Who Let Toto Out?

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In every psychosocial trauma experienced in a relationship there is always a catalyst or trigger that begins a chain reaction of unfolding events that snowballs into hyperarousal and a three-ring circus of shame and blame, where trauma becomes drama.

Who, who …who let the dogs out?

Did Dorothy herself let her dog out, who then allegedly bit Elvira Gulch?  Did Auntie Emme, or Uncle Henry let Toto out while going out to get the mail? Was it one of the farmhands who neglected to close the gate? It is obvious that the inerrant innocent act created a cascade of life changing events for Dorothy and her family when Toto was loosed.

Who let Corona out of its cage?  Did he escape or was he let loose? Color me confused.  I believe in wearing masks, I also believe in herd immunity. I believe in vaccinations, but also starting to lose confidence in their efficacy and safety.  I believe in opening the beaches, the forests, parks, golf courses, but not large gatherings inside buildings.  I believe in freedom but also protective marshal law if necessary, to contain a pandemic.  I believe in generating and reading data and believe in a whistle blower’s dispute of that data also being valid. I believe in health professionals that I know that are standing on street corners saying to wear masks, I also believe in health professionals who say it may be over kill.

I believe in washing hands a lot; I do not believe in overuse of disinfectants that is killing our other natural immunities countless times a day. I believe in freedom of speech but not carrying weapons to a protest. I believe in the American flag, but not next to a swastika. I believe in intelligent unified compromise, but not derision and entitled violence.  I believe in natural phylogenetic adaptation; I also believe that viral DNA manipulation happens.  I believe humans are inherently good, I also believe humans make mistakes. I do not believe money is the root of all evil but do believe that greed is.

We as a human species share a common genetic inheritance that yearns for warm attachment. Our whole nervous system, the limbic system e.g. is always looking for connection; much as a dog does with its nose lifted to the wind.

Between everyone us on this planet there is this invisible synapse between the dyadic relationships that we carry with every human being that we encounter. From the moment we are born, we are given a template for relationship for our survival.  We crave human touch and face to face contact from inception; it is fundamental to our DNA; it is in our nature. There is so much communication that occurs below our conscious awareness, and it is this perception that for the most part is invisible to us all. It is this universal synapse that brings families, communities, fraternities, tribes and best friends together.

We already have primitive epigenetic coding in our brains to self-isolate to protect “our tribe” from animals, weather and marauders.  From the Neanderthal guarding his cave, to early American settlers holed up in a mountain cabin for the winter, to a COVID-19 grandmother holed up in a senior care facility for months on end. We have the genetic predisposition to handle isolation for periods of time, but an extended amount of time without human interaction we can indeed get cabin fever or stir crazy.  In simpler terms we get extremely restless in isolation which leads to anxiety and if left unabated it may lead to trauma, and even psychosis. The limbic system in hyperarousal may go into forays of violence and anger, or conversely a hypo-arousal response into a limbic system freeze; an autonomic shut down with apathy, numbness and depression.

What is obvious is that we are all hard wired with genetic tools of adaptation to survive under a plethora of assaults to our mind, body, soul and spirit. We are built to survive, and we shall survive if we do not fuck it up with arrogance, self-entitlement, ignorance and greed.

I believe in the capacity of the human body to defend itself if given the right tools and resources to boost its own innate immunological response.

I believe in the capacity of the human mind to research, investigate, experiment, learn and create.

I believe in the capacity of the human soul to think out the box and to make intelligent decisions for the good of the whole.

I believe in the capacity of the human spirit to attempt to conquer any obstacle in its path.

I believe in God that provides us with all the necessary tools for survival, procreation and joy.

 

So, who let Toto out? Who put the whole world into chaos?

Let us not consume our energies with conjecture, conspiracy, violence and lies to who let the virus out. The horse is out of the frigging barn. Let us combine our efforts and intellect to contain the ramifications this virus has unleashed upon the world.

I believe in the human spirit of the American people to come together beyond party lines to make America safe again.

What I do not believe is any statement from any politician from any party, or any representative of any pharmaceutical company.

Toto got out; this is not Kansas; we cannot pretend it is. We either comply with efforts to resist the spread and do our part to cooperate; we collaborate with naysayers that may encourage the spread, or do we join the resistance for truth, tolerance and a cure.

Follow you heart; be kind; take one day at a time.

I continue to believe in America body, mind, soul, and spirit.

“There’s no place like home”.

Heartlight Studio’s Carl Griffith Sourdough Bread Tutorial

 

Heartlight Sour Dough Bread

This is the best recipe that I have found for making Sour Dough Bread. It is a method that I have developed over many years of much trial and error with ingredients, preparations etc. It is easy to bake a loaf a bread, a child with a Easybake oven can do that. To make Sourdough bread you rely on the artist in you to and why it is called artisan bread; it takes some time and effort, but you will be heartily rewarded. Sourdough does not mold, has a fantastic taste and delightful texture/crust, digested slowly and is tolerated well by gluten sensitives.

This bread is composed of three main ingredients flour, water and salt. You add a few 175-year-old bugs and you have a sourdough starter. There is no commercial yeast used in making this sourdough, it replicates a natural yeast called Candida milleri, and little baby microbes of bacterium called Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis that have survived since 1847.  Wagon trains heading west carried and created sour dough starter across the country for making bread on the road. In that process they picked up bacterium strains from all parts of the country. Yeasts that were born in the wild west from wild winds and wild grains from across this land that took refuge on the flour bags in the Conestoga wagons creating this unique starter kept alive since 1847.

The most important ingredient that I not listed in the recipe is love. This bread recipe is infused with love; Love is patient; love is kind; all by design. To make good sourdough it must have this ingredient. One must be a nurturer, someone who needs you and knead them. One needs to be patient with the process and committed to caring for and feeding your starter on a regular basis to keep it healthy and vital. You need to use some or discard some once a week and then feed it and refrigerate.  It still is active but slowed down. If it is in storage too long alcohol may form a thin layer on top, that means the bugs you need to be fed. The bugs eat simple sugars, they burp CO2 and shit alcohol; when swimming in their own shit, they stop burping… it is time shake it up, remove some and then feed.  I either bake bread, make sour dough muffins, dry it out to send to friends for starter. I do not like to discard.

A baker’s dozen tips:

  1. Use unbleached “bread flour”, bread four has higher protein/gluten content
  2. Use some natural whole wheat flour for beneficial fiber, (it helps move the mail)
  3. Use a little Rye flour which helps to stimulate the starter
  4. Use natural unrefined sea salt with beneficial minerals and add salt at later step, it slows down the bugs replication initially.
  5. Use only un-chlorinated or bottled water or boil your water for 20 minutes, chlorine is bad mojo for bugs
  6. Use your oven with the light on and place resting dough and or levain in oven to double, keeps it about 80 degrees and no draft or bugs.
  7. Add some Potato flakes to the starter as friendly catalyst to encourage activity
  8. Mist the bread with water just prior to baking
  9. Preheated 500-degree oven
  10. Bake in Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  11. High Hydration water content (sticky dough); Dust with rice flour to prevent sticking to banneton
  12. Sharp razor for scoring
  13. Patience, it is a two-day process

METHOD:

  1. Activate sourdough starter.
  2. Autolyze: measure/weigh all ingredients (except salt) into a bowl. Mix well. Cover and rest dough for 2 hours.
  3. Bulk ferment: Add salt. Stretch and fold dough (with damp hands) every 45-60 minutes for 2-4 hours at room temperature. Keep dough covered.
  4. Pre-shape. Cover and rest the dough for 15 minutes on the bench.
  5. Final shape. Put dough into a floured banneton (or floured, cloth-lined bowl/tin). Cover dough with cloth. Cover with plastic and retard (refrigerate) for 8-12 hours (optional).
  6. If dough was refrigerated, bring to room temperature. Rise in banneton for 1-3 hours or until ready.
  7. Pre-heat oven, baking tray and roasting lid (or ceramic casserole dish including lid) for 1 hour before baking (500°F).
  8. Sprinkle the dough surface (base) with dusting flour. Turn out dough onto a sheet of baking paper. Spray lightly with water (if adding topping). Score bread. Spray lightly with water. Put bread in Dutch Oven with lid on. Bake at 500°F for 15 minutes (lid on).
  9. Uncover and Bake at 450°F for 15-30 minutes (lid off) until golden and cooked.
  10. Remove bread from the oven. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Slice bread and serve.
  12. Store bread at room temperature (covered) or wrap and freeze (whole or sliced).

Detailed instructions

img_2794img_2772                                           Step 1. Making the Levain (starter sponge)

The night before you make the levain, make sure to feed your sourdough starter. I usually add 1/3 cup bread flour, dash of rye and 1/3 cup water and mix it well.

¼ cup (40 grams) bread flour

¼ cup or (40 grams) wholegrain wheat flour

¼ cup (40 grams) sourdough

1/3 cup (80 grams) unchlorinated water

Mix all ingredients and put it into a tall see-through glass. Put an elastic band around the glass or mark the jar so you can monitor the growth of the levain

Cover the glass and put the levain somewhere warm. Preferably 77°F (in oven with light on is perfect)

When the levain has almost tripled go to the next step.

 

img_2791          Autolyze ( hydrating flour)

3 ¾ cups (675 grams) bread flour

½ cup (150 grams) whole wheat flour

2 cups (575 grams) water (reserve 50 grams of water for adding salt later)

Instructions:

To do the autolyze all we need to do is mix water and flour

Measure out all the flour in a bowl and all the water except 50 grams that we reserve for mixing in the levain and salt later. Mix it but don’t knead, just get all flour hydrated

Cover the flour water mix and leave it until your levain has at least doubled in size.

Mix the dough

Put the levain on top of the dough. Spread the salt over the top and add the reserved 50 grams of water

Mix it all very thoroughly. I usually use my fingers and push the levain through the dough and do some light stretch and folds. I keep repeating until I feel like it’s been mixed very well

Cover the dough and leave it to rest 30 minutes somewhere warm

Bulk fermentation

It’s time for the bulk fermentation. During the fermentation we develop the doughs gluten and get air into the dough. With this dough 3 stretch and folds are usually enough

Wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers

Grab the size of the dough furthest away from you with both hands. Grab a hold and stretch the dough upwards if it can go without breaking. Then fold the dough down towards yourself

Turn the bowl 180 degrees (a half turn)

Do another stretch and fold

Turn the bowl 90 degrees (a quarter turn)

Do another stretch and fold

Lastly you should turn the bowl 180 degrees (a half turn)

Repeat the last stretch and fold

You have now stretched and folded the dough from all four sides. Leave the dough to rest somewhere warm, covered, for another 30 minutes

Repeat this process two times more

After the third stretch and fold, I will do a windowpane test. Lift and edge of the dough and stretch it with your fingers. You should be able to make a thin membrane without the dough breaking. Look at the video in the article

If the dough still is not strong enough to pass the test, I do a 4th stretch and fold and repeat the test. Do this up to the 5th and 6th stretch and fold.

After the last stretch and fold you should leave the dough until it’s grown by 20-50% (usually 1½ hours)

Preshaping

First we are shaping the dough to build a gluten membrane on the top of the dough. This will help the oven spring during baking

Pour the dough unto an unfloured table and divide it in half. Put a sprinkle of flour on top of both

Grab a lump of dough and flip it using your bench scraper so that the floured side is now on the table top

Grab the part of the dough that us the furthest away from you. Stretch it and fold down in front of you

Repeat with the part that is right in front of you. Grab the dough with both hands and stretch it and fold it away from you. Repeat with the right and left sides of the dough

In a swift motion invite the dough so that the part you previously floured is now turned up

Put your bench scraper behind the dough and pull it towards yourself. I hold the scraper in my right hand and I guide the dough with my left. The front of the dough should be pulled underneath, and the top of the dough should tighten

Now put the scraper in front of the dough and push it forward while twisting, so that the scraper ends up behind the dough. You can now repeat the process in the previous step

Repeat until you have a nice round and taut boule (ball). Pop any big bubbles you see on the surface

Repeat with the other lump of dough. Let them rest 15 minutes under a cloth

Prepare the bannetons

Make a mixture of half bread flour and half rice flour

Put a dish towel in the bannetons. If you don’t have one, you can absolutely use a bowl with parchment paper.

Put some of the flour mixture in a strainer and flour the bannetons. It’s better to use too much than too little

Final shaping

We do the final shaping to make sure the dough is super strong

Take a boule and sprinkle it very lightly with flour on the top

Flip it using your bench scraper so that the floured side is against the table

Repeat the process from the preshaping

When you have finished the shaping, grab the boule with your scraper and invert it into the banneton. The bottom should be up

Repeat with the other boule and place it in the banneton

Sprinkle the dough liberally with rice flour and put the bannetons into separate bags. Make sure you get some air in there so that the plastic does not get into contact with the dough

Place in the fridge overnight

Heat the oven – next morning

Place Dutch oven in oven as well to get piping hot.. Turn the oven to 500°F. If it doesn’t go that high, put it to maximum. Heat the oven for at least an hour. We want the Dutch oven to be completely warmed through

 

Baking the bread

Take a banneton out of the fridge and let rest covered for a few hours on the counter

Put a piece of baking paper on top of your peel and put it on top of the banneton

Turn it over and carefully lift the banneton off the dough

Slash the dough using a super sharp knife or razor

Open the oven and move the dough to the Dutch oven

Spray the top of your dough lightly with your spray bottle

Put on the lid and close the oven

Bake for 15 minutes

Remove the lid so the bread can get some color. Turn the oven down to 450°F. I usually bake for another 20-25 minutes for this bread or until internal temp is 190°F. I love it when the crust gets dark and crunchy.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack until it is COMPLETELY cooled off.

Turn the oven back up to /500°F. When it is hot, repeat the procedure for the other bread.

Watch master breadmaker Sune at the Danish Bread Geek website:,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znv99QbfWGs&t=222s

Origin of starter and instructions to activate:

http://www.carlsfriends.net

 

Easter Mourning and Elephants

1-elephant in room

Pastel colors, daffodils, shiny new shoes, hats with yellow ribbons, hugs, hard boiled eggs and bunnies; hams in the oven and the songbirds are chirping love songs, it is Easter morning…but for some this year it is also an Easter mourning.

Easter is the U.S. is a major Judeo-Christian holiday that is celebrated by most Americans in a Hallmark Card kind of way as opposed to a deeply religious ceremony that some observe.  Regardless of your religious convictions Easter is treated as an unofficial national holiday when families get together for Sunday afternoon repast and relaxation. When families do get together sometimes there is an empty chair at the table and an empty heart in despair.

How do we survive a loss in our life and face the holidays with honesty and joy?  How do you prepare something delicious to eat for others, when everything tastes the same?   Food in general becomes meaningless for it represents sustenance when we do not want to sustain.  How do we make small talk when our soul is screaming inside?  How do we not cry when all we see and feel is the empty chair that no one else sees? For most everyone else all they see is a very large sleeping elephant, one that they dare not awake.

Let’s get serious, a kitchen, a living room or dining room is just no place for a sleeping elephant.  Who in their right mind would bring a creature like that into the house? I remember growing up on the farm with a variety of animals domestic and feral alike that would get into our house. My dad’s horse was his best friend and I will never forget when he brought Lucky into the kitchen when we had guests over for dinner. People move quickly with a large animal comes in the room; believe me and why this metaphor has such power.

In our continued despair we speak in frustration about the elephant in the room and why it’s there. We have to realize for the most part it is our elephant; we brought it here with us and people are just being polite not to mention it. It is up to us to lead it out of the room, ask others present for help in doing so. Literally ask them “can you please help me get this elephant out of the room?”  If it steps on a few toes on the way out… so be it.  Grief is not pain free; pass your pain around, share it. Wake up the elephant, and use it to carry you to a new place at an elephants pace, slowly one step at a time.  An elephant can also break down walls if they are in the way, use your elephant.

The timing of Easter is interesting as it is determined as the first Sunday following the last full moon (Paschal moon) of Passover which roughly coincides with the vernal equinox of March 20/21. Easter bespeaks of the resurrection of Christ in the Christian tradition, beginning of Passover in the Jewish tradition, and in most cultures is recognized astronomically as the first day of springtime and rebirth for the planet, when days get longer and the fields get greener. This cycle governs all living energy forms on the planet; we are all on a yearly cycle of death and rebirth.

Our calendar days without the rotation of the earth -meaningless; our calendar years without the earths’ rotation  around the sun -meaningless; our birth without our death -meaningless; love without loss -meaningless; extremes define each other, they need each other to exist. So we learn to dance between the extremes.

This Easter, this spring, look at each new lengthening day as an opportunity, a day to start a new year with hope.  I think most New Year’s resolutions are a sham and are built to fail from the start, they are made in the darkest time of our planetary cycle and we make resolutions based on hope not on faith.

If we are to make a resolution to bring new hope and healing into our life, let us coincide it with the natural flow and growth of the planet. Experience our own rebirth, our own renaissance, our own unique healing and personal growth as the planet comes alive.  I believe all resolutions should be made at this time of the year. This is our own fiscal year of the soul that starts at springtime and we can change our tomorrow with faith in an even brighter spring next year. It’s up to us.

We as a collective tribe will never forget the Easter that never was. Churches empty, no baked ham at Grandma’s house, or croquet in the yard, no main street parades, or mom’s hot buttered rolls made with love and lard. But we shall rise from this tomb that we find we ourselves in surely as Jesus did. We can become a casualty  from our great losses or become a springboard to an unknown, non-envisioned future of limitless potentialities. We have choices. Grief is a powerhouse of transformation, how and what it turns us into is up to us. Use your elephant if it’s in the room, a elephant can take you places. carry a lot of weight and it can travel a long distance at a slow pace. Be your elephant.

Peace love n light

Mitch Carmody

 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always To be Blest.

-Alexander Pope

 

 

 

In the Eye of the Storm

2-eye

In the Eye of the Storm

 

Oh, the terror of blue skies

with open windows

That let in silent storms

Leaves no longer dancing

quiet fills the air

birds have gone in hiding

we hold our breath and stare

It feels like the world is in pause

God’s thumb is on the remote

The calm before the storm

Time to shutter the windows

against wailing sirens

…this is not a test

 

The crisis we find ourselves in today, is not a “New Normal”. This viral pandemic that we are experiencing is a domestic wartime crisis. A war for the first time on our soil where all American are feeling hostage in their own homes. We find it happening across the nation; felt in the heart of every American citizen regardless of age, race,color or creed.

There is a plague sweeping across our country and it is murdering us in our homes, our business, our schools, churches and our villages. It seems there is not much more that we can do other that wearing proper P.P.E. and to practice the recommended social distancing. When in the eye of the storm we know there is no going back; we wait for the wind to pick up that will bring in the foreboding clouds gathering on the horizon…and we pray.

Circa 1994 a manmade plague swept through a small country in Africa that wiped out one million citizens in three months’ time. No one saw it coming, no one was prepared, their windows were wide open. There was no immunity, there was no local or world assistance to stop the plague which ran its course in 99 days killing over 1,000,000 innocents which was 70% of one vulnerable population. It profoundly changed their country and neighboring countries. The Country is Rwanda.  The virus was genocide.

A population unprepared for the storm, a government unprepared to halt it, and a live media broadcast that only fanned more mounting deaths. Chaos, mayhem, unfiltered aggression and the brutal knife murders of men, women and children ensued. Peasants, teachers, doctors, neighbors, relatives and friends murdered in while in mid step in the light of day. Sound familiar?  This virus is a great equalizer. We are in the eye of the storm; the other edge is coming. COVID-19 is literally in the air. Microscopic Hutu killers armed with machetes are coming to your village. Close your windows. Turn off Fox news and stay inside. Paint lamb’s blood on the lintel and doorposts of your home if you must but remain at home. Survive.

One year ago, I was in Amsterdam with my wife for the trip of a lifetime. While there we were urged to see The Resistance Museum which was dedicated the Dutch resistance during WWII.    The theme that was concurrent throughout the tour were the words used by the resistance in their efforts to stave off the murderous activities of the invading Nazis.

collaberate

The words: COMPLY, COLLABORATE, RESIST.      

A lethal virus had arrived slowly from Germany and soon enveloped all the Netherlands. The city of Rotterdam lost 1,000 residents in one day. Amsterdam immediately started to prepare, started to resist the rapidly spreading virus that was already present in their city. Three things happened in Amsterdam.

  1. People COMPLIED with all government recommendations issued for the invading virus without question. They by majority were the middle class and the educated masses. This is our “new normal” they said, this too will pass. It can’t be as bad as they say, many other countries have the virus and are complying. Our leaders know what they are doing.
  2. People COLLABORATED with the virus itself. Many did not heed the public recommendations; many communities actually inviting the virus into their homes. They fed it, they introduced it to their family, close friends and with people that they worked with; most of whom also thought that life will go on as usual; this isn’t so bad; nothing wrong here; I’m healthy, I’m happy. We may lose many of the old, the sick, the infirm, the helpless and the homeless but they are acceptable losses for the good of the nation. The majority will survive and be stronger for it.
  3. People RESISTED the virus. They knew it was coming; saw that it was threatening to destroy their city, their country, Europe and the world. They stayed at home, they went into hiding, they practiced social distancing, they armed themselves with intellect to survive, they help create change to help others survive. It was impossible to kill the man-made virus, but they empowered themselves to resist its damage and ultimately its mortality. They sacrificed and resisted with all they had until the virus was defeated.

COVID-19 is that invading Nazi soldier, it is that marauding Hutu madman, it is that reckless collaborator. How are your reacting to this malicious attack in your community?  Think carefully.  Are you Complying, Collaborating or Resisting?

  1. Are you complying with all local, state and federal law? Are you complying with common-sense hygiene rules to mitigate the spread of the virus for the greater good? Are you staying home?
  2. Are you collaborating by hindering mitigation efforts with arrogant disregard for containment recommendations ?  Are you denying data and allowing your selfish and ignorant behaviors to contribute to the reckless  spread of the virus?
  3. Are you resisting the temptation to break the rules? Are you taking this pandemic drop dead serious? Pun intended. Are you protecting yourself and your family to the best of your ability? Are you reaching out to others in creative ways other than proximity contact? Are you one of those heroes who is resisting this invasion on the front line? Are you a physician, hospital employee, police officer, fire fighter, paramedic, national guard or volunteer who looks the virus straight in the eye every single day? You are the resistance, saying back off…you do not win?

You decide.

We are in the eye of storm at this writing the first day of April 2020, but this is no joke. It is time to batten the hatches, lower the sail, latch the portals and hunker down and ride this storm out.  Even the madmen, psychotic shooters, and suicide terrorists are staying the fuck at home. Comply. Resist. Do not collaborate.

Do your part for your Body. Eat healthy foods with lots of probiotics/prebiotics to boost your immune system, try to maintain regular walking indoors or out, and get some sun on your face at least once a day if possible. Drink lots of water (best warm). Gargle with antiseptic mouthwash or heavily salted warm water often for a full minute. The virus incubates in the back of the throat, it dies in the stomach but thrives in the lungs. Cold liquids encourage cell replication.

Do your part for your Mind. Read and self-educate about the virus, how it works, protection, mitigation, vaccines, routes of infection, activities and medication/supplements that may help. Question, compare, research; empower yourself with tools to best defend and or cope with the virus.

Do your part for your Spirit. Practice mindfulness, self-introspection, listen to music, create, write, sing, play, volunteer, practice peace, compassion for others, pray for others and consult your higher power or you greatest good. Depend on it.

Do your part for your Soul. Practice self-compassion, carefully weigh decisions, compare, compromise and re-create your life to survive.  Do the research. Resist impulse: make well informed choices, draw to your strong suit, be your assets.

The “New Normal” is a term was spawned from the 2008 financial crisis not our current pandemic. Grief from a loss is not a new normal either but has been applied in that context. A shortage of a mediocre commodity like toilet paper is not a new normal. Bars & restaurants closed nationwide is not a new normal. Not being able to hug your children/grandchildren is not a new normal.  This is all out war. Wars end. Life will return to a semblance of what it was. If it does not, we are in trouble.

When there is war at anytime, anywhere as in grief we will have collateral damage and collateral blessings.  From this war with COVID-19 there will be extreme fallout after it has run its course. There will be many casualties. Many unsuspecting individuals will get sick and die leaving the dance floor in the middle of song; no more today and no tomorrow; so much unsaid, unfinished, uncreated, unfulfilled; a life undone.

So many families will be inheriting grief and loss instantly. Something that they never imagined. Life will never be the same and they will have to reimagine their altered path to survive. The whole world will have to reimagine its altered path to survive and for our children to survive, as well as the sustainability of our planet.

This is not a new normal but a new challenge.  The collateral blessing from this virulent pandemic is that just maybe, just maybe,  that in combating this common global enemy together…we may stop killing each other.

Be your best, be prepared. Use this time in the eye of storm wisely and expeditiously, it may just save your life or that of someone you love. Self-Isolate to protect and to inhibit the spread.

This is not a drill, it is not a hoax or conspiracy theory, there will be over a million dead worldwide by summer’s end, and the true journey will begin for each one of us.  Are you be prepared for the coming storm that will follow this calm? Will you be prepared for another storm next year?

Be your best asset. Gather tools, educate your mind.

Practice wise nutrition for your body.

Connect with your higher power to empower your spirit.

Make informed decisions from the seat of your soul. Embrace your uniqueness.

Not being in-sync with our own natural balance is our only weakness.

Make a ripple and ride it like a leaf on a stream. Take your mulligan; be your phoenix; the world is changing; be the change you want to see in the world. Be here now, but for now, do it at home for the greater good.   

Namaste

 

Surviving A Pandemic in the 100 Acre Wood

 

 

 

                                            Surviving A Pandemic in the 100 Acre Wood

A long time ago in the exact geographic center of the North American continent a very extraordinary thing happened. One simple innocent moment in time, one split second decision that changed the world forever and has blessed us all for generations to come.

An English soldier stationed in Manitoba Canada was traveling to London at the advent of WWI.  While in the train station in Winnipeg he spied a trapper trying to sell a small brown bear cub in a cage.  The bear looked hungry and helpless, so he bought it and it traveled with him across the country and soon became a mascot for his troop of soldiers. When reaching London his troop was dispatched to the front lines in France. The soldier had named the bear Winnie after the city of Winnipeg and donated him to the London zoo in 1919.

London writer A.A. Milne author of children’s books often visited the zoo with his young son Christopher to see Winnie. Young Christopher was even allowed into the cage with the docile and friendly bear.  Christopher adored the bear and named him Winnie the Pooh. The name Pooh was taken from the main character in one of his Dad’s book, Poo the swan. The name of a “good friend”.   Winnie the good friend bear.

Later Christopher acquired stuffed animals over a course of several years and ” The 100 Acre Wood” was truly born; several years later his fathered penned Winnie the Pooh.

I find it amazing that one of the worlds most beloved, and enduring characters in fictional writing is based on a true story.  Mr. Milne today would be in jail for child endangerment, as well as pending charges on cruelty to animals while facing extradition to Canada for illegal abduction and transportation of an endangered species. He may have eventually written a book from his jail cell, but it clearly would not have been the same.

The very real story soon became a lovely children’s book, eventually picked up by Disney where it spread faster than herpes at Woodstock; soon hitting every corner of the civilized world. Winnie became a worldwide celebrity overnight.

Why is that? Because good news travels fast. Subliminal good news travels faster than a virus. Metaphor is understood subliminally whether we are cognitive or not of its applications for our life. The characters, the stories, the nuggets of wisdom Milne created in his children’s-book classic has never been more important, and more needed than ever before. Not just for our children, but for our village, each one of us has our own village, our own 100 Acre Wood, our own refuge, our own tapestry of relationships and the matrix of support for our mutual survival.

Without realizing it Milne created fictional characters that reflect the 5 basic archetypal phenotypes of our global village. Personality is created by the morphism of genetic predisposition, epigenetic expression and neural plasticity from persistent environmental cues. We have a basic personality type that is our dominant or built in default mechanism from genetic predisposition combined from our parents from the pairing of 23 chromosomes each, combined which defines our physicality and our tics. Less than .1% of our total DNA defines our uniqueness.  We are 99.9 % all the same DNA, but that small percent in conjunction with our environment creates our dominant personality for survival.

We inherit most of our personality traits that we can doing nothing about, but it does change/fluctuate with our environment and our awareness. Universally we have 5 distinct personality types known as the big 5. The Five Factor Model of personality traits suggests that individual differences in levels personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) are present from a young age.

In working with those who grieve for over 30 years I have seen how important it is to be aware of one’s dominant personality when inheriting a grief journey, one does not expect or anticipate. When we are caught by surprise we default to our strong suit, our dominant character of survival.  When a bilingual person is angered, in great pain or fear they always scream out in their native tongue, it’s their ingrained default. In grief we default to the depth of our experience in loss. We may be clueless and toolless, but some survival mechanism kicks in that we were born with. Which one that is, will be one of, or a combination of the big five to stay alive.

A person can take any personality test, but they all boil down to the big five. One does not need to look any further than reading Winnie the Pooh and looking closely at the 5 main characters to see how they reflect the big five. Find which character you are in the 100 Acre wood and you will have found your strong suit, your default to survive.  Take a close self-assessment/personal inventory of yourself and you will find you are at times many of the characters, but one really bespeaks of how you engage socially; that is your personality you need and use for survival.

In processing grief, facing trauma or daunting social engagement we draw our character strengths automatically, its in our nature.  We also have mirror neurons that allow us to feel emotions that others are exhibiting simply by witnessing the non-verbal cues they express in their communications, which is also in our nature. We are all villagers of the same global village, are hard wired for empathy, compassion and cooperation. It is fear that interferes with that innate understanding

We as humans are born with only two innate fears: the fear of loud noises & the fear of falling, all other fears are manufactured by our experiences. If you are bitten by a snake as a child, you will fear snakes. We fear darkness because we may fall. When there is no light there will be fear. We fear sudden loud noises; it is our fight or flight response when taken by surprise. When we are taken by surprise or caught in the dark there will be fear.  Both are innate.

Light dispels fear in darkness, education dispels fear of falling (being taken by surprise). Create the light and seek knowledge, that is wisdom.

When we know who we are as a person; we are armed by our own assets. We are born as one complete human being, body (animal), mind (intellect), spirit (avatar of animation) and soul, the arbiter for the journey to not only survive but to thrive. Animals can survive but only humans can conceive of choices to thrive. The footprint we leave behind created by the choices we make.  Our bodies may die but our choices do not. Acknowledge and empower the strong suit you were born with, recognize what is in your nature. Listen to your body, listen to your intellect, listen to your higher power, make your best decision from the input from all three -in all things.  The Latin phrase “nosce te ipsum” means: Know Yourself.  Know yourself, be yourself, be your best asset.

Part 2 -Assessment:

How do you relate to people whether at home, work, or play? How do you engage with people most of the time? How do you represent yourself; how do you survive? This is important to knowledge to have when we are in survival mode. How we can survive and mitigate the spread of Covid-19 pandemic?  We must arm ourselves. We are at war with a microscopic alien that is intent on weeding out as much of the world’s very old, its infirm, its weak, the homeless and the destitute.  A science fiction novel has become reality.

We need to empower ourselves to fight this alien attack. P.O.W.ER. is an acronym for the 5 major characters from Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh: Piglet, Owl, Winnie, Eeyore and Rabbit. We are composed of traits from all these colorful and diverse characters built in to one dynamic individual; a personal operating system that we are born with. We are a plethora of human qualities and characteristics that personifies how we act and how we are perceived by others. It provides us our basic personality with its assets and its flaws. It fluctuates with our environment, education and experiences as we try to maintain equilibrium in an unbalanced and ever-changing world. In theory we are an amalgamation of all the characters, but in practice we draw to the strong suit that we are born with. This is especially true when engaging with others from a place of fear and trauma or extreme courage.

So, who are you in the hundred Acre Wood?

Piglet                     

Piglet is an extrovert and one who craves/needs to hug and to be hugged. He/she find the pandemic social restrictions are very frustrating and personal space social distancing almost painful.

Piglet is a person who is open to experience; one who is passionate, inventive, and curious, with an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, and variety of experiences. This person is imaginative, highly independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine with a proclivity for novelty. Piglet can be perceived as unpredictability or having a lack of focus. Moreover, they may seek out intense, euphoric experiences, such as skydiving, living abroad, gambling, et cetera.

Piglets have a general appreciation for beauty and willing to try new things. They tend to be, (when compared to others) more creative and more aware of their feelings. They think more abstractly and are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs. They can be politically active and a champion for racial intolerance and equality. Piglets may start many projects at once; change jobs/frequently or start new careers. Some people may perceive them to have a low attention span, scattered and searching, but regardless they are all about heart. Piglets love to hug, piglets lighten up a room with their energy; they are magnanimous by nature

Owl

Owl is an introvert. Owl is researching, reading daily, downloading and graphing statistics on the disease; Owl purchased sanitizer and TP for a month the day after the Corona virus was announced in Wuhan China. Quarantine has already been in place for years.

Owl is a person with a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or other’s expectations. Owls are in control of how they regulate and direct their impulses and emotions. Owls are quiet, studious and take much pride in academic achievement; often writers and/or teachers. Owls maintain a low profile and stay under the radar.

Owls are highly organized and dependable, establish and maintain routines. Owls prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior and may be perceived as stubborn and resistant to change; Owls may be obsessive in certain personal routines. Although perceived slow to change, they are wise and think before they speak. They are extremely adaptive once they have processed facts to their conclusion. Owls are steady as she goes and very resourceful in chaos and possess many survival skills. Owls love alone time; still waters run deep; Owls are always good counsel.

 

Winnie

Winnie is an omnivert exhibiting both introvert/extravert characteristics that thrives on routine. During the crisis Winnie is still visiting friends, going to work the exact same time etc. but is extremely frustrated not going to his/her daily stool at Starbucks at 8:45 am on the way to work.

Winnie loves social harmony and highly values getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with other. Winnies have an altruistic and affable nature and have an optimistic view of human nature and people in general.

Winnie’s nature of agreeableness positively correlates with the quality of relationships with one’s team members or in any social engagement. Winnies also possess transformational leadership skill; they shine by example. They tend to have many friends and make few enemies. Winnie is compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic. Winnies stay steadfast and hold firm in their convictions; they are comfortable in their own skin. Winnies have a trusting and helpful nature, and what may be naive or submissive is in fact the power of their own vulnerability and probably the most resilient in the face of trauma. Winnies want/need to make a positive difference and usually do.

Eeyore is an introvert and he/she expected the virus would come and that he/she thinks they will most assuredly become a casualty. Eeyore thinks he/she has probably has already got the virus and has spread it everywhere and will quarantine easily but frustrated having no one complain to about getting “ it “ but would give you extra TP if you needed it.  

Eeyores tend to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. Often, they are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress and may complain a lot. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions can persist for long periods of time and they may appear to be in a bad mood or have mood swings.

Eeyores want to stay in the background, they have a desire to help and be of service but often too shy to step forward. Often come to work early and leave late. Always sees projects and tasks to their end and fruition. Dots his I’s and crosses her T’s; always keeping deadlines. Eeyores love to be designated for a task as opposed to volunteering. Eeyores tend to be calm, collected and relaxed in most situations.  Eeyores do not like to take a leadership role or speak in public but excel as a major support person in the background. Eeyore is a steadfast friend and that person who would literally give you the shirt off his/her back or give you a ride home. Eeyores may be complex but are dedicated and trustworthy; people love Eeyore.

Rabbit

Rabbits are obvious extroverts who are championing the war on Covid-19 wherever they can. They are Organizing food/water/ masks for the needy, creating websites and ad hoc support groups, volunteering for public health militias, manning tents and putting up posters. Most are already in jobs that require their presence during the crisis. Rabbits are invaluable during a pandemic.

Rabbits are characterized by high energy with a breadth of activities and have a profound ability to easily engage with the external world easily. Rabbits enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as High Energy or Type A. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility; very talkative they like to assert themselves and may provide their opinion unsolicited. They like to take leadership roles.

Rabbits are extraverted, outgoing and energetic and often over-achievers. Filled with positive energy and emotions, they have a tendency for surgency, immediacy and assertiveness. They are highly sociable and seek stimulation in the company of others. Rabbits are talkative by nature and can be perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Some may consider rabbits to be to be pushy, intolerant and labeled control freaks but regardless they are always there when you need them; they are invaluable in an organization or group for it to be effective. Rabbits are multi-taskers at heart and are great organizers

Summary

It is very likely you will know someone who has been exposed the virus in your family, friends, neighbors and workmates. It is also very likely someone may die from the virus in your community. Whether navigating the waters of uncertain times or navigating your personal trauma/grief journey, draw to your strong suit.

It is highly unlikely that you will be one character alone but rather two or three characters will be prominent and two or three will be less prominent. Which character you resonate with most is likely the most prominent character of your personality.

What is important is to take inventory of ourselves to promote our self-worth and gain confidence in what we can provide and honesty in what we cannot. We must strive to take advantage of our natural strengths and work on our shortcomings.

During this global pandemic crisis:

Be yourself. Be honest. Be your best. Be kind. Express gratitude. Show respect. Wash your hands often.

Be your Winnie, use your Piglet, depend on your Owl, express your Eeyore, energize your Rabbit and remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh:

“You are Braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem and Smarter than you think”

To take test, go to: Free download for the P.O.W.E.R. Personality quiz at   www.heartlightstudios.com

 

Raindance of Resilience

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Do rainy days and Mondays get you down?  Do endless gray days heighten your anxiety? Or does the rain wash away the pain, and the gray skies dilute the light of a nebulous tomorrow?

When my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 1985; we finally had a limited understanding of the persistent health maladies that he had been experiencing for several months.  Daily harsh headaches, nausea, etc. but it was finally the double vision that prompted us to bring him to the ER. They immediately performed emergency surgery to remove a large fast-growing tumor on his brain stem.  The tumor was a called a Medulloblastoma which is most always fatal.

All our pick-up sticks fell off the table.

We signed up for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy so we could kill the lion’s share of our son’s tumor. He died on the operating table for several minutes until he was again revived but was left in a coma for a week. When he awoke and the breathing apparatus was removed, he recounted immediately that he had left his body during surgery and that Jesus held his hand and said, “Kelly you will be well”.  He also said Jesus looked just like Half Nelson, one of his Garbage Pail Kid cards.

Kelly was raised  a very moderate Christmas/Easter Catholic as was I,, he never went to catechism and attended limited Sunday masses; we never discussed the bible at  home but  Kelly as  every kid  in our country knows that on Jesus’s birthday you get presents, so he was acquainted with  Jesus but not on a first name basis.

Something happens to your faith and belief system when your dying child has a conversation with arguably the most famous persona the word has ever known. This can rock one’s world, which it did, and we are still rocking.  We had obviously connected with the hard drive of the universe which left a cookie of continual correspondence upon Kelly’s soul and a timestamp of hope in our hearts.  What happened after that could fill a book which is did: Letters to My Son, Turning Loss to Legacy. That is not what this writing is about although, that was then, this is now.

In 1985 modern medicine was still fighting cancer akin to hitting a fly on a glass table with 30# sledgehammer; we started to kill our son’s body, ravage his brain, numb his soul and test his spirit.  We seemingly had no choice. We followed the rules, listened the doctors and proceeded to slowly poison our son. During that first year Kelly grew dark in spirit and sullen in soul and he would only wear black clothing. He recovered in part physically, but the dark clouds remained; the cancer more persistent then the chemo and he was dying.

Through Make-a-Wish and other circumstances we ended up in Mexico for several months where Kelly had a miracle healing in a small Mexican chapel.  Following the service, he experienced a profound unexplained change physically, mentally, and spiritually and the tumor disappeared. Kelly was feeling great and he started to wear very colorful clothing and smiling all the time.  Something happened in that chapel beyond our explanation; we had our son back.

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We enjoyed the new color of his wardrobe as one appreciates a beautiful sunset. This was his sunset. The last rose of summer, the swan song for a 9-year-old boy.  We had a miracle healing from God that brought color back to his young life that would prove to provide us with 4 more months of living his last days to the fullest that we could muster.

I am so grateful for the many miracles that were  and have been springboards to healing by providing us with so much hope in the darkness of our despair; love is not lost, dead is not gone and heaven is a very real place; I saw it reflected In my son’s eyes, I saw it in the smile that formed on his lips as his paralyzed face relaxed and contracted muscles lost their hold… at the same time  his hand went limp in mine. My son was looking right through me and was obviously seeing something very glorious; then the lights went out, but slowly with a look of gratitude, and recognition accompanied by one last unlabored sigh. Someone was there to bring him home.

Surviving the loss of child in your lives will alter your universe forever. Nothing will ever be the same. We can survive physically; our body demands it.  We can survive mentally; our brain is resilient with plasticity. We can survive emotionally; by the choices that we make and the drugs that we take.  We can survive with all the insights we glean from body, mind and soul, just as one can sit on a three-legged stool and rest, but a four-legged stool is much sturdier. When we embrace spirit, our connectedness to all, our child and to our higher power we create that fourth leg of equilibrium that rules them all. This enables us to not only survive but to thrive.

When the pain is so severe

We soon lose our fear

…and too learn to dance in the rain.

 

MC 2/26/20

The Weight of Grief and Free Radicals

IMG_4682-001When my son died from brain cancer in 1987, I wanted to die too. No one should experience the death of their child. In one fatal swoop time stops and surreality steps in; dropping a coin that lands on its edge, we can’t believe what just happened, it stuns our brain and we step into the twilight zone. Life as we know it will never be the same.

Hearing of or witnessing the death of a loved one, the flight or fight response immediately sends hormonal shockwaves throughout our body with enough Cortisol in our system to paralyze an elephant. We go into shock head to soul. We are ground zero; we are in pause; we are the phoenix preparing, we are the cicada gone underground, the worm in the cocoon, the seed deep in the ground. We have been assaulted body, mind, soul and spirit and the body is our immediate front-line autonomic defense. We are numb because we are, with almost toxic levels of stress hormones.  Over time the levels naturally dissipate until the next “trigger” that may give us a booster shot but overall it can be reduced through mindfulness techniques and diet.

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Our brains are amazingly resilient and can create new neural pathways with consistent repetition as in learning to play the violin. Research indicates that on an average after 66 days of a newly created daily routine, through the process known as neuroplasticity the brain will establish a new pathway of behavior that can become dominant over previous “habits”.  The caveat being what are the new pathways that we are creating in the early days of our grief journey?

When Kelly died, I was 32 years old and in pretty good shape weighing a consistent 175 lbs. regardless of what I ate or drank. I never worked out, not a runner or sports enthusiast but being a bit ADHD, I was always busy. After Kelly died, my busy died too. PBR me ASAP became a very strong new neural pathway, and Brussel sprouts turned into Burger King. I did not give a fuck anymore. Life obviously can be too short, our time here feeling like a spurious assumption of joy at best. There is no gravity, the world just sucks. Life Sucks. I don’t care if I live or die. Call me apathetic…I don’t care. I will eat my way through my despair.

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By the time I turned 42 years old I was up to 225 lbs., balding, wearing bifocals, on medication for blood pressure, high cholesterol, & acid reflux. In those first 10 years I also tore my cornea on  two different occasions, shattered my left heel from falling 30 feet, broke my left leg twice, broke a left finger, tore my left rotator cuff, tore my left knee meniscus, enduring unabated chronic plantar fasciitis in my left foot, as well as intermittent tachycardia with ablation surgery recommended. I was still using those dominant pathways created in the first 3 months of my grief journey, they had become my default drive for 20 years. I was a physical wreck at age 62 and I was afraid my grandbabies would not have a wise old grandpa around to see them graduate.

In January of 2017 I set an intention to get back to my body weight chart of 175 lbs.  I called it the 66-day Heartlight Challenge. At the end of those 66 days I had reached my goal weight shedding 50 pounds and although happy for my success my arthritis seemed much worse in areas where I had broken bones. Not unlike grief  it’s a bone itch that aches and you cannot scratch and it persists. I started to research cosumptionary agents with natural anti-inflammatory properties and discovered that many blue juices (dark berries) have high concentrations of polyphenols, antioxidants called flavonoids which attack free radicals. As the body ages, it loses its ability to fight the effects of free radicals. The result is more free radicals, more oxidative stress, and more damage to cells, which leads to degenerative processes, as well as “normal” aging.

Grief amplifies oxidative stress and we age faster, gray faster, cellular age increases more rapidly, wrinkles etc.  We are the tin man after a rainstorm. These free radicals are one electron short of a full deck and will bond to the electrons of other healthy cells resulting in a weakening and aging of their host’s cellular structure. No different than the rust on your old Ford pickup. Oxidative stress ages it.  I had been stuck in a dark wet place for a long, long time and I was in desperate need of an oil can.

Although I had reached my goal weight, and was off all medications, I did not feel that great and I felt and looked like a skinny old man. This free radical needed more free radicals to stop the deadly progression of stress oxidation going on inside my body. After two years of trial and research on the use of natural juices for relief of discomfort due to arthritis I eventually developed this daily use tonic that I dub blue juice.

Part of reclaiming my vitality was the addition of naturally occurring probiotics & prebiotic in my diet as well as the blue juice concoction. I make my own kefir, yogurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, Kimchee Kombucha & Kvass as part of my staple diet. To aid daily ingestion of probiotics I added some probiotics to my blue juice tonic which is listed in the recipe.  Without these two ingredients you still get all the critical flavonoids from the juices to combat oxidative stress.

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Blue Juice Heartlight Elixir, the oil can for the Tin Man

Basic Recipe for 1 Gallon

  • ½ gallon long steeped (until room temp) green tea. Green teas is robust in antioxidants and the caffeine aids in accelerated metabolization.
  • 2 cups pure Blueberry Juice
  • 2 cups pure Cranberry juice
  • 2 cups pure Red Tart Cherry Juice
  • 2 cups pure Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 cup Kvass which is a  fermented beet tonic (optional)
  • 1 cup Kombucha  fermented sweet tea (optional).
  • If adding probiotics, merely reduce the green tea amount

Drink at least one large glass a day of blue juice, more if arthritis symptoms persist. Drink at least as many glasses of pure water a day. Get some sunshine.

In addition to diet for cellular repair, we need vitamin D directly from the sun. It provides critical elements for cellular, bone and tissue repair. We need at least 15 minutes of outdoor sunshine 3x a week for adequate of levels of Vitamin D; 40% of people in this country (especially the elderly) have deficient levels in vitamin D.  It is the UV ” B” rays in sunshine that turns cholesterol in our skin to Vitamin D and releases serotonin in our system.

Unfortunately UV “B” rays cannot penetrate glass as UV “A” does and we need to be outdoors. The use of sunscreen, body coverings and individuals with dark skin will require longer periods in the sun.  Many women in cultures who are heavily veiled have high incidences of bone rickets from chronic Vitamin D deficiency.  We need sunshine as surely as the cornfields do. Try to ge limited sunshine regularly and/or regular use of a mood light can do much to retard aging and promote cellular health. The use of tanning beds is not encouraged as UV “A” rays are carcinogenic.  We need rays from the sun. We cannot eat enough salmon to get enough vitamin D without getting mercury poison but foods with vitamin D and supplements are highly encouraged October through March.

Vitamin D deficiency is also is the direct mechanics behind Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) when there is not enough sunshine to turn melatonin  into serotonin which is our mood boosting/happiness hormone and why become become sad. When depleted of serotonin sadness, depression and apathy can insert their influence much easier.

Field tested by sufferers of arthritis to include my 90-year-old mother in law who claims it works better than the cortisone shot had received previously. If I am out of town and off my routine for a week, those old familiar places again start to throb…my cells are screaming oil can.  And as the Scarecrow said to the Tin Man “oil can what?” It can reduce the inflammation of oxidative stress. Don’t take my word for it, try it. I drink one or two large glasses of iced blue juice a day, in several days you will feel a marked difference.

On a side note, one unanticipated result I have noticed now on my third year of drinking the tonic every day besides experiencing no/little arthritic pain, is a reduction and even reversal of gray hairs, wrinkles and sagging skin. I have gained some weight back  from the target weight as I did lose some muscle mass losing my weight so quickly. The weight I gained back is some muscle, healthy tendons etc. and not the normal stomach/saddlebags areas where stress fat is stored. Even my toenail fungus disappeared, and my old yellowed nails grew out pink and clear in one year.

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Over 200 years ago the brilliant French physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote:

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”

In English “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”.

Be your best advocate, be your best physician, trust your body to do the right thing but provide it the best fuel and means to do so.

Grief and your diet can both kill you, or it can propel you into an area of your destiny never imagined. Imagine; believe.

MC/2/12/20

 

 

Soylent Green;Salient Point

1-IMG-1733I graduated from Park Hi in Cottage Grove Minnesota in 1973. A vibrant state of the art high school nestled in a growing and expanding neighborhood of the late 50’s called Thompson Grove. It was the brainchild of Orrin Thompson who a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright who wanted to create an affordable neighborhood on the prairies of Minnesota in response to nationwide housing shortages for the new baby boomer generation being born that followed the end of WWII.  Cottage Grove (cabbage grove to islanders) 😊 it was a model for the nation for the newly created idea of “suburbia “. Successful it spread nationwide faster than a fire in California.  Our high school was a model for the times in a model neighborhood; visualize the movie Pleasantville and listen to the song by Pete Seeger “Little boxes” which was his response to Orrin Thompson’s creation in Cottage Grove. (https://youtu.be/XUwUp-D_VV0)

Our school was built amidst the little boxes of the newly created suburbia and students from Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Grey Cloud Island, Denmark Township, Newport and Woodbury all converged to the new High School built in 1965. State of the art school, it had computer Fortran entry data (punch card classes), modular scheduling, and some groovy intern teachers. The area was mostly middle-class white suburban and rural families, lean on diversity but our sports team was monikered the Park Hi Indians (which later changed to the Wolf pack). In 1973 life was good in Cottage Grove, the Vietnam war was winding down, the draft/lottery  had ended, jobs were plentiful, the social vibe was all about peace and love. Pleasantville was real. The world was our oyster.

I remember as a senior in high school reading the book “1984” by George Orwell (circa 1949). It was a frightening vision of a country that had degenerated to a rule by “Big Brother” who was the cult like personality leader of “The Party “who was in political control. Big Brother was depicted as totalitarian ruler who comes into everyone’s homes daily on huge computer screens dictating social reform with government rule and he had absolute power. Although convivial in appearance as part of the republic he was a ruthless dictator and a puppet voice for “The Party” who actually pulled all the strings.

This was written as fiction 70 years ago.

That same year a movie was released called Soylent Green and my girlfriend (my wife now) and I watched it at the Cottage View Drive-in theater that was built the same year as the high school in our uniquely created little suburbia of the future that even had an indoor neighborhood mall.  The drive in had a double feature, Soylent Green and The Exorcist. Soylent Green left a deep impression on me and is the reason for this writing.

The movie was based on book penned in 1966 by Harry Harrison; released into a movie with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in 1973. The movie was set in 2022 New York City. The cumulative effects of overpopulation, pollution and climate catastrophe due to Greenhouse gases (Global warming) had caused severe worldwide shortages of food, water and housing. In the plot there is 40 million people in New York City alone, only the city’s elite can afford spacious apartments, clean water and natural food, and even then, at horrendously high prices. The middle class was gone, there was now only the haves, or the have-nots and the haves controlled the food supply. We find out later the food supply is made from dead bodies…called Soylent Green.

In 1973 the population of New York City was about 7.5 million, today almost 50 years later we are at less than 8.5 million. The move to the suburbs worked, good job Orrin Thompson, quite the visionary you were and continue to be as NYC and other major cities populations decrease each year. Gated communities and massive baby boomer retiree high rises/ villages are growing faster than Kudzu in July causing massive urban emigration and building boom to the burbs. Overcrowding never became the portent of devastation it was touted as becoming, no one envisioned massive suburbs. Climate change on the other hand has reached devastating proportions in our country and across the world.

We saw it coming 70 years ago.

Rising sea levels, melting polar caps, and the hottest temperatures every recorded are breaking records across the world.  February of this year in 2020, both Greenland and Antarctica broke record for highest temperatures ever recorded.  2019 Angola saw its hottest temperature ever measured for any month in February. Australia shattered its record for the hottest summer ever with fires still burning out of control propelling its national average temperature to a new all-time high. Belgium broke its record at 105°F on July 25. France saw its hottest June day on June 28 as the temperature rose 111.7°F. Germany broke its record of 106.7°F on July 25. Kenya saw its highest April temperature on April 20 which hit 106.9 F. The Netherlands broke its record on July 25 at 104.7°F. Poland and Germany each set a new respective June temperature record. Russia set a May temperature record near Siberia 91.22ºF on May 13. Vietnam broke its record for hottest May temperature on May 20 at 109.4ºF. To name a few.

If this keeps up for two more years with blatant ignorance of real data, the movie Soylent Green may now be a harbinger of things to come rather than mere Hollywood fiction. With severe climate change we may to come to a time when food and clean water are in short supply for the masses unilaterally. I hope not, I believe we can be much better stewards of our children’s planet than that. We can help to alleviate the stress our dear Mother Earths is experiencing. She may be having her own growing pains and will cycle as she continues to cool down internally over the eons, but ignorance, apathy, greed and stupidity of external factors that we can control only makes it worse.

In the movie Edgar R. Robinson is an old man who is tired of living in poverty under strict government control. Perpetual apathy, no relief from the continual heat, lack of real food and overcrowding he finds he has no hope, he sees no light at the end of the tunnel. When he finds out that his main diet is made from dead people his loses the last shred of will to survive. The government does although provide an option to “seniors” who are tired of the battle to exist and can go to the “Home Clinic “a government run assisted suicide facility. They sign up on their own free will and are brought in to a one-person in-the-round  movie theater watching glorious 3-D movies of our wonderful planet with a dinner given of their favorite  meal with “ real food ” and of course given a tall glass of special Kool-Aid to drink and they drift off happily… 20 minutes later succumbing to the potion that was delivered. Their body is then  is recycled into Soylent Green.

Fictional yes, but it was that scene left an indelible impression on me. I endorsed his decision had I been face with it, and admired the ease and beauty of which it was accomplished, as he told Charleston Heston, I’m going home. Suicide sometimes may appear as the only viable option. From the towers of 911, from abuse/torture at being held captive, from continual sexual abuse at home or madmen, mental illness, depression, bullying by society itself.

The decision to take one’s own life is one made to relieve pain when there is no hope.  Let us not judge this very difficult decision to end one’s life but honor their courage to make such a lethal decision. Let us avoid charging their legacy with a crime and adding a penumbra of shame to their life and to that of their family.  People die by accident, by disease, natural disasters, natural causes, nefarious intent, pathological evil, war, greed, revenge, politics, anger, self-defense, mental illness, apathy and suicide. Victims of suicide do not commit a crime…they decide to end their pain.

Our onus is to not judge those who have made the decision to take their own life or ascribe personal failure or guilt on our part or theirs. It is difficult at best to know of the inner turmoil people may carry; most often it is disguised very well. We need to decriminalize their legacy and promote avenues of hope for the hopeless. Suicide is not a sin, it is not a crime, it is a symptom of social despair, it is an act of desperation fueled by apathy and ignorance.  Suicide rates increase 2% every year in our country. Now in epidemic proportions in rural America, the armed services and our law enforcement, suicide is now considered a national public health crisis in the United States. So much in fact that the U.S. life expectancy data has been trending down for the past three years from so many cases of suicide and overdose.   Global suicides rates are amazingly down 30% since 2000.  U.S. suicide rates are up 33 % since 2000. This is not hyperbole; we are in a national crisis.

We do not need government suicide clinics, we need to heighten our awareness of social discontent, and reduce the systemic apathy in our country. To reduce the risk of suicide we need to reduce the desperation wherever we see it and encourage other options. To reduce its stigma of shame we need to stop the blame.

Suicide is a decision not made lightly but one usually made in the dark. Spread the light; you can do your part to reduce the risk; shine by example.  We are our brother’s keeper.  Be an encourager, an influencer, a listener, a mentor, a teacher, a guide, a motivator, a forgiver, a helper, a role model, a benefactor, seed planter, healer and friend. It’s in our nature, that spark of divinity that makes us human that is in every one of us. Find it, nurture it, use it. Let’s take back the night.

Science Fiction has become reality. People old and young choosing to end their lives. Suicide rates in our country are at epidemic proportions that we have not ever seen before. Real data happening now.  U.S. Public mass shootings in 2019 was the highest year ever recorded with 41 incidents, 211 fatalities. Real data, happening now. Our Planet currently is melting at rates faster than we have ever seen in recorded history. This is real data happening now.  If this continues unabated, life as we know it will never be the same and I shudder for my grandchildren.

If we collectively do nothing, like in the make-believe world of Fantasia in the movie The Never-Ending Story, the “nothing” will end our world. The nothing is our apathy and where desperation thrives. We are killing ourselves and our planet at unheard of rates. BE DISCONTENT, makes ripples, take the risk to resist; the power of one can make a difference; we are in desperate times. Be the difference; take the risk to be you, nurture kindness; nurture your neighbor, become an influencer of grace; Be here now; Shift happens. Give a shift.