.  

I studied truth all my life but for nearly 40 years, I gave my power to others to determine what was true for me.   This book is about my journey of discovery back to the source of my own truth.  From that place, I now live in a state of success and prosperity, as I define them. 

If some of the things I learned along the way can be helpful to others, I’m grateful for that.  I invite you to take what works for you and leave the rest.    Jen

Foreword

As with many people, my spiritual life only quickened in the footsteps of an unseen  crisis. In my case it was a crash that took about three seconds, and gradually, in slow motion over a year or so, completely transformed me. And my life. It turned my life inside to out. Not inside out, but inside myself to the outer environment we all so busily occupy. I was the quintessential 24/7 business professional entrepreneur. I became a wounded soul. Eventually, I became a healed soul searching for and living a life of fulfillment, balanced simplicity and meaningful elegance. My embracing of a spiritual center for myself came several years ago. I discovered that living a life of deep truth gave me natural, joyous access to spiritual and body-sense depths, access to integrating spirit and matter. When I began living from a place of inner truth, I became much more balanced. What is this inner truth? (Jennifer, put in here your perception of inner truth) I can now support myself emotionally and financially and I have enough resources to give to others in an ongoing, natural way.  For the longest time I never thought I would find this place.    
 
When I began living from a place of truth, my life became easier. and It became much more creative and productive—very noticeably so.  It My life became balanced along in the full range of dimensions—financial, intellectual, emotional, physical, sensual, and spiritual. In my view, these are the dimensions that make up a human life.  I have learned that if any one of them is out of equilibrium, it will tend to throw the whole system out of balance. Imagine how a right front tire being out of balance on your car impacts the entire car’s mechanics and performance. It is the same with you.

I’m still learning deeper lessons about simple and elegant living but I feel I know nearly everything about how to live a complicated and inelegant life.  For many years, I lived what most people would describe as the life of a workaholic.  Out of that way of life came a crash, a death of sorts, and a rebirth into a new way of living. 

For many years, I was the person who liked to try to please others and give to others.  And I did gave give to others, but in a very unsustainable way.  I believe that many people live their lives, either consciously or unconsciously, wanting to give to others. That’s a wonderful intention.  But I learned that in order to sustain any kind of giving over the long run, one must become a balanced system  one must establish a means of balancing the elements of life, an internal gyroscope that is steady and constant.

In 1996 I started a business in the financial community.  Our clients were large non-profit investorslarge pension funds that serve firemen, policemen and teachers were our typical clients. We also served large sizable endowment funds and foundations.  I employed a staff of ten.  The name of the  firm was the eponymous Cooper Consultants and our primary office was in Berkeley, California. 

We consulted to large investors about transparency issues.  (Jennifer, need to quickly define transparency issues here) We Essentially, our firm advised them about potential conflicts of interest in their investment portfolios.  It was a niche business in a very niche area of a super very wealthy institutional marketplace. 
 
We were Cooper Consultants was a small firm and, in working with high-end successful, nonprofit funds, we were proportionately stretched very  (too many very’s) widely.  Our clients ranged in size from about 1 to 60 billion dollars in size. One client was had over $100 billion in their investment coffers.I was the primary person in charge of responsible for securing clients and making sure they got what they paid for.  We were selling business and delivering business to very sophisticated and very demanding investors, spread all over the United States.  As you one (consistent third person reference with rest of this foreword) can imagine, there aren’t too many billion-dollar investors in each state.  So, I was on a plane constantly. I had the fate of naming the firm after myself.  Naming the firm after me turned out to be a mixed fate or blessing. Our prestigious clients —which they all were—expected me to be at all the important meetings.   

The firm was quickly successful, by most outward measures of success.  I was called upon to do a lot of often invited as a public speaker and people sought out our the Cooper Consultants opinions.  I have to admit that I loved the attention my firm was getting.  People saw me as successful.  Increasingly, I saw that my company was doing a good thing.  We were educating non-profit investors about how investment consulting firms were not completely independent (which usually translated to revealing how firms were not completely ethical). We developed a rating system that people started calling the “Cooper Rating.”  The rating quickly because symbolic for how ethical a firm was.  Our clients and the people in the industry who sought greater transparency cheered us on.  Other people, who did not benefit from the greater transparency, worked diligently to snuff us out.  These polarizing energies directed our efforts even more.  Like the Blues Brothers (this may be an obscure cultural reference to your younger audience, and you may wish to use one that they would immediately know), we viewed ourselves on a mission. At least, that’s how I began to see our work.  In hindsight I can say now that I had a very inflated view of what I was doing.   

In college, I studied biology but then gave it up when I realized I liked the structure of science - rational thought - more than I liked the objects (awkward)  the actual forms science was studying.  I decided I’d had enough one day when I was dissecting a banana in a plant anatomy class.  I left in the middle of the class and changed my major to philosophy.  I got my degree in philosophy. My degree was eventually in philosophy, which I loved.  Soon after graduation, by a series of apparent coincidences, I was offered a job in with an large established sizable investor and. I took it. 

I achieved (and still hold) the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, which is awarded after passing a rigorous three-year examination program. This program is for finance professionals and it is highly regarded in the industry.  My hobby at the time was mountaineering, so attempting scaling the challenging cliffs of the CFA exams seemed natural to me.  To prepare for it the exams, I took accounting classes at night and structured my a daily self-study program.  It took a long time for me to complete the exams but eventually I did get my the designation was earned.   With the designation and some unique financial work experience, I felt I had a reasonable chance of success starting a business in the financial community.  Over time the Cooper Consultants client list grew and we were able to serve bigger and more prestigious clients.  By the time I was viewed as an expert in my field, it didn’t matter much that I didn’t have an advanced degree or even a business degree.  I had all the credentials, but deep down inside I still felt inadequate for the work I was doing.   

Somewhere along the way in my life I got on a treadmill of unconscious competition and unconscious striving.  I lived this out through my work and through my company. Everyone’s got their own story of what they’re doing that’s important, how others need them, and how they view themselves as inadequate.  For me, it was a deadly combination that got me off track from who I really was  my true self.   
  
All this striving came to a sudden stop for me.  At the height of my company’s success, in 2001, I slammed my car into a pole in an otherwise empty parking lot.  I just didn’t see it.  I didn’t really hurt myself, but it was symbolic for what was ahead in my life.  Soon after the accident, I began slowing down.  My whole body started to shut down.        
   
I realize now that my entire spiritual, emotional, and physical reserves had been long over-drawn.  I had hit the snooze alarm on a well-balanced life for many years and my life wasn’t going to allow anymore time for me to get a clue (awkward. Need something better here)   

 The first time I consciously remember feeling old and tired was when I was four years old.   I pretty much always viewed myself as an adult and I left home at a very early age.  My parents loved me very much and my mother, especially, always told me I could be anything I wanted to be.  I studied hard, making plans to go to medical school.  However, when it was time for me to register for college classes, I learned that financially, I was on my own.   
      
I left home and put myself through college as a cashier, waitress and then as a bartender.  I often pulled double-shifts on days when I didn’t have classes.  I capitalized on other people’s Christmas vacation and spring breaks by working their shifts.   Loneliness and anger propelled me through college and my 20’s.  I viewed my success in my 30’s as the beginning of the payoff for a lot of hard work.  I was ready to begin reaping the benefits of all the sacrifices I’d made over time in my late teens and 20’s.  I was not at all ready for everything I’d worked for to come to a crashing end.   

So it was very confusing to me what was happening to me What started happening to me in 2001 was very confusing and disconcerting.  My body started hurting.  My hands and my arms and my legs ached and eventually went numb.  A bone in my foot broke from the stress of me standing up for long periods and so. I started walking with a cane.  My energy was incredibly low.  I continued to get on airplanes and serve clients even while my body was deteriorating.  When I wasn’t in public situations, I had to lie down.  (could be more telling here, more anecdotal) 

To understand what was happing to me, I went to doctors to see what was happening to me.  I had some kind of circulatory and neurological problems that had no defied diagnosis. One doctor told me I was likely to have a stroke.  My bones were increasingly brittle and they ached.  On one level it really frightened me. but On another level, I was in denial,  working to cover up my numb limbs from my clients and employees. 

I began taking my personal power back from this situation when I made a key decision.  Rather than give out more blood to doctors who weren’t telling me anything new, I decided to throw myself completely into Jungian analysis. Jungian analysis is a kind of psychological work that focuses on dreams. (need a bit more here on Jungian)  I’d had nightmares all my life- of people chasing me in dark places and onto battlefields and so on.  At this point, I was frequently dreaming of my death.  In one of my dreams, I fell down a set of stairs and died.  Other times, someone would kill me—for example,  bludgeon me to death —and I would die.  Occasionally, the dream “me” would float out of my body and watch my death from above and then the dream would continue, with me laying dead in the dream.  To say the least, this really frightened me.   So, the dreams became my primary focus of understanding my deeper levels of self.  In a real way, it gave me something tangible to work with.    

Through Jungian analysis, I realized very quickly there is a connection between mind and body.  The scientist in me came alive and wanted to know how my dreams could so accurately predict what was happening in my life.   I started becoming very keenly interested in the depth psychological approach of Carl Jung. In my view, dreams are another data point of what’s going on in a person’s life.  So, you can look to your outer world as a measure of your level of success and you can also look to your inner world to see what a deeper part of you thinks about your life’s direction.  Two years after I beganbeginning, I finished my work working with my analyst.  and gained I now had the tools to do explore dream analysis on my own.  I believe that dreams are the truest navigational system we have as human beings.  In this book I talk more about dreams in this book on page XX.   I still pay very close attention to my dreams and use them as a the (if it is primary, has to be the, not a) primary guidance system for my health today. 

Through analysis, I saw that my dreams were communicating what was going on with inside me at a deeper level.  Although part of me my psyche had been in denial, I realized there was a profound realization that my entire life was changing.  I either needed to go with the change or it was going to get even harder on me.  This was coming from both my inner view and my outer view.  My business was starting to crash, because I was crashing.  Cooper Consultants was a representation of me.  My inner dream life was a representation of me.  Every single point in my life reflected that everything was about to crash and die.  It did.   

In 2002, I began dismantling my company.  I tried to sell Selling the company proved fruitless but as there was little value in the marketplace for an ethical watchdog—except for one firm who wanted wanting to buy the firm to dilute the meaning of the Cooper Rating.  My employees and I agreed that it was better to kill the company than to let the brand fall into the wrong hands.  It absolutely killed me emotionally and financially and in every other way to dismantle my the company that I had worked so hard to build.  I felt like all the sacrifices of my entire life – from my decision not to have children to every missed spring break and every lost weekend - were bound up in my company. I felt that I was cashing in all my investments at a complete and total loss. 

It was really hard for me.  It was really hard because I cared a lot about my employees.  I cared a lot about my clients, too.  I wanted them all to succeed.  Eating crow on all of those promises of success was extremely difficult for me.  I’d stumbled and fallen a lot over the years but I’d never really failed miserably at anything before in my life.  Having a public failure was even harder. I felt a lot of guilt and shame.    

So, to make a long story short, everything in my life crashed and burned.  Worse, I had no idea what I would be after all this was over.  If I wasn’t Jennifer Cooper of Cooper Consultants what who was I?   I had no husband, no kids, not many friends, no life outside of work.  I had no idea if I would even live through this.  I had no idea how I would support myself.  I had no idea what was happening to me.  I felt angry because I didn’t even have a name for what was happening to me and so I couldn’t really even even really describe to people what was happening to me. 

Now, I realize now that I was having a spiritual crisis, which is what happens when life wants you to demands self-change and when you haven’t been listening to your inner guidance system.  During this crisis, I relied on my dreams as a way to find truth.  I also fell back returned to the an identity of philosopher.  While I had been in college, I’d studied Western philosophy, but at this point I began reading Eastern philosophy.  I drank it in.   I read and studied the belief systems of every major world religion, one by one, attempting to find a truth- any truth - that underlie underlay it all. I followed Following the advice of a wise Indian sage I’d discovered and I kept asking myself, “What am I, really?”   (Is this Who am I? Or What am I?)

I’ve studied the subject of death a lot extensively since 2001 and I’ve learned that every death has within it the seeds of new beginnings. For me, these Seven Steps to a Simple & Elegant Life were the phoenix that came out of the ashes with alongside me.  What I’ve realized, more importantly, is that the Seven Steps are a roadmap for me to a fully balanced and prosperous life.    

I believe that I was destined my destiny was to have my included an entire life- crash-and-burn so that I could fall back to what I truly am and then allow a balanced life to emerge from ground zero.  These steps worked for me and continue to serve me well.  Perhaps they will be useful for you. 

If your life seems stressful and a bit out of balance, you might want to consider using these steps to make some fine-tuning and some minor adjustments.  If your life seems to be increasingly out of balance, you might want to look at these steps more deeply.   If you are just beginning your life as a young adult, perhaps you can use them to side-step the harder parts of life’s journey.   

So, that’s what brings me to today.  

I understand the pressures and constraints our society puts on people.  I understand how society moves and motivates men and women to behave in conditioned or expected ways.  I know firsthand how From firsthand experience I know we can appear to be successful and actually be something else underneath which, in my view, is no success at all.   I feel how difficult it can be to exercise one’s right to be a unique person in every moment of each day.        

I offer you these Seven Steps as an invitation to find your own place of truth.  I invite you to live a life that is prosperous, successful, and in alignment with who you are at the deepest levels of your being.  You deserve a unique, extraordinary, exciting, and fulfilling life.  I believe our world is a better place when we each live our life that way.      

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