by Bret S. Beall
Seasoned. Adj. 1: flavorful, zesty,
interesting; 2: cured, tempered; 3: improved or enhanced
via experience; 4: colloq: of or pertaining to the
Living. Noun. Maintaining life in a particular
manner or style; vitality.
STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! BREATHE!
December, I spent a wonderful weekend in rural
Illinois. It was great to just get out of the fast
lane, visit an area where my cell phone wouldn’t work,
see the sights of this area I had never previously
visited, listen to the sounds of late autumn and early
winter, and breathe deeply and consciously of the clean
the country air wasn’t “that” clean, in that one of the
dominant aromas was wood smoke, though it was so diluted
it just added to the charm created by scents of leaves
and evergreens and other country treats. Certainly,
this air was much cleaner than my usual air in Chicago.
Chicago’s toxic air leads to intentionally shallow
breathing at times, and that is not healthy (of course,
inhaling toxins is also unhealthy, and inhaling stinky
scents is just unpleasant … some of the scents that I
encounter on the Chicago Transit Authority are just
breaths are best avoided at all costs. We need to wake
up and consciously breathe. Breathe deeply. Let the
air fill our lungs so that oxygen can permeate our
bloodstream, and we can feel truly alive. Breathing is
actually controlled by part of the autonomic nervous
system, so it will happen automatically, but that is
different from mindful, intentional, conscious
breathing, where we take control of our inhalations, and
bring peace and calm to our lives.
Universe has provided us with so many wonderful
reminders to breathe consciously and deeply! We just
need to awaken to the world around us, be aware of our
senses, and allow ourselves to be reminded until we
habituate conscious, deep breathing. As I wrote above,
there are wonderful aromas everywhere. For example,
apple season has just passed, and I’ve been enjoying
lots of local apple cider, which touches both my senses
of taste and smell. Fresh apple cider smells so good, I
always breathe more deeply to enjoy it. A friend is
planning her tree-trimming party, and will serve mulled
cider at her party; there will be lots of conscious,
deep breathing there!
people know, I’m really into food and drink, and love
the sensations of both. My recent trip to rural Utica,
IL, allowed me to visit an amazing restaurant, Ron’s
I was simply amazed that I could get one of the best
restaurant meals of my life in this rural Illinois town,
and that the Cajun seafood I enjoyed (rich gumbo,
perfectly fried soft-shelled crab, moist and tender
shrimp, velvety shrimp etouffee, and the best
hushpuppies I’ve had in 25 years, when my beloved late
mother made them for me! Blacked Voodoo beer, and some
pecan pie accented by Tabasco® … sorry, very little of
this delicious meal was local) repeatedly made me say,
“Wow!” and I felt air fill my lungs! The aromas were so
spectacular that I took intentional deep breaths with
every bite. Just be careful about eating, drinking and
taking deep breaths at the same time!
also tactile reminders to breathe deeply and
consciously. Take my Ragdoll cat, Muscat. He’s almost
20 pounds of fluff, so when he wants your attention, you
don’t really have much choice but to give it to him. He
loves to lie next to me on the loveseat, and as I stroke
him, he’ll sometimes roll over on his back, baring his
belly. I will automatically take in a gasp of air, as
he’s showing the love and trust he places in me. Then,
as I continue to pet him, I will relax, and breathe more
deeply, and more consciously. Our mutual love helps
both of us as we breathe more healthily.
reminders include my winter clothes or bedding. Though
I’m not happy about the single digit temperatures
assailing Chicago as I type this, I AM enjoying the wool
sweaters and heavy cotton shirts that I only get to wear
in this type of weather. They feel great, and make me
glad that I live in a place that has seasonality. When
I am mindful in my enjoyment of this tactile pleasure, I
will sometime exhale in an unintentional “ohhhhh,” and
then deeply inhale from the joy on my skin. Those
unintentional actions eventually become intentional and
mindful, and so by being aware of this kind of sensory
input, I will breathe consciously.
forget the sounds of the season! Just sit back and
relax as you listen to your favorite tunes. Yes, sit
back and inhale deeply. You can choose to use calming
music, which is always appropriate when one is trying to
habituate deep, conscious breathing. Or, you can choose
something upbeat and energizing, which will make you
want to move and shake your groove “thang,” and thus
automatically breathe, albeit not so consciously, LOL.
Or, sometimes you might choose to select some music that
you can’t even understand, just to shake yourself from
your normal behavior.
When I first
learned that the theme of this issue of
SoulfulLiving.com would be “conscious breathing,” I
immediately thought of a song by one of my favorite
performers, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, the dark haired
singer from ABBA. Both pre- and post-ABBA, she released
a number of solo albums. All of her pre-ABBA albums are
in Swedish; post-ABBA, she released two highly acclaimed
English albums, and then in 1996, she returned to her
native Swedish for another highly acclaimed album
entitled, “Djupa Andetag,” or “Deep Breaths.” That
phrase is part of the refrain of a delightful tune
called, “Även en Blomma” (“Even a Flower”), words and
music by Anders Glenmark (©1996) and even if you don’t
understand Swedish, which I don’t, it’s a great song.
When you read the translated lyrics, the song makes an
even greater impression:
Even a flower
out of good soil
nourishment to germinate,
So it can
A kiss from
One more from
And a little
time to talk
clouds under the sky.
A human like
Wants to live
love and law,
To be just
the one she is,
Even as a
Even as a
Check it out
on YouTube.com, and you’ll understand why the memory of
finding this CD in a record store in San Francisco in
1996 makes me so happy. I had just finished with my
part of planning a major event in my hometown, and I had
some time to myself. I was wandering through the Union
Square area, and stumbled upon a record store. I knew
Frida had just released a new CD in Sweden, so I went to
the “ABBA” bin, and there was the new CD, “Djupa Andetag”!
I let out a gasp, and then inhaled deeply, and felt a
great calm come over me as I grabbed the only copy of
the CD and made my way to the checkout counter. It has
brought me hours of pleasure (and deep, intentional
breathing) over the past almost 14 years.
And so has
living mindfully, consciously and seasonally! By paying
attention to the sensory input around us, we can truly
enhance both the pleasure of our daily existences, and
our health as we slow down to appreciate life, which is
just what I did in rural Illinois recently. Stop your
daily routine! Look around you at the beauty of the
seasonal world! Listen to the sounds that make up the
tapestry of our environment! And BREATHE! This is the
essence life. Live it!
© Copyright 2010 Bret S. Beall. All Rights
Read Past "Seasoned
Fall 2009- Being
Mindful Every Day
Summer/Fall 2008 Celebrate Your Life Every Day
Winter-Spring 2008 - "Your Personal Power Can Save the World"
Spring-Summer 2007 - "Spring Forward and Connect"
Winter 2006-'07 - "The Awe of Autumn and the Wonder of Winter"
Summer-Fall 2006 - "Tis the Season to Be Courageous"
Jan-Apr 2006 - "Life is a Lesson in Every Season"
Oct-Dec 2005 - "Honk if You Love Silence"
July-Sept 2005 - "A Recipe for Balanced Living"
April-June 2005 - "Trash and Treasure"
2005 - "Life Reflection: Looking Into Mirrors"
Bret S. Beall, MS, PhD (Cand). As the CEO of GOD-DESS,
I help people live fantastic lives with minimal time,
effort or money. I have used my rigorous scientific
training to synthesize psychology, sensory input, and
logic, with global cuisine, décor, lifestyle concepts,
indoor gardening and travel for each individual in an
easy-to-understand, easy-to-create and easy-to-maintain
style. For more information, please visit my website,
or call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at email@example.com.
Let’s start at the beginning,
though. I was born in California’s San Francisco Bay
area and lived there until I was seven. During this
time, my family often took vacations to the seashore and
to the redwood forests. There, I first felt the great
interconnectedness of all life. At seven, I moved with
my family to St. Louis, Missouri, where I continued my
environmental interests (including growing houseplants).
When I was twelve, we moved to the Ozarks of southern
Missouri, where I lived on a farm and witnessed
intimately the cycle of birth, life and death. We raised
cattle, ducks, geese and rabbits, and I worked on our
neighbor’s pig farm; we also grew a variety of produce
and I first learned about preparing and preserving food.
It was also at this time that I truly began acting on my
interests in art, design and esthetics.
I did my undergraduate work in
geology at the University of Missouri - Columbia,
graduating with general honors and honors in geology; my
coursework included a typical array of liberal arts
courses (art, philosophy, history) along with the
sciences (geology, physics, chemistry, biology,
anthropology). By living in an off-campus efficiency, I
learned the basics of simple cooking and living. After
graduation, I went on to Masters and PhD work in
evolutionary paleontology at The University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor; my studies included geology, paleontology,
biology, ecology and evolution, all presented within the
framework of proper scientific methodology.
Ann Arbor has a terrific
Farmer’s Market, which inspired me and helped me to
act on my interest in ethnic cuisines and entertaining;
this had to be done on a budget (given my graduate
student salary) and efficiently (given my graduate
student time requirements). I satisfied my artistic
inclinations by doing extensive scientific illustration
to accompany my original research. Teaching courses and
speaking publicly at student seminars, at national and
international meetings, and at various clubs and
organizational meetings provided a level of excitement I
had not experienced previously as I shared the
information and data that I had collected. “Sharing”
was the key, I realized, and this is when the seeds of
GOD-DESS were planted.
I left Ann Arbor for
Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to accept a
position as Curatorial Coordinator of Mazon Creek
Paleontology. My long hours working on both museum
responsibilities and my own research required living
both time-efficiently and cost-effectively. In a very
short period of time, I realized I did not want to spend
the rest of my life within the academic world. I had
already experienced a high level of international
success, praise and recognition, for which I am grateful
(including making it into the Guinness Book of World
Records, and having Johnny Carson make a joke about
my research on The Tonight Show). I
eventually left the rarefied world of paleontology. This
is when the seeds of GOD-DESS began to sprout and grow.
I spent the next decade in the
field of not-for-profit healthcare association
management, honing my skills in efficiency maximization,
streamlining, prioritization, customer service,
budgeting, organization, communication and
simplification, and applying the rigors of my scientific
training to the needs of my clients. My clients
experienced extraordinary growth and profitability.
Although my salary was better
than it was in academia, I still practiced my
cost-efficient living, including preparing meals at home
to eat at work. The hours were often very long, so
time-effectiveness and efficiency-management continued
to be important, if not vital. I traveled extensively in
my various roles (including organizational
representative, event organizer, executive manager, and
lecturer); often, I tacked on vacation time to
cost-effectively explore the various cities and regions
that I was fortunate to visit, which further enhanced my
travel planning skills. On my own time during this
decade, GOD-DESS grew into a fledgling company, relying
on the empiricism of my own experiences and my research.
After more than a decade of
helping my clients experience almost 900% budgetary
growth, 900% membership growth, 400% meeting attendance
growth, and enhanced visibility that cannot be
quantified, I knew it was time to become my own boss and
devote myself 100% to GOD-DESS.
I believe we are always in the
right place at the right time. Because of that belief,
everything that I do, whether paleontology, or executive
healthcare management, or lifestyle counseling, I do
well, to the absolute best of my abilities. A lifetime
of experience and research has now created GOD-DESS and
everything it can do for you. I am grateful.
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