Liberation: A Spiritual Hypothesis

I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well.

The first extreme has people waiting, even wishing, for death, and in doing so, they fail to take anything meaningful from life. Life is suffering, seems to be the message, and you just have to wait it out, and be an okay person in the meantime. It may be positive to encourage people to do good, but this is more or a sticks and carrots, heaven or hell sort of incentive: be good or you will be damned for eternity. It is more of a functional religion, keeping people relatively peaceful and placated while they pass their miserable existence.

Instead of working on spiritual awakening adherents are worried about where their next meal is coming from, or what disease will kill them if they aren’t murdered first.

The second extreme shows up in advanced societies where the standard of living has reached a certain point. Ironically, this might be the point to thank God, Allah, or Gaia, but instead people forget, or are distracted by their earthly concerns. People have responsibilities, jobs, hobbies, and toys which take up most of their time. Then, if they ever need a “deeper” distraction, there is politics, and a culture that keeps them in the rat race. Religion becomes an appointment on Sunday morning, or as necessary to keeping up with the neighbors as the new car. Spirituality is hardly a thought on the mind.

Instead of striving for a perfect soul, people strive for more money, more power, and higher social status.

The Problem: Overwhelming Earthly Concerns

The problem is that people are too worried about their earthly concerns either out of necessity of survival, or out of distraction by unimportant goals.

When people are hungry, they will do crazy things for survival. In actual poverty, it is all but impossible to focus the mind on anything but somehow figuring out how to live through the next day: what you will eat, where you will sleep. There can hardly be a long term strategy for life, let alone trying to figure out the afterlife. People need a certain standard of living in order to seriously explore and engage in spirituality and religion.

When a culture elevates unimportant goals that have no end and are impossible to achieve, people never conclude their attempts to gain whatever they are striving for. If someone wants power, there will be no point where they sigh in satisfied relief and say, “I did it”. There is no end to who can have the best car, best house, or best looks. These are earthly goals with fleeting fulfillment. They will always leave something to be desired, even if you “win” at certain points. People cannot pursue truly religious goals if they are working 60 hour weeks to have the newest everything, or shallowly trying to keep face with their peers. People cannot be spiritual if they fill that void with elections, gadgets, or alcohol.

The Solution: Liberation

Earthly goals are not necessarily a bad thing. We are on this earth for some reason, so it makes sense to accomplish tangible earth things. And as I’ve mentioned, a certain level of disregard for earthly things like food and shelter can be just as spiritually distracting as pop culture.

What I propose is a two part solution for the individual, as for society, as each are a reflection of the other. Life should be lived in two phases; an earthly phase of real world accomplishment, and a spiritual phase of religious learning, soul searching, and acquiring inner peace. The two phases need not be purely separated necessarily, as each person’s journey will be unique. But generally speaking, first liberate your earthly self, then liberate your soul, eternal energy, or mind.

Liberation has just one tenet, and it is the golden rule found in many major religions and spiritual teachings. Treat others as you wish to be treated (unless you’re a masochist). Simply put, initiate no harm to others. Never be the aggressor.

Phase One: Liberate Your Earthy Self

Society: By truly accepting and adhering to the only tenet of liberation, you will set in motion the societal change which will bolster phase two. Liberation does not require social acceptance to work, but as I’ve said, society mirrors the individual, and vice versa. The more individuals who liberate themselves, the greater their reflection on society will be, thus creating more individual liberation. The growth of liberation could therefore be exponential which will assist the masses in their spiritual awakening–though any one individual can liberate themselves with or without the greater society.

For some it will be easier to liberate the earthly self than others, based on the luck of the circumstances they were born into. In a sense, these individuals have a greater responsibility to liberate themselves. The goal is to eventually raise the standard of living for every individual on earth to the point where they no longer need to worry about necessities, and can therefore follow liberation to a spiritual awakening.

There is no requirement on any individual following liberation to give their wealth away, or necessarily help others–though it is usually a good idea to do so. Rather what follows from personal liberation is advancement and wealth which raises the standard of living for all. When every individual is responsible for their actions, they will reap the rewards and suffer the consequences. This is liberation, and it can only be accomplished by individuals, not by edict.

Currently smart mobile devices in Africa are revolutionizing how money changes hands, so that people can produce and trade for the goods they need to survive, without worrying about getting robbed of all their earnings. Only because someone earlier, on a different continent, accomplished their goal of creating a smartphone, can essentially all of humanity currently use the devices to their individual benefit. The same has been the case with most inventions and technology throughout history; that it proliferates after initially only being available to a few. Therefore simply by liberating themselves, free people will create and trade, which will inevitably spread the wealth they create to the masses.

Charity can be a very useful tool, but it should never be required: forcing charitable contributions would break the only tenet of liberation. Therefore adherents to liberation who believe in charity must effectively convince others of their cause, or set the example in using charity effectively to advance the cause of liberation, and therefore the cause of humanity.

Eventually, as liberation philosophy progresses, the standard of living will be high enough so that no individual needs to worry about survival, and can therefore pursue a fulfilling earthly goal absent any financial and material considerations.

Individuals: Liberation of the earthly self will come in many forms, as we are vastly different individuals with different interests and goals. Keep in mind that unlike the corrupting goals mentioned earlier which cannot be accomplished or executed (i.e. more power, more wealth, “the best” clothes or gadgets), the goals set forth in phase one of liberation must be attainable, with a specific end.

“Become rich,” would not be a good goal, because it is not well defined what rich means, and could always lead to wanting more. “Building a million dollar company,” would be a better goal, because it has a finite ending. Still though, if you want a million dollar company so that you can buy a nice car, this is a fleeting goal. If you want a million dollar company because you believe in the product or service you are selling, this is a meaningful goal.

Really you want your goals for liberating yourself to reflect what you will need for a high enough standard of living to successfully complete phase two–though as liberation progresses and the standard of living rises, this will be of less concern. But you also want your phase one goals to be about the accomplishment in itself, and not necessarily for what you can do with the fruits of the accomplishment. Do what makes you feel most free, as long as it does not harm anyone.

For example, my phase one goal might be a self sufficient homestead. This will give me a place to live during phase two, for little cost, while giving me the opportunity to produce passive income, which makes me feel more secure if I were to need money in a pinch. A homestead would also put me in an environment that feels natural to me where I can truly be myself, and live happily and healthily. I want the life that the homestead can give me, but the homestead itself also makes me happy.

Currently phase one can still be rather stressful, as it is hard enough saving for retirement, let alone somehow shaping your life to perfectly suit you in phase two, where you ideally do not need to work, and can devote yourself to spirituality. But having specific tangible goals can help. Most people go through life being prescribed their goals: a mortgage, a good job, a nice car, etc. But many of the things we waste our money, and therefore our time and labor on, do not contribute to long term happiness or spiritual growth.

For someone who craves security, phase two might not start until retirement, when enough has been saved to live comfortably. For the adventurous sort, phase two might start at age 25 after they have saved up enough for a van to travel the country. Some might feel truly themselves at work, and therefore can move onto phase two while still happily employed. Cut whatever societal chains which keep you in slavery.

The point of phase one is to use the material earthly world to accomplish something that is freeing in and of itself, but that will also help you remain free in stage two. This need not necessarily be wealth either; mentally speaking, having helped orphans or provided food for the homeless might be the only accomplishment necessary to move onto phase two. Having created a successful business might be less about if it made you wealthy, and more about the confidence in your own abilities the experience gave you. Perhaps skills you gain in phase one will make you more liberated for whatever path you choose to follow in stage two.

And those who feel they cannot do what they wish to do because of the current unjust power structure must find ways to peacefully undermine those forces. If you are adhering to the one tenet, the golden rule that you will not initiate harm on anyone, then you are doing nothing wrong. You are morally superior to those who wish to curtail your peaceful activities, and should find solace and accomplishment in subverting them. Their failure to enslave is your liberation.

We all have different comfort levels with risk, and different desires, which is why it is impossible to prescribe a specific phase one path for everyone. In that sense, the spiritual journey starts in phase one with trying to figure out what earthly goals are calling you, and what will truly free you. But just make sure phase one accomplishments are not something you must suffer through. Accomplishment is not always fun, but it should be a rewarding, liberating, process.

Phase Two: Liberate Your Eternal Being

Society: It is true that some who are not adherents to liberation will attempt to harm you. These are the same entities which keep those with a high standard of living focused on shallow earthly desires like possessions and power. When people are afraid to lose their possessions, and competing for power, they accept violations of the golden rule based on the belief that it will help their earthly self. It is a sad irony that the earthly individual would have a higher standard of living if everyone adhered to the tenet of liberation, and would therefore have the chance to focus truly on more than the earthly self.

But remember, there is hope! As more people participate in phase one of liberation, the more society will reflect the philosophy, and therefore attacks on liberated individuals will wane. This means the power structure will erode and crumble, leaving no method of manipulating the masses towards materialistic goals, and aggression.

As society begins to follow the golden rule, the one tenet of liberation, it will add yet another level of security to be able to live out phase two in peace. Rejection of harming, threatening, and forcing others will grow with liberation, and soon the tiny minority who have always initiated and wielded violence will disperse in fear of the liberated masses. Liberation in both phases one and two helps to subvert the unjust and evil power these individuals currently exercise. Of course hope is not lost for those who currently do evil; they may yet repent, and liberate themselves as well.

Everyone within phase two will have already completed their earthly goals of liberation, showing the younger generations that it can be done, and encouraging them to do whatever necessary to liberate themselves. The “authorities” and their coercion will soon become an afterthought, a small hurdle before they become extinct. If living the liberated peaceful life you want to live is rebellion of the system, then let’s all be rebels. Help those who may be in harm’s way, simply because they are rightfully liberating themselves.

Individuals: People have surely been reaching phase two of liberation since the dawn of time, without labeling it as such, and have practiced the philosophy without society’s acceptance or approval. It simply takes a person who can rise above the judgement of their peers. Compete with yourself to become happier every day, to get one step closer to ultimate liberation of the soul.

Liberation is an umbrella philosophy which encourages individuals to find their spiritual way by considering numerous possibilities. A person may well decide that the religion they grew up with is the best fit for them, but they should not do this without first exploring various religions and spiritual teachings. What most people will probably find is that melding different religious philosophies gives a deeper spiritual awareness.

If you want to truly know as much as possible about a historical event, you can’t just read one account and assume it to be fact. The best way to understand history is to triangulate the perspectives of various historians, first hand documents, science surrounding artifacts, and events leading up to, and coming after the historical event. The search for truth in liberating the spirit, mind, or soul should be similar, in that you come at the issue of the afterlife, being, or ultimate truth from multiple angles.

For some this will mean travelling the world to immerse themselves in every religious tradition they can find. For others it might mean becoming more involved in their local church they have always belonged to, and reaching out to other individuals, in order to learn. Some may look for spiritual answers in science, history, or mathematics. Others may look for spiritual guidance from hallucinogens–though a word of caution is in order that drugs should never be used to permanently attain a higher spiritual level, but rather give one an example for a useful mindset for looking at humanity and spirituality.

The goal is that after years of study, exploration, critical thought, meditation, and whatever else it takes, an individual arrives at a religious or spiritual philosophy that works for them to happily complete their life cycle. Some may settle on a specific religion, others a melded philosophy of spirituality and religions. Some may follow their own unique path, or start traditions that help them and their friends find peace. One person may believe that we reincarnate until we live the perfect life, and find ultimate peace within. Another may conclude that we are all higher beings in a complex simulation that is testing our fortitude in a material world.

Some may decide when all is said and done that this is simply a material world without a higher anything; but that too is fine, as long as it brings the individual what they need. Liberation is still a philosophy that encourages a happy, fruitful human existence, so even if one is an atheist after stage two, they should be able to look back at their life with satisfaction, knowing that they accomplished a meaningful goal, and followed their desires without harming others, enjoying what life has to offer, and always striving for the deepest truth possible.

Liberation encourages living a fruitful life, striving for higher meaning, and passing on in peace, liberated.

Synergy

Don’t misconstrue the two phases to mean you cannot be religious, or explore spirituality in phase one. Pursue the ultimate knowledge whenever you get the urge and have the time! My only point in breaking liberation into two phases is that you do not need to forgo the material world in order to properly experience spiritual growth. We are here on this earth for a reason, and only by experiencing what earth has to offer can we grow from that experience.

In general, spirituality and religion is less on the mind when young and full of energy. Harness this energy, and pursue those earthly goals, as long as they are not ultimately destructive. Chances are your early earthly experiences will greatly set the tone for your later spiritual journey. But the phases are just one way of thinking about liberation, and could conceivably (and certainly will at points) be mixed up, reversed, mingled, and intertwined.

The main thing to take away is that liberation is absolutely crucial to a healthy earthly existence, and completely necessary for any considerations of an eternal soul or being. Your human body must be used for what is was intended, and that is to live a fruitful life on earth free to do anything that does not hurt others. And your soul must be explored for what is was intended, and the journey to spiritual liberation will be an exciting one.

Think of the young in poverty, with no opportunity to make something of their lives, which skews the perspective on what may lie beyond. Think of the youth in advanced society, with no direction, no desire, and no motivation. They are pushed this way and that by the power structure, used as pawns, and left empty and bitter by the coercion they feel dictating their every move.

This will end with liberation. Individuals will reclaim their youth for the exciting, invigorating journey of creation and accomplishment it was always meant to be! No more dead end jobs, no more broken promises, smashed dreams, or stolen opportunities. When we liberate ourselves, there is no height to which individuals cannot take this world.

Think of the elderly in poverty, waiting to die to stop burdening their families who already have so little. Think of the elderly with high living standards, waiting to die because they don’t know what else to do, and have forgotten what it means to have otherworldly goals.

This will be no more in liberation. Under liberation the seasoned, the accomplished, will reclaim their position as spiritual elders whose purpose is to guide the younger generations in their life phases with knowledge, experience and example. There will be no end of life regrets, but instead the dying will pass on satisfied, surrounded by those they love, knowing that whoever is left behind will have an equally glorious life.

The whole will become greater than the sum of its parts. Society will see a spiritual awakening brought on by individuals who decide to liberate themselves. It requires no evangelizing, as simply seeing free people stokes the desire to become liberated. It is a movement that has already begun, and cannot be stopped. Already individuals are living the lives they want to live, regardless of what the sick sad system has to say. These individuals will become the spiritual leaders of the next great awakening on earth. The spiritual renaissance is upon us.

Start Today

Begin pursuing phase one of liberation today. You might already know what that is: the business you want to start, the skill you want to gain, the group you want to help, the book you want to write, or whatever else will make you independent and fruitful. You want to be in control of your own destiny, and let go of the things you cannot control.

Liberate yourself! Let go of the fear the controllers of society shove down your throat. Become as free as possible; in doing so not only will your own life be drastically improved, but your positive energy will infect those around you. Let go of the burdens society has foisted upon you without your consent. Take control of your life and set it up the way you want it.

Liberate your soul! Dissolve the distractions and take a journey with your spirit. Become more connected with others, with yourself, and with a higher realm. Seek ultimate truth, being honest with yourself, and those around you.

Join me, in liberation!

Treating Writing as an Art

Sometimes art should be released the way the artist intended, without going through the whitewashing and scrubbing that can happen in commercialization.

Independent films can be horrible, but then so can mainstream films. But some independent movies are really hidden gems, and can bring you something unexpected, and actually new. Clearly Hollywood knows how to market, and how to draw crowds, but many movies are just rehashed old themes with predictable plots.

I get it, some things are meant to be entertainment, and therefore it makes sense to get experts to make it as entertaining as possible for the largest number of people. But other times, we might just want to let art be art.

Writing is a form of art. When a book is released, it should certainly have the proper grammar and punctuation, but there is something to be said for leaving a novel in the original form intended by the author.

That’s what is so great about self publishing. While it may be harder to reach a larger audience, self publishing allows the author to be remain an artist, instead of becoming an entertainer. And unlike movie makers, writers now have access to platforms that allow self publishing for practically free.

I am pleased to say that my second work of fiction will be published next week. It is called Flight Grounded, and it is a novella about a man named Jake who finds himself accused of a terrorist attack after witnessing something on a plane that had not yet taken off.

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As he flees the authorities, trying to figure out who the real terrorists are, and why he is being blamed, Jake runs into two men who want to help him escape. But what they tell him about the world is unbelievable. Unfortunately, Jake does not have time to think while being pursued. He needs to make decisions on who to trust, with no possible way of judging what is the truth of the situation, or indeed the world.

My aim in writing Flight Grounded is to open up the mind of readers to critical thought about the society we live in. How much information or “truth” that you know can you actually verify? At some level we are all just trusting others for facts about the society we live in. But where did they get their information?

I hope this novella will spur readers to consider other perspectives of the world, and become more open minded in considering that perhaps all we have been taught is not the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Flight Grounded is on Amazon in paperback and e-book! Like the Facebook Page for updates!

What’s “Hot” for Society

There was a time when a tan was unattractive because it meant you were poor and worked in the fields, while pale skin was sexy because it signified you were wealthy enough to not have to work.

Likewise being a bit on the heavy side was once a desirable trait, because it signified that you were healthy and had means to provide. Skinny was a look for the poor… because they were starving.

I was think the other about how when I put a suit on, it makes me want to put one hand in my pocket and swing the other. I feel slick, and my steps have a click of authority to them. I act differently when wearing a suit, because there is a perception from society that comes with it.

But what if some day in the not too distant future, a suit is seen as a symbol of the working class? Perhaps the wealthiest will work from home or not have to work at all, and thus wear more casual attire, while a suit for a “lowly” white collar job becomes the dirty jeans of today?

Don’t take this as putting anyone’s profession down. I’m simply musing about status symbols and how they are entirely a construction of the society we live in. Maybe someday a pleasant personality will be the ultimate status symbol.

Creating Worlds in Ourselves

Suppose we are really all just one being, as various religions have suggested. Perhaps we all reconnect when we die, and live blissfully as one. In fact, what if we, as one, only split ourselves into billions of different people in order to improve ourselves. Perhaps we will never become one again unless we all learn to love ourselves and one another.

Because that is what we all struggle to do, isn’t it? Finally be happy with ourselves, and be happy in our own company. We seek out others to fulfill us, and they can help because we are all just different pieces of a larger whole. But they can also be a detriment to self love because we all have flaws and some play out more in certain ways in certain people.

I think many things mirror each other, and most thing are replicated on a smaller and larger scale. In that way, doesn’t it make sense that we would emulate the larger in what we replicate as smaller? What I mean is, if the larger “one being” created the microcosm of earth to grow itself, as a game of sorts, it would make sense that there is the same desire in each of us.

Creating Worlds

We do this through movies, games, books, and dreams. And the worlds we create in dreams are especially interesting to me; I have been thinking about that a lot lately.

It is hard to do, but very possible to lucid dream. That means be aware that you are dreaming, and therefore control what happens in the dream. Personally, I rarely become aware that I am dreaming, and have even said in a dream, “I know I am not dreaming”. But there are a handful of times I remember becoming aware that I was dreaming, but still not really committing to that fact in order to shape the dream.

Once, relatively recently, I realized I was in a dream, and took the opportunity to fly. I always loved flying dreams, and though I had tried in a previous lucid dream to fly, it hadn’t worked. This time it did, and though at first it was touch and go, I managed to take off and fly some laps around a rocky island with a church on it.

Anyway back to the point; dreams are creations by our brains that may be used for organizing thought, planning, experimenting, or running tests. There are certain things about our unconscious that we can gather from dreams.

Now suppose that life was very similar to a dream, in that our greater consciousness was organizing its thoughts, or discovering something about itself through living a life. The dream of life would just be a way to organize that exercise. The world we live in could be a workshop for the larger being to recgonize and address its inner demons.

Help Yourself

I think many of us have the tendency to think others need more work than ourselves, I have certainly been victim to this train of thought. But probably the most important part of becoming a stronger whole is to start with yourself. We can’t become perfect, but once we are sufficiently happy with ourselves, trustworthy, and good, it will be easier to emanate those positive vibes in order to help others.

If we all stemmed from one being, it says to me that the one being was not totally comfortable with being alone. So that being created many different beings, but since they are all really just one, we each feel the same loneliness at the core. Other people can be a welcome distraction, but at the center of it all, we need to be happy when we are alone, and love our own company.

We can still find things that we love in other people that we may lack ourselves, but should not process this with envy or self loathing. Instead realize what it is you love about others, and take it all in. When the universe comes to a close, we may all end up as one being again, and at that point we will be a happy one, not lonely, and loving of ourselves, having gone through this exercise we call life.

Is Existence Linear, as Time Suggests?

Time is an interesting thing. It more or less exists in our understanding of it, yet it still seems mostly like a human construction that gives order to our surroundings, so we can better understand what is going on. Sparked by ideas drawn from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, I started thinking about the possibility that the universe, from beginning to end, happens simultaneously all at once, and that linear time is simply one way to view it.

In the novel, aliens–Tralfamadorians–that may or may not be all in the main character’s head regularly abduct him. These aliens teach the World War II veteran that the entire universe already happened from beginning to end, and that the course of a human life does not have to be viewed linearly. The main character “time travels” throughout the book to various times in his life. The aliens know how the universe will end, and cannot change it, because it has already happened, they simply inhabit a place or “time” that still exists.

I think of the issue like this: imagine your life to be a large, detailed, intricate, complex painting. Perhaps it spans a whole wall in a museum, with layers of colors, activities, people, places, scenes, foreground, background, etc. As soon as the painting is finished, it will exist for eternity as a whole. And sometimes we will stand from a distance and take in the entire painting. Some of the detail will be lost, but we will see the whole picture.

Other times we might focus on one little section of the painting, and marvel at that section’s beauty for some time. But perhaps the lives in which we are currently living, are designed to view the painting piece by piece, in an order which comes together as a story. We start from the first brushstroke the artist made, and follow it all the way through until the last detail was added.

Now I can see how from our perspective, it would appear the painting is being worked on as we look, which may well be the case. But saying we are viewing an already finished painting is not the same as saying we had nothing to do with how the painting would turn out. It is just that we use “time” to focus on different points and pieces of the art, while perhaps in reality, all those decisions have already been made. It was still us that made those decisions, its just right now we are viewing them in an order which makes sense to the human body, but that is not necessarily accurate at a higher level.

And in regards to what “we” or “us” may be that made the decisions… Well you’ll just have to wait for the next post.

Fun fact: the hilarious and insightful cartoon Rick and Morty makes reference to the alien race Tralfamadorians from Vonnegut’s novel in an episode called “A Rickle in Time” where Rick accidentally breaks time and splits the universe into multiple timelines.

Making Home-Made Products!

Part of the allure to mini-farming is making your own products. Since we have only been at it for a couple months, we can’t make everything with homegrown ingredients yet, but we can still save money by making things like soap, tooth-paste, and seltzer, as we have done. The other benefit is that you know a bit more about what is really in the products you are using; unfortunately lots of tooth-paste and soap have some harmful stuff in there to make them foam.

Tooth Paste

Most recently I made my own tooth-paste, because I am running out of my Ava Anderson chemical free toothpaste, and wanted to save money. The recipe was pretty simple that I found on DIYNatural, but I added my own flare with a couple extra essential oils. Here’s what I did:

In an 8 ounce jar, I combined 2/3 cup of baking soda with 1 tsp. of sea salt which I ground to a powder with a mortar and pestle, so that it would not scratch the enamel. The baking soda is to clean and whiten the teeth, and the salt is meant to re-mineralize the enamel.

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Now, the original recipe called for enough water to turn that powder into a paste, but I took a different route. According to the book The Green Pharmacy by James Duke, chamomile tea is a disinfectant of the gums, which can help prevent gingivitis by getting deep down to tackle the germs stuck in the gums. In fact gingivitis simply means swelling of the gums, and there are varying degrees of the disease, but it is something most of us will deal with at some point in our lives. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.

So instead of water I made a tea of chamomile and green tea. The green tea, because of the tannins and astringent quality, acts to protect the teeth from bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis. I mixed the tea with the baking soda and powdered salt, and then added some essential oils.

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Keep in mind you do not want to swallow essential oils, and even an ounce can be fatal. That being said, I did not use nearly an ounce of essential oils in the entire batch of tooth paste, let alone for each brushing session.

I used 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, which smells nice, and makes for a fresh taste. But peppermint oil is also antiseptic, which means it helps cure the root cause of bad breath, and not just cover the smell.

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I could have stopped there, and next time I might. The reason is, a nice fresh peppermint toothpaste feels natural and leaves my mouth feeling clean. The next to essential oils definitely help with oral hygiene, but they don’t really make the paste taste especially good. Your breath certainly won’t smell bad after brushing, but it won’t have the classic fresh mint smell.

That being said, I added 5 drops of teatree oil because it is also antiseptic. It doesn’t really taste good though, so I think I will save it for a mouthwash in the future, if I feel any swelling in the gums. James Duke recommends swishing a couple drops diluted in a glass of water, and spitting it out to combat gingivitis.

I also added 5 drops of eucalyptus oil, another antiseptic. Again, next time I will probably just stick to the peppermint.

Carbonated Drinks

My sister’s fiance has been making hard cider for some time, and since he already had the equipment, decided to throw together some seltzer as well. He simply filled up a five gallon keg with filtered water, added about a half cup of lemon juice, and attached the keg to the carbon dioxide tank to carbonate. In just about a day, we had five gallons of seltzer on tap, which went surprisingly quickly. Next time I am encouraging him to try making green tea seltzer with lemon.

Soap

My sister Steph and I have made a couple batches of soap already as well. We learned how at PorcFest from Hershel who makes Shire Soaps. Soap making is basically a chemical reaction between lye and fat. So we mixed shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil as our fats, using an online soap making calculator to determine how much of each. Shea butter is solid, so we microwaved it a little at a time to melt it, and get the temperature up in order to mix with the lye.

Then we mixed the lye with water, always adding the water to the lye very carefully in a well ventilated area, or preferably outdoors, because it creates toxic fumes (and heats up) when it combines with water. Finally when the two mixtures were within ten degrees of each other, both around 110, we mixed them using a handheld blender, and added our essential oils, like lemongrass, rosemary, and lavender. Then, into a PVC pipe lined with parchment paper it goes for 24 hours to set, before we cut it, and let it dry for a month.

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And that is all just the beginning when it comes to home-made. We are getting some various styles of garden beds together to plant, which I will share soon!

 

Mini-Farming in Florida!

Alright, three months later, and I am back! 2015 was a year filled with excitement, happiness, and new experiences! To top it off, in early November I moved from Massachusetts to the panhandle of Florida!

My sister bought ten acres in the suburbs of Pensacola, and I moved down here with her and her fiance to start a “mini-farm”.

She named it Prickly Pear Plantation, because of these little cacti called prickly pears, which are actually edible… in theory. I have yet to get more than a couple nibbles out of the center, because they must be cooked to the point where all the bristles, and small bristly hairs are gone. But by this point they have shrunk and shriveled so much, that it is nearly impossible to get any meat out of them. What I usually end up with is tiny hairy bristles stuck in my tongue and lips. I think some grow much larger than the ones on our property though, so hopefully I can find a better specimen to try.

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We will be growing vegetables, and started double digging out garden plots which we will plant in February. We will be keeping chickens for eggs as well; we got seven baby chicks three weeks ago and already built the chicken coop.

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They grow up so fast!

We have also cleaned up the property, built a shed, planted a few fruit trees, built/ repaired fences, and built a “catititat” (habitat for cats) all in just about six weeks!

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Don’t worry, there’s a shelf for them to jump back through the window if they want to go inside.

Everything is going great so far, and we are getting a lot accomplished. We keep moving towards ours goals, and even though some days are slower than others, we can already look back over the two months and see tremendous progress! For instance, the piles of trash the previous owners left all around the yard have been cleaned up.

Pensacola is a beautiful coastal city with a nice little strip of bars and restaurants. We have been to the Wednesday night runs at the World of Beer a few times, where after a three mile run the bar provided runners some complimentary food and beer specials.

The dogs are enjoying the large property as well, pouring seemingly endless amounts of energy into sprinting around the fields and roughhousing with each other. When I arrived a week after my sister and her fiance moved into the house, I surprised her with Leo, her cat who I had been looking after in Massachusetts while she moved.

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Well… I guess they tire themselves out sooner or later.

It all feels like a dream come true. The work we are putting in is already starting to show, but we also have lots of toil ahead of us. That is okay though, it is just part of building something to be proud of. Getting down here was a big step, and now we just need to keep the momentum going to keep building (and growing) our dreams. And with beautiful warm weather, it is easy to stay in high spirits!

And it gets to be a little harder to pull myself away from the outdoors and plunk myself down on a computer. But hey, that’s a good problem to have!

Be sure to follow Steph’s blog, “Steph Matt Stella Become Southern”!

Big Lagoon State Park and the Oar House Adventures

This is my sister’s blog, detailing their move down to Florida! She’s searching for a house, checking out the area, and I will be joining them in about a month’s time! Check it out!

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Well it’s Monday morning and Matt is off to his first day at the new job.  Stella and I will miss him but we will think of ways to keep ourselves busy.  Saturday we drove out to the suburbs of Pensacola to drive by some houses.  We were able to cross a few off our list because they were next to something dumpy looking, too close to other houses or just looked way more rough in person.  We were able to see the inside of 2 houses as well, both which had a lot of potential but needed a lot of work.  We also drove over to the prison camp and talked with the gentleman at the front gate so Matt would know where he needed to go on Monday.  Then we drove out to Pensacola Beach which is a much more touristy area but only about 15 minutes from…

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A Day Mirrors a Life: Use This Life for a Better “Tomorrow”

Many things mirror each other. A brain cell looks curiously similar to the universe, and atoms look like they belong magnified floating in space alongside solar systems. So wouldn’t it make sense if other things mirrored large events on a small scale?

I am talking about a day. We wake up groggy, sometimes forgetting where we are or what we have to do, confused by our fleeting dreams. But energy soon returns, we gain focus, and set out with purpose to conquer the day’s activities. Sometimes it is a good day, sometimes bad, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting! Hopefully we don’t waste too much time, but still have fun! It is good to accomplish some goals, but not be too stressed out or uptight. You have to enjoy the present, but not to the extent that it makes tomorrow harder. And then each night we start to grow tired again, we realize there is only so much more we can do with the time we have, and eventually we go to sleep.

In a life, we are born confused and crying. There is no recollection before birth, except for a few special people here and there that seem to remember details of a past life. As our lives go on, we grow, gain focus on what we want to do with that life. We have ups and downs, as every life has, and some lives could be categorized as overall good, or overall bad, overall mundane, or overall stimulating. We have goals large and small that we attempt to accomplish, and some people get caught up in planning for the future without really enjoying the moments of their lives. Others fulfill momentary hedonistic urges, which puts their future happiness in jeopardy. In the end it comes to a close, the sun begins to set, and our energy fades. We die and go to sleep.

But when we sleep we wake again. And where we wake up depends entirely on where we went to sleep the night before. The obstacles facing us the next day could have been increased by the previous days activities, or eased. Sometimes we wake up hungover, and what we did yesterday makes the entire new day more difficult. Sometimes we drank a glass of water before bed, said our prayers or meditated, and wake up refreshed, ready to start the day off with an energizing run, or watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead attempts to help people transition from earth to the in-between and then back to earth again, unless ultimate enlightenment is achieved. What you do in one life effects where you will start the next life. I don’t personally know what type of life will put you where, but using the microcosm of a day, I think it is a safe bet to say living a good day makes a better tomorrow that much more likely. Therefore living a better life will make the next life that much better.

In a lifetime, I would imagine the ultimate goal is to die happy, surrounded by those you love, at peace. This could be compared to ultimate enlightenment. Did you improve others’ lives? Did you help create and grow healthy humans who will radiate their energy positively towards others? Did you bring people joy, help people grow, and increase the combined positive energy of the world or environment you inhabited?

Tibetan Buddhism even suggests practicing the transition from the earth self to the in between self by attempting to remain cognizant while falling asleep, and lucid while dreaming. This mirrors what will happen when we die, so it is a way to practice. It is a way to carry all the positive energy from one life into the next, the way we are able (though we don’t always do it) to carry positive energy from one day to the next.

And this all means we should live each day like a mini lifetime. After all, each day, all combined, is what will make up our life. Each atom, all combined, is what makes up the universe. Perhaps each lifetime, all combined, will determine the ultimate health and state of our souls.