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Produce way up where I live is expensive enough without the extra premium of organic. That’s not to say I won’t pay it; I do. But if I can get reasonably clean produce without paying that premium, I’d prefer to use my money other ways.

According to the Environmental Working Group in the States (a great resource for folks interested in the environment and everyday lifestyle choices), the following items are pretty clean of pesticides:

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado (I’ve blown a month’s salary on this over the years!)
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Canteloupe
  12. Sweet potatoes (presumably as distinct from yams)
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

On the other hand, Kale and Green Beans are of special concern, so spend your money there.

It almost has a cult-like feel to it, but I don’t think it is one.

Maybe the fact that it feels a bit like one reflects how off-course our collective thinking has become. Sometimes we need to, nearly literally, re-wire our neural pathways. This is what Byron Katie helps folks do.

The rewiring ought to result in greater peace, energy and mental clarity – surely something we’d all do benefit from regarding our approach to our money!
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So here’s the pitch.

We can and should challenge each of our distressing thoughts about money (or anything else, for that matter) by asking the following 4 Questions:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

and the last challenge is to invert that thought and corroborate that inverted thought with examples.
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For example:

Thought: I might die a bag lady.

1. Is it true?
Well, of course, it might not happen. But it could. And that scares the hell out of me.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Uhhh… no.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I panic inside. I feel discouraged, hopeless and don’t even want to think about money

4. Who would you be without that thought?
Hmmm. I would feel a lot more serene. I would be more confident and optimistic about my finances, and feel better about paying attention to them. I would no longer engage in self-destructive financial habits. I might even learn to invest and start to build myself a nice little nest egg!

And the turnaround inverts and corroborates the thought:

I am not going to die a bag lady.
Corroboration: I have a job and I actually could live a bit more simply and start building a nest egg. | I have relatives who will leave me an inheritance. It isn’t much, but that will supplement my Old Age Security, and it could supplement my own savings quite nicely. | I am addiction-free and mental-illness free and generally healthy. That does not fit the profile of bag ladies!

The last bit, the turnaround, is designed to open our mind to new ways of thinking which align just as fully as our original thought. It may feel unreal, or unlikely, because we are so accustomed to one way of thinking that these new ones are hard to believe. But over time, our neural pathways should rewire and open up in ways that reduce our anxiety and enable us to relax more about money.

Katie’s site gives tons of free resources. Go play with your brain for a while!

Well this is a little odd.

In Chicago, nearly every single tree on the street downtown has a price attached to it: The value it will return to the environment over the coming year.

Apparently for every $1.00 the City spends on tending the tree, it will return $2.70 in cleaner air, reduced need for air condition due to shade provided, and helping filter polluted water before it goes back into the City sewer system.

Makes you think! Should we be billing the equivalent for every tree that gets cut down?

Some things you can’t undo.

Here’s such a story. Judas was one of Jesus’ innermost circle. The gentle teachings of Jesus blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, let the little children come to me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven; the healing of paralytics, women with severe menstrual problems, lepers; the miraculous feeding of thousands with loaves and fishes; and oh yes, the gutsy confrontations, calling out the BS of kings and priests alike — all these, all these and more, Judas had heard, seen, tasted. And presumably he believed.

What inner demons drove Judas to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (about a quarter $Million in today’s terms) remains a mystery. But betray he did and both he and Jesus ended up dead; Jesus by the hands of the authorities, Judas by hanging himself, overcome by remorse. Some things you can’t undo.

Who do we betray for money?

Are we betraying our employer’s bottom line every time we advance our own interests on the workplace at the expense of a coworker?

Are we betraying animals every time we purchase the less expensive non free-range, non organic meat?

Are we betraying ourselves every time we gamble (play with) our money?

Are we betraying our partner when we browbeat him or her into a particular course of financial action?

Are we betraying Jesus all over again (for those to whom that matters) by acquiescing to Mammon (monetary systems that are unjust, that perpetuate economic power imbalances, or that hurt Creation) instead of overthrowing it?

Photo Credit: Muffet

Are you a go-getter, someone who sets goals and works passionately, or doggedly, or step-after-step towards them?
Or are you a go-with-the-flow, “what’s meant to be, will be” person?

This 2012, in my middle-age, I’m attempting to shift from the former to the latter. And I invite you to consider if you perhaps should, too.

It ain’t easy.

Not at all.

If done deeply and well, the latter isn’t simply about being easy-going. It’s certainly not about being blase. Rather, it requires an inner restraint and a holding back from engineering circumstances, or attempting to, frankly put, impose our ideas and desires on life…or people… or our finances. It requires a capacity to carry tension over an extended period.

It ain’t easy.

Not at all.

But I am certain that I need to adopt this stance, and root myself deeply in this stance, and I’m also certain we’d be better off as a culture if more of us did the same. The pay-off? We situate ourselves more appropriately in the bigger scheme of things. We are more aligned with reality. And while that may contain no greater guarantees of obtaining the life we want, surely it is a step away from delusion, and distracting ourselves from reality, and a step towards truly engaging with the circumstances, or people, or financial situations in which we find ourselves.

But we have our hopes and our desires don’t we?

So what to do, what to do, when there’s a gap between reality squarely faced, and our tender heart’s longings?

Downton Abbey (the smash hit series by BBC) demonstrates how to handle this gap, this tension, very well.

There are two particular story arcs, that of Mary and Matthew and another of Mr. Bates, which require a great tension to be carried for well beyond what we think can be borne. All of the characters have a deep need for something, or someone … but they have a clear understanding of their very real environments and circumstances, and what is possible and what is not possible to grasp for themselves without doing harm to other parties or simply the greater good. So they courageously and calmly and resolutely hold themselves to account to a bigger vision, one which respects and acknowledges the bigger picture and they restrain themselves from grasping.

We do not know how those story arcs will end, but we do know that the characters, by their restraint, are likely avoiding disaster for themselves and people they care about even as they hold out hope. And hold out hope.

It ain’t easy.

So. You and me and our money – the topic of my blog, after all. Here’s what I’m pondering. So often, our money goes towards that which will give immediate release or relief to us (sometimes even under the guise of responsible behaviour, like un-sustainable approaches to debt reduction). What might happen if all of us instead learned to hold out hope for our financial desires, but only within a context of clearly understanding and accounting for the circumstances in which we, or our neighbours, or women in Africa, find ourselves? What if we developed capacity to carry the tension, the gap between what we need and what reality can offer, for extended periods of time? How would that affect our wallets? How would that affect our inner sense of well-being? How would that affect the world around us?

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