Monday, August 3, 2009

The Cows

At lunch, my coworker brought in a big juicy hamburger from Wendy's and started eating it.

After viewing the life changing documentary that caused me to never look at food the same way, FOOD INC. I was glad I wasn't the one eating that hamburger.

I have no desire to eat this kind of fast food again.

OK, Yesterday I explained a little about the chickens. Today, it's the cows turn.

There are close links between the big food corporations and the government regulatory agencies.

This has resulted in the government's ability to keep the price of corn low, which is a significant ingredient of almost every food item imagineable.

Corn is cheap food for cattle; however, cows have evolved to eat grass and the corn is making them sick. Their diseases are treated with antibiotics, which produce E. coli in their stomachs.

The mass produced cows move through the slaughterhouses so quickly that contamination occurs easily.

So the meat is ground up all together and washed with ammonia. The company said that 90% of our beef is being produced this way.

I never realized what I was putting into my body! Who wants to eat cow shit?

Visit some of your local fast food joints and there is a pretty decent chance you will.

Oh, but don't worry, it's been treated with - what was that, ammonia? Not sure I got my science right here. Go see the film for yourself.

Here is the social action networking sight for this, takecharge,com!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


My partner is very much into organic foods. When I would eat meat that was from Fry's or IGA instead of Whole Foods, he would say to me "Jennifer your eating a very sick animal!" Despite this, I was still not convinced and if I was hungry I would eat a piece of meat that wasn't organic or grass fed. Food is food, right.

Well after seeing the documentary today, my whole opinion has changed. FOOD INC. shows what we don't know about the food industry. It shows just how corrupt and sick it is. Sick with a literal meaning.

Many years ago the industry was full of small companies. It wasn't as big business or as unhealthy.

However, today there are only a handful of big companies of whom the farmers sell their meat. I can't talk about the entire movie in this blog.

But I will start with the chickens. The chicken farmers are required to have mass amounts of chickens and are also required to have them grown and ready to butcher in 49 days instead of the natural way which is usually 3 months.

They give them hormones, and put them in the dark.

When the documentary showed inside the chicken farm. There were so many chickens and not enough space, some of them were dead. Some were even deformed. These were sick critters. They were all standing in their feces. This scene was appalling.

The company that set these requirements and bought these chickens was a common vendor.

The workers would go to the farms to retrieve the chickens and literally throw them alive into their trucks.

It was disgusting. They tried to show more chicken farms in the documentary; however, most of the owners were scared that their contracts with the vendor would be terminated. They didn't feel like risking their lively hood. They even admitted this.

This is just one part of it. I haven't even gotten to the cows. Perhaps, that will be tomorrow's blog.

After watching the documentary, I realized, how we get our food is extremely disturbing. If there is one movie you should see, for your life's sake, it's this one.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why Me?

I was in the surgery room and one of our patients asked the doctor, “Why, oh why, does life give us so much pain?” The doctor responded, "Because if we didn’t go through pain, we wouldn’t progress and evolve."

This is so true. We all face pain of some kind throughout our life.

However, even though it may not feel like it, when life brings us events or situations that cause this, it’s usually beneficial to our evolution. For many of us, joy follows pain.

For example, John was a truck driver for years whose life belonged to the trucking company. Much of his time was spent driving routes accross the country.

Even his free days were spent planning for his next trip.

He didn’t really like his career, but he had bills to pay.

He lived the stressful life many of us endure. He was in survival mode. Because he liked toys, his credit card debt was high.

He bought the dream home he wanted, but didn’t have anyone to share it with and didn't even have time to enjoy it.

He had to pick up extra routes just to pay for the home.

Traveling, didn’t allow him close relationships, though he had old friends whom he spoke to occasionally.

If we asked John what his passion was, he wouldn’t be able to answer. He would give us a dumbfounded expression. Why, he didn’t even know his favorite color.

What he did know, was that he loved to treat himself to Dunkin Donuts every morning and he drank beer in his hotel room to relax after a full day of driving.

Most of his dinners were bought at Mcdonald’s. He wasn’t much of a cook.

Despite this lifestyle, John was never sick. He had always had a stomach of steel and a high immune system to colds and flu. Drunken evenings rarely even caused him hangovers. It was easy for John to take his health for granted.

He didn't take care of his body or health. In fact, he mostly lived out the anxiety his mind created. But, it finally caught up to him.

One day, John woke up in his hotel room feeling dizzy and lethargic. He ran to the bathroom feeling like his bladder was going to explode, but he couldn't pee.

He was forced to see a doctor.

The doctor entered John’s hospital bay after running some tests. He said “Your Bun and creatinine are extremely elevated.” "Mr. Drummond, this is the result of kidney failure.”

John sat there with a look of shock.

“We need to admit you and put a catheter in your chest so you can dialyze as soon as possible before any other organs shut down.” “Your blood is highly toxic, this is serious.” he continued.

The news was just as tragic for John as it would be for any of us.

Life as he had known it had abrubtly come to a halt. He couldn’t travel anymore because he had to have dialysis three times a week four hours a day.

Still in shock and extremely devastated, he leaned forward, cupped his temples with his hands and continued asking, “Why me?” "Why oh why is this happening to me?"

It's amazing how quickly our lives can take a different turn!

JOHNS STORY TO BE CONTINUED.....................................

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chips and Water

On Sundays, we make our weekly Whole Foods shopping trip, and at the corner of the intersection we usually see a homeless person with their “please help” sign.

When I see this sort of thing, I always have the urge to go to the nearest fast food restaurant and grab them a burger, or in this case buy something for them at Whole Foods. I usually pick out some organic kettle corn chips and bottled water.

Many judge these people on our streets. They say they just want money to buy alcohol. But I see the gratefulness of those to whom I give a snack and water. Of course, there are a minority who don’t care to receive food, but I don’t let this cause me to begin looking at everyone on a street corner through a negative, skeptical lens.

What’s your reaction when you see someone on a street corner with their “hungry” sign?

I’ve found people have a variety of reactions. Some feel sorry for such individuals and pity them. Some see it as an opportunity to help. Others feel disgust.

I notice that a lot of us become defensive when a person looks directly at us or holds their hand or hat out, causing us to avert our eyes. We can’t look at them with a steady and centered “no” because to do so embarrasses us, which is why we have to look away.

Even if those who receive financial help sometimes abuse alcohol, we shouldn’t forget that they are a part of the divine oneness like us. So when we feel defensive or disgust, we are separating ourselves from the oneness. In their developing awareness of their divinity, the individual is where they are right now for a reason.

People are homeless for many reasons. In some cases they had a terrible childhood and feel alienated from life, whereas in others they have gone through traumatic events or suffered great misfortune, rendering them incapable of finding employment. And right now, in these hard economic times, many simply can’t find work.

So the question is, should we help or not?

You might argue that some of those at our intersections are just plain con artists. Okay, so I’m not going to go giving them half of my paycheck, though I do buy them some chips and water to enjoy in the heat. We all enjoy treats.

When a person is in so much emotional pain that they can’t function in society, or has experienced a terrible setback that has left them in great need, it’s not my place to become their therapist. I’m not called to analyze why they are the way they are and why they don’t respond differently to what has befallen them.

Until healing comes into a person’s life, we simply can’t expect them to act like responsible individuals. But that’s no reason to close our heart and refrain from acts of kindness.

The simple fact is that even the con artist participates in divinity, and the only reason they are a con artist is because they have lost touch of who they really are. Perhaps my kindness can play a tiny part in helping to awaken their own inherently kind heart? A bottle of water and a bag of chips doesn’t hurt my pocket. Withholding such could hurt my heart.

In other words, I am more concerned about the effect such an encounter has on me than I am whether the individual’s need is legitimate or not. It’s their responsibility to ensure they are authentic—and my responsibility as a person growing in divine consciousness to be loving, compassionate, and caring wherever the opportunity arises.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are You An "Old Soul?"

Have you ever heard the term “old soul” in reference to someone who appears to be wise? This term is used frequently. Why do some people appear to be older souls than others?

Is it really that some of us have had many more previous lives than others, or is that we have integrated our life experience and have gained strength as a result?

As I observe people, I notice that some of us choose to become powerful as a result of our experience, while others of us choose to hold onto our “pitiful me” story and play victim.

An old soul may be someone who has dealt with their experience, faced it, and integrated it. When we do this we become powerful as a result.

In contrast a younger soul may be someone who has never let go of their fear, anger, and grief. Their victim story has become their identity. They let their fear control their life. They may even be negative to be around because they project their fear onto others.

How we act as a result of our experiences determines how we are as people. Some of us use our experiences to become stronger. We become powerful and live productive lives. Some of us get stuck and feel helpless to change our life.

Many seemingly “young” souls do gain an “old” soul perspective after reaching a breakthrough point. I can think of several who have become spiritual teachers, and who today appear to be old souls, who reached a breakthrough point to become who they are today.

Neale Donald Walsch is one example. He was a homeless person before he wrote the extraordinary series of books Conversations with God, which taught millions about consciousness. Was he viewed as an old soul before he became a spiritual teacher? Probably not. Would he be referred to as an old soul after writing the books? I know I see him that way, especially after watching the movie Conversations with God (which is available on DVD).

Eckhart Tolle described his experience of feeling suicidal in The Power of Now. He thought to himself, “I can’t live with myself any longer,” then he realized that “I” and “myself” were different, which was a the doorway to realizing present moment awareness. Today many would view Eckhart as an old soul.

For most of us there’s a breathrough point at which we become what we generally think of as an older soul. In other words, it may be that how we respond to our experiences determines whether we are an older or younger soul, not how many times we may or may not have reincarnated, if in fact reincarnation is how our growth occurs.

It’s when people bring presence to their experiences, allowing themselves to feel their pain and integrate it, that they become the kind of centered and calm person who appears more wise.

In other words being an old soul may not have anything to do with how many previous lives we have had. Being an old soul may be a question of how we handle our experiences—whether we show up in our life, or whether we decide to play victim.

If you’d like to go deeper into this, I recommend Dr David Schnarch’s book Passionate Marriage. It’s not just for those in relationships. It’s all about how we truly grow ourselves up into “old souls.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Not Just You

Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle both say that if we want to find out how conscious and grown up we really are, we just need to pay a visit to our family of origin.

Well, I recently went home to visit family after an absence of two years from them. My mother, God love her, is a wonderful person but sometimes gets stuck in the past. When I go home, she always brings up how difficult I was for her to deal with when I was a child.

I expected this to come up again on my recent visit and knew it would be a challenge for me not to be defensive or reactive. As Michael Brown, author of Alchemy of the Heart, would say, it’s not easy to avoid being emotionally triggered. My two brothers were there, whom I hadn’t seen in years. One of my brothers had a new girlfriend with him.

During dinner, what I had expected faced me: we started talking about the town and mentioned the local children’s home. When I was a child and acting out, my mom would drive me to this children’s home and pretend to leave me there. She at times even drove away for a several minutes, though she would always come back.

Mention of the children’s home opened a can of worms, leading into stories of my childhood tantrums. I felt my body cringe, felt the urge to react and be defensive. I even felt like hatefully saying, “Mom, you always do this to me. Please change the subject.” Instead, I simply sat there. That was a step in the right direction at least.

Then my brother stepped in, rescuing me from my distress. “Don’t worry, “ he encouraged, “your brothers have been dropped off at the children’s home many times also. It’s not just you.” I was thankful for this, and my tension then released.

When I realized my mother was like this with both of my brothers, it became apparent to me that I simply hadn’t been differentiated enough as a person not to personalize and internalize her actions.

My older brother seemed the most differentiated. My mother started to nag him about his twenty-four-year-old son living with him, which led to everyone else questioning why his son was still at home. Before we knew it, we were all lecturing him. In fact, it became the primary subject of our visit.

Finally my brother said, without emotion, “I didn’t come all the way from Texas for this. I would like just to visit and enjoy the family.” Because there was no emotional charge to his statement, we all woke up to what we were doing. It was powerful for me to see how calmly he handled the situation. Had it been me, I would have reacted.

Another scene came up a little later when we started to talk about his divorce. My mom kept asking why he was even attracted to his ex. What was he thinking to be with such a woman? He calmly responded, “Now I am with my present girlfriend, and that’s all that matters.” Mom again realized what she was doing.

I learned through this that responding rather than reacting is the most powerful form of being, difficult as it may be to pull off sometimes.

My brother even said this himself. “When we react to others,” he explained, “they don’t hear the words, but feel the emotional charge, which only makes things worse.” When we respond without an emotional charge, getting the point across is much easier.

I took away two things from that evening with my family: when there’s reactivity, it’s not just me; and it’s much more effective to respond than to react—a practical reinforcement of what I had been learning recently while reading Michael Brown’s Alchemy of the Heart.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"All I want to do is die"

“God, I am sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said as she lay on the procedure table with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I am giving up on life and all I want to do is die.”

She had been a dialysis patient for years, the result of an inherited condition. Born with faulty genetics, she was finally at the point of giving up altogether.

In her mid thirties, she had a daughter and a husband she loved. Although she went to dialysis three days a week for four hours a day just to stay alive, as most people on kidney dialysis do, she was even able to hold down a job.

But now her condition had become far more extreme. As a result of many fistulas and grafts, over the years her veins were beginning to clot and narrow, causing her life lines to slowly diminish.

When she discovered that one of her last life lines, which was a graft, would no longer work and was infected, she was in despair.

This is when, tears rolling down her face, she protested that she was finished with trying to stay alive. “I just want to go to sleep and never wake up,” she sobbed.

It was one of the saddest moments the staff had encountered, and it made everyone realize how much we take our own lives for granted.

But even if we have good health and don’t have to go through the painful experience of this young woman, many of us nevertheless find ourselves in a life situation we aren’t happy with.

Perhaps we aren’t in the career we imagined or don’t live in the nice house we dreamed of. We may even wish we weren’t with the person we are with—or wish we were with someone but find ourselves all alone.

When things don’t go the way we hoped they would, we tend to go through life fighting our situation. Perhaps we get irritated with our loved ones, or we are grumpy and snap at those we work with. In all kinds of ways, we show our discontent.

The trouble is that none of this changes anything.

It doesn’t matter what precise form our discontent takes, at times of disappointment, frustration, or outright despair, there’s only one helpful response: complete and total acceptance.

I can understand the feeling of wanting to die because I have been in enough pain to wish the same thing as this young woman. In extreme pain, it’s an understandable and natural reaction, and I feel for people when they are going through a situation like this. But if we get stuck in the reaction, it isn’t helpful to ourselves or to anyone else.

The fact is, we really don’t want to die: we want to be out of our pain, unhappiness, misery. We want peace.

An amazing thing happens when we stop fighting, quit resisting, end all complaining about what we are going through.

In total surrender to our life situation, we find ourselves entering into what Jesus called the “peace that passes understanding.”

It really is beyond understanding, because it isn’t the kind of peace that comes from everything going right in our life, or from affirmations we tell ourselves, or any other method of trying to be at peace.

The mind, no matter how we manipulate it, can’t bring us peace. We can’t think our way into a peaceful state.

Inner peace is a state that has always been with us. It’s always been with us because it’s our very nature.

Even in our most painful or stormy moments, beneath all of the things we are experiencing, our peace has never gone away. We simply haven’t entered into our inner being, where alone we can experience it.

In the moment of surrender, our anxious thoughts and turbulent emotions die down. As we come to a place of stillness, we unexpectedly find the peace that is an aspect of our very being arising and suffusing our life.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Are You Controlling Me?"

“I am an independent women and I don’t want anyone trying to control me!” Sounds a bit egoic, doesn’t it?

I felt this way a few weeks ago; however, I learned a huge lesson about control recently. I’ll relate this vignette then discuss my new insight.

My new partner and I went to Stonehill winery in Missouri. It was so beautiful, and we ate at a delicious German restaurant. We tasted the wines in hope of drinking them for the remainder of our weekend. As we were in line to buy our chosen wines, I went to get a wine glass with the winery name on it.

This isn’t something new on my winery visits. When I go to a winery, I buy a souvenir glass with the winery's logo on it. I enjoy having a collection.

As I was reaching for the glass, my new boyfriend of six months told me not to get the glass. I said “Why?”

He said, “Don’t get it because you will not be able to take it on the plane and we don’t want to check bags in.” I listened and instantly felt myself feel reactive. At that moment I didn’t actual react but put the wine glass back.

When we were in the car, I felt a bit of anger in myself. I told him, “You just tried to control me and no one controls me. I am not someone you can control. If I want a wine glass, then I will very well get one.” (As I drive away without the glass!)

It was a reaction not a response. Once I cooled off and reflected on this, I saw it as funny. People can be controlling, and the wine glass issue could have been controlling, or there may have been a valid point there. There is a fifteen dollar charge for checking in bags now on the airline we flew back on. Either way, it didn’t matter.

The point is that when we react to things like this, we are not clear because we have an emotional charge. I reacted because I have a fear of being controlled. This situation brought an awareness to something deep within me that needed to be dealt with.

Looking back on the situation, it wasn’t about being controlled at all. If I really wanted to get the wine glass, and if I had a hold of myself, I would have had the winery send it to me. However, I didn’t have enough presence to even think of this because of my reactive state.

What I learned through this experience is the only reason we feel like someone is controlling us is because we are not in control of ourselves. No one can control us if we have a firm rein on ourselves—if we are solid in ourselves.

After calming down and realizing I had reacted, on the same day at the second winery, I bought a souvenir glass! :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reflection of Self

A coworker of mine recently visited Germany with her husband to reunite with her father-in-law and meet the new mother-in-law. She said Germany was beautiful, but her time there was full of emotional drama.

She noticed her father-in-law taking pain pills, and she learned from her new mother-in-law that he was addicted to pain pills and had a gambling problem. Her father-in-law apparently came to work high and embarrassed his new wife.

My coworker reacted and became enraged at him. She confronted him and lectured him, in response to which he became defensive. Her husband was also upset because of how harsh and forward she was with her father-in-law. It turned their vacation into a nightmare of stress and drama.

She consistently interfered with the situation, and even when she talked about Germany at work, she went on and on about how awful her father-in-law was. How he was ruining his new wife’s life, and how bad they were in debt. She spent our whole lunchtime complaining about this man.

Emotionally reacting to someone else’s life and behavior is interfering, which Michael Brown, author of Alchemy of the Heart, likes to call going “into fear.” The person’s behavior triggers us because if frightens us.

So caught up in the drama was my coworker that it felt as though I was living the Germany nightmare with her as she played it out all over again.

In due course, my coworker realized what she was doing and expressed that she regretted making a scene and ruining their time in Germany. She had just plain overreacted. Still, despite this admission, she continued to be emotionally triggered.

I said to her, “This has really gotten to you emotionally, but in reality it has nothing to do with you.” She agreed. Then I asked her why this situation was so emotionally triggering for her. “Did you have anyone in your family who was addicted to pills or alcohol and also had a gambling problem?

Her response was, “Why, yes! My father was a drunk and had a gambling problem.”

I explained, “That is why seeing this has made you so angry. It isn’t about your father-in-law. This is about you getting over your own childhood.”

I’m not saying it is okay for the father-in-law to be in the state he is in. I’m saying that any time we react to anything, no matter what it is, it’s because we’re seeing a reflection of our own self.

No one’s behaviors can affect us unless we have something inside of us that we havn’t quite dealt with. This wasn’t about the father-in-law, but about what emotionally triggered her.
Of course, I recognize that when I told my coworker how I understood what had happened, I too might be interfering! Maybe the one difference was that I didn’t do so with any form of emotional charge. A saving grace, perhaps