Being Healthy – A Common Sense and Balanced Approach: Food, Part 1 – A General Overview

You would think that the discussion on food would be the most complicated one in this series because of all the conflicting information floating around out there about diet and diets.

In reality, this is probably the simplest of all our discussions.

Forget all of the statistics, the commercials, the articles, the books, and the hype. Just let them go for now. If you’re uncomfortable with doing that, make yourself a deal – let it go for just a bit, and if you don’t like what I’m saying, you can have it all back. No harm, no foul.

Common sense.

Think for yourself.

Draw your own conclusions.

These are the primary tools that you will use when it comes to selecting your food.

Current state.

Ingredients.

Color.

These are the primary things that you will look for in determining if you should eat what you have selected.

It’s that easy.

The first three – common sense, think for yourself, and draw your own conclusions – those should be employed in EVERYTHING you do, not just for food selection. As they apply to food, to use them requires you to see beyond packaging, read between the lines of labels, and to forget everything that you have heard and read related to individual products. If you are selecting a packaged product, make a concentrated effort to be devoid of any preconceived notions that have taken hold because of advertising (these often creep in and take up residence without you even realizing it, so be aware of that), and start from square one, asking yourself “should I actually eat this?”.

The second three – current state, ingredients, and color – those apply to the food product itself.

The term current state means, for our purposes, how close to it’s original form is the product? If you are visiting a farmer’s market, chances are that the tomato that you are holding is only one step removed from the vine on which it grew (this is good). By contrast, if you are choosing a can of stewed tomatoes at the supermarket, that same tomato would have endured any number of alterations before it’s arrival in your saucepan (this is definitely not as good). And if you are considering a flavored sauce that is tomato-based, there is no telling how far removed the stuff is from the tomatoes that were supposedly used to create it (this is NOT good). A good rule of thumb is to look at the product packaging – is it simple or complex? The tomato carries it’s own packaging – it’s skin. Fresh meats are in a minimum of packaging – usually a plain label on plastic wrap. Anything that has more packaging than that is definitely a processed food, plain and simple, and the objective is to stay away from as much processed food as possible.

See how easy that is?

As to ingredients, as a general rule, you want to opt for the least amount of ingredients possible. Going back to our tomato example, if you pick up the fruit itself and look for an ingredients label, you’re not going to find one, because it’s in it’s natural state. It’s just a tomato. If you look at the can of stewed tomatoes, you’ll probably find a label with anywhere from three to eight ingredients listed. By contrast, if you look at the label on the sauce, there may be any number of ingredients, some of which you can’t pronounce. Stick to single ingredient FRESH foods that come in their own packaging as often as you can. Avoid large ingredient lists and things you can’t pronounce.

And color – if you’re looking at single ingredient foods (i.e. – our tomato), go for the deepest, richest colors you can find. More color = more nutrition. For example, if choosing lettuce, you’d definitely want vibrant green (Romaine, etc) over Iceberg, which is light green to white, signaling a preponderance of water and very little vitamin/mineral content. If you’re looking at packaged foods (packaged foods = processed foods – keep that in mind!), for Pete’s sake, stay away from weird colors. To recap: in natural foods, more color is good. In processed foods, more color is bad.

Where to look for the best foods? Location, location, location … in your average supermarket, your best food choices are around the perimeter. This is where you will usually find fresh produce, fresh meats, and fresh dairy (and the beer section – this is also important).

Avoid the internal aisles as much as possible. That’s where the bulk of the fake foods are going to be found. Go there only for spices and single ingredient staples (such as natural peanut butter, almonds, seeds, and things of that sort), and be on your toes for advertising gimmicks. The creators of Frankenstein foods are savvy and sneaky as hell. They will use label colorings and buzz words to convey the image that they want you to see. Don’t fall for it! This is where common sense, thinking for yourself, and draw your own conclusions comes in. Do a little research on how food manufacturers get around labeling requirements and how those terms like “natural” probably don’t mean what you interpret them to mean. Look into this before you load your cart with conveniently packaged foods which you think are going to do your body good. For most of those, you’d probably be better off eating the labels than what’s in the package.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned any of the currently prevalent diet trends – Atkins, Paleo/low carb, low cholesterol, low fat, etc. There’s a reason for that. Diets that focus on a specified eating regime are a lot like religion – most of them have gotten SOME of the important stuff right, but NONE of them have gotten it ALL right. That’s because, at their core, all of these diets focus on one singular principle rather than a balanced approach. When this occurs, followers invariably go overboard in their zeal to adhere to the guidelines of the diet in order to see maximum results in the shortest period possible, which, of course, usually results in a really whacked out way of eating. Whacked out ways of eating mess with your body. Period.

However, I will say this: out of all of the “trending” diet regimes, the low carb way of eating (Paleo, etc) has the most merit, in my humble opinion. It provides plenty of fat and cholesterol (and despite what you have been told, your body NEEDS these two things, and it needs them badly – remember: think for yourself … do some research), plenty of vegetables, very few fruits, and no processed foods. This is pretty much the way I eat, but with more focus on veggies and less on meats than most other low carb followers.

However, the one trap that really should be avoided when exploring a low carb lifestyle is to resist the temptation to try to substitute low carb imitations of traditional processed foods and especially sweets. Whipping up a low carb chocolate mousse once in a while is fine, but to try and substitute breads, sweets, and other processed, grain based, high carb foods on a regular basis requires you to buy all kinds of strange (and very expensive) ingredients, and the results are usually really, really weird. Instead, if you choose to adopt a low carb way of eating, for heaven’s sake, actually do it, rather than trying to have your cake and eat it too.

So where does this leave us?

It leaves us with some pretty simple information:

  • First and foremost, choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Always choose organic if its available. Local foods are better than supermarket foods,  as a general rule.
  • Avoid the internal isles of the supermarket as much as possible, and be alert to marketing gimmicks. Don’t be a sheep – think for yourself and take responsibility for making common sense choices rather than relying on what the labels say (or rather, what they want you to THINK that they say).
  • Eat simply. Don’t buy expensive ingredients, don’t make complicated dishes, except perhaps on special occassions. Blueberries and fresh cheese are a great breakfast, a strawberry spinach salad (complete with pecans, crumbled goat cheese, and an EASY homemade poppyseed dressing) is a delicious and satisfying lunch, and chicken breasts marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and italian seasoning with some steamed veggies (adequately buttered, of course!) is a great supper.

This article is just a basic starting point for others in the series – look for more in the upcoming weeks!

Being Healthy – A Common Sense and Balanced Approach (Introduction)

It ain’t that hard to be reasonably healthy. Really – it isn’t.

What makes it seem so damned difficult is all of the conflicting information. It reminds me of religion – countless interpretations of the spiritual, with each one of them maintaining that theirs is the “right one”.

Matters of health are no different – there are countless diets, drugs, supplements, gadgets, and exercise routines out there, each of them touting that they are “the one”, with followers testifying the same. How many times have you heard/read “After a lifetime of struggling with my weight, I’ve lost a gazillion pounds, and I’ve kept it off, thanks to (insert program name of your choice)”? Or how about this one: “I’m 108 years old, and I have the body of a 30 year old because of (insert gadget name of your choce)”?

Every week, the cover of the “Woman’s Day” magazine at the supermarket check-out counter sports a new and “better” diet/exercise program guaranteed to give you the physique of a superstar in just 30 days (don’t believe me? check it out for yourself – just glance at the cover every time you go through the line). Now I ask ya – if ANY of those “programs” actually worked in the long term, why would there be a need for a new one every week??? The same goes for exercise equipment, supplements, powders, and countless other things that promise amazing results if you will just reach for your credit card.

I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know – that’s a given. However, in this series of articles, we’re going to be looking at your health from an entirely different perspective – we’re going to be taking a wholistic approach that does not compartmentalize. Wondering what that means? It means that, as a society, we approach things with a Newtonian (yes, as in Isaac Newton) mindset. Mr. Newton viewed the body as a machine, made up of many different (and unrelated) parts. In his teachings, which were a HUGE influence on the way modern medicine evolved, he basically looked at the human form as being mechanical, and therefore taught that it was to be treated in much the same way your car would if it had a problem. Won’t shift gears? Replace the transmission. Engine misfiring? Change out the spark plugs or try the throttle control sensor. That works pretty well when you’re talking about an actual machine, but it is an approach that is seriously flawed when it comes to biological systems, and here’s why:

You are much, much more than just your physical body. You are also an energetic body.

Your bio-electric body is what animates you, what gives you life. Your physical body cannot be alive without it. And not only are those two “bodies” intertwined and connected at every level, but so are all of the individual parts and pieces that make up your physical body. Therefore, in order to be truly healthy, you cannot just treat whatever part is throwing off symptoms – you need to look at the whole system.

And let me ask you a question: What does it actually mean to be healthy?

You can ask 10 people that question, and you’ll probably get 10 different answers, because most people equate health with societal influence, which focuses on appearance and/or current trends in medicine (I almost said “fads”, which would not be inaccurate, lol). Want proof? Go ahead and ask those 10 people what their definition of “being healthy” is – the top answer will probably be something that relates to their perception of their physical body (“I need to lose weight”, “I need to go to the gym”, “There’s a new supplement out that builds muscle 10 times as fast – I need that” etc) or to what big pharma currently has on their radar (“I need to lower my cholesterol”, “I need to lower my blood pressure”, etc).

However, I doubt that you’ll get many answers such as “I need to get all of these cleaning products out of my house”, “I need to balance my energy body”, “I need to rid my cabinets of fake food”, “I need to go barefoot”, “I need to use some common sense about taking all of these meds that my doctor says I need” …

Another good question to ask yourself and others is why do I want to be healthy? I know – it seems like a ridiculous question, because most of the time the answer is going to be something along the lines of “I want to be healthy so that I can live longer” (accompained by a “duh” look), which is not an unreasonable thing to say. However, for me personally, my reason for wanting to be healthy is so that I can enjoy every moment that I have left in this body to the fullest extent possible. It’s not about extending the time in this form, it’s about making the most of it, regardless of the duration. I honestly believe that the moment of my death will be the single most important moment of my life because of the transition that it represents. When this body is worn out and done, that’s all it means – the vehicle has run for as long as it could, and it’s time for the occupant to move on to something else. This viewpoint of mine places importance not just on my corporeal body, but also on my energetic one.

Keeping my tangible body in working order allows me to use it efficiently to get around and do the things that I enjoy in this particular period of time, but it is NOT who I am – there is a LOT more to “me” than just what you can see, and this wisdom brings about a keen understanding for the need to maintain the health of my energetic self in order to exist in a balanced and truly healthy state while I am occupying this particular physical body.

This forms the basis for the series of articles that will be forthcoming. Not only will we be talking about what is important for your physical health, but we will also be talking about what is important for your energetic body, and how to balance the two. Some of it will be no surprise – we’ll be talking about food, exercise, sleep, and the like. But we’ll also be talking about how you can discover your own energy body, how you can increase it’s function and use it for healing, and how you can achieve and maintain the critical balance that is required in order to be truly whole and healthy.

And here’s the kicker – NONE of it is that difficult. Everything I will be telling you is based on common sense and requires absolutely no more investment of cost than what you would normally spend in your day to day life. There are no gadgets to buy, no classes to attend, no weird, exotic substances to seek out and purchase, and no strange rituals to adhere to. Everything that I will be sharing with you is practical and achievable, if you choose to make some changes and give it a try.

If you are interested in checking this out, you can subscribe to this blog to be notified of when new articles are posted. You can also just check back at your convenience, if you’re like me and hate your Inbox being bombarded by announcements. My intention is to post a new article in this series every weekend. The information contained therein can be employed in any order that you choose, for the most part. The only exception to this would be some of the energy work that I am going to share with you – there are a few basic things that you need to know and master before you move on to others, and those will be flagged as such.

Namaste …

Fascinating Find – A Rhinoceros Beetle

So one afternoon, the Earth Goods animal mob starts making all manner of racket in the production bay. There was barking, hissing, the sound of paws and claws scraping across the concrete, and all sorts of alarming noise coming from the corner nearest the bay door. I dropped what I was doing and hauled ass, because there are a variety of possibilities that could be the source of the chaos, and a lot of them are just not good to think about.

For one, there’s a mature Black Widow Spider that makes her home in that corner. She is secretive and keeps to herself, often skittering into a narrow space between the bay door and a nearby cabinet if she feels threatened. I don’t mind her being there – I think she’s way cool, but I am also keenly aware of what could happen if she was unfortunate enough to draw the attention of of the cats, and heaven forbid should she lose her mind and take off across the floor – I have no doubt that she would not survive the experience, and there’s the distinct possibility that she might take one of the dogs or cats down with her.

Then there’s the snakes that occasionally decide they’re tired of life in the great outdoors and would like to move uptown. They will make their way in under or around the door, and take up residence in the first hiding spot that they come across. Then I have to fight my way through the wall of furry bodies to see exactly which one of us – the snake or me and the animals – should be the most concerned. Normally it’s the snake that has more to to worry about, as the ones we usually encounter are non-poisonous and are more bluff and bluster than actual fight. However, it pays to be cautious, because every once in a while, one will surprise us, sporting diamond shaped pupils and big fangs. They warrant the donning of gloves and covering up exposed skin before removal is attempted, for sure, because the goal is to return them to the outside without harm to us OR the snake.

A lot of the time, the fuss is about a five-lined skink that creeps in and then climbs the walls frantically upon realizing his mistake or one of those giant hornets who are capable of carrying bomb racks should the notion strike.

However, the intruder on that day was totally unexpected – it was a very large, very pretty Rhinoceros Beetle that was on it’s last leg. Gauging his level of maturity to be quite far along, I figured he didn’t have many days left anyway, so I decided to see if I could make them pleasant for him. I picked him up and he clasped onto my fingers – Rhino Beetles are not in the least dangerous and can cause no harm to you, despite their ferocious apperance, so I was not at all concerned about rescuing him from the mob bare-handed.

I took him into the kitchen and stuck him on my shirt while I rummaged in the fridge for some goodies for him, ultimately deciding on some melon pieces. After putting one in a bowl, I set him down close to the treat and watched to see what would happen. The response was instantaneous and more than a little humorous – he trundled over to the melon and tasted it. Then he got closer and closer to it until he was grasping it. Gradually, as his intoxication grew, he began to tilt to one side and eventually ended up keeled over, grasping the melon like a baby would a bottle. He stayed that way for hours. I figured he was in a sugar coma, but what the hell – he was obviously in ecstasy, and I was willing to bet it was the greatest moment of his life. Following his binge, he woke up spry and spritely, and remained that way for the duration of his stay with us, eventually succumbing  to age.

What unusual critters have you been fortunate enough to share your space with?

The Top 10 Reasons to Ditch Your Shoes (aka – The Merits of Going Barefoot)

When I was younger, I really liked tennis shoes. I liked the way they looked more than I did they way they felt on my feet, and still do. Then, when I accidentally began a career in the construction industry many (many, many, many) moons ago, I learned to like boots.

I still own a pair of tennis shoes for times when they absolutely must be worn, and I still own a pair of boots for when I’m on one of my jobsites. I also have a pair of flip-flops and a decent pair of very plain slip-ons for when I must be seen in polite company. Oh – I almost forgot – I also own a pair of Merrell water shoes, but they stay tied to my pack FAR more than they find their way onto my feet (in fact, if you look closely at the picture above, you will see them hanging there at my right side).

However, the majority of the time, you will find me without shoes, regardless of what I’m up to. I drive without them, I run around the yard without them, I traverse waterways without them, and as you can see above, I even hike without them.

Why? Well, here are my top 10 reasons …

10. Shoes are frigging expensive.

OMG, I don’t even want to get started on this one … the cost of shoes, especially specialized ones, is positively absurd. How many people could you feed for the cost of a pair of autographed Air Jordans or a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps? Granted, these are extreme examples, but even “everyday” shoes are outrageous, especially when we think we have to have a pair to match every outfit, a pair for basketball, a pair for golf, a pair to wear in the house, a pair to wear in the garden … good lord.

9.  As a general rule, shoes serve no practical purpose.

Yes, I know – there are shoes out there for EVERYTHING, and every manufacturer turning them out into the marketplace will tell you EXACTLY why you need this shoe for this activity and that shoe for that activity. Bull. 95% of the things that you do on a daily basis require no shoes. The other 5% of the time, they are required for the sole purpose of protecting your feet under extreme conditions. Climbing a power pole? Wear shoes. Scaling a glacier? Wear shoes. Dumpster diving? Wear shoes. Walking across the yard, hiking, traversing hot sand, strolling on some hot coals … ditch the shoes. Get the picture?

8.  In the event that there was a shortage of shoes, you would be prepared.

Nuclear disaster? ELF blast? Walmart goes out of business? Any number of things could occur that would limit the availability of shoes – why not be prepared?

7. Feet are easier to clean than shoes.

Ever stepped in mud with a pair of brand new, white, canvas tennis shoes on? Did you try to clean them? What happened?

By contrast, you can slog through most any substance with bare feet, regardless of whether you consider it repulsive or not, and simply wash it off with a little soap and water. What doesn’t come off immediately will wear off in a short time. Ever had a pair of shoes that got cleaner the more you wore them? Didn’t think so …

6. There’s something vaguely wanton, liberating, and rebellious about having naked feet where they are not expected.

No one is going to bat an eye if you skip along the ocean’s edge or go to bed without shoes and socks on, but stand by the pump putting gas in you car with naked feet or hike in the woods and through the waters without the protection of a pair of expensive and respectable boots or deliberately make a trip into the local convenience store with no shoes on (where the “No Shirt, No Shoes” sign is conspicuously posted) just to see if you’ll get thrown out, and you’d be surprised at the looks you’ll get.

You generally get three basic types of reactions: disgust (usually comes from the type of person who isn’t comfortable in their own skin and/or is germaphobic), incredulity (“Dude – I can’t believe that you’re out here with no friggin’ shoes on!”), or wary acceptance (usually starts with a pointed stare at your feet, a quick glance at your face, and then a shrug that says “Oh well – to each his own”). On occasion, you’ll also be met with enthusiasm (“That’s awesome! I remember going barefoot as a kid – I miss it” … as they begin to remove their shoes). Rarely, you might encounter someone with a foot fetish – in the event that you find yourself in this uncomfortable position, ignore the other person’s behavior unless they are harassing you or actually try to touch you. Then all bets are off …

5. Instant cooling availability

Regardless of whether it’s a little or a lot, everyone sweats through the sole of their feet. It’s a natural cooling mechanism, and one that is severely thwarted when our feet are stuck in a pair of shoes.  Going shoeless increases our ability to cool the body in hot weather. Want to REALLY cool down? Fill a container with enough cool water to cover your feet and step in it for a few minutes when you get overheated – you’d be amazed at how quickly your core temperature will come down. No container available? No problem – take the hose and set the sprayer to a gentle mist or stream. Lay it on the ground and stand beside it. The combination of the water misting up over the tops of your feet and running under the bottoms will cool you down quickly. Of course, you could always go stand in the river … that’s our personal favorite.

4.  Balance and agility

Shoes are marvels of engineering – manufacturers spend countless dollars to figure out how to get just the right support for the arch or how to add some spring to the step or how to cradle the heel just right … the list goes on and on, and all of those efforts are made in order to give the wearer comfort, support, agility, and balance.

You can throw the first two – comfort and support – out of the equation, as they are a direct function of sticking your foot into a shoe to begin with. If you weren’t shoving your foot into an unnatural container, the question of comfort and support provided by that container would be moot.

The other two – agility and balance – are pertinent. Sure, shoes are engineered to provide your feet with enough movement and flexibility to ensure that you don’t fall over every time that you take a step or make a turn, but they are an artificial (and VERY poor) substitute for the inherent traits that become available to you when you contact the ground with bare feet. It takes a little practice, but traversing your environment with unshod feet puts you in a position of receiving the tactile and energetic signals that are normally squelched by the soles of your shoes. You will learn to “read” the ground under you, and adjust your center of gravity, weight dispersion, muscle tension, and line of sight to “fit” the topography over which you are moving. With practice, you can move smoothly and gracefully over terrain that would prove to be difficult even for folks with shoes on. This strengthens your core, teaches proper weight dispersion to achieve balance, improves flexibility, and keeps your entire body in motion. Want an example? Take your shoes off and walk across something other than soft grass. Choose an uneven terrain, such as gravel, a wooded area, or something similar. To begin with, you’ll probably be all over the place, swinging your arms about,  your upper body thrusting forward, then backward, in order to stay balanced enough that you don’t take a tumble – this is normal, and serves to prove my point: taking a stroll without shoes on requires the use of your ENTIRE body at all times, which means that your ENTIRE body is gaining benefit from doing it. Granted, with practice, these movements will become much more graceful and a LOT less exaggerated, but they will still be there in subtle form – you will constantly be adjusting, ever so slightly, to maintain balance and awareness, which has tremendous benefit over walking on a flat surface with a pair of expensive shoes on (I really want to get started about treadmills at this point, but I’ll refrain …)

3. Uncovered feet = healthy feet.

Feet are not meant to be subjected to the dark, solitary confinement of shoes. They are meant to have fresh air and sunshine, and they are also meant to have enough room to spread out comfortably. Imprisoning them in shoes means that they are destined in be in an airless, warm, and moist environment, which is a great place for all manner of nasty conditions to take hold. It also means that they are continually protected from being exposed to the type of environment that would allow for the “wearing away” of the outer layers of skin. The skin on our feet is thicker for a reason – it’s that way so that they can carry us through life without incurring undue amounts of damage. When they are continually shielded, they still produce the thicker skin that they are programmed to have, but they are not exposed to anything that would naturally wear that away. Hence, the skin often gets thicker and thicker, resulting in cracking, peeling, and other unpleasant conditions. We then run to the drugstore or to the podiatrist in an effort to correct this “condition”, which is absurd if we just apply a little common sense – lose the shoes! And here’s another tip for you: ditch the chemical laden creams and costly gadgets that are advertised to remove thickened skin – instead, go to the hardware store and buy a pack of sandpaper, preferably one with a variety of grits. Use 80 grit to get rid of the bulk of whatever’s bothering you, and finish up with 120 grit to smooth and soften. Sand just enough to take off the uppermost layer of overly thickened skin, and then make a habit of going barefoot as much as possible, especially outside, to keep the condition in check. Sand lightly once in a while, if needed, especially along the side of your feet, where they don’t normally come into contact with the ground. If you also have issues with fungal problems, there are plenty of natural ways to combat that, as well. Tea Tree oil, sea salt treatments, and a variety of other chemical-free options are available to you. We’ll be covering this in more detail in an upcoming post.

2. Going barefoot forces you to slow down.

I think this is probably my favorite reason for not wearing shoes. It didn’t make it to #1 because it’s not the most important reason, but it’s still my favorite reason. Regardless of how toughened your feet are or how good your balance and agility, you still have to be aware of the environment under your feet, especially if your goal is to keep them healthy enough to continue to utilize them sans protection. This means that you can’t mindlessly plow along with your mind on other things – you have to pay attention, and with that attention comes awareness – awareness of things that you would have just stomped over and never noticed if you had been wearing shoes. Bugs, mushrooms, cool mossy carpets, squishy mud, tiny flowers, beautiful rocks, and all manner of things come into focus when you are forced to be mindful of where you’re stepping. Hopefully, when you become aware of these things, your next move would be to stop and examine them closely, appreciating their uniqueness, their color, their tactile output … which takes us to the #1 reason for going barefoot …

1.  Going barefoot puts you in touch.

Most shoes feature a synthetic sole, especially today, and most of the time, that material is some variation of rubberized composition. When you were a kid and you were in the car with an adult during a thunderstorm, if you were frightened, what did they tell you? They probably said not to worry – you were safe because the tires on the car were rubber, and rubber did not conduct electricity (at least my adults did). The same thing goes for your shoes … the thing that animates you, that gives you life, is your bioelectric energy system. You are a part of the natural world, whether you realize it or not, and in order to thrive, you need to be connected to the energies around you, which are prevalent in the ground beneath your feet. You can’t make that connection if there is an insulating layer of rubber between you and the earth. One of the simplest and most effective ways to remedy this is to remove your shoes. The next step would then be to pay close attention to the environment under your fee (as outlined in #2) in order to deepen that connection.

As a side note … traditionally, visitors to a wide variety of sacred places, such as meditation centers, temples, churches, and the like were required to remove their shoes prior to crossing the threshold. This still holds true for most worship and meditation centers rooted in the eastern traditions. I have never looked up the “official” reason for this, but I have my own theory … a lot of folks that I know assume that you are to remove your shoes in order to keep the space clean and as a symbolic reference to leaving the dirt and debris associated with the outside world on the other side of the temple wall. I don’t disagree with this, but I think the ORIGINAL reason for removal of one’s footwear was to facilitate the connection to the natural, divine energies that become available when our feet some into contact with the ground. When you consider that worship is normally a communal activity that takes place in the same location repeatedly, this translates into an increased energy level that is often maintained over long periods of time even when no active worship is taking place within the space. The simplest and most effective way to obtain the best connection to that raised level of energy, as well as to contribute to it during worship/meditation would be to remove one’s shoes …

The People of Earth Goods

Miz Red:

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Founder, Alchemist, & Guide

The founder of Earth Goods, and known locally as “Miz Red”, she is often seen slogging through anywhere there is mud, water & plants, making interesting things out of sticks & stones, bringing oil & water together to make a great bar of soap, or, her favorite – working with energy in all of it’s fascinating forms.

Drawn to nature, healing, and energy work from earliest memories, Red has always done the things that Earth Goods is all about, but decided to make it “official”, complete with a real storefront, production facility, a bank account and advertising, in order to reach out to as many people as possible, with the goal of helping them to improve their lives in the process.

Wiggz:

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Creative Madness

To say that this guy is a source of Creative Madness is an understatement – he rarely uses anything for it’s intended purpose, and creates things – especially candles – that are off the chain.

A master of many things, Wiggz brings a depth of creativity to Earth Goods that would not exist without him. From crafting beautiful boxes and birdhouses (from raw trees!) to welding intricate things to making awesome candles to construction of our places and spaces, he can do most anything, and he makes us laugh a lot in the process.

Want to see some of his work? Visit the “Candles” page (accessed from the “Products” page), or stop by the Cabin or the Scottsville Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings!

Z:

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Photography and Art

Bright, funny, and talented in many ways, Zack is not only our resident photographer, but he excels at all things artistic.

He also helps with gathering of materials and production of products if forced into it, but his heart is elsewhere, so we mostly utilize his talents for things that he truly loves.

Fond of fire at a young age, he has (thank heavens) turned that fascination into something creative and is now a master fire-spinner. Other talents include cooking, juggling, and, as of late, learning to ride a unicycle.

We rent him out for entertainment purposes at parties, backyard cookouts, social events, and the like. He’s cheap, and very, very funny, so the next time you’re looking for some unusual (and slightly dangerous) entertainment, drop us an email for details!

Kelsi:

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Market Boss

Kelsi doesn’t really have a “title” or belong to a “department” because she just walks in, says “what needs to be done today?” and then does it. She’s truly a gem, and we rely heavily on her to keep the cogs and wheels turning.

Kelsi has also become an excellent forager and is great in the field, identifying and collecting botanicals on a regular basis, then bringing them back to the shop for processing and production.

When not trimming soaps, labeling lotions,  stocking the shelves, or doing any of the hundred other things that she undertakes tirelessly, you can find this amazing young woman at the Scottsville Farmer’s Market every Saturday – just look for the flaming red hair – you can’t miss her.

 

Jack:

 

Kayaking Expert, Nature Therapy Guide, Tester of all Fat Dawg  Products

Jack is never far from Miz Red, whether she’s making soap, foraging for plants, doing energy work on someone, or running rapids in their shared kayak.

Intelligent and adventurous, Jack is an integral part of the Earth Goods family, and is one of the most unique creatures we have ever had the good fortune to spend time with.

That being said, he’s also territorial and obnoxious at times, but we’re working on that …

Earth Goods – The Basics

Located in the rich and beautiful James River Basin in Buckingham, VA, Earth Goods is a unique venture that:

~ Promotes self sufficiency through the sharing of practical and traditional skills long forgotten for most folks

~ Teaches grounding and nature therapy through immersion in the natural world

~ Assists folks with honing latent or forgotten skills associated with energy and healing

~ Provides an inventory of all-natural products that are free from harmful chemicals and which are handmade by our family

~ Offers classes and instruction for such things as candlemaking, lotion, soaps, dowsing, energy work, foraging, and lots of other things

Our tagline, “Good people doing good things for the right reasons” is an accurate and very genuine summation of why we do what we do. 

We all have “day jobs”, and those are important because they pay the bills. However, the thing that drives us to stay up way too late most nights and get up way too early most mornings is the desire to make a difference through Earth Goods.

When folks new to Earth Goods stumble across us on the internet or come by our table at the Farmer’s Market or stop in at the Cabin if they see the door open, they usually have a vision in their head of what it is that we do. Many think that we are only a reseller of manufactured products (no way!), some think we are only a guide service, and others think that we only teach workshops for “crafty” skills. Almost always, new visitors are perplexed when they begin to understand the magnitude and diversity of what such a small group of people collaborating in such a tiny company is striving to accomplish. We are often told that we should stop being so diverse and should instead concentrate on a “niche market” if we want to be successful. Our response is always the same: our definition of “success” is in direct conflict with what societal and financial standards say it should be. 

To us, “success” is educating a family about the chemicals in their household and teaching them about healthy alternatives in order to alleviate the detrimental effect that these substances are having on their children.

Success is taking someone into the forest and watching their reaction as they begin to “connect” with their surroundings, watching as their shoulders relax, their step becomes lighter, their anxieties dissolve, and they begin to delight in the amazing things around them, grounding and balancing their body and spirit in the process. 

Success is a group that started out as strangers laughing and sharing stories around a table as they learn to make their own candles or soaps, coming together in friendship through the shared energy of creativity.

Success is walking folks into their own backyards and teaching them to see the benefits of the plants they will find there, helping them to understand that what they thought was a weed is actually a powerful member of nature’s pharmacy, ready to assist the body with healing, and showing them how to use these botanicals for their benefit.

Success is showing a group of people tangible proof of their own powerful energy body really DOES exist, and then watching their amazement as they learn to harness and use that energy for the good of themselves and others.

For us, the ultimate success is when folks make the connection between all of these things, and begin to understand that bringing them all together results in a balanced life which enables them to move through the world in a better way. As they make these changes in their own lives, they touch the lives of others. Relationships deepen, kindness is more prevalent, negative emotions subside, and the reliance on external things for quality of life lessens. It spreads, and THAT is what drives us – the certainty that whatever benefit we are able to provide to one person cannot help but be passed on to others in some measure. This is what Earth Goods exists for, plain and simple.

The Journey Begins – The Earth Goods Blog

Welcome! And so it begins – the official Earth Goods blog site … whee!

Be aware. Be awake. Be balanced.

Bluets