A Money Coach in Canada

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Our first Sunny Saturday in forever is coming up, and naturally that’s the day I’d set aside to do my taxes (except for an hour out when I’m going to STAND for housing.) Thankfully, Isabella the blogging therapist, gave me this amazing visualization exercise to help. It may help you too, if you’re in the same situation as me! (if you are, leave a comment, and maybe we can cheer each other on, Saturday)

__________________________________________________________________happy gardener

Can you take 45 minutes to do something worthwhile?

You won’t regret it.

Make sure you are in a comfortable surrounding. Loosen the belt, take off those shoes that have been stuck to your feet for the last 10 hours. Shake yourself a bit, like a poodle coming out of the water. Put on some quiet music if you like that.

Sit comfortably. If you can hold your spine erect, all the better. Let your hands rest loosely in your lap. Close your eyes.

Aaaah. Breathe. Watch your breath. In and out, in and out. Pay attention to the outbreath and make it longer than the inbreath. Observe your shoulders relaxing as you breathe out. Make a noise on your outbreath. Aaaaaaaaaah.

Count down from 10 to 0.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 3, 2, 1, 0.

Imagine the zero, a big fat zero, big, big, big like an archway.

Step through it.

On the other side, you see a wide expanse. First it is foggy but as you walk further into it, you notice it is the surrounding of one of your favourite activities. Maybe a golf course. Or your garden. Or your family living room.

Take it all in.

What does it look like?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
Touch something and walk around. What do you feel under your feet and with your hands?

If there is anything in this surrounding that does not feel good, let it evaporate. If it won’t evaporate, just don’t pay any attention to it and focus on the parts that are pleasant.

Now imagine yourself taking up your activity. Notice how easy it is. Notice how willingly your body and mind move. Notice a little smile on your face and how good your body feels. You are flowing your activity with ease, joy, grace and efficiency. It’s all good. It all feels good.

Stay there for a while. Stay in the play and flow of your activity.

Mmmmmmhhhh.
Feel how energized and grounded you are by the activity and the wonderful surroundings.

After a while, when the time seems ripe, notice someone walking up to you. This person, or entity (maybe it’s an animal or a fairy? who knows), comes close, maybe shakes your hand, and thanks you. The entity thanks you for what you’re doing and tells you how your activity is benefiting all around you. Maybe it makes the flowers grow more vigorously. Maybe it helps people you’ve never heard of, in ways you had never imagined.

You take in this gratitude, drink it in, and feel it fill you with even more energy.

Then you slowly walk back to the archway. As you come close to it, you notice something lying on the ground. You pick it up and investigate it. It is your memento. Hold it close to you.

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*****
*******
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******
*****
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Before you walk back through the big zero archway, you look back on the place of your activity. Drink in the image. It is a place you can always come back to. It’s yours alone.

Walk back through the zero archway.

Slowly count to 10.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

When you’re ready, open your eyes.

Look at your hands. Imagine you hold the memento.

Look around the room to see if there is something tangible that can represent the memento. If it’s small, something you can hold in your hands, all the better – but it’s not necessary, it can be anything.

Now, for the rest of the 45 minutes, go and do your taxes, or some other paper work you haven’t been enthusiastic about.

Let the play and flow of your visualized activity carry all that you do and think. When you feel stuck, look at, remember or touch your memento. Remember all the people who benefit when you prepare your taxes.

Thank you.

According to a whole lotta people, and Gary in particular, today is “Good People Day”. I’m a suck for spotlighting businesses and people and activities that are doing something right in this ol’ world of ours, so I’d buy into the day even if … I hadn’t already lined up a guest post from Jennifer Sweeney, running for the VanCity Board of Directors. (*ahem* sotto voce VanCity members: have you voted yet?)
We had coffee last week, and I asked her to give me some thoughts about money (useful to know, if she wins a seat, yes?)

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photo credit: Esdras

Thanks so much for asking me to write for your guest blog. When we
met we talked about the book “The Soul of Money” and how it helped
both of us become more comfortable in resolving our own relationship
with money and recognizing that money is simply a tool, neither good
nor bad.

Like many people, I grew up with confusing messages about money. It
was good when you needed something, like food for the family. Money
was good to work for and it was a good thing to save. At the same
time it seemed to be wrong if you had too much, or if you spent it on
the “wrong” things.

Eight years ago I began a journey trying to figure out a model that
would satisfy my entrepreneurial spirit with my profession. I founded
a non-profit charity, naively thinking that other people would
understand what I was trying to accomplish.

I had dreams of developing a social enterprise where we could create
programs that would generate money in order to fund more charitable
aspects of our mission. I was so inspired by work being done around
the world and by a few organizations locally. I went to every event
that Vancity sponsored, including the book launch for “The Soul of
Money.”

I still get surprised when people react to the word “business” in a
negative way, especially since I’ve seen so many people thrive and
create employment and places of meaning and belonging for lots of
people. Recently, I have come to the conclusion that nothing is
inherently good or bad — not money, or business . . . not even
government.

So, what do I think of money now? It is a powerful tool that, used
well, can provide all of us with the freedom to create and care for
each other. When we all understand that money is best when circulated with clear intent, we will create a better world . .

I’m convinced of that. That’s why I want to be part of the Vancity board.

Water and money… some questions, some answers! From Raul, Vancouver’s academic-environmentalist-blogger. (thanks, Raul! you got me thinking, that’s for sure)

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First of all, thanks to Nancy for inviting me to guest-blog on issues of money and sustainability. You’d be surprised to find that there are many more linkages than people think about. For this first post, and given that we recently celebrated World Water Day 2008 (some countries celebrate on March 20th, some on March 22nd and others on March 23rd), I wanted to highlight the linkages between money and water, given that water is one of the world’s most scarce resources (and at risk of becoming a commodity). As the Dublin Principle 4 indicates, water has an economic value:

Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development (1992):
‘Principle No. 4: Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good. Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.’ [United Nations’ World Water Development Report]

Water pricing in Canada is amongst the lowest amongst the developed world (at $ 0.40 per cubic metre, compared to $ 1.91 in Germany). While people often tend to believe that Canada doesn’t have problems with water scarcity (some statistics indicate that Canada has about 7% of the world’s supply of freshwater, you would be surprised at how much of a fallacy this statement is. Furthermore, this widespread belief (combined with the fact that much of Canada’s municipal water supply is not metered and thus consumption is not deterred by way of price differentials) has led some people to be wasteful with the precious liquid.

However, the pricing schemes looming in the future of Canadian residents will include both metering (and paying per cubic metre) and the concept of full cost recovery, which implies that you’ll be paying more if you consume more (also, the more you pollute water, the more you pay). So, the next time you want to find ways in which to reduce your spending, you may want to start thinking about ways to reduce water consumption. Your ecosystems will thank you, and so will your wallet.

Readers – I don’t know about you, but when I see the image below, I get pretty complacent about how much water I use. Do you make an effort to conserve water or like me ( busted!) do you not really even think twice about it?

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I did my history degree with a group of 13 crazy-bright fellow students. Alas, I was bright, but not crazy-bright so I watch their brilliant careers from afar. One of them, David Fraser, is one of Canada’s top privacy lawyers. He’s a really good guy to boot – I feel better for Canada knowing he’s part of the mix. He recently posted on a topic I know something about: canadian law as it relates to us bankers reporting suspicious activity. He points out that Canada declined to be as intrusive as US. law. Spitzer would not have been caught here. And that’s a good thing, he argues (and I agree). Here’s his guest post:

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The downfall of Eliot Spitzer, former governor of New York, was precipitated by a financial information system that has been seen by Canadians as too intrusive to implement in Canada. The system requires financial services companies to report suspicious looking transactions. High profile politicos are tagged for closer scrutiny in an effort to detect blackmail and corruption. (See: How an information system helped nail Eliot Spitzer and a prostitution ring Between the Lines ZDNet.com.)

To me, this is an example of how intrusive legislation designed to go after big crimes (terrorism financing, money laundering, corruption) often will be used to prosecute much more minor ones. In the case of Spitzer, it’s a “minor misdemeanor“.

While Canada has money laundering laws and requirements to report suspicious transactions, the Canadian government has declined to put additional scrutiny on “politically exposed persons”:

globeandmail.com: Ottawa dropped plan for more scrutiny

PAUL WALDIE

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

March 12, 2008 at 10:25 PM EDT

Canada quietly dropped an anti-money-laundering proposal for politicians that would have automatically scrutinized the type of financial transaction New York Governor Eliot Spitzer used to hire prostitutes.

In 2005, the Department of Finance recommended including so called “politically exposed persons,” or PEPs, on the list of people whose financial dealings would receive more scrutiny under the anti-money-laundering legislation. That legislation requires banks, casinos, real-estate agents and others to report suspicious financial transactions as well as all transactions of more than $10,000.

At the time, the department defined PEPs as politicians, judges, military leaders, senior bureaucrats or senior executives of Crown corporations. The proposal would have required banks to review large transactions by these people and “conduct enhanced ongoing monitoring of the business relationship” that led to the transaction.

Finance officials said PEPs had become higher-risk customers for financial institutions “as they have potentially greater opportunities to engage in corrupt activities.” They promised that the measure would show that “Canada will do its part in the global fight against corruption.”

However, the proposal was dropped last year after many groups, including the federal Privacy Commissioner, complained that the definition of PEP was too broad and could have included thousands of Canadians. Instead, the government opted to include only foreign PEPs, defined generally as foreign political, military or business figures who hold accounts in Canadian institutions. That change takes effect in June.

The United States has generally stricter reporting rules and it has included foreign PEPs for years. Since the September, 2001, terrorist attacks, federal officials have also pushed U.S. banks to track accounts held by high-profile domestic politicians as well, in order to guard against bribery.

That extra scrutiny appears to have tripped up Mr. Spitzer. According to various news reports, two banks became suspicious last summer about money transfers Mr. Spitzer made from his accounts. Even though the amounts were each less than $10,000, the banks filed Suspicious Activity Reports with the U.S. Treasury Department. Those officials passed on the information to investigators at the Internal Revenue Service who were looking into the prostitution ring.

Canadian officials said yesterday that there are no plans to change our reporting system to specifically include more scrutiny of politicians. They added that our system is in line with many other countries and requires reporting of all suspicious transactions.

“If the financial institution or the casino or the real-estate agent feels there’s a potential here that it might be linked to money laundering or criminal activity, there’s a legal requirement on them to report it,” said Peter Lamey, a spokesman for the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, the federal agency that collects and analyzes Canadian reports.

“We provide guidelines around what might be determined suspicious and how you might come to that determination.”

Readers: do you agree with me, that the less intrusive requirements are a good thing? Or do you wish us bankers would specifically monitor political figures more closely to detect corruption?

click the image for the movie. (and if you didn’t see the Matrix, is still a great watch).

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