Ask Jonathots … November 3rd, 2016

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Organic and natural foods are extremely expensive–out of reach for the average American, including me. But packaged foods are full of additives, starch or high fructose corn syrup. How do you find affordable healthy food in America?

In the realm of groceries or food products, there are only three ways to acquire nutritious portions and avoid the additives, salts and sugars.

1. You can grow your own food.

It may sound a little ridiculous, but lots of people have a small parcel of land where simple vegetables can be grown with some ease–especially things like tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and squash.

2. Look for mark-downs.

Some grocery stores are very willing to mark down produce and even meat when they are near expiration. Find those stores, learn their patterns and be there when these various products are discounted for a more reasonable price.

3. Adjust your menu for the week to what is on sale.

Sometimes produce and vitamin-rich products are set at a lower price in order to lure people into the store. They often keep those prices for ten or twelve days, hoping to “hook” people on the taste before they raise the cost.

Don’t lock into bananas when it turns out that strawberries are on sale. Don’t insist on grapefruit if they have a deal on tangerines.

And I guess I should add a fourth point:

If you’re going to get nutritious food at a reasonable price, you have to adjust to the fact that you probably will be traveling to more than one grocery store. Make shopping a joy by beating the system through finding the deals, taking advantage of the mark-downs, and then supplementing your choices with a few things grown from your own garden.

If you will do these things, you will find that your budget will permit much healthier choices.

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Ask Jonathots … April 28th, 2016

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I am a “young married,” age 25 and my husband is 26. We both work, have student loans and other debt we’re trying to pay off. We’re working really hard to become financially solvent. It seems like all my friends are in this same boat. So I found myself wondering–what is the connection between money and happiness?

Let me start off by saying that money is a commodity and happiness is a state of contentment.

So it is difficult for me to answer this question unless I know how the commodity of money affects your state of contentment.

For some people it does and for others it does not. So I will answer briefly for both arenas.

{By the way, there are many people who counsel on financial matters and do it much better than I can. Just punch up on the Internet “Balancing Budgets” or “Creating a Family Budget” and you’ll be inundated.}

My answer will be more general: how much is money involved in your state of contentment?

Give yourself a quick test. Two questions:

1. When I have enough money for my needs, do I feel more grown-up and delighted?

2. Do I have an occasion when I haven’t had money and still felt delighted?

And I should probably add a third question:

3. What do I find that delights me most of the time?

If money gives you an aura of well-being, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but you must create a budget that is always achievable, because this will determine your peace of mind.

If money is something you can handle in small or large quantities, with equal affect on your psyche, then you can vary your budget, allowing yourself a week to splurge and a week to go without.

Feeling dependent on money is not a bad thing. After all, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money itself is not only essential, but is quite pleasurable.

Now, keep in mind, though–you have a second person involved. Your husband. His sensations may be completely different.

So the first thing is for both of you to sit down and discuss what money means to you, what you feel about the pressure of bills, and whether you are more comfortable earning more money or trimming your budget.

These will be the two choices.

For magical checks don’t come in the mail, banking institutions don’t suddenly become generous and give you lower rates of interest and no pot of gold has ever been found at the end of the rainbow.

“Will we be more content earning additional money to satisfy our desires, or will we be equally happy with less money, trimming our budget and buying Brand X popcorn instead of Orville Redenbacher?”

There is only one thing to remember in life: if you try to live off somebody else’s experience, you will end up devastated.

  • What does money mean to you?
  • What do you really require to feel content?
  • And are there ways to achieve that magical amount of money by either working harder or cutting the budget?

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Confessing … August 8th, 2015

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XIV.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

When I began this series on confessing, I made a private covenant with my ego to avoid revealing current events and basically stay focused on sins of the past, long ago resolved.

But unfortunately, I continue to transgress.

I travel on the road.

That’s what I do right now because it’s my way to try to speak some simplicity into the complexity of our world, and sanity into the raging din.

Arriving at my lodging on Monday, I found myself disgruntled. It is summertime, so motels and suites are more expensive, and therefore my budget does not allow me to stay in the top-of-the-line institutions, but rather, places me in Mom and Pop establishments, which are often a mixed bag.

Usually I have pretty good perspective.

For instance, I don’t call the carpet “shabby,” but rather, “quaint.”

I don’t refer to the furniture as being “outdated,” but rather, “antiques.”

But for some reason, this particular week I was fussy. I didn’t like the room. Rather than considering it spacious, I thought it was convoluted.

It put me in a mode: “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

That sentiment is the soil for the seed of all iniquity. If you catch it early enough, you can keep it from going any further, but I was in no mood to be introspective, so I went to Phase 2: “I feel like blaming you.”

Self-pity never allows me to take any responsibility, so we grab the closest innocent victim and thrust him or her into the role of the villain and the source of all inconvenience–and that particularly dastardly profile was placed on my partner, Janet Clazzy.

So I growled at her a little bit. I expressed my superiority to the meager station of my surroundings. Since she’s the one who acquired the room, it was obviously her fault that they had not changed the paneling since the Eisenhower Administration.

We argued.

It wasn’t really an argument–just a general “blooming onion” of complaint, which had no real center to it, and therefore, no completion.

Shortly after finishing my griping, I went into the third phase: “I’m feeling stupid.”

This is the most important phase. From this point of feeling stupid we can either move to repentance–or we can simply recycle and start all over again with “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

Matter of fact, I will tell you that a good portion of the population lives in a meaningless, constant circle of feeling sorry for themselves, blaming others, feeling stupid to return to feeling sorry for themselves.

It must have been a good day, because fortunately, rather than feeling stupid and going for another try at feeling sorry for myself, I repented.

I apologized.

And it was amazing how quickly the room went back to being a room instead of a prison cell.

I am the master of my own destiny. No one’s calling the shots but me. If the shots suck, it’s because I suck–not having the sense to avoid feeling sorry for myself … insisting that I got screwed over.

 

confessing room

 

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Jesonian: Carpenter Logic… August 31, 2014

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carpenter's tools

Janice has a five-year goal spectrum which she has laid out, printed and shares with anyone who’s interested and quite a few who truly aren’t. Unfortunately, five minutes after Janice shared her sixty-month roll-out, she discovered that her mother had just passed away from cancer and that her services would be needed to assist her father in finding a new place of residence. Unable to muster the kind of logical profile to continue her dreams, she abandoned them in frustration.

Mark has a business plan and has filed corporation papers to start a company to pursue one of his adventures. In the process of gaining investors, he uncovered some unsavory facts about his helpers and was forced to walk away from the money because he wasn’t sure how to logically handle the adversity.

Even though planning is a terrific way of proving to yourself and others that you are serious about your aspirations, what really determines our success is the path of logic which we pursue when our “best-laid plans of mice and men” go ker-plunk, ker-plop.

It is unfortunate that religious people don’t study the life of Jesus. They would see that he spent thirty years as a carpenter’s son and only three years concentrating on his sonship with God. So the logic of the carpenter permeated his dealings and helped him get through many a tight spot and tribulation.

What was his carpenter’s logic?

1. What’s the job?

A powerful question. Because oftentimes we prepare for a job we have created in our minds rather than dealing with the actual task set before us. When we ask ourselves, “what’s the job?” we have time to get focused on the moment instead of finding ourselves discussing logos to adorn our five-year goal plan.

2. What materials are needed?

Even though we may be familiar with the old street phrase, “don’t show up to a gun fight with a knife,” there is great depth of wisdom hidden beneath that dark thought. Knowing what materials you will need in order to pursue your situation and keeping yourself flexible for changes and revisions proves that you have the kind of logic to get you through tight times.

3. How much?

Yes–count the cost. And then, if you’re smart, ask yourself the question of what happens if the budget doubles.

4. How long?

Since the philosophy of the carpenter was “he that endures to the end shall be saved.” what might be some of the obvious and tell-tale signs of where and when the end might be?

5. Build it to last.

Even though sand is on sale, it’s not a good deal because you have to keep rebuilding. The rock might cost more, but anything that’s built on it will remain.

And when you build things to last, you not only communicate the level of your commitment, but you have an obvious passion for your work which tells people you can be trusted.

Your plans in life only work if you are following a logic which survives pettiness, stupidity, and human frailty.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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G-15: Compete or Compare?… March 14, 2014

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arm boys

Yours worked.

Mine didn’t.

Now what?

Give me yours.

You take mine.

Why not??

Okay, yours is over-rated.

Mine is misunderstood.

What do you mean, sour grapes?

You cheated.

I followed the rules.

I don’t know how, but you must have cheated.

Try this: you had an advantage.

I don’t know–maybe you’re an outstanding cheater.

I went against the grain.

You went for blood.

Everybody likes you.

I am an artist and therefore adequately ignored.

You had more money.

I had a low budget.

Really? That little??

What do you want me to do?

Imitate your plan?

I was trained to compete.

You want me to compare.

It’s not fair.

What do you mean, the famous last words of a drowning loser?

Okay, smarty. What do you suggest?

Do well? And be accepted?

What about my personal flair, unique perspective, opinions, attitudes, sense of self?

(pause)

 You don’t care, do you?

All right. So how do you pull this thing off?

Go ahead and teach me. I’m listening, but you better hurry. I can be a moody son of a gun.

(Longer pause)

Huh, sounds easier than my ideas.

I guess I can do that.

Of course, I’ll need to add my personality.

(Short pause)

Not so much?

All right. Here I am.

By the way…

Thanks.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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Re-Spend-Ability… March 31, 2012

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How do you make meat loaf? Well, on a good week, you have the confidence to put in more meat and eggs. On a bad week, you sheepishly add additional bread crumbs and onions.

Good weeks and bad weeks. They accumulate until they become months of struggle. The problem with the American dream is that it works really well until you wake up to the reality. And what is the reality? If you stay at a job and continue to work, eventually your finance will peak, but your expenses will continue to climb. This leads to conflict.

So those “you’re kidding” folks, twenty-five through thirty-six, who have now arrived between the ages of thirty-seven and forty-eight, so concerned about whether their kids were well-fastened into car seats, are now confronted with ever-increasing expenditures and limited finance. They also discover that babies are not the problem—it’s teenagers. Cleaning up a mess in a diaper is much more “doable” than paying insurance premiums after your new young driver has had that first accident.

So suddenly two words that should never co-exist collide, creating the new family dynamic. The two words?Love and money. Matter of fact, the Bible says “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Whenever those two words inhabit the same sentence, there is conflict. So people who were once in love are suddenly at each other’s throats because all conversations seem to be at the kitchen table, discussing the budget.

Here is the train of events: over-budget, overwrought, overwhelmed.

That’s right. Even when she decides to go back to work, the application of that decision drains more finance from the family and actually sometimes doesn’t even create a break-even proposal. After all, she needs a car, she needs a wardrobe, she needs gasoline, she needs lunch money… And meanwhile, the school system that used to be better-funded by a concerned government now has to ask more money from the family because the government has dropped the ball on public education.

Everything is over budget. What do we do when we’re over budget? We become overwrought. At this point, our minds go to disaster instead of possibility. (Even though we know there are no debtor’s prisons, we keep an extra toothbrush just in case.) And when we’re overwrought—since we do love ourselves pretty well—we start looking for someone to blame. How about that person we walked down the aisle with? They’re handy. How about those wonderful children we birthed, who somewhere along the line have seemingly been struck by a spirit of “brat?”

Yet, being over-wrought can seem cruel and put the household in a constant state of tension, so we try to cork up our feelings in a bottle and walk around morose, with a sense of dread etched across our features, completely overwhelmed.

We call this maturity. I call it “Suck on a Triscuit.” There has to be a better way.

Once you discover the truth about the American Dream—that it only works as long as you stay one step ahead of the increase in expenses—then you are better prepared to enter the years between thirty-seven and forty-eight, which I have dubbed Re-Spend-Ability – taking it on instead as a responsibility, which you can handle because you are prepared. Here are four suggestions:

1. Separate. I’m not talking about leaving your marriage.  I’m talking about separating love from money and never talking about them together. If you’re in the midst of a discussion about your relationship, never bring up money. And if you’re discussing money, don’t try to use it as a means to romance. (Can we be honest? Even mediocre sex is acceptable when the mortgage is paid.) Separate love and money, or be prepared for love and money to separate the two of you.

2. Negotiate. I’m talking about with your children. You cannot be a pigeon, flitting around your own household desperately trying to give your kids everything they want, and expect to keep your head above water. If they want something, they should be willing to investigate it, find the best price and work off “their half” of the expense in chores or tasks at ten dollars an hour. Don’t give into the pressure that your children are giving into. What they want has nothing to do with their investigation of good choices. It is a whim and a necessity to them of co-existing with other students at their school who are chasing what Madison Avenue has decided is the new “teen craze.” Negotiate. Will they be happy about it? Your children’s happiness is based upon your demeanor and solvency, not their wish list.

3. Regulate. Don’t yell at your kids to do anything that you are not already doing. Don’t tell teenagers to turn off the lights in the house. Just get a little exercise and walk behind them and turn them off yourself. Shop better. That’s why we have the Internet. Put in a request for a revision on your mortgage. Banks do not respond to applications, they respond to perseverance. Regulate your expenses in a way that the family is never aware of any change in your financial climate, but you benefit at the end of the month with the bottom line.

4. And finally, innovate. The American Dream is not energized by freedom. It is fueled by capitalism. Capitalism is a philosophy that unashamedly concludes “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Since that is the way the American culture works at this point, learn it well. Have some sort of extra project with the family that you entrepreneur—maybe on a Saturday morning—that brings in a little extra cash. It could be anything from garage sales to a small Internet business to one of your children picking up trash for the neighbors and offering half of their intake to the family income. The more you create community with money the less you will fight. You cannot live in the United States of America working forty hours a week and think you’re going to get ahead. Your boosts in salary will never cover the explosions in inflation. It is a time to be creative.

A good number of divorces happen during this period between age thirty-seven through forty-eight. These couples think they fall out of love. Actually, they fall into the money pit and can’t find a way to love each other enough to get out of it. But if we had taught them to be a chilled-hood, respecting each other as boys and girls growing up in equality, and had not allowed them to enter addled essence—adversarial to each other in their teens—and had balanced out the duty of parenting and birthing during the you’re kidding era, there would be a much greater savings account of affection to fall back on during the hard times.

Re-Spend-Ability. It’s when we foolishly think that love and money can be mingled and still maintain harmony.

(We will continue our series on Monday, to allow time tomorrow for Marketing the Big TE)

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Listen to Jonathan sing his gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, accompanied by Janet Clazzy on the WX-5 Wind Machine

 

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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