Archive for March, 2009

Waste not want not

Hello, I am Candice and I am an addict.

It seems I have been in denial but now I see it. The realization began when undertaking a first quarter review of my 2009 goals, keen to monitor how I am doing so far. The last three months actually reflect a mixed bag of success and ‘oops could do better’ moments, and I spent a little time looking to see where I may have become distracted from my goals and what occurred incrementally in the quarter. I also pause to reset the goals that I remain committed to for the rest of the year.

Next I take stock of how I said I would ‘be’ in 2009, again a pretty mixed bag of success but happily more on track than not, and I am struck yet again about my intention to ‘unclutter and not be wasteful’ and begin to mentally search where I may not have exercised this fully. I stand in the cottage fluttering my fingers as if I can’t quite place something and then find myself being pulled into the kitchen and staring into the chilly soft glow of my refrigerator. My instincts were correct I find it very cluttered.

While the fridge seems pretty full, it seems that it has little to do with items that we can actually eat. The refrigerator from bottom up has a deli drawer, two side by side crispers followed by three shelves. As a Brit I have no concept of what one uses a deli drawer for, but I discovered some years ago that it was perfect for housing candles, which when chilled last longer, so needless to say that draw now has a job which it does it very well.

The right hand crisper is occupied by one lonely but large parsnip and the crisper on the left has 4 bottles of wine rather precariously crammed into it. The shelf above that has a tupperware box half filled with yesterday’s breakfast kedgeree and a few sticky circles from former leaky pots that once sat there. The glass level above that, is full of beer on one side and on the other sits three flat packets of parma ham, Hickory Bacon and Proscuitto respectively, an egg, two stick of butter, two yoghurts, and one flour tortilla and given I don’t eat meat I begin to wonder what’s for dinner?

But on the top shelf…well, there my (or should I say our) addiction becomes apparent. It is a condiment addicts dream. Now I would argue that this is an addiction of a nation, we Brits just seem to have a predilection for ‘something on the side’, it does however seem that our household has taken that to a whole new level. Under dressings we have – a Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette, an Organics Goddess Tahini affair, Girards champagne dressing and a Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette. There are Olives, some from the Santa Barbara Olive company and both ‘Martini’ and Blue Cheese olives, Pickles… mmmm.. pickles, in the form of Cornichons, Piccalilli, Sweet Midget Pickles, Branston original pickle and Haywards Pickle Onions. There is a jar of ominous looking relish and our array of chutneys – Major Grey’s, Mango Ginger, Cilantro and another ‘Asian Passage’ Sweet Ginger variety. The door of the fridge houses the usual suspects of Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Heinz Salad Cream, HP and tartare sauce, and I notice that we have five types of mustard ranging from French’s classic yellow and an Organic Dijon through to three types of Grey Poupon, even as an addict I am beginning to question what we may have been thinking. Then I spy some ‘random’ condiments, a Honey smoked BBQ sauce, a tube of wasabi, a small jar of Ponzu, some delicious mint sauce, a Dalmatia fig spread and burnt fig jam for our cheeses and the small tubs of organic apple sauce just waiting to be dolloped on the next batch of roasted potatoes. We have in fact 34 jars and squeezy bottles of condiment items in our refrigerator, not counting the sachets of soy sauce that we seem to throw into one of the door receptacles just because ‘you never know when you might need them’, well if you ever do we have 69 packets of them.

Now you may well be thinking, is this such a big deal? Well maybe not, 34 jars, I can handle that, I am in control. In fact I even had a bit of a purge and a few jars of somewhat out of date condiments did find themselves being emptied, cleaned and added to the recycling, but just as the refrigerator door made that light little suction noise as it seals itself closed I look across the room to all our seasonings (which technically, I believe other than salt and pepper, are not to be confused with condiments) and with them, there on the kitchen island, also sits the lazy susan guiltily filled with vinegars, oils, hot sauces and dare I say, more mustard. Ok, this household may have a bit of a problem and it’s less to do with all the condiments that we do have and more to do with fact that having been through the condiment audit I am now acutely aware that we are out of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.

On a serious note, well as serious as one can be when one is writing a random post about addiction to condiments, Oprah recently ran a series of episodes about living a more simple life, not getting caught up in the idea that we need the next best thing or ‘more’ of what we already have, and to be mindful of what it is we are wasting each week. The segment that most caught my eye was the piece on throwing our perishables away. The challenge is that whenever you throw out a perishable item that wasn’t touched, or where there is a lot of it left but it’s no longer edible, jot down how much it cost you. Then after a week or so add up the cost of all the food you have thrown away and imagine they are dollars, how much money are you putting in the trash each week? It is a powerful image and I get it, apparently even Oprah saves her morning toast if it isn’t all eaten! What shopping and eating behaviors would it be beneficial to change in your household?

So in this short post I think I have made it to about Step 5 of ‘The Program’ –
Step 1. I admitted we are powerless over condiments — that our refrigerator had become unmanageable.
Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves (Oprah) could restore us to sanity.
Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Mother Nature who provides us with fine tasting goodies with no need for additional enhancement.
Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory – Marc PLEASE bring back some Lea Perrins.
Step 5. Admitted to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


I commit to there being far less condiment purchases in our future and many less hard earned dollars in the trash….

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

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Earth Day – April 22nd

According to Laguna Beach, San Franscisco, Berkeley and Denver cities, the ‘Official Earth Day’ actually occured on March 20th this year, I am sure someone wise out there could explain why this might be and I am guessing it is tied in with the Spring Equinox. However for many of us we recognize Earth Day as being April 22nd, an easy day for me to remember given it falls on my significant other’s birthday.

To find out how you can mark the day (I am sure we will be having not so environmentally friendly birthday sushi and beer), just check out or

Now while we are waiting for April 22nd to arrive, in celebration of ‘Earth Hour’ 2009, a global climate event led by the World Wildlife Fund, 377 cities globally have committed to go dark for one hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. Laguna residents are meeting at City Hall at 8:15 p.m. for a walk down Forest Avenue with lanterns and posters. The event will conclude with refreshments and music at Oasis Child, 380 Glenneyre Street. Laguna Beach City council is encouraging all residents and businesses to turn their lights out during Earth Hour.

And if you are a resident of SoCal or fancy a family outing from a locale slightly further afield, you may find this interesting too.

On April 25th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, will be opening their doors to the community for a special celebration.

Their press release says –

“Bring your family and friends for the grand opening of our demonstration gardens, plant sale and hands-on educational experiences for all ages.

Grand Opening: The Ecology Center Demonstration Gardens
Come enjoy our unique demonstration gardens! Our California Friendly Landscape highlights water efficiency and native plants while our Backyard Oasis provides insights into growing fruits, vegetables and herbs organically at home.

Organic Plant Sale
Just in time for the start of gardening season, our Spring Plant Sale featuring organic heirloom vegetables, herb and flower starts, available exclusively at The Ecology Center. Varieties include: Padron Peppers, Stupice Tomatoes, Turkish Eggplant, Rainbow Inca Sweet Corn, Hummingbird Sage, Merlot Lettuce, to name just a few.

Eco-Education Fun for Kids and Adults
Be a part of the solution. Fun and inspiring activities will be rotating all day, including: seed sprouting, earthen oven baked goods, plant-based tie dying, stories from the “Earth Bug Crew”, acoustic “gypsy jazz” music, yoga with Yoga Works/Lululemon.

We’ll be raffling off gift baskets from our partner organizations, including: yoga and accessories from Yoga Works and Lululemon, fresh produce from South Coast Farms and apparel from Burton and Volcom.”

Sound like fun?
We’ll probably see you there!

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

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Conflicting signals

My health insurance company is trying to kill me off. OK maybe that is a slight exaggeration but they are definitely contributing to some disturbing health issues.

First they choked me. Yes, it is true. They sent me a letter informing me that they would be ‘making benefit changes to my plan’ which to you and me actually means increasing my premium by 30%. This caused such a sharp intake of breath that I did in fact choke. Full face blueness was interrupted only by an involuntarily laugh and gafaw, i.e. a snort and explusion of breath at the idea that this company really believe they can do this to people.

Then came the crick in the neck. Taking direction well, I called the number provided to let the company know how I felt about the ‘change to coverage premiums’ and to change my policy. Given so many others across the US were obviously having their own choking episodes, I was put on hold for over 50 minutes. Truth of the matter is that they would have probably put me on hold for much longer but after 50 minutes my neck and shoulder were aching so much I gave up.

The ‘hold message’ did mention that I could change my coverage over the world wide web. However, once on the site the automated dialogue boxes tell me that I cannot in fact change my coverage via this site and that I need to talk to a representative. Torment ensues, what if I held on for just two more minutes, maybe the cricked neck would have been worth it??!

They then came after my mental health. I finally managed to speak with a representative and we discussed which policies might suit my situation and it so happens that this particular company had sent me new policy paperwork a month or so before so I check with the ‘rep’ that the fax numbers are still correct, which they are, and I fill it out and fax it over, she even says she will look out for it.

It takes another 36 hours for me to get a successful, ‘fax sent’ signal, it seems that the company’s fax machine had steam coming out of it at their end, but once I have confirmation that it has been sent I breathe a temporary sigh of relief and put away my copy of the paperwork safely in a drawer.

A week later I receive another letter, saying that my application cannot be processed, I frustratedly file through the many sheets of paper they have sent me to find the reason, ” We recently merged with another healthcare provider and no longer accept applications with the former ‘company name’ logo, please fill in the application enclosed with our new logo”. I grab at the application form enclosed wondering what other information they were going to ask me for, and how many more calls to my physician I might have to make to get this new form completed, only to discover that other than the logo and the fact it is now a booklet instead of loose leaf application, the form is in fact IDENTICAL! Wide eyed I snatch a pen and gripping it all too tightly, straining another muscle in my shoulder, fill out this new form, copying the details over. As mentioned I am now in possession of booklet application which requires a trip to the post office and as I pop the new application, with correct company logo, into that trusted blue USPS mail box I feel my blood pressure beginning to lower. I choose a ‘hey-ho’ perspective on the saga and forget about the whole episode.

Another week later the higher premium for the existing health insurance policy is debited from my bank account. I take a deep breath, feeling that it will be resolved soon enough and I will just choose to let it flow over me. It is however an entirely different flow than I expect. A day later, I receive an email saying that my policy cannot be processed. This is all the trigger I need for my high blood pressure, strained shoulder, tormented mental state, cricked neck and choking symptoms to flood at me all at once. There even has to be a brief triage moment before I am able to call the new number provided. I am placed on hold, but in context it is for a bearable amount of time, and I am greeted by another representative, who does apologize for the delay but by this time I am deaf to all pleasantries. I explain all that has occurred, which is evidently much more information that she requires and she tells me that the reason why my application cannot be processed is that the health insurance product I had chosen was discontinued on March 1. I physically deflate and become one with the sofa, I am mush with a phone.

The cheery representative leaves me for a moment, I think my mushy silence was a hint, to find out what my options might be, checking in every 30 seconds or so to ask me a question, I begin to be hopeful, and begin to notice that I do have bones in my body and could pull myself together if I choose to, but by now I really should know better. After a few questions and a little peppy chatter she vanishes. I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt especially given I have no idea what physical condition might follow if she doesn’t return to me and I wait some more. After 10 minutes I know my waiting is futile, I snap out of the sofa and start franticly pressing zeros and stars on the phone in order to see if I can break the code and get to a representative, ANY representative before the veins in my neck burst open, (noting that this would be the first ailment they would have caused, that had a serious possibility of damaging the furniture).

My thumping of the phone works and a very calm lady answers who assures me such and such a supervisor would be alerted.. do I care? Not a jot. I just want to be well again. She professionally gives me my options and we select one. She assures me that the application will now go straight to underwriting and will be put in place immediately. I am spent and as nice as she is, I expect nothing which is just as well.

Today there is voicemail from underwriting saying that they need more information. I walk over to the drawer, slowly retrieve my paperwork and make the call. Firstly the greeting states that if I am calling for an emergency I should hang up and dial 911. I am sorely tempted but cannot think of a suitable crime to charge them with. It then goes on to say I will be on hold for no longer than 7 minutes, new feature – nice. When the gal arrives on the other end of the line, I am braced, my muscles are taught, my jaw clenched. I am cave woman, in serious fight or flight response mode, poised for which ever it will need to be.

I give the rep all the security details she requires to get my file, she reads the inquiry on the file under her breath and asks me aloud if ‘the product’, she reads out the name, is in fact the one I chose? In the pause, I scan my full body. Which ailment are they trying to cause today? I instinctively feel it could be mental confusion or exhaustion and then wonder if they are now callously just trying to get me to beat myself over the head with the phone. Maybe? I repeat her question back to her and then say YES. I then tentatively ask if that will be all. She confirms that is all the information they need and in closing softly states that she is confused as to why the file said to call again today. It is only then that I truly realize the magnitude of the situation, it is not just me they are trying to kill off, they are in fact taking out their own staff too. My heart swells and I want to share some of my own survival tips of the last month but she is long gone and I stare at the original health insurance paperwork that sits beside me, telling me that it looks forward to helping me to “enjoy good health”.

I will enjoy good health, but not with any help from this company. They say one thing and do something completely different. They are a living breathing contradiction and I silently wonder what impact that will have in the long run. To be in such conflict over what you state as your intention, and what you actually do just doesn’t work, people see through it and it ultimately serves no one.

I will also make sure I enjoy good health because the idea of having to go through a claims procedure with this company will just about finish me off.


© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

The Red Barn Cooperative

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Bringing your whole self to work

We held an Essence Story ‘work session’ this week at the RBC space in Laguna Beach. Several business owners came along to learn first hand what leveraging company values could mean for their business in regard to brand recognition, hiring policies, operating practices and financial planning. During the session we had lively discussions about not being able to ‘do change to people’, the authenticity of brands, being ‘in relationship’ with brands and strong company cultures. During the latter discussion it was fairly natural that Southwest Airlines came up.

Southwest have a company culture that is ‘lived’ by all its employees and involves three key elements; ‘Warrior Spirit’, ‘A Servant’s Heart’ and a ‘Fun-luving attitude’. Each of these elements have associated values and if you are interested you can read more about it at Southwest Company Culture .

I particularly like one of the values they have under ‘Fun-luving attitude’ which is ‘don’t take yourself too seriously’, because frankly when we go to work we tend to don’t we. What is it that we shed when we walk through the doors of the corporation? What is it we stop ‘being’?

In the work session we looked at company values for each business then took another deeper dive into how these values could differentiate each business from their competitors. It is an interesting exercise to do. If you are going to live by company values they need to be authentic for your business and if they are truly authentic for your business they will be different to your competitors. Another very useful exercise is to look at your values in regard to how it will inform company culture, what are the expectations of employees? How will the company at large operate and behave? If a company is transparent about what they value and clear about their purpose and goals, potential employees are empowered to see if their own values align with the company and choose whether the job is the right fit for them. Companies that are clear about their values and honor transparency have happier and more effective employees because they are able to ‘be’ at work instead of just ‘do’ at work.

Just check out this Southwest flight attendant ‘being’ at work. Flight attendant Rapper

What might be different if you were true to ‘your being’ at work?

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

The Red Barn Cooperative

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What does your waiting room look like?

I get to permission to see many folks’ waiting rooms. The place where they go to wait for more money, for the kids to get older, to lose weight, to wait prior to giving something up, for a conflict to subside, to get credentials, to get fit, for just the ‘perfect moment’ etc. etc. It is the place where we take up residence when we think that we need to ‘be somewhere’ in our lives, or have ‘something’ in our lives before we can move on and live it.

Once a client is aware of the fact they are in a waiting room I ask them to describe their waiting room to me. I have been shown very cold sterile rooms with no windows, very comfortable almost plush ones where, to the occupier, it would almost seem wreckless to leave. I have seen rooms full of books that ‘have’ to be read before leaving and I have seen rooms with all sorts of bad 70’s wallpaper, uncomfortable chairs, bad lighting and smelly carpets. They can be lonely places, with the occupier being the only one present and sometimes they hold couples who twiddle their thumbs or whole families or teams of people, all busily occupying themselves – waiting.

The majority of the waiting rooms do have doors, some are more prevalent than others and they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and weights with various locks, bolts, sliding mechanisms and pivots, but before moving toward that door or even considering what is on the other side it is really useful to notice how our particular waiting room makes us feel and what its function is in our life.

Did we choose to come here to be safe? To avoid failure? To avoid conflict? To stop spending money? What does it feel like now we are here? Is it working for us?
Many folks will tell me that they didn’t in fact choose their waiting room at all, they just found themselves there and now that they look around, they are not at all convinced of the benefits of being here. Now it’s time for that door.

What do we think is on the other side of the door? The rest of our life, yes, but what specifically might we find if we just took a peek or stood in the threshold? What is possible when we give ourselves the opportunity to look beyond the waiting room?

I rarely ask people to cross the threshold of their waiting room back into their life; once they have taken a good look at what their waiting room looks like and realize how they feel about it, they do it themselves, sometimes leaping, sometimes taking a baby step, and even if there is still some fear present, their steps forward are usually accompanied with a smile or sigh of relief.

What does your waiting room look like?

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

You can’t please everyone

Last night marked the last episode of ‘The L Word’. After 6 years and 70 episodes, it had an ending that pretty much left the conclusion up to the audience. I felt this end-of-an-era episode had a pretty good balance of intrigue and emotion and sensed that the open ending was quite possibly the only way to handle a show with such a loyal following. However, looking at the blogs today, a lot of the fan base (well the ones who have been leaving comments on Showtime’s L Word site), seem to be bouncing somewhere between upset and outrage. The majority of these folks were hoping for an ending with a clear conclusion and yet I wonder if that had indeed been the case, how many negative comments would still have been posted this morning? There could have been various definitive endings, impacting any number of the characters but the truth of the matter is, we really can’t please everyone.

I however meet many people who try to do just that. These people are not just ‘nice’ people, they instead have become ‘professional pleasers’ who put everyone before themselves, all of the time; trying to please the spouse, please the kids, please the boss, please co-workers, please clients, please friends, please acquaintances and so on and so on to the detriment of any personal happiness. These pleasers are rarely pleased themselves as they are putting so much energy and effort into being ‘just right’ for everyone else. They are also known to live in some nether world, either waiting for the next person to please or waiting for the familiar to come along i.e. someone to please them.

The fact of the matter is, the more we behave like contortionist chameleons to please others the more likely it will result in loss of identity and health affecting stress, no way to sustain a healthy balanced life. In these extreme cases we need to look at setting boundaries and establishing priorities.

Firstly, it is wise to understand that we are each responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction, holding others responsible to deliver it to us is a boat load of pressure that some will drown under. And again some folks really just cannot ‘be pleased’ whatever you do. Look to what truly makes you happy and empower others to do the same for themselves.

Secondly, when we attempt to please everyone and we make changes to fit each person and occasion we begin to dilute who we are, so we need to take a good look at our own authentic being. Who are we? What are we all about? How do we want to behave that is true to us and delivers on what we need?

As for priorities, we need to look at who in our lives are really important to us; it is likely that once you have identified them they will be the people who already love you for who you are, (yes including clients) and are looking for reciprocated support and not for you to change who you are to please them.

If you are reading this and feel that all you do is give, give, give, now is the time to have some compassion for yourself. Time to think about who you are, what is important to you and your priorities. It is impossible to please everyone, all of the time, even loyal fans, so be true to yourself, respectful and kind to others and you will find a new source of pleasure there.


© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chicklet below..

The Red Barn Cooperative

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March 2009
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