by Bret S. Beall
Seasoned. Adj. 1: flavorful, zesty,
interesting; 2: cured, tempered; 3: improved or enhanced
via experience; 4: colloq: of or pertaining to the
Living. Noun. Maintaining life in a particular
manner or style; vitality.
SPRING FORWARD … AND CONNECT!
Chicago is just emerging from some of the coldest, bitterest weather that I remember from my twenty years in the city. Winter isn’t over, but as the days lengthen, we can literally see more light (at the end of the tunnel,
Even though I had to leave the comforts of Casa Beall to help clients, the bitterness of that cold spell always forced me to return home quickly. I have missed connecting with friends, as those connections are what make life
important and valuable. No man is an island, but I have felt like one recently, and as spring approaches, now is the time to reach out and connect with others.
I believe this “need to connect” is a Universal human condition; that is based on the social nature of our nearest primate relatives. Even though I spend much of my time alone, and at times have labeled myself a loner, my
psychological/sociological profile labels me a “nexus,” or “connector.” I make relationships and connections, and I maintain them. In keeping with that tendency, everything I do in helping clients relates at one level or another to helping them to connect with others in
meaningful, life-enhancing ways (that are at the same time earth-friendly).
Because I have so many connections with so many people around the world, it is difficult for me to do anything that doesn’t remind me of someone else. I might see a painting that would be perfect in the home of a former
client, and shoot off an email to inform them. I might experiment with some interesting ingredients given me by a friend, and then I would share the results of that newly developed recipe with the original gifter. I might see a newspaper or magazine article about a venue
where I know a friend will be vacationing, and I’ll drop it in the mail. I might learn of a documentary on television dealing with an issue particularly relevant to an acquaintance, and I’ll pick up the phone to let them know. These connections are about sharing. A recent
trip to visit a dear friend in my old Ann Arbor stomping grounds exemplifies this very well.
My Ann Arbor friend shares many of the same tastes that I do, so we share much with each other, and are connected that way. We are both fans of well-prepared food, and she is one of my greatest “taste-testers” when it comes
to my ongoing recipe development. When she visits me at Casa Beall, it’s easy to prepare multi-course tasting menus for her to evaluate. It’s less easy to bring what I need to Ann Arbor, but that’s exactly what I did. My goals were three-fold: 1) to experiment with some
new flavor combinations, and get feedback, 2) to free up space in the Magic Freezer and Enchanted Pantry at Casa Beall, and 3) to reconnect with my dear friend over fine food and wine, prepared and served with love.
One of the recipes I created was a morel mushroom and asparagus risotto, with pan-seared mahi-mahi. The mahi-mahi had been in the freezer for several months, and was taking up space; as I pulled it out to pack for my trip, I
remembered the great conversation I had with the fishmonger when I bought it originally; that was a nice connection I need to revisit. The morels had been bought at the local organic farmer’s market from two farmer-gatherer friends from southern Wisconsin, yet another
valuable connection; I had cleaned and sliced them, sautéed them in butter with only salt and pepper, and then froze them in ¼ c portions before storing them in a plastic bag, yielding about 1.5 cups of sautéed morels. The asparagus was bought at a local store on sale; I wish
I could have bought it from local growers (eating locally, sustainably and organically is so important, as is connecting with the farmers and the land), but it was too early in the season. The stock was black tea, brewed very strong and lightly salted, a continuation of an
ongoing experiment to identify new flavorful vegetarian and vegan stocks. And, to come full circle, the actual idea to create this recipe came from an issue of Gourmet magazine that my friend had given me when my own subscription had accidentally lapsed; I had read the
recipe heading, torn it out, and placed it in a file to bring to Ann Arbor; after preparing the risotto as I felt it should be prepared, we compared it with the recipe from Gourmet, and concurred that my version was superior.
Another bit of food fun was sharing some wonderful VERY aged O’Banon goat cheese from Capriole. I have such a wonderful connection with the cheeses of Capriole and with their creator, Judi Schad
(http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com). Judi and I met at a wine dinner featuring her cheeses about eight years ago, and our Paths have reconnected regularly since then as my appreciation for Judi and her cheeses continues to grow.
Additionally, my Ann Arbor friend and I enjoyed both the cheese and the risotto with wines from our joint travels. In this case, we had an Innsbruck Pinot Noir (Ontario’s Niagara Bench), a Point Pelee Winery Red (Point Pelee
AVI), and a Round Barn Gewürztraminer (Southwestern Michigan AVI) … great reminders of fun together.
We haven’t always traveled together. Despite being friends for a quarter of a century, we had our own busy careers (she is an academic, I was an academic and then a healthcare executive, and then CEO of Global Organic Designs
Lifestyle Services). Our friendship has grown exponentially over the years, our connection only becoming stronger as the Universe enhanced our connectivity time and time again. When the Y2K paranoia was at its peak, I doubted it would create any great problem, but I decided
that it might incite craziness in people, and I wanted to get out of Chicago. I decided I wanted to go to my favorite place: Redwood Country in northern California, specifically to a small cabin right on the Pacific Coast. One time when we were chatting on the phone, I
explained my plan to my friend, and asked if she would like to join me. She did, and the entire trip fell into place, and we discovered that we were hugely compatible as travelers. Until then I had traveled widely, but as a loner; the ONE time I traveled with a friend, it
was disastrous. But, this new adventure with my Ann Arbor friend opened up so many new possibilities that we have exploited ever since. We have connected as two humans on our own unique but similar Paths, and as such, have explored many parts of the US and Canada together.
I can also say, though I still enjoy traveling solo, traveling with a friend who shares your interests is terrific because of the huge cost savings, the enhanced experiences that emerge from four eyes instead of just two, and most of all, the synergy that has grown out of
connecting with another human being at an enhanced level. I have had many fantastic trips as a loner, but the seven years of joint travels with my friend have been among the best of my life.
With spring around the corner, many seasonal activities are looming on my horizon. It is exciting and symbolic for so many reasons. First, I am so close to totally reclaiming Casa Beall from its neglect while I had the
clients from hell (about which I have written extensively at www.god-dess.com), which will allow me to do more entertaining, so that I can reconnect with all of
my friends; spring cleaning will be the last big push before the new and improved Casa Beall can be unveiled for friends (along with some windows opened wide to bring fresh air indoors). Secondly, I’m giving two presentations in the next two months that represent new venues
and new connections with people I need and want to know. Thirdly, I’m taking a trip to Oregon and northern California that also represents the opportunity to connect with other important people.
As I prepare to connect on several different levels, I believe it is important to emphasize the goals of these connections. It’s about making our friends and acquaintances both comfortable and welcome. Coming from a humble
background, I never “put on airs.” I know that we’re all equal, and I treat everyone I meet with initial respect (written about with specific regard for children, but applicable to adults, at
http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyleJuly04.html). Furthermore, when these individuals come into my home, I know that my décor
is welcoming and warm; an old friend once told me that my home made him feel as welcome as his own. Décor should be about building relationships, connections, rather than impressing and possibly alienating people. I wrote about this phenomenon in a column called “Focal
Point, Schmocal Point,” a slap at the “established” design community that thinks décor begins with a materialistic focal point instead of a connective relationship arrangement; read more about connecting through décor at
My recent trip to Ann Arbor was designed to see a retrospective exhibit of the chairs and design philosophy of Charles and Ray Eames at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. One of the things that I learned about was
the Eames’ insistence on what they called the “guest/host relationship.” They believed that designers (“hosts”) had an obligation to make their products and work welcoming and accessible to their clients (“guests”). Too many designers have forgotten that, but I haven’t, and
my “guests” benefit!
Every year, in early March, most parts of the USA return to Daylight Savings Time; this year, it required moving our clocks forward (“Spring Forward, Fall Back”) one hour the night of March 10, to anticipate the time change early on March 11. It’s a
nuisance at times, and we essentially “lose” an hour each spring (which is not good with sleep deprivation being chronic these days). Nevertheless, the idea is to allow our usual schedules to overlap more with daylight, to allow more playing, socializing and outdoor
activity. In short, Daylight Savings Time is meant to promote connecting. Take advantage of it!
My springtime activities to reconnect will involve some basic principles that are rarely found in cookbooks, décor guides and entertaining treatises. We cook to nourish ourselves and others; love and respect are the secret ingredients that enhance the
connections. We entertain to help others feel happy and welcomed; love and respect are the secret ingredients. We decorate to enhance our lives and the lives of others; love and respect are the secret ingredients. We must be aware that each of us is NOT the center of the
Universe (exemplified by a recent joke I heard: "When the actual center of the Universe is discovered, imagine how surprised some people are going to be that they aren't there!"). Think about others, reach out to them, and you’ll be surprised how quickly they want to
connect with you! These connections that you make will help you to “Spring Forward” and enrich your entire Life.
© Copyright 2007 Bret S. Beall. All Rights
Read Past "Seasoned
Winter 2006-'07 - "The Awe of Autumn and the Wonder of Winter"
Summer-Fall 2006 - "Tis the Season to Be Courageous"
Jan-Apr 2006 - "Life is a Lesson in Every Season"
Oct-Dec 2005 - "Honk if You Love Silence"
July-Sept 2005 - "A Recipe for Balanced Living"
April-June 2005 - "Trash and Treasure"
2005 - "Life Reflection: Looking Into Mirrors"
Bret S. Beall, MS, PhD (Cand). As the CEO of GOD-DESS,
I help people live fantastic lives with minimal time,
effort or money. I have used my rigorous scientific
training to synthesize psychology, sensory input, and
logic, with global cuisine, décor, lifestyle concepts,
indoor gardening and travel for each individual in an
easy-to-understand, easy-to-create and easy-to-maintain
style. For more information, please visit my website, www.god-dess.com,
or call me at 773.508.9208, or email me at email@example.com.
Let’s start at the beginning,
though. I was born in California’s San Francisco Bay
area and lived there until I was seven. During this
time, my family often took vacations to the seashore and
to the redwood forests. There, I first felt the great
interconnectedness of all life. At seven, I moved with
my family to St. Louis, Missouri, where I continued my
environmental interests (including growing houseplants).
When I was twelve, we moved to the Ozarks of southern
Missouri, where I lived on a farm and witnessed
intimately the cycle of birth, life and death. We raised
cattle, ducks, geese and rabbits, and I worked on our
neighbor’s pig farm; we also grew a variety of produce
and I first learned about preparing and preserving food.
It was also at this time that I truly began acting on my
interests in art, design and esthetics.
I did my undergraduate work in
geology at the University of Missouri - Columbia,
graduating with general honors and honors in geology; my
coursework included a typical array of liberal arts
courses (art, philosophy, history) along with the
sciences (geology, physics, chemistry, biology,
anthropology). By living in an off-campus efficiency, I
learned the basics of simple cooking and living. After
graduation, I went on to Masters and PhD work in
evolutionary paleontology at The University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor; my studies included geology, paleontology,
biology, ecology and evolution, all presented within the
framework of proper scientific methodology.
Ann Arbor has a terrific
Farmer’s Market, which inspired me and helped me to
act on my interest in ethnic cuisines and entertaining;
this had to be done on a budget (given my graduate
student salary) and efficiently (given my graduate
student time requirements). I satisfied my artistic
inclinations by doing extensive scientific illustration
to accompany my original research. Teaching courses and
speaking publicly at student seminars, at national and
international meetings, and at various clubs and
organizational meetings provided a level of excitement I
had not experienced previously as I shared the
information and data that I had collected. “Sharing”
was the key, I realized, and this is when the seeds of
GOD-DESS were planted.
I left Ann Arbor for
Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to accept a
position as Curatorial Coordinator of Mazon Creek
Paleontology. My long hours working on both museum
responsibilities and my own research required living
both time-efficiently and cost-effectively. In a very
short period of time, I realized I did not want to spend
the rest of my life within the academic world. I had
already experienced a high level of international
success, praise and recognition, for which I am grateful
(including making it into the Guinness Book of World
Records, and having Johnny Carson make a joke about
my research on The Tonight Show). I
eventually left the rarefied world of paleontology. This
is when the seeds of GOD-DESS began to sprout and grow.
I spent the next decade in the
field of not-for-profit healthcare association
management, honing my skills in efficiency maximization,
streamlining, prioritization, customer service,
budgeting, organization, communication and
simplification, and applying the rigors of my scientific
training to the needs of my clients. My clients
experienced extraordinary growth and profitability.
Although my salary was better
than it was in academia, I still practiced my
cost-efficient living, including preparing meals at home
to eat at work. The hours were often very long, so
time-effectiveness and efficiency-management continued
to be important, if not vital. I traveled extensively in
my various roles (including organizational
representative, event organizer, executive manager, and
lecturer); often, I tacked on vacation time to
cost-effectively explore the various cities and regions
that I was fortunate to visit, which further enhanced my
travel planning skills. On my own time during this
decade, GOD-DESS grew into a fledgling company, relying
on the empiricism of my own experiences and my research.
After more than a decade of
helping my clients experience almost 900% budgetary
growth, 900% membership growth, 400% meeting attendance
growth, and enhanced visibility that cannot be
quantified, I knew it was time to become my own boss and
devote myself 100% to GOD-DESS.
I believe we are always in the
right place at the right time. Because of that belief,
everything that I do, whether paleontology, or executive
healthcare management, or lifestyle counseling, I do
well, to the absolute best of my abilities. A lifetime
of experience and research has now created GOD-DESS and
everything it can do for you. I am grateful.
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