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Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #12

Bars (not the drinking kind).

Please consider switching to natural ingredient bar soaps, shampoo, and conditioner.

Bar hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner consumers, reduce plastic waste and fossil fuel consumption used during transportation. Weight for weight, and volume for volume, the bar products provide more washes, hence less fuel used during and for transportation.

For example, an 80 gm shampoo bar will last approximately 60 to 70 washes, depending on hair length. Whereas, if two teaspoons (10 ml) of liquid shampoo are used per wash, a 500 gm bottle produces only 50 washes. Less washes for more than 6 times the weight (assuming a density of 1). Plus, the bar shampoo container is smaller and made of more sustainable materials than the giant plastic bottle of liquid shampoo.

As the bar dish soap wears down, it becomes more difficult to use. This is the time to cut it up and use as hand soap.

Video Using Bar Dish Soap at its final stages

Remember to click on the FOLLOW button….Thank you 🙂

We can do this!

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip # 11

Why leather alternatives.

Cows make 40% of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas, methane. It is hard to justify leather goods in an era of rapid global warming. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Vegan leathers that mimic natural leather are mostly plastics and petroleum-based. Unfortunately, not eco-friendly, does not feel like natural leather, and does not have durability. Other products made from pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, or recycled plastic make poor imitations too.  

Thanks to mushrooms, we now have plant-grown, carbon-neutral luxury fabrics with the feel of real leather. Being embraced by haute couture brands like Hermès and manufacturers like Lululemon and Adidas will hopefully set a new eco-friendly trend.

Human ingenuity created this mess. Human ingenuity can get us out of this mess.

Collaboration by Hermès and MycoWorks

The ultimate test is, will plant leathers make a good baseball glove?

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/this-mushroom-based-leather-could-be-the-next-sustainable-fashion-material-180979170/

https://www.mycoworks.com/introducing-sylvania-by-hermes

https://www.epa.gov/snep/agriculture-and-aquaculture-food-thought

https://www.verifythis.com/article/news/verify/environment-verify/cattle-cows-the-top-source-of-methane-emissions-in-united-states/536-8d5bf326-6955-4a9c-8ea5-761d73ba464c

https://www.edf.org/article/farmers-seek-solutions-methane-emissions-cows

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #10

Cartoon about laundry

Laundry.

Who doesn’t like fresh-smelling, soft, and clean laundry?

This luxury comes at a cost: water, detergents, softeners, energy, and plastics.

To reduce water use, use water efficient front loaders and wash a full load each time. To reduce pollution, use earth friendly detergent sheets. The sheets reduce plastic waste too.

To reduce air pollution, use natural fragrance dryer sheets that are biodegradable or natural reusable lavender dryer bags. Consider skipping fabric softeners.

Hang clothes on a clothesline or rack, either indoors or outdoors. Choose a spot with good air circulation – in temperate climates – dry near a hot air source. During the winter months, when our basement furnace was in use, we used to hang our laundry near it.

You naturally get that fresh outdoor smell that the chemicals in dryers sheets are trying to mimic when you hang laundry outdoors. The fragrances and chemicals of traditional dryers sheets create air pollution and carcinogens.

There are laundry products that are natural, biodegradable, and contain no plastics.

Consider brands like Seventh Generation, Earth Breeze, Trader Joe’s lavendar dryer bags.  Other options: 100% cotton clothes, when hung to dry, can feel stiff. Adding 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser may soften 100% cotton laundry such as towels. Note: Vinegar is an acid hence harmful to some fabrics. Most other (synthetic blend) fabrics are still soft after being hung-dried.

Avoid fabrics that need dry cleaning. Please keep it simple.

I am asking you to be conscious of how your purchases affect the environment.

Sustainability benefits you personally.

Reusable Lavender Dryer Bags

https://www.brabantia.com/uk/inspiration/turning-rotary-dryers-into-trees/

https://www.healthline.com/health/dryer-sheets-toxicity

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/greener-laundry/

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip # 9

Change your diet to a plant-based. You can do this slowly, one meal a day or one day a week (meatless Mondays or at least avoid sugar, red meat, and dairy). Or jump right in and change 100% to a plant-based diet overnight like I did. It is good for your health, the planet, and the animals.

Eating whole foods, unprocessed plant-based diet will reduce your body’s overall inflammation. This will help clear up your skin, reduce pain and improve your cognition, amongst other things.

I will be posted some favorite plant-based dishes that my friends and I enjoy eating. I encourage you to buy organic for the same reasons – fewer chemicals, which is better for you, the planet, and the farmers.

My next few posts will be family tested recipes. Bon Appetit. Bonne Santé.

Recipes

Fennel Potatoes

Burger, salad and potatoes

This is a family favorite.

6 potatoes, sliced

2 onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart vegetable broth

olive oil

fennel seeds

Salt and pepper

Peel and slice potatoes and onions. Place in a sauce pan. Add garlic. Sprinkle w fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Pour in vegetable broth, enough to almost cover potatoes. Add just enough oil to cover mixture. Cook with high heat until boiling. Then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 15mins. You can substitute the garlic cloves with either garlic salt or garlic powder to taste.

Can serve this as a side dish with a vegan burger and salad.

Try my plant-based curry burger https://elainemd.com/2018/06/14/v-burgers-for-the-4th-or-anytime/

Recipes

Tasty Earth Friendly Chili

Chili

All of these portions can be customized to your own taste preferences. Serves 6-8.

2 1/2 cups of dried red kidney beans (Prepare in Instant Pot pressure cooker. You can also prepare with traditional method of soaking for several hours and boiling)

6 cups of vegetable broth *

1 cup raw coarse bulgar **

1.5 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

Olive oil to sauté

1 cup each, chopped:

  • celery
  • carrots
  • sweet green peppers

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice ( juice from 1/2 lemon)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp chili powder (more or less, depends on how spicy you like it)

3 Tbsp of tomato paste

3 Tbsp cooking wine

Parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

Rinse beans. Place in Instant Pot and add vegetable broth. Make sure there is a few inches of liquid above the level of the beans (water height should be at least double height of dried beans). Cook in pressure cooker, high pressure for 20 mins. You can do quick release of pressure for al dente beans or let it slow realize for softer beans. Strain beans and set aside.

Meanwhile, add bulgar to tomato sauce. Let sit until all the liquid is absorbed. Let it stand at least 30 mins.

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add rest of carrots, celery and spices. When vegetables are almost done, add peppers.

Combine all the ingredients and heat by simmering, stirring to prevent burning. If too thick, add more fresh vegetable broth.

Serve topped with chopped parsley.

ADDENDUM:

*I do not reuse the bean broth. Although tasty, it is high in sugars that can cause bloating and gas. If you want to thin out the chill, add more fresh vegetable broth. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12489819/

**The grain used in this recipe is for texture. It need not be bulgar. I tried the grain Folio the other day (in photo). It’s from Africa, grows in poor soil conditions and drought tolerant. Follow the package direction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonio

Fonio Grain

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #8

Those Who Plant Trees Under Whose Shade They Will Never Sit Understand Life

Plant a tree. What type of tree? Start with what grows locally and grows fast. Young trees absorb CO2 as they grow.

Trees cleans our air, absorb heat, prevents erosion, provides wildlife habitats, and rebalances our soil.

Tree canopy providing shade for many people

If planting a tree is not practical for you then contact your mayor’s office to plant some trees in parks, empty lots, or to line streets. If they say they don’t have the money then ask them to install solar panels over open parking lots to raise money to plant trees, with the added benefit of protecting your car and making clean energy.

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #7

What to say to the Climate Change Deniers

Cartoon image of a city.

Some people argue for the status quo. They demand to stay on the same course. They think the threat of climate change is BS. They claim that the history of our planet has naturally cycled through temperatures of highs and lows. Coincidently, many of the same people have a financial interest in fossil fuels. Many are older and they are uncomfortable thinking about a future in which they will not be participants. Ego-driven, with no skin in the game people, cannot see beyond themselves. Many cannot be bothered to consider the world they are leaving their grandchildren. Many cannot fathom the shift they would have to make because their cognition cannot cope. Sadly, it takes being near the end of life to realize that the whole concept of ownership ultimately is meaningless. Some are living a life in crisis mode and any shift will push them into the abyss. At least that is the fear. For whatever reason, they cannot see that sustainable ideas are to make the world better. They continue to deny what is happening around us. Extreme climate patterns, droughts, wildfires, temperatures so hot airplanes can’t take off or tolerate violent turbulence as a result of wind pattern changes, and destruction of wildlife.

But look at the data- never did the rate of temperature rise increase as quickly as it is now and at the same time, the planet has nearly an unprecedented 8 billion mouths to feed.

We have or will soon cross a boundary of no return. Fortunately, as time passes, the number of deniers will dwindle.

Hopefully, this will give you some talking points when someone denies climate change.

What gives me hope are the brilliant and dedicated younger generations who are fighting for their future. A new wave has started.

How long can you hold your breath while counting your money?

There is no planet B.

A NEW WAVE HAS STARTED

REFERENCES:

Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue

https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/641775

https://pngtree.com/freepng/toxic-gas-emission-environmental-pollution_6249556.html

https://phys.org/news/2019-08-jet-stream-aircraft-turbulence-climate.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40339730

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #6

Save the Bees.

A few years ago, my lavender bushes used to be swarming with bees. But now it is bee-less. This disappearance is a wake-up call to everyone. Without the bees, the world will not survive as we know it.

Bees have been declared The Most Important Living Being on Earth. They are now on the endangered species list! What have we done?

IMG_2311

The disappearance of bees is real. Time to get active. Think Global. Act Local. Stop using pesticides and herbicides, especially neonicotinoids. Eat organic. Better for you, better for farmers, and better for the environment. Sure it might cost a little more. But when it comes to food, consider higher quality and lower quantity. The majority of the western world could eat less to abate the obesity epidemic.

Other factors, besides chemicals, that negatively affect pollinators are drought related to global warming, habitat destruction, lack of food, air pollution, and disease.

With all of these factors happening at once, our bees are overwhelmed. Like all living beings, the weaken bees become more sustainable to disease and death.

Here is how to help save our pollinators

  1. Plant organic plants that attract bees.
  2. Make your yard a pesticide/herbicide-free zone.
  3. Buy organic.
  4. Support sustainability initiatives.
  5. Become an Activist in your local area. Call or write to your mayor’s office to suggest organic green spaces and allow residents to keep beehives.
  6. Become a beekeeper. Keep your own hives. Bonus: free authentic honey.
  7. Support Honeybee research at the University of California, Davis by adopting a honey bee (Projecthoneybees.com).
  8. Live sustainability.
  9. Reduce fossil fuel consumption.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=JilYBVrFiLA&feature=emb_logo

Since writing this, some of my bees have come back!

Video of Bees and Lavender
Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #5

Capsule Wardrobe

Inspired by Laura de Jong, a capsule wardrobe expert. She writes:

“WHAT IS A CAPSULE WARDROBE?”

A capsule wardrobe is based on the idea of having a limited number of quality garments in your closet. Items that fit you well, are timeless, fit your personality and fit your lifestyle. Fewer items doesn’t mean that you always wear the same outfits. Did you know that you can create approximately 80 outfits with ‘only’ 30 to 37 items?” Excluding underwear and accessories.

The fashion industry creates tremendous waste. The EU plans to counter this by setting new rules to discourage disposable fast fashion by 2030. But we can start this now as informed consumers.

Buy quality items in classic styles to last you many years. It costs more but is an incentive not to gain any weight! When clothes get tight, time to cut back on calories and portions.

Another bonus of quality clothes will be that they will survive a second or even third owner. See Sustainabilty Tip #2.

Ideas to start your Capsule Wardrobe:

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #4

Bank of the West Logo

When purchasing products, if you cannot find them pre-owned, check if the materials used are recycled or biodegradable. Check if the manufacturer is eco-friendly or socially responsible.

There are companies that plant trees for every sale made or make a donation to charity or nonprofits. Find corporations that are socially responsible.

Shop at stores and do business with corporations that support your beliefs.

Some examples: Patagonia, Cariuma , Suavs, Tentree, Earth Breeze, Chnge, Bank of the West, Brabantia.

Vote with your wallet to support what you believe. Power in numbers. Numbers count. Your actions matter.

Power in numbers. Numbers count. Your actions matter.

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #3

Commit to not buying any new clothes for a year or more. This will help both sustainability and curb inflation.

Be a Jane Fonda. She has made a commitment not to buy any more new clothes.

Jane Fonda, actress and activist, wearing a red dress, revealed that she hasn’t bought a new item of clothing since last fall

https://www.prevention.com/life/a34041085/jane-fonda-vowed-to-never-buy-new-clothes/#:~:text=Jane%20Fonda%2C%2082%2C%20revealed%20that,bringing%20awareness%20to%20climate%20concerns.

Sustainability

Sustanibility Tip # 2

Donate your clothes and paraphernalia that have served their purpose with you.

How do you decide which clothes to donate? Use this Marie Kondo method:

Take all your clothes and hang them on hangers with the hook facing out. After you wear them, hang them back with the hook facing in. Do this for a year.

After one year, look at the hangers still facing out. Consider donating the clothes on those hangers.

Remember one person’s garbage, is another person’s treasure.

Sustainability

Sustainability Tip #1

GO THRIFTING… Instead of buying new, buy it used. This action will reduce the amount of garbage on our planet. Producing new products generates greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Go shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, flea market, or eBay. Other benefits are, you can find beautiful retro or vintage clothes with even haute couture designer labels for a fraction of the price.

Thrift Shop Clothes

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-and-reusing-basics

Sustainability Tip #12

Bars (not the drinking kind). Please consider switching to natural ingredient bar soaps, shampoo, and conditioner. Bar hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner consumers, reduce plastic waste and fossil fuel consumption used during transportation. Weight for weight, and volume for volume, the bar products provide more washes, hence less fuel used during and for… Continue reading Sustainability Tip #12

Sustainability Tip # 11

Why leather alternatives. Cows make 40% of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas, methane. It is hard to justify leather goods in an era of rapid global warming. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. Vegan leathers that mimic natural leather are mostly plastics and petroleum-based. Unfortunately, not eco-friendly, does… Continue reading Sustainability Tip # 11

Sustainability Tip #10

Laundry. Who doesn’t like fresh-smelling, soft, and clean laundry? This luxury comes at a cost: water, detergents, softeners, energy, and plastics. To reduce water use, use water efficient front loaders and wash a full load each time. To reduce pollution, use earth friendly detergent sheets. The sheets reduce plastic waste too. To reduce air pollution,… Continue reading Sustainability Tip #10

Essays, Sustainability

Looking for a New Year’s Resolution?

Plant a tree. What type of tree? Start with what grows locally and grows fast. Young trees absorb CO2 as they grow.

If this is not practical for you then contact your mayor’s office to plant some trees in parks, empty lots, or to line streets. If they say they don’t have the money then ask them to install solar panels over open parking lots to raise money to plant trees, with the added benefit of protecting your car and making clean energy.

Some other activities you can do to help plant and save trees:

  1. Vote for candidates that support climate-saving initiatives. If you are not eligible to vote then volunteer to help those candidates.
  2. Eat less meat. Better yet, consume less animal products.
  3. Support businesses that will plant a tree for you. For example Tentree (https://www.tentree.com/pages/about)
  4. Donate to charities that support the Amazon Rainforest. I checked these out on https://www.charitynavigator.org* They all have 4-star ratings.

Amazon Watch (https://amazonwatch.org)

Amazon Conservation Team (https://www.amazonteam.org)

Amazon Conservation Association (https://www.amazonconservation.org)

Rainforest Trust (https://www.rainforesttrust.org)

This blog was inspired by the Netflix documentaries: Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet and Kiss the Ground.

* Always check out your charities to make sure they are legitimate and at least 80% of funds raised do what they claim they do.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Essays, Sustainability

Zero-Waste Holiday Gift

Happy holidays my friends. This year’s gift-giving intention is pro-environment and zero-waste. These gifts are focused on reducing our plastic consumption.

Furoshiki Wrapped Gift

Instead of wrapping paper, tape and ribbon, I used Furoshiki wraps. These are square-shaped Japanese traditional wrapping cloths. To stay with the eco-friendly theme, I used 100% cotton fabric, purchased at JoAnne Fabric and Craft store (check their App for coupons). With the width of my fabrics being 44-45 inches, I was able to efficiently sew squares that were approximately 20 inches wide when finished. You can make the squares any size within the limiting parameter of the fabric width.

Sewing Cotton Furoshiki

On Youtube, there are multiple videos with step-by-step instructions on how to tie various styles of Furoshiki wrap.

My gifts are to initiate my friends to return to the use of natural bar soap with a self-draining bamboo soap dish. By avoiding the use of plastic pump soaps and plastic refill containers, we reduce a lot of plastic waste. The cotton wraps can be reused, repurposed as napkins, scarfs, etc. If I do this for all my gifts, my friends could potentially end up with a collection of mismatched napkins!

Bar of soap on bamboo soap dish

Start the holiday season and new year with a gift that sets the intention of a sustainable future.

Essays

Easy Reusable Drinking Straws Cleaning

Happy that many municipalities are banning plastic straws. These straws are not recycled and end up in landfills and or sea animals’ noses or stomachs. 

Not using plastic straws is a small thing that we each contribute. Collectively, it will end up being a big thing. It will benefit the environment and our health. The less plastic exposure in our food, the better. Plastic in straws can leach into your food. Safety advice: never use a metal straw while driving – the metal could pierce your brain or other organs if you were in a motor vehicle accident…

There are other types of non-plastic straws: bamboo and paper. Bamboo straws texturally feel better, they are harder to sanitize. Also after a few uses, they tend to crack or split, making them useless as straws (I have repurposed my bamboo straws by using them as stirrers for washing small things or stirring coffee). The problem with paper straws is they tend to fall apart before you finish your drink. Metal straws are longer lasting.

The metal straws I bought came with a tiny cleaning brush and a silicone holder. But I don’t have the patience to use the cleaning tiny brush.

Here are the steps to easily clean your straws:

  • After use, keep soaked in water or rinse off.
  • You can put straws into the silicone holder or
  • Side straw into utensil rack, with the top side (curved end) of straw down, threading it through the holes. This maximizes the amount of water going into the straw and prevents the straws from dropping through the utensil rack.
  • Use only natural dishwasher detergent.* This avoids the chemical residues left on your dishes and in the straws. Also, avoid rinsing agents. If your water is really hard, find a natural biodegradable detergent. No need to consume undisclosed chemicals. Plus our lakes and rivers don’t need them either.

*https://www.ewg.org/guides/subcategories/24-*DishwasherDetergent/https://www.ewg.org/guides/subcategories/26-RinseAid/

Essays, Sustainability

Water Saving Holiday Gift Idea

Wrapped Gift Box

Conserving water is paramount.

If everyone made even one or two water-wise changes, it would help. Here are some examples of what you can do:

1. Bucket, pot or plastic garbage bin to collect shower water especially when you are waiting for it to warm up. This water can be used water plants or mop the floors.

2. Shorter showers. Even one minute shorter helps.

3. Do not leave faucet running when brushing teeth.

4. Install touch free photosensitive faucets. Turns on and off automatically. Plus more hygienic.

5. Use grey water from rinsing dishes or laundry to water yard plants.

6. Only run dishwasher or washing machine with full loads.

7. Put some river rocks into the toilet tank. This makes each flush use less water. Maybe unnecessary with newer water saving toilets.

8. Toilet Tank Top Faucet.

No. 8 is probably the most intriguing on the list. Here is how it works.

I purchased my easy to install Toilet Tank Top Faucet from Amazon.

This is how it works. Incoming water goes thru a sprout-like faucet before going back into the tank, This fresh clean water is ideal to wash your hands. My Toilet Tank Top Faucet took less than 20 minutes to install.

The amount of water it took to wash my hands was about 750 ml or 3 cups. If the toilet is flushed 10 times a day, then there is a savings of about 30 cups which is close to 2 gallons of water. Every little bit saved helps.

You do not want to wash any other material into the toilet tank besides the germs related to toileting. You do not want to create scum in the tank. You can scrub clean your sink but not likely the inside of a toilet tank.

A quick backsplash can be made with 3M Command Hooks to hang a towel.

A Toilet Tank Topper Faucet would be a wonderful Holiday gift.

Be conscious of how you use water. It is a precious resource that we cannot live without.

We are in this together. This earth is our only home. There is no backup.

How the Toilet Tank Top Faucet works

ADDENDUM

About once a month, I turn off the water source. Then after the next flush or two, tank will be empty. I pour in some white vinegar and let it sit in tank for 30 minutes or overnight. This helps to clear out residue and sanitize.

Essays

Qi Gong Infinity Breath 

The Dao that can be named is not the Dao

This vlog is a simple guided Qi Gong breathing exercise that helps relax and calm the mind.

Koi Fish

You can do this by standing, sitting, or lying down. Use the position that is most comfortable for you.

If sitting on a chair – make sure your feet are resting on something and your knees are at hip height. This vlog assumes you are in a sitting position.

If lying down (bed, yoga mat, or recliner), your arms can be by your sides with palms facing up or put both hands on your lower abdomen.

If standing, it will be like a traditional martial art or tai chi stance – with feet, shoulder-width apart, the outside of your feet parallel, resulting in your feet being slightly pigeon-toed. Your knees are slightly bent. Your back straight and eyes gazing forward.

It is essential to practice abdominal breathing because this type of breathing activates your diaphragm. When your diaphragm is activated, it activates your vagal nerve, which activates your parasympathetic system, which activates calmness and relaxation.

You are the CEO of yourself

Warning: do take responsibility and respect your body. Do these exercises at your own risk. Everybody’s situation is different, no one size does not fit all.

Qi Gong Infinity Breath

Youtube link https://youtu.be/DxwLqrAFYHo….

Recipes

Delicious Vegan Double Chocolate Cupcakes

If you like dark chocolate, you will love these cupcakes. The secret is in the zucchini. It adds moisture and a “vegetable”. Yields about 18-24 cupcakes. Make them various sizes to give people some choices. Some may want more, some may want less. During Covid serving cake in the form of cupcakes is a great idea. It is much more sanitary and easier to handle.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup soy or oat milk
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tbsp organic canola oil
  • 3/4 cup of organic cane or coconut sugar (can use 1/2 cup if you prefer a semi-sweet bitter chocolate taste, my preference)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3 medium zucchinis, finely shredded. With water squeezed out should be about 1 heaping cup
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chip

Preheat Oven 350 degree F. Line cupcake tray with (unbleached) paper cupcake liners.

Prepare the zucchini by finely shredding and putting a handful of it in a cheesecloth or tea towel and wring out as much fluid as you can. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, salt.

In another bowl, mix together milk, oil, sugar, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, apple sauce.

Gradually mix liquid mixture into the into the flour mixture. Mix well.

Then fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

Spoon into cupcake tray.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Ready when the tops start to crack open.

Preparing Zucchini

Cupcakes baked, cooled and ready to eat.

Essays

Living with Fear: I am No Superhero

The other day, I witnessed a noninjury hit-and-run car accident in a grocery store parking lot. While backing up his car, an older black man hit a parked car. He paused, looked at the car he had hit, then drove off. I should have shouted, “Hey you, stop,” But I was silent.


I hesitated to call him out for 2 reasons. If there was any potential for confrontation, the police might be called. A scenario like that could get ugly and even lead to someone being killed.
The other reason is that there is a real probability that anyone in the general public could be carrying a firearm. That is another potential confrontation I did not want to face.


I confess that I live with this underlying fear. I would like to be the person who steps up, speaks up, and defend others when there is injustice. But fear keeps me from being myself.


There is one place, though, where I can be myself. Do you know where that is? Is at the airport after security. I feel safe there. People are not armed.


Once during a heavy snowstorm, I was stuck at Dulles International Airport for some very long hours. Travelers kept arriving, and no one was leaving. At the gates, there were more people than there were seats. Passengers wear sitting on the floor where ever they could find a spot.
Assessing the situation, we could choose to be miserable or enjoy this downtime. Because I felt safe, I decided to go around and cheer people up.


This was an easy audience. Everyone was either from somewhere else or going somewhere else. This fact became an excellent introductory question, followed by asking how they were coping. We were all at the mercy of the weather but still warm and dry with access to food and restrooms. I met an Israeli whose company tracts our every move while we are surfing the web…good to know. Met quite a few pastors as there was a pastors conference in town. I met some people from Australia, some students, business people. A few elderly folks needed additional attention because our gates and departure times were frequently being changed, and they became confused. I felt like a friendly version of the Pied Piper leading a parade of elderly people through a chaotic airport to their proper gates.


This certainly made my layover a pleasant memory. Amazing how positive intentions can change the outcome of what could have been a miserable experience into something fun. I would not have been able to cheer up random strangers if there was a possibility that they could be armed and or cause me harm. I am no superhero.

Crowded Airport/John Scalzi/AP Photo
Essays

What To Do With Privilege

Do you feel privileged? Should there be privileged? Being privileged implies you were born with societal advantage(s). Some examples of privilege in America are skin color, race, gender, intelligence, athleticism, and the amount of money your parents have. 

Which culture you are born in makes a difference too. For instance, Warren Buffet said, if he were born in the middle of Afghanistan, his gift of picking good stocks would have been useless.

If you have difficulty envisioning what it means to be privileged – watch this YouTube video: Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race (linked below). It makes a powerful visual statement about how having privilege moves a person to the front of the competition before it even starts. 

But privilege can be ruinous. For the rich, hard to know who your true friends are. Are they your friends or your money’s friend? Privilege can make you feel entitled and lazy. It can make one feel like there is no need to work as hard because life on a superficial level is coasting. Having a privilege life is comparatively easier. It can be so unchallenging, there are no incentives to even start the race. The race being your life. It is an easy trap to fall into.

Remember, struggling and hard work develop character, allows for self-discovery, and builds resilience against adversity. Without this, there can be stagnation and even regression. The ultimate ruin is never reaching your full potential. 

If you were so lucky to be born with privilege, use this gift to better the world. 

Reach out. Go beyond your ego. Be of service. Contribute to society. Start by helping one person at a time. This will reverberate positives back to you beyond your imagination. 

Let’s look at being born with disadvantages such as poverty and black. There is nowhere to go but up. Two people whom I admire did just that: Oprah Winfrey and LeBron James. 

They had to struggle. And in doing so, they discovered their purpose. They used their platforms to better the world. 

In both scenarios, privileged and disadvantaged, the secret is to find purpose in your life. Realizing our purpose is what brings us happiness. No matter where you are on the privileged scale, find a mentor, a coach, a role model. People like teachers, counselors, coaches, club leaders, health care professionals should be available for advice. Listen and absorb the lessons and interpret them for yourself. Find your inspirations. Develop positive habits and hang out with supportive people. If you hate the lessons and everything else, be honest and examine the internal hate you may have for yourself. 

Cultivate good friends and be the good friend you want to attract – integrity, loyalty, respect, encouragement, and compassion. Life is like an echo. 

Start with believing that you can do it. Visualize the world through abundant eyes rather than with scarcity eyes. Everyone has something to offer. I heard this quote the other day, “I never met a strong person who did not have a difficult past”. Rather than retreat from our difficulties, acknowledge and forgive them. Heal as much as you can. Move beyond it. Let gratitude give you strength. Find where you belong. We all belong somewhere. This is your adventure for your lifetime. 

Discover your dreams, set goals, be determined. Believe and manifest your dreams. You are worth it and good enough. You deserve it.

Learn to quiet your mind through meditation. Let your ego go, then look within. It’s grounding. Ask what is my purpose? Where is my path? Then look outwards for guidance. We are not islands. Within our community, there are resources to help (especially now that we are online).

That beautiful energy you create will come back to you in positive ways that you could never imagine. This is how you can become soulfully happy. Now that is truly privileged. 

*********

Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race:

Inspirations :

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk4QufMvDUE

Essays

Rejection and Hope

These two commercial buildings inspired this blog.

While traveling in Australia, I saw “The Reject Shop”. It made me laugh in the way that when you say, “you are kidding”, in unbelief. It is possible, that, that was the marketing plan – to shock. Imagine a retail store with a name like this America. Our society already has so many levels of rejection that a Reject Shop could potentially trigger more anxiety about our hidden racist truths. It is reminiscent of segregation and rejected people.

Rejection resonates as one of our deepest fears because it can be equivalent to a death sentence. Fear of rejection is coded into our DNA. Back millions of years ago in the savannas of Africa, when someone in your tribe was rejected and abandon in the wild to fend for themselves, they would most certainly die. Hence, the fear of rejection goes deep.

There are two types of rejection. Indirect rejection is by society. Direct rejection is from another person.

Poverty is a type of societal abandonment. A lack of housing, food, health care, education, basic hygiene leads to premature death. Without a guaranteed Living Wage or Universal Basic Income, there are people working full time and cannot afford to put a roof over their heads.

Societies with a smaller division between the rich and the poor with majority in the middle are happier. Happier because they feel like they belong. They can afford to participate in society. Government policy and politics, rather than geography make the difference. Look at San Diego vs Tijuana and Detroit vs Windsor.

We all experience rejection on some level. Rejections from lovers, friends, family, bosses, etc. Those rejections hurt too. Feeling unloved hurts.

Then I see “Bank of Hope”. It counterbalances “The Reject Shop”. The Bank of Hope reminds me of how we can bounce back. Setbacks help us discover who we are. Humans are resilient. Never give up. Bank on Hope. Believe. Then make a plan to achieve it. If you discover you don’t belong in a particular tribe, no worries, go find another tribe. Life’s an adventure.

You belong.

Recipes

Vegan Italian Black Truffle Linguine

Plate of linguine with truffle and cashew sauce

This recipe is super easy and so elegant. Delicious meal for some lucky mom on Mother’s Day!

Serves 2-4 depending on your portion sizes.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups of water for at least 2hrs

Linguine (use about 1/2 pack for 2 servings)

1/2 jar Truffle Carpaccio in olive oil (6.35 oz) (use 1/2 of the jar for every 1 cup raw cashews). I bought mine at Costco. I have seen it on Amazon too.

1-2 tsp Garlic, minced

2 tbsp Fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Crushed red pepper 

Salt/pepper to taste

Boil water, add 1 tsp salt. Add linguine bring to rapid boil. Turn heat off. Cover for 12-14 minutes. Then drain.

While linguine is cooking, drain cashews, saving 1/2 cup of the water. Put cashews and 1/2 cup water into a blender and blend until creamy.

Mix cashew cream, truffle, garlic, basil.

Put linguine on individual serving plates, top w sauce, sprinkle w crushed red pepper, decorate w a piece fresh basil, truffle, red pepper.

Buon appetito!

Essays

Happy Feet

My new Converse Chucks. When my feet are Happy. I am Happy.

Eons ago, men were the first to wear high heels. Hooking the heels into the stirrups provided stability while saddled on a horse. Much like our cowboy boots or our bicycle clips and pedals.

Today, the purpose of high heels is mainly sexual. Men claim to be more attracted to a woman in high heels. The French shoe designer Christian Louboutin said heels slowed the woman down, giving the man more time to look at her. A woman in motion, outside of male control, has long been viewed as a problem. What better way to tame these fleeing women…” Just reading this, I feel violated.

Heels higher than 2 inches prevent us from driving, walking downhills or on irregular surfaces like grass or cobblestones. High heels can damage knees, sprain ankles, and cause low back pain, potentially leading to a lifetime of arthritis and chronic pain.

Donning high heels also make us physically vulnerable. It prevents us from running away in the face of danger. High heels as part of a work dress code is a form of sexual harassment unless all genders have that as part of their dress code. The height of a woman’s heels is inversely correlated to her education level (University of Berkeley Wellness letter).

I have spoken to many women complaining of low back pain while wearing high heels. When I suggest that it could be their footwear, I can usually predict the answer: They insist that these are their most comfortable shoes (despite having back pain). High-heelers develops contracted short Achilles tendons. It hurts them to stand with flat feet!

Wearing flatter shoes, I can get to where I need to go faster. I am more productive, more competitive. Above all, more comfortable. Difficult to concentrate when my feet are sore. I am happy when my feet are happy.

This is why I am elated to see our VP, Kamala Harris wearing Converse Chucks, a classic American shoe. It tells me she means business: don’t mess with me, she can fend for herself. Exudes strength, confidence, and intelligence. Marches to her own beat. That is the energy I would like my persona to be. So I bought a pair. Comfort and confidence over conformity. Empowering. Those attributes are sexy too.

With these shoes, I feel like I can, as Woody says in Toy Story: Run like the wind Bullseye.

“Laced up and ready to win” 

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21151350

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/mar/20/sex-power-oppression-why-women-wear-high-heels

https://www.berkeleywellness.com/author/wellness-letter

Essays

Anti-Bullying and Discrimination Survival

Growing up in a downtown urban community without structured resources, some of my happiest memories are hanging out with the neighborhood kids. We played hide-and-seek almost every day, all day. We had to use our eyes, ears, agility, and speed if we wanted to win. It built stamina and taught us to enjoy exercise. It was how we socialized.
As we got older, we played neighborhood baseball in an empty lot in the middle of the block. All we needed was a bat, ball, and enthusiasm. The bases were marked using a red building brick as chalk. We naturally learned about cooperation and competition. It was carefree training for a future of competitive sports. That was a time when it was safe to play outside without supervision. Unfortunately, that safety no longer exists.
Participating in exercise from an early age created a love for sports. At school, I was a natural at Track and Field. I was winning city competitions starting in first grade because I could run.
I got to experience that winning feels good. If I lost, I learned to pick myself up and work harder to face my next challenge.
Lucky for me, we had a terrific Physical Education program. Our PE teacher was not only knowledgeable and dedicated; she was nurturing. She introduced all these different activities: field hockey, lacrosse, tennis, volleyball, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, yoga, dance, cross county, track and field, swimming, diving, hockey, flag football, badminton, golf. There was something for everyone. The secondary bonus was it kept us busy after school until 6 pm. Unfortunately, with cutbacks, many of these programs are lacking in our current public school system. The onus is now on parents to find the time and money to create this outside of school hours. This privatization of PE can be a burden and creates inequalities.
Being part of a school team brought respect from my peers and teachers. It helped build my confidence and self-esteem. That experience taught me how essential athletics is for a child’s overall development. Athletes have an aura of confidence about them. That aura can shield them from bullying. The bullies tend to ignore and leave the athletes alone. Sometimes, I even felt I got better grades than I deserved from teachers because of my athletic success. My competitiveness in sports gave me confidence that led to my academic competitiveness. I believed anything that a guy could do, I could do better.


Here is another example of how sports can shift a child’s self-confidence. When my son was younger, people would ask him what his favorite sport was. He’d answer, “Basketball”. Next, they ask if he was on a team. My son bowed his head in shame and shook his head. It hurt me to see this. He tried out for the school team but got cut. That following summer, he made a commitment to become a better player. We set up a hoop on the driveway. Instead of day camps, we hired a kid from the local high school basketball team to coach him. The next year, he made the school team. When asked the same questions, he answered with pride and confidence. There was a definite shift in his self-esteem. He stood taller. Something I wish every kid to experience.
Get your kids involved with exercise from a young age. The two main categories of sports are individual and team. Different sports require different skill sets. There are the fine motor movements of golf, the agility of ice skating, the balance of gymnastics, the coordination of soccer, the speed of running, the grace and flexibility of dance, the strength of rowing and lifting, the reaction time of tennis, the precision of archery, etc. They all require focus, concentration, adaptability, and strategy—all excellent life skills. Remember, athletics is a type of intelligence. Develop it from a young age, so it becomes a way of life. Practice academics using the same strategy. Let your kids try a variety of activities to see which they gravitate to.

I have met people who say, “My kids will not be good at sports. I am not good at sports. Academics is our focus”. Nonsense. Don’t project your biases onto your children. They pick up on your attitude. Let them discover their strengths where ever they may lie. We don’t own our kids. They are gifts from the universe. As parents, our jobs are to help them reach their potential, whatever that might be.
Being good at sports may protect against bullying from people that you know. But what about societal bullying? I defined this as pervasive discrimination, racism, and hate that even parents experience. It can seeps into our children’s psyche subliminally. Or what if your child asks you, “Why do some people hate someone who looks like me?” This type of bullying is very harmful. It can adversely affect your child’s health permanently.
My response? Tell them: There will always be haters. You need to rise above them. Believe in yourself, believe that you can do anything, be anything you want. As parents or the primary adult in that child’s life, be a pillar for your kid. Encourage and help them to set goals and to work hard to achieve them. Be the example. Be the person with integrity and work ethic. Be the adult that cheers your child on; be their cheerleader. Give them confidence by letting them know you have their backs no matter what. Never judge. Validate them by letting them know that they are never alone. You will be there through thick and thin for them. Let them know that they can come to you for help. Teach them to love and respect themselves as much as you love and respect them.
These are the best gifts we can give our children.

Love and Respect. These are the best gifts we can give our children.

The above image is of the author performing a one handed cartwheel on beam many years ago.

Recipes

Instant Pot Vegan Butternut Squash Tagine

An easy family favorite.

Squash and Chick Pea Tagine

If you like the texture of Japanese squash that just melts in your mouth, you will like this recipe. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients –

1 cup dried chick peas (or use 2 x 15. 5 oz cans. The dried tastes much better)

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp cooking oil (avocado or coconut)

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 can tomato paste – 6oz

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained – 14.5 oz (or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped)

1 Butternut squash, peeled and cubed; or Delicata Squash, sliced (no need to peel Delicata). Can use Pre cubed or frozen squash (Trader Joe’s or Costco). Approximately 2 cups.

1 tsp each Paprika, Cumin, Coriander

1/ 2 tsp Turmeric

1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

1.5 cups Veggie broth (can use 2 Veggie Bouillons and 1.5 cups water)

4 dates, chopped

Rinse chick peas. Place in Instant Pot and cover with enough water to be at least 1 inch of water above the top of chick peas. Cook Instant Pot High pressure x 40 mins.

Then drain the chick peas and set aside.

Saute the onions (use Instant Pot if you have that function) with oil. When onions are caramelized, turn Instant Pot off. Add rest of ingredients. Mix well.

Set Instant Pot to high pressure x 10 mins. Let it rest for 5 mins.

Serve over brown rice or sour dough bread on side.

Essays

Toxic People Survival Tips: Be Empowered by Facing your Fears

Part 2 of: Dealing with Toxic People Over the Holidays

Encounters with toxic people, especially relatives, is a complicated topic. You are invited to a party you want to attend, but the toxic person who is also going will provoke unnecessary anxiety. Social norms use to be to tolerate the abuse from them. Thanks to the Positive Psychology Movement, we are empowered to say enough is enough.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some suggestions to empower you.

 1. You decide not to go. 

When the negatives outweigh the positives, it is fair enough not to attend. No need to feel any guilt. Know your own limits. Set your boundaries and let yourself be free.

Set your boundaries and let yourself be free.

Spend some time on self-care: meditation and mindfulness practice, yoga (online classes or Apps are convenient esp in 2020 ), go for a walk or hike, listen to your favorite music, take a warm bath (with few drops of pure essential lavender oil and or Epsom salts), call a friend, go out with a friend (following local pandemic rules), read a book, watch a movie, journal, book a massage or acupuncture appointment to center your energy, schedule a hair or nail appointment, practice earthing and go hug a tree or walk on the beach. No self-pity. Also, realize if you don’t show up enough times, you might not get another invitation. 

2. Pre-event preparation – Before you go

Do the above self-care in #1. 

Find strength from the support of empathic and compassionate friends or therapist. Practice self-compassion and self-love.

MANTRA: Look yourself in the mirror and look directly into your own eyes and say out loud – I am beyond criticism, I am equal to all, I am fearless. By performing it exactly like this, it re-enforces your embodiment of it.

MANTRA: Look yourself in the mirror and look directly into your own eyes and say out loud – I am beyond criticism, I am equal to all, I am fearless.

Discuss with other invited kindred souls what is acceptable behavior. Enlist their support. 

Ask them to support you, rescue you, or better yet vow to yourself to be your own hero, and come to your own rescue. 

Have a backup, a safe place or person. 

Have an exit plan. 

Practice some come back lines (see During Event #3).

Breathe. You always have your breath. 

For Zoom calls: Say a quick hello and greeting, then stay on the sidelines out of view or click “video” off or leave.

Be in the mindset of curiosity and be open to what might happen next. Avoid anticipation.

Be in the mindset of curiosity and be open to what might happen next.

3. During the Event

Many different options depending on what you are comfortable with and what degree of toxicity exists.

-Turn off your ego (This takes practice).

-Repeat MANTRA from #2. 

-The other person’s behavior is not about you and not your responsibility.  

-Pretend you don’t hear any criticism, don’t engage – no reply is necessary; smile and walk away. Escape by going to the restroom; hanging out with a non threatening subgroup (kids, senior folks, etc); go to your rescue your person.

-Call it out for what it is – for example, directly say: that is rude; that is hurtful; that is inappropriate, and please stop; sarcasm: you have a way of “cheering” up a room/person, mind your manners, etc.

-Say directly to toxic person, “What does what you just said, say about you?” or “You seem uncomfortable with me, I can keep my distance.” Then move on, You are not looking for an answer. You are not engaging.

-Limit it to a simple greeting, set boundaries, and no need to engage. 

-Reply with kindness and compassion. It might throw them off: you looking nice/younger/healthy today; you look like you have been working out. I like your hair/lovely necklace/dress/jacket; you look younger every time I see you; this best dinner; what a great job you did. Sometimes you have to counteract with positive manipulations. 

-Although they subconsciously try to pull you down to where they are, you can try to pull them up with kindness. That takes some centering and grounding on your part. See #1 and #2.

-Set strong boundaries. Let offender know they have crossed the line and behavior is unacceptable.  

-Dissociate. Use your higher cerebral function to zone out. Imagine yourself in a calmer space. Start with relaxing your shoulders and taking a nice slow deep breath.

-Just smile and act confused by what just transpired.

What does what you just said, say about you?

-Give them a second chance to redeem themselves after an inappropriate statement: do you want to re-phrase that? Or can you apologize for that? 

-Do a skillful misdirect – talk about a new planet or some professional sports teams or anything quirky. Practice switching the conversation to gain control.
Feel free to bring up something controversial: religion, politics, guns, abortion, current events, etc. Maybe someone else will jump in and be loud and forceful. Then you can sideline out.

-The itch and scratch technique. Pretend you are itchy. Start scratching. People tend to find that very annoying. You could even add, I hope it is not contagious, maybe you should go wash your hands. This method takes acting skills, some premeditated dishonesty. But you are in survival mode. This phrase likely can only be used once with the same person.

-If you are cornered and accused of this or that: for example, “You don’t like me do you?”. Tell the truth about how you feel: “You are making me feel anxious/uncomfortable. Now excuse me, I got to go”. Then walk away.

-Show empathy and compassion – “I am sorry you feel this way”. If you feel comfortable enough suggest they get some professional help.

-Treat them like child because their emotional development is at the same level. 

-If you see someone else being bullied, interject. It’s the best gift you can give.

-If you are sitting at the dinner table and cannot physically distance, be a witness to the whole scene. Likely the toxic person has a fragile ego and will insult you to protect themselves. Your best protection, since you cannot physically distance, is mentally distance. Do not give anything of yourself. The toxic person does not deserve it. Keep it simple. Just nod. Just agree. Respond with single words: Yes or Sure or OK or Interesting. Keep a flat affect. Be uninteresting and unresponsive.

-Be like a “Grey Rock”. Your objective is to make the toxic person lose interest in you. Don’t feed their needs for drama or attention.

-Gift them with some self-help books. 

-Zero tolerance for racism. Call it out.  

-Feel free to walk away – your body your right. 

-Breathe. You always have your breath. Take a slow deep belly breath to calm and gather your wits. 

-Don’t worry about offending toxic people. They likely will not recognize it.

-Remember your MANTRA from #2

-Keep up the slow deep breathing. Stay centered and grounded. The insult has already passed.

-Acceptance. It is not about you.

-Be honest with yourself – Is the enemy that I see myself just wearing different clothes? Their weaknesses are my weaknesses.

-Each insult helps you understand yourself at a deeper level. It enables you to grow stronger.

See yourself in the toxic person and send them love and compassion thru your prayers.

Remember to show yourself compassion and love. Be your own best friend.

3. Post-event recovery: 

Wind down time.

Refer to #1

Aromatherapy with 100% essential oils – lavender calming, citrus cheering, and peppermint for headaches, cooling. You can put a few drops into bowl of dried flowers or potpourri.   

Make a warm cup of herbal tea. Sit back and elevate your feet. Take a moment to relax.

Remember to be your own best friend. Practice self-compassion and self-love.

Let it go. People can only function at their level of consciousness. 

C’est la vie.

Finally, live your life with kindness and grace. Be grateful for one another.

Congratulate yourself.

Wishing you a happy and sane holiday for 2020 and forevermore. 

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. —– Eleanor Roosevelt

Minions from Universal Pictures

Inspired by Chopra App  —https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU9P41Vifec

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. PLEASE CONSULT A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER FOR GUIDANCE SPECIFIC TO YOUR CASE. If this is a clinical emergency please contact emergency services.

Essays

Dealing with Toxic People Over the Holidays

Part 1.

There comes a time when you realize you should not have to put up with toxic people in your life anymore. Life is too short to waste your time on people who make you feel worse during or after your interaction.

The toxicity can come in the form of angry tantrums, direct insults to you, subtle micro-aggressive phrases, often disguised as jokes that they put you down, to one-upping or body shaming.

Ideally, we should surround ourselves with empathic and compassionate people who cheer us on and encourage us to be our best.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid toxic people because they come disguised as relatives, friends, or co-workers.

If you are thinking, I don’t have any toxic people in your life, could you be the toxic one? Unaware of your actions and how they affect other people?

Toxic people don’t necessarily realize they are toxic. I believe this negative energy stems from insecurity and a lack of self-worth derived from past unmanaged traumas. We all have this to varying degrees. It is a matter of self control, emotional maturity and awareness. The toxic person bullies and you are expected to tolerate it.

Usually, I would say no matter how you feel, keep your energy to the positive side. But with this year being 2020, I am already at my limit.

I am in despair.

This dilemma is still a work in progress for me.

Continued in Part 2: Toxic People Survival Tips: Be Empowered by Facing your Fears

Disney Cruella

Essays

What to consider before posting a negative online review

A dentist cannot have a successful practice without a great hygienist. Several years ago, my dentist, an older man with a large-sized abdomen and cigarette breath, came in to perform his biannual routine examination during a dental hygiene appointment. He never spoke much, but the few words he did say were in a falsetto-like tone that did not match his facial expression. It was like he was wearing a “mask.” Hiding something in an empty joy. Anyway, the office was very well-appointed. There was a beautiful stone waterfall in the waiting room, the staff always pleasant, and I loved my hygienist. Plus, he accepted my insurance. 

As it happened, the dentist said he found a tiny irregularity starting in a crown located in my upper posterior left molar. I would need a new crown. 

“But it doesn’t bother me,” I said. He replied, “It is preventive and needs to be fixed before there are more serious problems.” This is a frequent dental story for me. I fear every time a dentist does something to my fillings and crowns, my teeth weaken. Reluctantly, I agreed. 

The following week, I was back. It was worse than I anticipated. Old crowns are not easily removed; it required a great deal of yanking, twisting, and pulling. The procedure left me feeling drained.   

Then back again to get my new crown. After the dentist installed it, he checked the spacing with dental floss. The floss did not snap like it usually should. But I figured he knew what he was doing. 

To my surprise, a “small salad” was nestling itself into this new gap created by the recent crown after each meal during the next few days. Annoyed, I called my dental office to complain. They apologized and said that the only solution was to replace the crown. That would be too traumatic for me, both mentally and physically. 

I was so upset. My mouth was perfectly fine until he subjected me to a procedure that I did not want. I could get revenge by giving him a scathing one-star Yelp review. A horrible social media comment could hurt his practice. But did I want to do that?

Nevertheless, I had to consider my responsibility to warn other patients about his incompetence. Something in my sub-conscience stopped me from moving forward with a bad review. I didn’t want to hurt him. There were hints he already had his personal problems. 

I looked him up on the state licensing site. Learned that most dentists are not Board Certified like the majority of physicians. He was in his 70’s. Plus, he was in poor health because he was an older, likely long time smoker, obese, and with his fake voice sent me the message that he needed his job. If I were in my seventies, obese, and smoking, I would spend time on self-care. You can’t get this time back. He had to have been someone for whatever reason, had to keep working. His energy was like a man already on edge. His future patients will have to figure it out for themselves as to his level of incompetence.

As a habit, I always try to find the silver lining when something bad happens. How could I put a positive spin on this? My oral hygiene has improved because now I had to floss and rinse after eating anything that required chewing. 

A few days later, the dentist called me and told me he had a solution. He could apply some dental bonding material into the gap. 

It sounded like a good idea. 

So again, I was on the dental chair as he wrapped a wire around my tooth and pulled on it sideways to create a wider space to allow him to place the bonding material in-between the teeth. 

That evening when I went to floss, I discovered he bonded the wrong teeth together! Now I have a gap between two teeth and another two teeth glued together.

I was furious. Truly incompetent! I filed a complaint with my dental insurance company. Still, I could not bring myself to write a bad social media review.

Years before this, I had a boss who harassed me to the point where I felt I had to quit my job. I joked to my colleagues that I had to leave before I strangled him. This was before 9/11, when you could say stuff like that, and no one took you literally. 

After I secured a job elsewhere, I filed a complaint against my ex-boss. A couple of years later, my ex-boss committed suicide. When someone you know (or even someone you don’t know personally) kills themselves, it is the most unsettling experience. There are so many unanswered questions. That experience left me with some undeserved guilt. 

For my dentist with the empty joy, suicide was not an impossible outcome. Maybe that was what prevented me from writing a bad review. In the balance of everything, I decided best for me to move on and find another dentist. 

Over the next few months, the tooth “glue” fell out. 

Fast forward to 2019, and my lower teeth were becoming crowded and uneven. Teeth shift over time, and jaws can get smaller. Crooked teeth are difficult to brush and thoroughly clean. It was recommended I get Invisalign to correct this issue.

As my lower teeth were straightened, my upper teeth needed to shift in order to create a new stable bite.

Low and behold, the gap left by that crazy dentist came in handy! With the extra space on my upper left, the orthodontist had room to shift my upper teeth. The gap was gone!

Now my teeth look great. My smile looks better than ever. 

This is Karma. 

I should apologize and thank that dentist. 

And I am glad I never wrote that bad review.