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Blog 2017-11-26T19:58:35+00:00

Gupta and Healing

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a while since I posted. I hope you are all well!

Thank you to everyone who is a newsletter subscriber – the responses to my last newsletter were so heartwarming. Being able to go to London was a very big milestone for me in my recovery.

If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, I shared some great news about my hyper-reactivity improving. It was a combination of things that got me there, but most important was the belief that I could heal. If you’d like to learn more about The Gupta Programme – which was important in that healing – click here to go to his website.

You can read an interview with my husband about the program here. Peter calls The Gupta Programme his “toolkit for inner peace” and – in that great way that he does – explains so well why it is simple and special.

My take on The Gupta Programme is similar to Peter’s. I think that mold illness likely has two stages: the first is toxicity+hyperreactivity and the second is residual hyper-reactivity. I think that the second stage can last a lifetime and can cause just as much runaway inflammation as the toxicity stage does.

The Gupta Programme gives you a way to repair the limbic system.  I think it is plausible that the amygdala/limbic system could get directly traumatized by mycotoxins traveling up the olfactory nerve. There is only a two synapse gap between the olfactory nerve bulb and the amygdala and mycotoxins can travel directly along that path. It makes sense to me that some repair might by needed. So I’ll always be a mold avoider in the sense that it matters to me to live in a healthy home. 🙂

The Gupta Programme works on resetting the fight or flight response but it also works on repairing the entire body and mind by making it easier to put yourself into a state of parasympathetic rest.

 

 

 

By | November 26th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on Gupta and Healing

An Interview With My Husband about The Gupta Programme

Q. When did you start The Gupta Programme?

A. Mid-July. I started it when the fire was burning near our cabin and you were camping by yourself.

Q. Tell me about what happened with your hyper-reactivity to mold and biotoxins during the spring and summer.

A. It was getting out of control. I was reacting to bedding more and clothes more. I felt like I was reacting to myself more. My system was over-reacting and it wasn’t doing me any good.

Q. What was your main goal when you started the Gupta Programme?

A. I wanted to feel better – find some real health. I really wanted that hyper-reactivity to go down. It didn’t make sense to me that it should go up again.

Q. How would you describe the The Gupta Programme?

A. It’s great! I love it. It is amazing how easy it is to reset your amygdala to a healthy place. That’s the way I like to think about it: it’s just resetting the system to act in a healthy way again.

Q. How do you feel about the meditations?

A. I like them. They are my favorite meditations of all the ones I’ve tried. They are relaxed and chill – not too many rules.

Q. How long did it take before you felt like your mold reactivity had lessened considerably?

A. It was about two weeks. That’s it. I’m amazed with the right words and big movements how easy it is to repair or reset the amygdala. It’s so cool.

 

Q. I just want to ask the question everyone is thinking: would you ever live in a mold-toxic house?

A. NO! No way! Absolutely not. It is good to avoid mold as much as is practically possible. It is just so nice to be past the stage of having to avoid mold at such a microscopic level. This November has been so much easier than last November.

By | November 26th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on An Interview With My Husband about The Gupta Programme

Remember Who You Were

 

A steady feeling has been percolating through me as of late, calling me into my future.

Remember who you were before you thought who you were mattered.  

There is a pivotal piece of my continued healing that I have been puzzling over for a long time now.

This wildfire – and the many hours sitting in this forest in the silence – are getting me closer to it. I am so close I can almost taste it.

I have this sense that my biggest breakthroughs happen when I go through a process of letting go on multiple levels.

It happened to me during my two-month migraine. It happened when I read Erik on Avoidance and decided to go all-in on trying his approach. It happened in my early months of mold avoidance, when I was camping alone, often spending whole days in silence (or sometimes quietly strumming my $20 children’s guitar).

It also happened when I decided to do my van and just be in nature for long, long stretches without worrying about the rest of world at all.

During the months when I was alone in Nature, I disconnected so much that many days my only technology-based contact with the world was just the two nightly texts to my husband:

I love you!

I love you, too!

Every time this process of closing in on a breakthrough happens, I feel three burdens lift.

I let go of what I think I know. I let go of what I feel must be true. And I let go of what I feel I ought to be doing.

There is something about this process of just saying, “Fuck it!” that seems to remove the junk from my mind. And then – often – the answer is right there in front of me, shining away and saying, “I was here all along, friend.”

For me – maybe because I am such an introvert – there is also a part of healing that has to do with letting go of my own story. It is as if I need some distance from my own story in order to let the most beautiful narrative unfold. If I try to stay too tuned into it, I’ll miss the most important arc.

And so, this idea keeps pulsing through me. Like a heartbeat, there is a rhythm to it.

Remember who you were before you thought who you were mattered. 

Remember who you were before you thought who you were mattered. 

Remember who you were before you thought who you were mattered. 

I’ll still be writing and sharing on here as my heart draws me to do that.

I have had some requests for some group calls and am considering it. I’ll let you know about those through my email list if I decide to do that.

But I am going to pull back from Facebook for a while to see where this new rhythm takes me.

Please do subscribe to my website – if you haven’t yet – to stay in touch with me and to get first word on all the things I am working on. The survey many of you filled out had requests and questions so wildly diverse I could easily see three more e-books coming out of those.

It felt good to read them. So many of you really, really get me. It is no wonder that I love you all so much.

I wish for all of you freedom, joy, wellness and peace.

Love,

Sara


Sara Riley Mattson is the author of  Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out.

If you click here you can subscribe to my website.

By | July 15th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on Remember Who You Were

The Loving-Kindness Meditation

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May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be free from suffering. May I be well.
May I be at peace. May I be joyful.

May you be filled with loving-kindness.
May you be free from suffering. May you be well.
May you be at peace. May you be joyful.

May all beings be filled with loving-kindness.
May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be well.
May all beings be at peace. May all beings be joyful.

Sara Riley Mattson is the author of  Camp Like  Girl  and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out.

If you click here you can subscribe to my website. I’m giving away 3 1-hour consults in June to new subscribers and you’ll also get a free download of my free e-book Best of the Blog.

By | June 14th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on The Loving-Kindness Meditation

I Could Have Missed This

Doing back exercises, just as I did everyday for two decades. This is at the airport before I leave for my first trip to Europe. My dedication to my back never wavered.

My husband woke up this morning in the mood to dance. So naturally, I joined in. I offered some pathetic scat singing for him to dance to: “waba dala de zoop doo de la da da.”

He came over and hugged me a little too hard, and I squeaked, “Ouch, ouch, ouch!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sweets! Your rib!”

(I’m just on the tail end of a respiratory virus and seem to have really injured my rib from coughing so much.)

He made his hug more gentle; then he pulled back to look me in my eyes. His pupils dilated, betraying – as they always do – how over the moon this amazing man is for me. I am so over the moon for him, too.

We continued dancing and laughing, and I continued on with my truly terrible scat singing: “Zaba lah-dee zippa rip rawp rawp.”

Then he said, “Remember how waking up in the morning used to be so hard for you? How you’d drag yourself into the kitchen, desperate for coffee, grumpy and exhausted? Remember when your back got so bad you had to quit dancing, even in the kitchen?”

“Yeah. It’s amazing isn’t it how close I came to missing this. I didn’t think I’d ever again feel such joy just from being alive.”

I could have missed this. I could have so easily missed this.

It’s weird, but this terrible respiratory virus has been a real eye-opener for me. Symptom-wise, it has been objectively hard. Fever. Tenacious cough. Nosebleeds. Severe muscle aches. And it’s been two weeks long.

But the feeling I have had the whole time has been: This is so easy!

It’s the first viral or bacterial infection I’ve had since 2006 that didn’t bring with it a secondary fungal rash that I also had to treat. That suggests to me that my underlying mold/biotoxin illness is FINALLY really well-managed.

As I’ve gone through this virus, I’ve been comparing my energy levels to how I felt before my mold/biotoxin illness was well-managed, and there is no comparison. Compared to how I felt before, this virus has been a tea party. A TEA PARTY! No wonder the healthy people of the world do not understand those of us who have struggled with chronic illness. If this is what they think sick feels like, they could never truly understand us.

I had no idea how much I was running on nothing more than purpose for ten years of my life. I didn’t want to be a victim. I wanted a great life. If I had to FORCE a rewarding life into existence, well, then, so be it.

This observation has brought up some grief for me. Because not only could I have so easily missed this newfound health that I have now, but if I had found my genius doctor in 2006, I could have missed so much of that suffering.

This line of thinking has also brought me back to my childhood, to my 15-year-old self, who was already experiencing so much back pain that she decided she would set as her life’s greatest wish this simple mantra-like request: I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be healthy and happy.

I think about that girl – about me – and the years of tenacious back pain and depression that followed. I think about the entire second semester of my sophomore year of college when I had to stand at the back of my classes leaning on a small pillow because to sit at a desk was too excruciating. I think about how many careers I knew I could not do because my back was far too fragile. I think about the fact that by the time I was 30, I had already spent over a year of my waking life in bed because of pain.

I believe now that I could have missed all that. Psychiatrist Mary Ackerly, in this article, explains that pain followed by treatment-resistant depression is often not really depression. It is “sickness behavior” caused by untreated mold/biotoxin illness and the inflammation-induced pain it causes.

It is easy to see in hindsight that my struggles with arthritis, herniated discs, and crippling back pain were being driven by runaway inflammation. When the doctors said chronic pain was something I would just have to learn to live with, they were just operating on a hunch.

But here I am at age 41, and my back is finally well. I can really push my back now, and it is very resilient. I fell very hard a month ago while cross-country skiing and didn’t have a single repercussion from that. What a difference from all those times I ended up pinned to the floor in pain because I picked up a pencil in the wrong way!

Medicine is an art. It is a practice. This is a truth. It is not hard science. It is not supposed to be held to the same standards to which the physicists at The Large Hadron Collider must hold their work. There is enough evidence now that people like me are being set up for a lifetime of health problems because of mold/biotoxin illness. I’m getting FED UP with how much modern medicine is dragging their feet with this.

Because there is a 15-year old girl out there right now who is in bed – in pain – saying to herself, saying to LIFE, “I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be healthy and happy.” Doesn’t she deserve the option to see if her runaway inflammation is being caused by an underlying susceptibility to mold/biotoxin illness?

So the treatment is difficult. So what? Doesn’t she deserve a chance to have the best life she can have? What if catching this really early means that the treatment is much easier and more effective? We don’t know how easily this could be treated if it is caught right away, because we are forcing people to get to the point of devastating illness before we diagnose and treat it.

She could miss this. She could miss all of this. Not just the back problems, but the migraines, gastritis, anxiety, depression, Hashimoto’s thyroidits, insomnia, chronic rashes, arthritis, exhaustion, neuropathy, severe allergies, and PTSD. I want her to. I want her to have a chance to catch this when it is still so much easier to treat.  I don’t want her happiness in life to be a grit-your-teeth, willpower-based accomplishment.

I want happiness and joy to flow out of her as easily as breathing, just as it does for me so often now.

We know better now. Let’s do better. For her and all those like her.

 

Dave Asprey’s movie, “Moldy”, is being offered for free right now. Watch the entire documentary at moldymovie.com. The first thirty minutes of the film are available below or click here to go straight to the video on Youtube.


Sara Riley Mattson is the author of Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out. Sara has a bunch of stories at her Patreon site, too.

Join Sara’s Newsletter and get a free PDF e-book of her Best of the Blog..

 

By | March 13th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on I Could Have Missed This

I’ve Never Wanted to Be a Warrior

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

The war metaphor in regard to mold illness – or any illness – has never really resonated with me. I’m not sure why. I’m sensitive and gentle by nature and that might be part of it. But also I think that I’ve never wanted to feel like my body was my enemy. I made a concerted effort to call my back “vulnerable” or “fragile” and never “bad” during the decades I struggled with severe chronic back pain.

I know the war metaphor works for a lot of people, though. Dr. Shoemaker’s book is even called Mold Warriors. For a long time I figured I must’ve been alone in feeling like it wasn’t helpful or useful to think of mold as my enemy or my life as a series of battles.

Around Christmas I mentioned to one of the Moldies that I’ve been mentoring that I found it much more helpful to think of my illness as a journey, that thinking of mold as my enemy leads to absolutist ideas of being mold-free which are bound to fail. It leads to ideas of fighting battles and of winning and losing, and that felt corrosive to my health. I knew that if I told my mind and body it was in a war, a war was what my mind and body would give me. It would be the way in which my mind framed my experiences.

She said that she felt her whole body relax as I shared this. The next day she texted that she felt different. More at peace. That her circumstances were the same, but she didn’t feel the same.

So I’ve been thinking that maybe I’m not really alone in needing a different umbrella philosophy within which to frame my illness. But it kind of bothered me that my explanation was so cliché. It seemed that there must be a better way to explain this. Last night I realized why the shift from a war mindset to a journey mindset could be so much more conducive to healing.

It has to do with rejection and the way rejection affects us both emotionally and physically.

Everyone in life has dealt with rejection. It feels positively awful. Rejection sits in your stomach heavily like a ball of lead. Then it spreads to your chest with a tenacious grief-driven ache. It makes you tired. It makes you wonder what is even the point of trying so hard.

This article in Psychology Today entitled Ten Surprising Facts about Rejection mentions that “rejection piggybacks on physical pathways in the brain” mimicking physical pain. Rejection also “sends us on a mission to seek and destroy our self-esteem” and even “temporarily lowers our IQ”. Rejection pummels us physically and emotionally. Rejection is an assault on our self-worth. This is why it is so important to reach out to the people who love us for exactly who we are when we experience rejection. It is legitimately harmful to our health.

In my mind, rejection is the opposite of winning. It is losing. Losing what I wanted, how I wanted to feel, what I had hoped would happen. I don’t want my relationship with my body, with illness, or with mold to be framed liked that.

Rejection in regards to illness only exists if you think of your experiences in this binary way. With a shift to a journey mindset, the duality falls apart. Wins and losses, constantly fighting battles…these things don’t exist in the journey. Journeys are about learning and having new experiences.

It’s not that a journey is necessarily easier than a fight. As someone who used to puke on every airplane flight, but also loved to travel overseas, I have had more experiences of being exhausted and sick in my travels than not. I once threw up five times on a train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, Finland. And while I was running back and forth to the bathroom to puke my guts out, my husband realized we were on the wrong train! It led to a saying in our house, “The only thing worse than getting sick on a train is getting sick on the wrong train!” But we kept going and 13 hours later we made it to Rovaniemi…which was lovely. It is one of my favorite places I have ever been.

They say that many of the best athletes focus on their losses more than their wins. That these losses drive them to excel. And so I can see why the war metaphor has worked for so many. Billy Bean in the movie Moneyball explains this mindset perfectly:

 

“I hate losing…. I hate it. I hate losing more than I even wanna win.”

-Billy Bean (played by Brad Pitt) in the movie Moneyball

But that way of thinking doesn’t work for me. Mold isn’t evil. It isn’t my enemy. It just is. That it is something I need to avoid scrupulously in order to be well is a reality in which I live, but if I get hit or slammed by mold, it is not a failure or a loss. Only a change in the direction I thought my day – or week, or life, really – was going to go.

I’ve found that the journey mindset makes it easier to shake off biotoxin hits and slams. It helps me be courageous when I’m trying something new. If I get hit by a problematic biotoxin, well, I know how to handle that. Decontaminate as quickly as possible! Wash my head, change my shirt, get some fresh air. If possible, I’ll go for a walk at a higher elevation. It’s really no big deal. I just have a wet head and an extra piece of laundry. If I get slammed, well, that’s okay, too. I have tools in my toolkit for slams.

And I never know what beautiful thing I might see because I had to change my plan for the day. Maybe it’s a bald eagle or a moose. Maybe it is a cowboy gabbing away on his cell phone while riding a horse. It’s just life and life will always keep on happening no matter what my plans are. That’s why the journey idea works for me.

If this idea of moving away from the war metaphor resonates with you, I would recommend reading James P. Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. (Many thanks to my friend Peter Tavernise for recommending it to me.)

Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life; they are played in order to be won, which is when they end. But infinite games are more mysterious. Their object is not winning, but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change—as long as the game is never allowed to come to an end. James P. Carse.

 




Support for my writing has come almost entirely from patrons and donors. One of them asked me to add a donate button to the end of each post. Thank you for all of your support!

Sara Riley Mattson is the author of Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out. Sara has a bunch of stories at her Patreon site, too.

Join Sara’s Newsletter and get a free PDF e-book of her Best of the Blog.

By | February 17th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on I’ve Never Wanted to Be a Warrior

Just Pre-Ordered: Through the Shadowlands by Julie Rehmeyer

The connection between mold toxins and illness has strong science behind it. Unfortunately, I believe that as long as the top mold illness experts continue to (correctly) advise that relinquishing one’s possessions is critical to recovering, the emotional resistance to the mold connection will remain formidable. For those who have fallen through the cracks of the medical system, however, compelling stories about the link between mold toxins and illness can be life-changing. They can be life-saving. People trapped in illness have a right to know that mold may be involved in their suffering.

That is why I’m so excited about Julie Rehymeyer’s upcoming book: Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand. Julie is a brilliant mind among brilliant minds. An MIT-trained mathematician and an award-winning science and mathematics writer, she also is a contributing editor to Discover Magazine. She’s “been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wired, Slate, Science News, and more. Her stories have been featured on The History Channel and NPR’s All Things Considered.”

I mean WOW, right?

I’m hopeful that the mere existence of a memoir by someone this smart, successful, and respected will be very helpful for those whose health has been affected by mold.

The synopsis for Julie’s book on Amazon:

Science journalist Julie Rehmeyer was so sick she sometimes couldn’t turn over in bed. The top specialists in the world were powerless to help, and scientific research on her disease was at a near standstill. She was running out of money. And she was all alone, with no one to care for her.

Having exhausted the plausible ideas, Rehmeyer turned to an implausible one. She followed the advice of strangers she’d met on the Internet. They struck her as crazy–but they had recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome as severe as hers. Leaving behind everything she owned, she drove into the desert, testing the theory that mold in her home and belongings was making her sick. Stripped of the life she’d known and the future she’d imagined, Rehmeyer felt as though she were going to the desert to die.

But she didn’t die. She used her scientific savvy and investigative journalism skills to find a path to wellness–and uncovered how shocking scientific neglect and misconduct had forced her, and millions of others, to go it alone. In stunning prose, Rehmeyer describes how her illness transformed her understanding of science, medicine, and spirituality. Through the Shadowlands will bring scientific authority to a misunderstood disease while telling an incredible and compelling story of tenacity, resourcefulness, acceptance, and love.

Pre-orders make a big difference. Order yours today here.




Support for my writing has come almost entirely from patrons and donors. One of them asked me to add a donate button to the end of each post. Thank you for all of your support!

Sara Riley Mattson is the author of Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out. Sara has a bunch of stories at her Patreon site, too.

Join Sara’s Newsletter and get a free PDF e-book of her Best of the Blog.

By | January 24th, 2017|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on Just Pre-Ordered: Through the Shadowlands by Julie Rehmeyer

I Got Rid of My Smartphone – and I Feel Fine

I got rid of my smartphone. Yep. It’s true.

Well, first, I deactivated my Facebook account. And that was fine, too. Actually, it was better than fine. It felt great. I was getting a little sharing fatigue. Too much sharing and too much thinking about sharing.

Have you ever been somewhere really beautiful – like the Grand Canyon – and you start to think to yourself, “How can I share this on Facebook?” Then you think, “How should I write the post?” or “Should I do just one photo or an album?” And that inevitably leads to, “I wonder what people will think of this.” Before you know it 10-15 minutes of your time at the Grand Canyon have gone by and the whole time you were thinking about Facebook. Ugh.

I hate that feeling. Twice before I’ve deactivated my account because I really hate that.

But those two times I deactivated my account weren’t the first time I deactivated it. The first time was when I first got my Facebook account and I got hooked on little red numbers. I could feel a small boost of dopamine every time that “bleem” sound a little red “1” would appear in response to my posts.

Oooh! Someone liked my post! Wow, that feels good.

After I realized those little red numbers felt too good, I deleted my account. And after a couple of days, it felt good to be off Facebook, too.

The first time I deactivated my account, I had only been on Facebook for a few months. After about a month of doing my own thing in my return to a Facebook-free life, I started to wonder what my friends were up to. So I made a few phone calls to check in. A really disappointing answer came from nearly everyone I called: “Well, it’s all right up there on Facebook.”

It was the end of an era. My friends had adopted Facebook as a sharing platform and to be in their lives in a meaningful way meant that I checked in with their Facebook pages from time to time. I couldn’t just opt-out of the platform unless I wanted to opt-out from a part of my friends’ lives that was really important to them.

Now, I’m on my fourth deactivation of my account. This time I did it on Thanksgiving. And I’ve been thinking about how to add Facebook back into my life without getting sucked into the drama…without losing an hour or two a day to it. To check in with my friends and my beloved mold groups occasionally, but be a little more insulated from the group think and the little red numbers addiction.

After giving it some thought, I could only come up with one answer. Ditch the smartphone.

Without the smartphone, I can only check into Facebook when I am at a hotel or coffee shop with internet access. That means that I don’t have to generate much discipline to avoid checking it. It’s like choosing to keep junk food out of the house. If you really want it, drive to get it. I like that.

So I did. A week ago, I switched back to a flip phone – a “dumbphone” – which only needs to be charged once a week. It is my little pocket-sized “stay off the internet” discipline-generator. My “wouldn’t you rather be reading a book” tool.

And I feel fine. In fact, I quite like it.

Sara Riley Mattson is the author of Camp Like a Girl and Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out. Sara has a bunch of stories on her Patreon page, too, which can be found here. To join Sara’s email list, click here.

By | December 26th, 2016|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on I Got Rid of My Smartphone – and I Feel Fine

The Enchantment of Daily Tasks – Joy is Amplified in Simplicity

There is enchantment right in front of you, waiting for you to notice.” -Janet Luhrs

The bed was so warm when I crawled into it last night. I turned our “biomats” on while I was cooking dinner in anticipation of a cold night. This was good because I accidentally washed all of my pajama bottoms yesterday, and they were still a little wet when I went to bed. Dressed in only my husband’s “Woman is the Earth” shirt, my “sleep hoodie” and knee-high boot socks, I knew I was going to need the heater to stay warm.

I was asleep in less than ten minutes and only slipped into consciousness once in the night with the thought, “Mmmm…so warm.” When I woke up this morning it was 19 degrees outside, but my bed and I were still toasty. I’d slept nine blissful hours and was raring to go for a new day.

My husband laughed as I started singing while I was getting dressed. “You are so peppy!” he said.

“I know! I slept like a rock. I love our bed!” I slipped on my jeans and realized I didn’t have a clean fleece inside the van either. I guess I got a little ambitious with my laundry last night.

I ran outside and checked my quickest-drying fleece hanging on the clothes line. Yes! It’s dry! I love this fleece!

The local hawk who makes an appearance most mornings was up, too, sitting atop an electric pole. I’ve named him Thomas. “Good morning, Tom!” I yelled as I ran back to the van.

While my husband got dressed, I turned the van on to heat up the air a bit. I cut us some apple and cheese slices and drank some cold water from one of the glass milk jugs I keep our filtered water stored in.

My husband jumped into the front seat with a grin on his face. “That is some refreshing air!” I’ve learned that whenever he uses the word “refreshing,” it means he is having fun. He grabbed couple slices of apple and cheese for his breakfast.

“Let’s go get some coffee,” I said.

“Great idea!” my husband beamed.

As we drove to the gas station where we have learned they have fresh-ground coffee, I thought about how often we have mornings like this now. We may not always be completely comfortable, but we are almost always completely happy. And we definitely feel alive in a way we never did in our perfectly climate-controlled house.

We walked into the gas station and the woman there says, “Good morning, guys. How are you, today?”

“Really good. You?” my husband says. We stop and talk with her for a bit about the weather.

In their shiny-clean bathroom, I check my hair. Meh, good enough. I brush my teeth with the toothbrush and clay toothpaste I always have with me now. I wash my hands with the Kiss My Face soap I carry with me, dry my hands with a paper towel, use the paper towel to open the door to the bathroom. I follow this with the turn-round jump shot I’ve been practicing. The crumpled paper towel arcs through the air and into the trash can that is in between the two sinks.

Swish! Yes! That is eight baskets in a row!

This gas station has a sink by the coffee machines and I wash my reusable ceramic coffee cup in the sink. The piping hot water feels incredible on my hands. When I am finished, my green ceramic cup is sparkly-clean.

My husband smiles at me as he fills up his cup with his favorite coffee, Cowboy Coffee.

Right behind him is a real cowboy with, I kid you not, spurs on his boots. I can’t help but admire his weathered jeans and cowboy hat with two feathers and a leather strap. He even has a big, shiny belt buckle, although I couldn’t quite figure out what was on the belt buckle. The cowboy sighs long and slow as he fills up his coffee. I imagine his thought: A lot of work to be done today.

Our cups filled, we go up to the counter to pay. The woman there looks at our reusable cups and smiles. “Is this all you two have today?”

We smile back. “Yep.”

“Well, it’s on me, then. Have a wonderful day.”

“Thanks!” we say in unison.

Walking out to the van, I say to my husband, “These cups have paid for themselves five times over in free coffee!”

He laughs and says, “I know, right?”

Sitting in the van, we drink our coffee and talk about what we want and need to do today. But as we talk I think about what we’ve done this morning: get up, get dressed, use the bathroom, wash our cups, and have some breakfast and coffee. These are activities we’ve done our whole adult lives, but they are so joy-filled now. When everything was so comfortable, they were boring and tedious.

Our perspective has shifted and with it our happiness has been amplified. The simple necessities have become simple pleasures. A warm bed feels decadent. A dry fleece sparks joy. Warm water from a tap is luxurious and so washing a cup feels like a treat instead of a chore. And free fresh-ground coffee from the nice lady at the gas station starts our morning off with the generosity of another.

I tried to find this kind of happiness and contentment in a therapist’s office, in a bottle of Wellbutrin, in meditation, in setting and achieving goals, in focus, in music, in exercise, in hard work, and in giving to charity.

Who knew it was waiting for me in this simple cargo van life? This is more than just the happiness that comes from a drastic reduction of pain and relief from illness. This is the lesson all those wise and kind teachers-of-peace throughout history have tried to pass along through the ages. This is joy amplified by simplicity in life.

 

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

How many undervalue the power of simplicity! But it is the real key to the heart.” William Wordsworth

 

Sara and her husband are living full-time on the road in their converted cargo van. Sara’s mold avoidance book: Camp Like a Girl can be found here and her book Migraine: Finding My Own Way Out can be found here.

By | November 4th, 2016|Categories: Favorites|Comments Off on The Enchantment of Daily Tasks – Joy is Amplified in Simplicity