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Bret S. Beall

Seasoned Living
Winter 2010

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.


In early 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 country air. 

Well, maybe 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 plain scary.). 

Shallow 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. 

Nature/The 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!

As most 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 Cajun Connection, www.ronscajunconnection.com.  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!

There are 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.

Other tactile 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.

Let’s not 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

That comes out of good soil

Needs nourishment to germinate,

So it can sprout

And grow strong:

A kiss from the rain,

One more from the sun,

And a little time to talk

With the clouds under the sky.

Even a flower,

A human like me

Wants to live every day

In deep breaths.

A human’s love and law,

A human’s purest kind,

To be just the one she is,

Even as a child,

Even on earth,

Even as a flower.

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 Reserved.

Lifestyle Management and Seasoned Living

Read Past "Seasoned Living" Columns:

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"

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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