Bless You!

I go through any given day often cursing things that; bug me, thwart my attempts to accomplish a task, vex me, complicate things, get in my way, or just generally piss me off. These “things”, can be things, or people. And, if left unchecked, I find I spend a significant portion of my day cursing, usually silently, sometimes under my breath, and every now and then, out loud. Honestly, I like the word “fuck” the best. I use it alone or in combination with any number of other words to express my thoughts about something. This week’s favorite is “fuck breath”. I’m pretty creative, I know.

As far as people go, there are the strangers I curse at, usually drivers that don’t drive exactly the way I think they should. Sometimes while running, amateur cyclists who think it’s okay to cycle on the sidewalk when there is a dedicated bike lane a few feet away. And, sadly, I will often curse people I know and people I love, not usually with an “f-bomb”, but a curse, nonetheless, and usually because they have behaved in some way that isn’t consistent with my expectations, which in itself is a flaw of mine I try very hard to curtail.

Right now I am cursing Elaine.

Elaine is a toddler, a swarthy toddler of perhaps two years of age, who has come into the coffee shop I have been peacefully enjoying working from for the past couple of hours. I’ve been sitting here, sipping an iced decaf coffee, writing to my heart’s content. Then came Elaine. With her parents. For fro yo. I like kids. I love kids. I have kids. And never, ever, did I allow my kids to screech at the top of their lungs for sport. Elaine is just emitting a happy, high pitched screech every 45 seconds or so, in a public place, that echoes, she is grabbing things off of other people’s tables, smearing her fingers all over the glass protecting the frozen yogurt from her advances and walking right up to other patrons and waving at them, three inches from their faces. It was cute for about three seconds. Her (also swarthy) parents are laughing very loudly and further encouraging her with very annoying, very loud baby talk, in response to all of her antics, including the screeching. I think my ears are bleeding. Curse them all.

But, cursing Elaine, and her parents really did nothing, other than make me feel grumpy. I left, out of frustration, and as I backed out of my parking spot, Elaine and her parents left, too. Now I’m home, writing from my un-air-conditioned office on a ninety-degree afternoon. Having a beer. I could still be at the, now peaceful, coffee shop. I deserve what I get. Curses.

“Bless a thing and it will bless you. Curse it and it will curse you. If you bless a situation, it has no power to hurt you.” –

Emmet Fox,
1886-1951, Spiritual Leader

I’ve seen this saying before, and other similar teachings. And I know it, but like all that we try to encompass into our personal evolutionary process, sometimes an important lesson gets buried by others and is momentarily forgotten. Usually, about that time, a reminder lesson manifests. Like Elaine. Bless her heart.

I have a co-worker from the Midwest, I used to work with her quite a bit until she took a different position within the company. She taught, like I do, and I frequently “shadowed” her to learn to teach different classes. Whenever she spoke of someone, in class or out, she would add, “bless her heart” or his heart, or their hearts. Then she’d inform the participants in class that this was a Midwestern tradition and by blessing someone’s’ heart, in this manner, it gave you license to continue talking about them. While I find this amusing, and now often repeat the same joke when I teach classes (we steal each other’s material regularly), there is some merit to this practice. I’m not saying we can all just go about gossiping and speaking poorly of others just because we preface our tirade with “bless his heart”. I’m saying that if someone is conversation worthy, in their absence, they could probably use the blessing! I’m also suggesting that blessing people, and things, is the right thing to do. For them and for us.

This sort of goes along with forgiveness. Blessing and forgiveness both free us from whatever negative feeling we feel victim of. I saw another saying on Facebook this week, “forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” Forgiveness and blessing both act as an acknowledgement of letting it go. “It” being whatever is making us feel bad, angry, or sad. How liberating to just let “it” go. By hanging on to it, we are nurturing the bad, angry or sad feeling, we are giving power to whatever is causing those negative feelings. Blessing it, and forgiving it, free us from those negative stimuli and allow us to move on, into more positive territory.

I once vowed to the man I exchanged vows with that I would never forgive him. For a very long time, I didn’t. As a result, I was just bitter and resentful towards him and every reminder of him. I suffered emotionally, spiritually and probably even physically as a result of my unwillingness to forgive. And this just gave him more power over me and the new life I was trying to build for myself. It took a lot of time, reflection and self-education to finally realize that forgiveness, and even blessing, was the key to the freedom I so dearly craved. And in that eventual ability to forgive, and even bless, I am totally and completely liberated. I am free of those negative feelings and of the negative energy associated with all those long harbored feelings of spite, hatred and anger. I had that power all along, sort of like Dorothy and her ruby red slippers, she had the power to get home to Kansas throughout that whole, epic journey, she just didn’t know it.

I have been, now, reminded of this lesson; to bless and to forgive, everyone and everything. But, like Elaine and the joy she derived from screeching and hearing her own voice, I’m quite certain that I will still look for opportunities to creatively combine the “f-word” with other words to communicate my momentary displeasure with someone or something. I’m sorry, it’s just sport. I’ll bless them and forgive them, I promise.

Browns Valley Yogurt & Espresso Bar, pre-Elaine.
Browns Valley Yogurt & Espresso Bar, pre-Elaine. Bless her heart.

I Am An Environmentalist

I am an environmentalist in a couple of different respects. First, I have always believed that our Earth and her resources are to be revered, respected, preserved, conserved and restored. In the second respect, I believe that our immediate environment, our home, or workplace, and the things we expose ourselves to should be a focus and a concern.

Many of us are beginning to grasp the fact that we are what we eat. We are striving to make better choices in what we put into our bodies. I have finally justified spending extra money, now, on wholesome, sustainable and wherever possible, organic food. I believe by investing now in pure food to fuel my body, I will prevent costly medical bills in the future by minimizing the likelihood of diabetes, celiac disease, cancer and heart disease. I am well aware that food, alone, is not going to be my savior. I know, too, that consistent exercise, including cardio, strength, and flexibility are going to be contributors to my long term health and longevity.

There are other factors that many of us dismiss that are going to become more talked about, I think, in the future. Our environment. Some are talking about it, a few of us have acknowledged the concerns, and fewer yet are taking action. Yes, our overall environment, polluted air, tainted water supplies, exposure to contaminants in our world, are all going to be issues we need to be concerned with. Sadly, these are far greater than what the efforts of a few can quickly correct, or even mitigate.

There is another environment, that, when you think about, can have a far more significant impact on us, and, fortunately, we are nearly in complete control of. Our home. And, for some of us, our workplace.

Take a look around your home. What do you clean surfaces with? What do you clean dishes with? What do you wash your clothes with? What types of products to you put directly on your skin, your hair, your nails? For a real, tangible, impact, take all those products and place them on a table. Now, read their labels. We see, repeatedly, words like “hazardous”, “caution”, “warning”, “harmful”. Read a little further. How many of these labels specifically say “harmful or fatal if swallowed”, “do not ingest”, “use in ventilated ares”? Hello? You’re putting these on your skin. Many of us even have professionals come and spray our homes, inside and out, with deadly chemicals to control insects. Do you know what the infertility rate is for exterminators? How about the cancer rate? You’re polluting the air inside your home with ALL these chemicals and toxins, from Windex to commercial grade pesticides. Often, a whole bunch of these chemicals are used in any one day and their chemical fallout swirls around us as we sleep, as we eat, as we live in our homes. This is our environment, the place we take refuge in when the pollution index factor outside is elevated! Ironic, isn’t it?

Think for a moment; you spray down your shower with a chemical, every now and then. One I’m certain says “hazardous”, “caution”, “warning”, “harmful”. After cleaning your shower with these hazardous, harmful chemicals, you turn the hot water on and the lingering chemical properties are mixed with steam you inhale. Do you think, for a moment, this is good?

How about “air fresheners”? You do realize they are made by the same folks that bring you the shower cleaner, right? The label may say “fresh magical mountain air”, but the contents are actually chemicals that you spray about your house and then inhale, deeply, with satisfaction.

Window cleaner, surface cleaner, cleansers, detergents, air fresheners, soaps, shampoos, make up, lotions, and the list goes on, are all, well, pretty bad for us. I know it is nearly impossible to find safe, effective alternatives to all of these common, everyday products. But I suggest trying. Again, the minimal expense you incur now for natural substitutes will be worth the effort in the long run. There are many very effective, natural home remedies for most of the cleansers any home would need. Personal care products, like make up, lotions, shampoos, etc., may be a bit more of a challenge. But, like the food we eat and the water we drink, the more we can do, the better off we’ll be. This is not an all or nothing proposition, any change will be better than no change.

I read a book a few years ago that completely changed my life. I’ve mentioned it before. I’m mentioning it again. I highly recommend this book, as it covers the relationship food, exercise and environment all have on our long term health, longevity and quality of life. Contaminants and impurities in our food, our water and in our environment all contribute to alterations in our hormones that, in the long term, cause life threatening conditions and disease like diabetes and cancer. The book? Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body! by Jillian Michaels. This book scared the hell out of me. As a result, I have followed as much of the advice as possible, implementing portions of it over the past three years as my circumstances would allow. The impact has been significant. I’ve lost fifty pounds, I look and feel healthier, more energetic, more at peace and generally, happier. Yes, no longer using common window cleaners has helped, in part, to change my life! I swear it!

By paying attention to your daily, immediate environment, by educating yourself on the hazards therein and on alternatives for those products, you can improve your overall well-being, possibly your longevity and your quality of life. Become an environmentalist. And while I probably won’t see you at the next tree-hugging, whale saving occupation, I will be there in spirit, while making my own household disinfectant out of isopropyl alcohol and lavender oil.

The book that changed my life
The book that changed my life
This is my environment today. I am working from my son's garage as he performs a long overdue oil change for me.
This is my environment today. I am working from my son’s garage as he performs a long overdue oil change for me.
Upon closer examination, this is a very unhealthy environment. I am now working from the driveway!
Upon closer examination, this is a very unhealthy environment. I am now working from the driveway!