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Bret S. Beall

Seasoned Living
A Quarterly Column
April-June 2005

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.

Trash and Treasure

Spring has sprung here at Casa Beall in Chicago, and I find myself thinking about throwing open the windows to bring in fresh air. I find myself thinking about what I need to do to refresh my home and life. I contemplate renewal and rebirth. I meditate on what I need to grow into a better person. Much of the answer to these thoughts, contemplations and meditations can be summarized in two words: spring cleaning!

True (ie, "deep") spring cleaning is about dealing properly with the "stuff" we might find, uncover or discover in the process, whether it’s trash or treasure! It’s more than merely purging. Of course, anyone who has read my various writings knows that I am a huge fan of purging (ie, "getting rid of stuff"). Much of this perspective is recorded in my article on "Letting Go" at http://www.soulfulliving.com/logic_letting_go.htm. Since my goal is to always cover new ground with my writings, to move forward, rather than to revisit the past, this column is going to have a somewhat different orientation.

"The Logic of Letting Go" was a theoretical framework of "letting go" and "purging," with an emphasis on the different types of "getting rid of stuff." This column, "Trash and Treasure," is also theoretical, but with an emphasis on the actual process of "spring cleaning" (materially, psychologically and spiritually), especially where that process yields wonderful discoveries of both trash and treasure (and what those discoveries mean for enhancing our lives and helping us grow).

When beginning spring cleaning, it’s useful to have some sort of general plan about how to proceed, but that plan should be very flexible, and it is good to avoid any preconceptions about what the precise results of the cleaning should be. I generally start with a general cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, washing, tossing out trash). Once the general cleaning is done, it is easier to go in for a deep cleaning, slowly, one room at a time, getting behind and under and inside of structures that are usually in the way of general cleaning. Deep spring cleaning gets into the dark recesses that we usually gloss over during routine cleaning. The goal is to make everything tidy, visually satisfying and aromatically pleasing … to freshen our external environment, thus refreshing and enlivening ourselves.

Once you get into those dark corners, it is amazing, even shocking, what you’ll find. Sometimes you’ll uncover some really disgusting stuff! Maybe you’ll discover what was once a piece of fruit that rolled under a piece of furniture. Perhaps behind the living room chair you’ll find an unfortunate example of kitty yark. I know people who have found dead rodents in those hidden recesses, where they decayed and festered and grew nastier over time.

Sorry to be so graphic, but I needed to make a counterpoint: sometimes we find treasures in those hidden corners! In my own case, the treasure has been as mundane as recovering a plastic bottle that was the perfect size for week’s worth of mouthwash for my travels (the cats found it a great play toy, and it ended up under the couch). I’ve found books that have slipped under furniture, or behind bookcases. I have rediscovered photographs, articles, clippings and reprints that the cats decided to "file" in the wrong place (also known as "playing"). My favorite is finding money; for some reason, that doesn’t happen too often, but I keep looking! I’m hopeful.

As you must suspect, this discussion of physical spring cleaning is a metaphor for psychological and spiritual spring cleaning. Spring is an ideal time for such "inner" cleaning, as the increasing warmth and light (after a long, dark, cold winter) can provide a supportive, comforting backdrop to the hard work of investigating the dim, hidden, sometimes scary recesses of our psyches. As with physical spring cleaning, we have the opportunity to uncover both trash and treasures; we have to uncover both to truly grow psychologically and spiritually! Spring is great time for growing!

We have to discover and reveal the internal trash, because this psychological and spiritual trash, like physical trash, will fester, rot, decay and pollute everything around it. The sooner you discover the trash, the sooner it is possible to mend the pollution it caused. Unfortunately, it is often easier to just avoid or overlook this trash, but that allows it to continue contaminating everything else (which isn’t pretty!). We have to summon our personal strength and desire to grow to clean out the trash residing in the dark, dank recesses of our psyches. This trash has accumulated over many years in most cases, so it may take a while to properly handle the trash, but now is the time to start working on exposing it, managing it, and then getting rid of it. If you need help, get help.

At the same time, once we rid ourselves of the trash, treasures often come into view. These treasures are the happy memories, the positive accomplishments, the hopeful dreams and the joyful intentions. Sometimes these treasures get beaten down, hidden and buried by the trash, but they need to be brought to the forefront! They need to be refreshed, encouraged, nurtured, and allowed to grow to their full potential. These treasures are the foundation on which our futures are built!

Speaking from personal experience, one of the biggest pieces of trash I had to extricate from my psyche was "ego." This was difficult, because "ego" was tangled with "self-esteem," and together, these two mindsets formed a dangerous, out-of-balance dance that at one point seriously threatened my well-being. Too much ego, and too little self-esteem, and when they came together, they pushed anger and fear to the forefront, obscuring everything else.

But that’s the cool thing! With anger and fear so visible, it was possible to deal with them and heal them! Just as with spring cleaning, getting into the deep recesses, it is possible to get rid of the trash instead of just glossing over it. It’s harder work to get in there for the deep cleaning, but it’s worthwhile! In my own case, once ego, anger and fear were revealed and (mostly) purged, some amazing treasures came into view; modesty and humility prevent my presenting specific details!

The process can also be really intimidating, because you never know what you are going to discover. In that way, I am reminded of the story of Pandora’s box. Just to give you some insight into the unconventional way my mind works, the entire story of Pandora’s box is irrelevant to my essay, except for the very end. You see, if you think of Pandora’s box as symbolic of either your home, or your psyche, you will realize that they all contain a lot of trash (Pandora’s box contained all of the ills of the world, until they were released onto an unsuspecting humanity). But, once you get rid of the trash, you will find Hope. Hope helps every problem. Hope is one of the greatest discoveries, a true treasure! Allow Hope to blossom.

Once you clear out the trash, you can display the treasures. This is true not only for physical cleaning, but also for psychic purging. You deserve a home as free of debris as possible, and you deserve a psyche equally free of obstacles. You deserve freshness, beauty and joy both outside and in. Your home is a sanctuary that should function to nourish and comfort your psyche. Your psyche (or your soul) is your essence, and it is sacred; it deserves the opportunity to flourish, to allow you to be all that you can be. Put your best face forward. Share your treasures with others so that they, too, can grow.

Even though the cleaning metaphor invokes spring, this effort of self-discovery should be ongoing! We are imperfect beings by nature, so we are always works in progress, always growing, always improving. I’m very fond of the expression, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Don’t procrastinate. Get those houses (physical and spiritual) clean! Get some fresh air in your life!

Don’t try to do everything at once. Begin your Path of discovery (and spring cleaning) slowly, but surely. Abandon perfection. Embrace Hope. Find your personal treasures!

© Copyright 2005 Bret S. Beall.  All Rights Reserved.


Lifestyle Management and Seasoned Living

Read Past "Seasoned Living" Columns:

Jan-Mar 2004 - "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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