Making sense of the senseless
Anyone who has ever sat facing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with a grimness better suited to a chess match with Death himself knows Geneen Roth’s work. Roth has made a career teaching people to look within and question the motivations underlying their behavior around food, balancing ruthless self-inquiry with a gentle assessment of the facts uncovered. She’s logged couch time with Oprah, so it’s not surprising that many of her books, like Women Food and God, have been bestsellers.
The surprise she encounters in Lost and Found is that her meticulous focus on food and eating contrasted with a gaping blind spot about money, “as if money were as deadly as the plague and even thinking about it would lead me to being one of the bad guys.”
The catalyst for this realization was catastrophic: Roth and her husband lost their life savings in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. After a period of mourning, she noticed that the cycle of binge-eating and starvation she had previously worked through had now been replaced by similar patterns of shopping and hoarding. Yet if anyone could make lemonade out of such difficult circumstances, it’s Roth, whose persistence and curiosity can help make sense of any addictive behavior. She opens up a conversation about money with exercises that she has used with retreat participants, along with some of their responses, and adds plenty of insight from her own soul-searching. She writes, “If I could believe that we didn’t have enough when we did and then lose it and believe that we did have enough—what or where is enough?”
Roth and her husband are now on the path back to fiscal solvency. With Lost and Found, she has made a gift of wisdom to readers that may help them make the same journey.