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An outlet. For energy.

March 17th, 2015

outletI don’t remember exactly when it happened, but sometime before Christmas (yes, that long ago), the outlet in my upstairs bathroom let out a puff of smoke and then simply ceased to function. I wasn’t alarmed or worried about safety; I just felt annoyed and a little inconvenienced. But I found a workaround pretty quickly: I got an extension cord and plugged it into an outlet in the next room.

The problem is, my workaround worked so well that there was no real urgency to actually get the outlet fixed. My “temporary” remedy created only a bit of an eyesore, but not a genuine nuisance. Well, I guess on Fridays when the cleaning lady came I did have to unplug stuff get the cord out of her way. And, I suppose I also needed to jostle the bathroom door for it to close around the cord. But, in my mind anyway, compared to finding an electrician—and having to be there when he came—the outlet didn’t seem to be a big deal.

I admit I thought about it every time I was in the bathroom. I’d see the extension cord and I’d think, “I need to deal with that.” Or my kitten Lotus would tug at the cord on the floor and I’d distract him with a toy. Now that I think about it, I guess I did spend a lot of energy on the broken outlet. I lost time thinking about it and feeling guilty for not dealing with it. I kept promising myself I’d make a call tomorrow. Or the next day, for sure. And all the while, in the back of my mind, I was hoping it wouldn’t end up being a major hassle. My house was built in 1939. Some of the wiring is new, but some is still the original. I didn’t want to hear that I needed to upgrade my electrical. I didn’t want to make decisions, and I sure didn’t care to spend money on something as unglamorous as electrical supplies.

Then, one day last week, I met a friend for a drink after work. The outlet must’ve been top of mind for me, because it actually came up in the conversation. While I was lamenting, my friend picked up his cell phone and—before I knew what he was actually doing—was talking to an electrician friend of his on the phone (he’s in the construction business). And I had an appointment for a service call the very next morning.

Sure enough, and right on time, Mr. electrician arrived. It turns out the outlet simply needed replacing. Not the wiring. Not the whole house. Just that one outlet.

And then the funniest thing happened. In addition to having power in the bathroom—from a source that was actually in the bathroom—I found that I too, had more…energy. I woke up earlier the next day, and I actually felt a little lighter. I didn’t have a sense of shame or guilt every time I was in the bathroom. I didn’t need to shoo Lotus away from an extension cord any more. I could close the door to the bathroom effortlessly. And all of this made me think about some of the other “energy leaks” in my world, and about the slow drip, drip, drip of vitality that happens with procrastination. Last year I experienced it during tax season (I eventually applied for an extension which made that whole energy drain even worse). I’ve done it with all kinds of things from dentist appointments to touch up paint, from tire rotation to oven cleaning. And I know that every time I put something off, I am costing myself. Sometimes the price of procrastinating is money, but there is another, more insidious cost: the loss of precious and unrecoverable energy.

So, after this outlet incident, I am committed to taking my power back. I am not going to merely think about writing a blog about what I’ve learned, I’m going to write it. And then…I am going to post it.

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Detox…and Re-tox?

January 19th, 2015

!The January 2015 session of Unplug & Recharge—a 10-day juice fast/detox that I lead each year—recently came to an end. It was a great group of folks and, as always, I learned many things myself. The group had insightful questions and also had many good answers for each other throughout the session.

As part of the detox, participants receive daily modules or lessons about topics related to health. One topic that garnered a lot of interest was the section on toxins, most notably this passage:

“We live in a very toxic and somewhat unnatural world, and our bodies were not designed for the challenges we face at every turn from our contaminated food, air and water. Add to that the chemical soup in our clothing, household items and cars, and then toss in the virtually inescapable electromagnetic fields we endure everyday…well, you can see why we need to seek every break we possibly can from this toxic overload we call modern life!

“According to the World Resources Institute, there are 17,000 chemicals appearing in common household products, yet far less than half of them have been adequately tested for their negative effects on our health. If you take into account all the chemicals that you might come into contact with during a single morning, you’ll understand how critical this topic is to your long-term health. Just to get you thinking, consider a “typical weekday” in the average American’s life:

“You wake up after sleeping on bed sheets washed with detergents containing alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), shut off your electromagnetic-field (EMF) emitting alarm clock and stumble into the bathroom. You use toilet paper containing residues from the manufacturing process including bleach and select xenobiotic endocrine active compounds (EACs). Reaching for your toothbrush, you soap up your teeth with a concoction of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is used to clean oil spills, and a dab of triclosan, which is a pesticide. If it’s your time of the month, you insert a chlorine-bleached tampon laced with synthetic ingredients, pesticide residue, and traces of dioxin. Being health conscious, you take your synthetic multivitamin, which potentially contains binders, fillers and other manufacturing additives, and is then coated with shellac. Awake now, you’re ready for a cup of coffee. Over 1000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee; more than half of those tested are carcinogens. You brew yours using tap water, which contains chlorine, fluoride (a by-product from aluminum production) and other chemical additives. Unknowingly, you pour your brew into a cup that was made using lead-based paints before you flavor it with a chemically laden “low carb” artificial sweetener.

And you haven’t even hit the shower yet!”

To me, this sums up entirely why I participate in detox classes throughout the year. There is so much “out there” that we cannot avoid and it truly seems to get worse each day. During each session of Unplug & Recharge, I try and do one small thing that will be sustainable after the detox is over. Switch to a DIY toothpaste, find unbleached toilet paper, go back to air-drying clothes outside…whatever I can manage that helps. And then, I try not to freak out about all the toxic stuff around me that I cannot control, or sometimes even influence.

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Say yes, say no

January 6th, 2015

yes-noToday’s entry is undoubtedly driven by the fact that I am several days into a juice fast/detox that I am leading. One of the participants emailed me this morning to say that tonite there is a birthday party (naturally, there will be a cake!), and she was thinking she would “just have a little bit of frosting…is that OK?” I replied that of course it was OK, but that after she swallowed that sweet confection, she would no longer be fasting.

I’m not trying to be a hard-ass or elitist fasting Nazi. Heaven knows I have aborted my share of fasts, cleanses, detoxes and the like before I was supposed to, and with far worse transgressions than cake frosting! But with a fast—and most things in life—you’re either “in” or you’re not. Fasting is one of those yes or no things. Another is sobriety. And being pregnant. You simply cannot do recovery part-time, or be a little bit expecting. With fasting, you are either eating food or you are not.

Sometimes I think it’s too bad that more of life isn’t as cut and dried. I know that there are occasions I have fallen short of my own endgame or goals due to the belief that “everything in moderation” is desirable or even achievable. For me “just one” of a lot of things can be a pretty slippery slope. Ever eat one chip at a Mexican restaurant? I can certainly do it, but it sucks. We all know that skipping the gym is always easier after you’ve done it the first time. And once you have a slice of cheesecake—well, might as well eat the rest of it and start over tomorrow, right?

I read a blog post recently that referenced the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by John Tierney and Roy Baumeister, and how the authors observed that people who appeared to exhibit the greatest amount of self-discipline actually expend the least amount of energy doing it. Through their research they discovered that these individuals lived according to specific guidelines that they rarely, if ever, deviated from. When you think about it, it does make brilliant sense. For example, I became a vegetarian in 1992 and I have not eaten meat since. For me, vegetarianism requires no thought whatsoever, and being around meat is of no consequence. I don’t eat it so I am not tempted nor do I feel cheated when I see others eating animal protein. There is no need to exercise moderation, no decision-making and no effort required.

I have an assignment I have my clients complete, it’s called “Say Yes, Say No.” It’s quite simple, really: for every yes answer you give you are to document what you are saying no to as a result. “Yes, I will stay up and watch the end of the movie” may also mean “No, I will not be going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow.” The exercise asks that you do it for the converse as well: think through what you have passively agreed to by the act of saying no to something else. If you want to see the form I use, drop me an email at info@fork-road.com.

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