Many of you may not know that on top of maintaining my writing and this bookstore, I have been employed with Natural Grocers for the last year and a half. I applied to be a low level member of the ‘Good4UCrew,’ which is to say that I was happily, whatever they needed me to be: a grunt, if you will, so that I might get out of my living room and socialize once again; that worked for me, aside from the expected annoyances of interacting with trouble and elitist customers at the registers it was, essentially, exactly what I was looking for. However, because I quickly became an invaluable member of the staff, the community, the county, the state, the country, and, well, the world, really I am now the Receiving Manager at said grocery store—I was concerned, at first, that the time would eat into my work and my writing but I was able to gradually reevaluate how I manage my time and, for the most part, it’s been working quite nicely. And, with that said, it is important to acknowledge that the following views and opinions expressed are mine and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the company, Natural Grocers.
The point that I’m going to make is that Natural Grocers is an incredible company.
And, just to get this little bit out of the way, no they are not perfect, they don’t do everything right (because no company, for what it's worth, is going to do everything right), they are a family based business and trying to navigate and operate nearly two hundred stores while preserving the Mom&Pop character and quality is not an easy task, and yet the Isely's manage to do it pretty well, considering both the industry and the climate.
Anywho, as far as retail corporations go it is the best that I’ve worked for; and I’ve worked for a few including, but not limited to: Starbucks, Hastings Entertainment, Borders Books, and Barnes & Noble’s. The difference is that Natural Grocers genuinely does care about it’s employees and the communities they represent (Although Starbucks is known for this, on paper and they do appear to be an incredible company, and in many ways they are but the practical management of-, does not translate well to the individual branch).
I may have started shopping at Natural Grocers in Salt Lake City many years ago, I honestly can’t remember; I do, on the other hand, remember shopping at the Natural Grocers in Santa Fe, New Mexico and it was there that I really developed a certain fealty, as a customer. So, when I heard they were opening a store in the neighboring Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg (I am now living in Texas), and were in the middle of the hiring process exactly when I was leaning towards taking a more social job, I took it as a bit of a sign.
I accepted the job and that loyalty rapidly developed, for a lot of reasons: the thing is-is that I have worked retail: corporate and independent, I have run and owned businesses, and I really have never seen anything like Natural Grocers. The company is truly remarkable. 100% of our produce is organic.The store is riddled with organic and Non-GMO products, the health alternatives are unbelievable. Each store keeps a Nutritional Health Coach on staff (with the exception of ours for the time being), to help you with your health and diet needs for FREE, we hold free classes of all kinds, the company maintains standards of products and ingredients that MUST be met or we don't carry the product. The company also maintains a standard of, 'World Class Customer Service' and one of the ways that translates is by acknowledging every customer that comes within five feet of you which, in the grocery industry, is fairly unheard of.
On a personal note, and another thing that I haven't been able to stop thinking about, as an example of how Natural Grocers cares, and clearly I mean, they genuinely care: there are somewhere around 160 stores nationwide, I sent an email to the Executive Vice-President of Natural Grocers and received a personal response back within 12 hours, I mean that’s systematically unheard of. It doesn’t happen. And, I think there a number of employees of Natural Grocers that might take that for granted, I think there are a lot of people that might take that for granted.
On top of that not only am I working for one of the best grocers in the business, I got lucky and am working for one of the best management teams that I have ever seen, anywhere corporate or not; the pair, our Store and Asst. Store manager, work off of one another's strengths and weaknesses and their differing management styles help to build a unique and enjoyable work environment. Our store morale is inexplicable, considering, especially, that our dynamic couldn't be greater.
To get back on track, our Store and Asst. Store manager went out the other day to buy Everclear, along with 1 or 2 other ingredients, and they handmade a hand sanitizer for the employees so that we can better assist our customers, per the companies request. I don’t know, that may seem like small potatoes—of which we have plenty, now—but that’s a pretty remarkable effort, and that’s just one small recent thing. And, although the foundations were laid by the company I do firmly believe we owe a great deal of our success as a store to our Management team, Andrea and Emily.
These are trying times, and I cannot ignore, in tribute of Natural Grocers, the company's response to the Coronavirus pandemic. I think, it’s important to create a baseline, so it is important to acknowledge that this company has been phenomenal to it’s employees and it’s communities well before ‘The Spread,’ of Covid-19, and now the action that the company has taken is just as unprecedented as the reaction to the virus itself. I know that a lot of grocers are doing whatever they can for their communities and their employees but, I mean, since this virus started I have received, first: a 5% pay bonus which was followed, immediately by a 10% pay bonus; as well as a $1 pay raise for every hourly employee that is not contingent on the virus, that increase will remain long after the virus, and an additional $1 they gave us which is contingent, and that is not universal response in the industry, towards employee appreciation.
I've heard, recently, how a couple of local grocery chains are experiencing some issues with their employees and how they are relating to their customers; patrons have questions, their scared, their panic buying, their hoarding, while there are many whom are living their lives normally, or trying to without eggs, toilet paper, hand sanitzer, and a variety of produce options, but because many grocery employees are not used to actually speaking with customers, they are not used to acknowledging a patron as they walk into the store or shop the aisles so many of these chain employees are finding it difficult to manage the stress of customer demands; Natural Grocers is well ahead of the curve, we've been asked, since day one, to acknowledge our customers and that has made this transition for us considerably more smooth and our customers have not been as panicked or flustered.
Natural Grocers is a great company to both shop at and to work for. I wanted to write this in gratitude to thank Natural Grocers, and to say thank you to the Isely family! To say thank you to Andrea and Emily! And, a personal thank you to Elle, for the last couple of days, and getting through the stress :)
I believe that the communities that have been lucky enough to have a Natural Grocers during this unprecedented time are getting through it with more ease than those without, and I think that we have been able to offer our customers and our communities more during this time because we're used to offering our communities and our customers more, and I know that, personally, it was easier for me to step up and to play my role because I was doing it for a management team and a company that actively appreciates us, global pandemic or not.
There’s this thing I used to do on nearly a daily basis to consciously connect with, specifically the energies of love and of gratitude; these two, together, form the strongest and most effective in nature, this mediation, for me, has been the closest that I have ever been to G~d; but I haven’t done it in a while, it has been a long enough while actually that I struggled to remember how to begin.
Firstly, I would draw an almost dangerously hot bath, so hot even that I would only run it at full heat and only for as long as the water remained hot, while also running the built in heater in the bathroom; I would let the water heater refill and lay in the bath while the second half of the tub filled with, again, nearly dangerously hot water. I left the door closed in order to, essentially, create a sweat lodge. And I lay in the tub for a while.
(The bath is not an integral part of the process, it just helps me to bring my physical, emotional, and mental state to feeling cleansed, fresh) Than, laying on my bed, I would imagine a light developing at my core and then both feel and imagine it moving upwards through my body until it reached the crown of my head, at which point I would imagine it leaving my body, along with my consciousness and, with my eyes closed, I would look around the room from that, sort of astral projected plane, and I would rise through the ceiling, all the while imagining, still my surroundings: my yard, the houses on the property, the city as I was high enough to see it, and I would continue to imagine the view change the higher into the atmosphere I would rise.
And, after leaving orbit, that little ball of light that began as a pearl sized beam at my core would disappear into space getting bigger the further it went. Eventually I would catch up to it and now it is a big enough sphere for me to enter and then relaxing as if laying on a cloud that would support my weight and limbs exactly as they lay I would think about love and gratitude, while thinking about the things and the people in my life that I was both grateful for and loved; I would start to pay attention to my body starting with my toes and just feel every small twitch, and pain, and itch, and just any feeling throughout my body and I would basically scan myself from my feet upwards thinking all the while, also, about love and about gratitude.
I would imagine, then, with every beat of my heart the frequency, the energy that left releasing into the world love and gratitude, and I would feel the love and the gratitude both leave and enter my body, my consciousness, and then I would think about the source of love and of gratitude, and I would imagine being as close connected to it as possible.
Afterwards I would either bring myself back to my body, in the same way that I left, slowly entering the atmosphere, until I was hovering directly above my body, and sometimes I wouldn’t come back to my body I would simply open my eyes. In either case I would feel lighter, as if I had consciously eliminated whatever stress or frustration or pain or uncertainty or anxiety or heartache that was persisting, stuck somewhere in my body, and I would feel fresh, and different.
I hadn’t practiced this in a while.
I did this evening.
And, I feel like I’ve let go of everything, everything; all the bad, all the good, anything that I’ve been holding on to, anything lingering. And I cannot tell you how comforting and freeing it is. It’s hard to remember to release yourself from the stress and pressures of our day-to-day lives, some of us, many of us have made a habit, a practice of this in different ways, the most common of which is praying, although some people, I think, don’t understand why their praying or even how, it’s just another thing they do like tying their shoes or brushing their teeth. There is a reason for these meditations for our prayers, to release ourselves from the distractions of this life, and to simultaneously connect with our higher power.
I highly recommend it.
Covid-19 is both directly, and indirectly stirring a lot of emotions, and people are dealing with, and relating to it differently; some people are closing themselves off to the people around them while others are prone to frustration and anger, and still others recognize this global pandemic as an excuse to try to connect; but, frankly, it’s no easy for anyone.
It’s not easy for you, and I recognize that.
Many of us are trying to maintain a sense of composure but, when facing an unknown, none of us really know, for sure what to expect or how we might react. It’s a strange time. And, we need to accept that; I need to accept that.
Some of you all may have heard about the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus popping up here and there throughout the globe, I think a few news stations have reported a handful of stories regarding the virus; for those of you whom haven’t yet heard there is a new strain of a Coronavirus, Covid-19, that is causing severe “flu-like symptoms”—it’s actually more relatable to a severe pneumonia—I’m not going to downplay the sickness, it is not pleasant but it is treatable. You can, essentially, wait it out, it’s killed about 3.4% of those infected and that rate will rise as the number of infected cases rises; if you have a compromised immune system take measures: eat healthier, exercise, take Colloidal Silver and Wellness Formula and Elderberry, actively do things that will boost your immune system.
Any virus or disease that affects a huge portion of the population in such a short period of time is going to frighten people, and the media coverage doesn’t help—even if many outlets are attempting to appear to lessen the buildup, the fact that it is fundamentally occupying the news is directly affecting the way people react. And, that's dangerous.
What few people seem to understand is that the biggest concern regarding Coronavirus is not the virus itself, but the politics that surround the virus: the economics, the angst, and the reactions; the vast majority of people are either over-, or under reacting; people have suppressed the appropriateness of rational thought, in their everyday lives and when that happens we see people starting to lose control.
The rest of the world didn't just stop, remember the Syrian, Libyan, and Yemen Civil Wars and the Afghan Peace process are currently underway; the Democrats cannot find a suitable presidential candidate, the primaries are falling apart, and Trump is making equally as many bizarre resolutions regarding Covid-19 as remarkably sane and levelheaded the latter of which will get him reelected; there was a suicide bombing outside of a U.S. Embassy in Tunisia; Lebanon defaulted in a Eurobond repayment and is currently restructuring it’s debt, the country has never previously defaulted on a debt; U.S. Court of Appeals confirms that “Stairway to Heaven” was not “unlawfully copied;” SXSW was canceled and Coachella has been postponed; Vladimir Putin ‘backs’ a constitutional amendment that would allow him to stay in power through 2024, and even support the possibility of a lifetime “president;” Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison…all this has happened since March 1st.
...and the world economy is going to shit, the thing that irritates me about this, now and forever is that people, we are the economy, our actions and reactions are responsible for the life of the economy, but people don’t react well to fear, we are an inherently unconscious group of senseless degenerates and, beyond that, that’s not exactly a secret, so why people continue to manipulate others for personal gain or entertainment has, and will continue to drive me absolutely insane.
I’ve been seeing someone more and more seriously over the past year, and Elle and I are tempted to infect ourselves with Covid-19 forcing a quarantine that will, hopefully, last forever charging us to seclude ourselves to a distant island somewhere very, very far away—thank G~d the earth is flat—from everyone and everything, where we can barter with aimless ships that happen upon our island with coconuts and a variety of tropical birds for toilet paper and face masks, and where we can pretend like this world hasn’t gone completely to shit.
I don’t care about the virus, I really don’t. I'm tired of the reactions, we’re either going to get sick or we’re not, and it’s going to affect us in the way that it is going to affect us. I am a habitual user of Wellness Formula and Colloidal Silver (although I did only just learn the meaning of Colloidal, I didn’t really care enough to research it myself), I eat healthy and exercise daily, these things will help curb your chances of catching it.
The main reason everyone is freaking out is because nobody knows how to deal with the fact that they’re not in control, and when something comes along to force us to acknowledge that, we lose our minds—stock piling toilet paper, because apparently a lifetime supply of toilet paper and washing our hands does restore some aspect of control to our commercial lifestyles, control is an illusion, and it always has been but we preserve it because the alternative is terrifying to many of us.
But, I promise you, the economy and our lives will settle down, even with Covid-19 rapidly infecting people across the globe, if we just remain levelheaded, if we learn to care about what we consume and how, as well as our general health; just live your life as your normally would with the added precaution of a little more discipline and awareness, the fact of the matter is that Covid-19 is a part of our lives now, and we’re just going to have to figure that out.
Welcome to the new normal.
The first U.S. Presidential candidate announced his candidacy 596 days prior to election day. The first U.S. Caucus was 281 days before election day this year. Today is March 5th, the election is November 3rd that’s 243 days from today. Our elections are considerably longer than most countries, I mean, when compared, it’s asinine. Elections in France generally last two weeks, two weeks! Can you even imagine that? In Argentina, by law, a candidate can only advertise 60 days prior to election day.
Campaigning is a business, there is money to be made and why limit the profit to two weeks when you can just always be campaigning, forever? You can just campaign despite not knowing, just yet, what it is you’re even campaigning for!
The United States is the greatest country on earth, but that’s in spite of our economic discourse and ethics, and in spite of our government. The roots of our ‘greatness’ might lie in the ingenuity of our constitution (Yes, I’m aware that we borrowed much of our ingenuity, a large part of why it worked then/now and didn’t prior was timing, and the station of the rest of the world); we’re losing/have lost much of what ‘made our country great,’ but the idea that what was lost can be gained by political reaction is simply not true, and our campaign process can be an example to that. Somewhere in between the lines—the exploration of which would require a much longer essay—of how the American people relate to the political arena to social media to reality TV to the Coronavirus to the business of entertainment to one another it is all rooted in the same pseudo opportunity: how we exploit freedom.
The American people have been manipulated to apply freedom to our day-to-day lives as an excuse to do, nothing. That’s how we actively pursue the rights of the American dream.
1. I maintain the right to do whatever the hell I want, because I’m an American.
2. I’ll exercise that right by doing absolutely nothing.
Still, we do have to find a way to spend our time doing nothing.
Fortunately, no country on earth has put more effort into new ways to entertain ourselves while we sit on our ass doing nothing; so some of the greatest minds on the planet spend their time thinking of ways to engage the American people in the act of nothingness, and how better to maintain a system of government, simultaneously, than campaigning to an overfed, over-medicated, under-stimulated group of elitists?
The answer is that there is no better way, at least when the aim is to control the 3rd largest populated nation on the planet with as few people in power as possible while maintaining the illusions of circumstance and democracy.
If the tone of this column hasn’t expressed it well enough, I hate campaign season. Revered, good people no longer respect the presidency; people that might actually attack the fundamental problems of our nation. It’s like the 2004 Olympic basketball team: nobody wanted to do it, it just wasn’t worth working through the summer, and the United States placed 3rd, returning home with the bronze medal.
Americans like to talk a big game, because we have the history to substantiate it, nevertheless, at present (I mean, roughly, the last 40 years, especially), we’ve just been coasting on the greatness of our predecessors. And no amount of policy or political application is going to change that; we need a leader we don’t need to be lead, we’re relying too much on someone else to fix our problems for us while disregarding what the problems actually are. It’s laziness; we’re lazy, you’re lazy.
Oh, and calm down about COVID 19.
Words like pandemic are scary, and that many people experiencing the unfathomably irritating symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath in such a short time frame is scary too, I guess, but, I mean: take a bath, make yourself some tea, curl up with a good book, watch the first phase of the Marvel movies and then move on with your lives! You have all been looking for a reason to do nothing anyway, remember! There is no more obvious sign of fear based manipulation from the media anywhere, at present. And now you people are spreading it—and everything else—because you think the relevance of social media turns around the gravity of your opinion, it’s doesn’t. Thank G~d!
Go to China, and then go everywhere else, and then come back, and then go to the mall.
And, for goodness sake stop watching the news, nobody is saying anything, nobody has said anything for 20 years.
I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)