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Bret S. Beall

Seasoned Living
Summer 2009

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 seasons.

. Noun. Maintaining life in a particular manner or style; vitality.

Seasons Change, Lives Change

Here in Chicago, we joke, "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes, and it will change."  While that is a slight exaggeration, the point I want to emphasize is that we must WAIT for change.  We have no control over the weather. 

This column usually is about how to live with the changing seasons in the most harmonious, life-enhancing way.  We accept that seasons WILL change, and that we must adapt to that change.  Oh, sure, we might complain about the rain, or the snow, or the heat (I really complain about the heat), but complaining makes no difference:  adaptation is necessary.  We do what we must to be happy, healthy and comfortable.

If we make the effort to be happy, healthy and comfortable with the weather, which we cannot change, can we do the same with our lives?  The question before us is whether we can make changes in our lives that will end up making us happier, healthier and more comfortable, or must we accept our lives as they are.  What do you think?

I think that the answer is "Yes and No."  I think that it's a matter of degree.  I also think that it's a matter of intent and perspective. Finally, I think that the best way to illustrate these points is by sharing anecdotes from my own life. 


A couple of years ago, I had what I call the "client from Hell."  I desperately needed the money, so I tolerated their abuse and disrespect for ten months, when they severed our relationship with no warning.  Sadly, during those ten months, I engaged in what is called "stress eating." Without realizing it, I put on about forty extra pounds!  As a life-long proponent of healthy eating and living, this was humiliating for me!  I was not walking my talk, and I had to CHANGE!  And I did!  Within 24 hours of our relationship being severed, my breathing improved, my back pain
disappeared, my mental acuity returned, and I abandoned the stress eating. That severance happened on the first day of spring, and I took that as a sign to embrace lots of change, including focusing on my writing, and my consulting, and my recipe development.  With spring beginning, I had access to the farmers markets, and once again began creating the healthy and delicious food for which I am known.  I ate proper meals, I avoided "crap food," and slowly but surely, the weight began to fall off.  I made these positive changes in my life, and within a year, thirty to thirty-five pounds had dropped off.  Now, I must admit that I still have another five to ten pounds to lose, but my metabolism is not what it used to be, and I have to work harder to lose those extra pounds.  Still, I'm feeling happier, healthier and more comfortable than ever before. 


During my twenties and early thirties, I was a self-described "angry young man."  Most of the time, I was the nicest person you could know, and I was helping people right and left.  But, if something went wrong, I could explode in fury, often terrifying those around me.  Sometimes this worked to my advantage, but most of the time, it created additional problems, and hindered promotions and other advancements.  I'm sad to say that there were actually some people who were afraid of me. 

When I was 35, I started pursuing psychological counseling, and after three failed attempts with inept counselors, I finally began work with a counselor who had the ability to help me heal.  She helped me understand the source of my anger, which was fear, and then helped me purge and heal the fear.  I don't want to fool anyone; this was an extremely gut-wrenching activity, having to re-live the saddest, most hurtful episodes of my life, but it was necessary.  To this day, I still cannot believe how much happier, healthier and more comfortable I am post-counseling than I was pre-counseling.  This was a very difficult and painful change to make, but I made it, and I'm
grateful beyond words. 


Some years ago, I made some bad financial decisions, and found myself in difficult financial straits.  This caused me to take clients I didn't want to take (see "client from Hell" above), to work on projects that didn't please me, and in general, to worry about my future.  During this period, I kept asking myself, "Why is this happening to me?" 

It was during this period that I truly embraced the concept of "Going with the Flow."  During the period I was with the "client from Hell," I wrote several columns at www.god-dess.com about my "Going with the Flow," and found them both therapeutic and life-enhancing to write.  This is part of accepting a more spiritual approach to living, because if we believe that God/Goddess/Spirit/Deity/Universe wishes only the best for us, a spiritual approach is the easiest, most practical, even the most rational way to deal with unfortunate circumstances. 

In the first sentence of the above paragraph, I used the word, "truly" to describe my embracing "Going with the Flow."  I used "truly" because previously, I had half-heartedly embraced the concept.  When my PhD advisor stabbed me in the back and sabotaged my international reputation, I walked away thinking, "I'll just go with the flow, and follow my bliss," but I was
still devastated by what he did to me.  I started my next career in executive not-for-profit healthcare management to pay the bills while I was starting my own company, Global Organic Designs - Discovering Earth's Science & Spirit, or GOD-DESS.  When progress on my own company was slow due to debilitating responsibilities with my healthcare career, I again decided
to "go with the Flow," and the Flow eventually led me to healing past pains (see "Moderate Changes" above).   While I made the change in my life to seek counseling, I couldn't change the job-related variables that were making my life miserable, despite trying for new jobs and positions.  Some things are just beyond our control.

When I eventually left healthcare to devote all of my attention to GOD-DESS, I felt a great relief and much excitement.  I dove into extensive research, and discovered ideas and connections never known to mankind previously.  I knew it would take a while to turn these ideas into books, so I started pursuing another aspect of GOD-DESS, Senses of Living® décor in order to generate income.  I had numerous designs for kitchenware and table settings, and ideas for aromatic enhancements to décor.  I pursued organic, third world, free-trade vendors, and local artisans.  Just as I was on the cusp of making things happen, several unimaginable things happened.  First, my local artisan demonstrated a complete inability to produce my ceramic designs, but she charged me several hundred dollars to see that demonstration (while
verbally trashing my designs).  Secondly, my primary provider of aromatic incense, candles and soap was deported due to post 9-11 policies.  Finally, my investments in these ventures put me in a horrible financial position, and I had to seek standard employment elsewhere.  I found myself asking, "Why, when I'm trying to help people live better lives, is this happening to me?" 

The answer to that question has been slow in coming.  Had my financial investments not drained me, I would not have had to accept the client from Hell, which caused a weight gain, but which also provided me with affirmation of my skill and talent in management and customer service.  That client from Hell paid me well enough to get back on my feet financially, and to begin work with affordable housing; as someone who came "this close" to homelessness, I could empathize with the clientele, and bring a perspective that no one else in the company could.  And that gig introduced me to a coworker who gave me some fantastic furniture that had the cascading effect
of forcing me to reorganize much of Casa Beall, and all of my GOD-DESS research files, in order to accommodate the furniture.  I know this reorganization, in which I am in the middle as I write this, is the best thing that could have happened to me, but I never would have planned it.  It
just happened.  Or did it?

As you can see, at every stage of my ontogeny, I have worked hard to manifest the life of my dreams; my life has been great, far better and more interesting than I could have dreamed, but not WHAT I dreamed.   My life is far from over (I hope), and there are many things that I would still like to change, and I am working to change them.  Some things I can change relatively quickly and easily, like purchasing a hutch to house the assortment of dishware now occupying a good portion of my dining room table. Other things are taking longer to change, like my reorganization of GOD-DESS.  There's also my goal to finish my books to help an even larger
number of people to live better, live more and be more.  I do what I think is best, but the results don't always manifest, and I am reminded of one of my favorite statements, the old Yiddish saying, "Man plans, God laughs."

The gist of "Man plans, God laughs" is that while we have freewill to live, and can make all sorts of plans to change our lives as we want them, we must realize that God/Goddess/Spirit/Deity/Universe has definite goals for us spiritually, and that spiritual Path may be inconsistent with our other plans.  If we accept that we are spiritual beings, then we must not be surprised when something doesn't go as planned.  Rather, that's a sign to take a look at the factors surrounding why something didn't happen as we hoped, and use that opportunity to grow spiritually. 

So, when something doesn't suit you, or doesn't occur as you'd like it to, you can choose to keep pushing the change you want.  Maybe it will happen, and maybe it won't.  But also take some time to realize that as a spiritual being, you may need to address higher goals, and that requires your effort to identify those spiritual goals, and make those new changes, not the old
ones you planned.  If you don't, you may find yourself stuck in the same old patterns which, like the weather, you really cannot change. 

Embrace your spiritual Path, and become the being you are destined to be. You will find yourself happier, healthier and more comfortable than you've ever been, every day, every month and every season.

© Copyright 2009 Bret S. Beall.  All Rights Reserved.

Lifestyle Management and Seasoned Living

Read Past "Seasoned Living" Columns:

 Spring 2009 Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom and Serenity

 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"

Jan-Mar 2005 - "Life Reflection: Looking Into Mirrors"

Bret S. Beall
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, www.god-dess.com, or call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at bret@god-dess.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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