charlotte ann pratt

New Year, New Age: Wellness By Char

Living in La La Land has progressively brought to my attention, that I, when juxtaposed with the overarching way of life here, am not really as “New Age” as the general population.

I mean, the People of LA snort cave dust, chug moon juice, have spiritual advisors for their dogs, and consult the planetary alignments before deciding whether or not they are going on the 405. So New Age.

Me, not so much.

First of all, there is the very literal reality: I am the old age of 27. Nothing new about that! I have lived over 10,000 days, that’s so ancient. Plus, recently my jaw fell out as if I’m approaching age 82 (fully expecting to need a hip replacement any day), and the only men I seem to attract are in AT LEAST their late 40s (exhibit A and exhibit B). Not a girl, not yet a cougar, you know?

Second of all, when I look at my level of interaction with New Agey things, I’m also really Old Age in a distinctly metaphorical way. For example:

  • The closest I come to anything “third eye” related is how I’m freelancing for an eComm startup, Cliiiques, that has three I’s in the URL. If I ever had a band, it might be called Third Eye Blindest.
  • My idea of a juice cleanse is vodka cranberry on an empty stomach.
  • When it comes to healing I believe strongest in the power of pedicures.
  • Everyone in LA is always trying to align their chakras. I don’t even know where my chakras are located and it would probably require the chakra equivalent of a missing persons report to even unearth them from wherever they are buried. When you Google “where are my chakras located” you get this nice little rainbow diagram, but I’m pretty sure mine are all black. If I am not missing several of the key ones, then I know I for SURE at least have them so out of alignment. Clinical diagnosis: permanent chakra scoliosis.
  • On a recent date, a guy asked me if I was into “meditation,” but I accidentally thought he was asking me if I was into “medication.” I had no idea how to respond, because I do ZERO drugs, so I asked, “umm, do you mean, like, sleeping pills?” Utterly clueless about meditation AND New Age drugs.
  • Recently my friends dragged me to their psychic and I underwent my first tarot reading. I drew a couple really sinister cards like Death, Stabbed in My Field of Swords, Stabbed in My Bed of Swords, Devil, Graveyard, Poison Apple, Gothic Loner/Hermit, Judgment, Underworld, Beast of Clubs, Dark Lord of Spades, Nightmare Lair, Crushed Dreams, Imminent Suffering, Haunted Spirits, Mortal Peril, Convoluted Road, Broken Mirror, Drowned Sailor, Regrettable Destiny, Oh Shit, and a couple of others that managed to evade my memory…She then proceeded to tell me EVERYTHING about my life that I have ever known including spooky things that I try to pretend I DON’T know, told me I was really “spiritually blocked” (code word for Old Age), and said that the only way to save myself from impending doom would be to come back the very next night on the full moon for regression/cleanse/unblock/re-do of the cards, to see what new “stuff” had come to the surface. Hooked, I returned to her psychic den the following night, only to be STOOD UP BY A PSYCHIC which I must assume occurred due to her investigation into my future. She saw my story ended in serious disaster and she just did not have the heart to tell me, “look, girlfriend, I hate to break it to you, but you’re doomed AF and will likely perish within the next 3 months.” Moral of the story: I’m simply not New Age enough to continue in this world. The cards have spoken.
  • Recently my friend gave me my first crystal and I felt really inducted into the essence of LA! I was so excited to try and harness the power of it that I closed my eyes and started rubbing it on my cheek and my friend was like “umm Char you’re gonna wanna take it out of the plastic bag if you want it to work properly.”

Allow me for a second to make sense of this cryptic crystal thing. If you had a collection of fancy rocks, and you were trying to ward off negativity, which option is inherently more logical:

NEW AGE VERSION: Cleanse your crystals in a natural body of water in the light of the full moon while reciting incantations in lost dialects of the future nations to detoxify impurities, then bury them in the ground to return them to their earthly roots, slipping them into your pocket whenever you discern you will need to call upon their power that day. And then once you are all cleansed and grounded and aligned you wait for the evil to feel a dissipation vibration?

CHAR’S VERSION: Throw said rocks with maximum force at the evil people causing the negativity in your life. They will consequently run away because you’re chucking rocks in their face and you can do a little celebration dance for having just warded off evil?

Really, Crystal People, you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. Come see me if you want a worldly advisor on your next challenge because I have practical solutions.

Anyway, even though I am the inverse of New Age, I do try to be open minded to of the various means and methods people use in attempts to improve their lives. I think a lot of times, connotations that surround spiritual and wellness practices of all different natures reveal to me that there are more peaceful and powerful ways of life than what I am currently experiencing. I feel grounded enough in my own opinions and where I stand with my faith to be able to freely interact with the experiences and opinions of others, and even explore in an open minded way how they might actually relate to enhance my own beliefs.

I am also feeling so currently stuck in a few particular situations where I feel confident I have attempted every tool in my arsenal in terms of extracting myself from them. I feel like I have nothing to lose in terms of figuring out new and different ways to escape the the depths of hell and actualize my next levels, both in my immediate physical circumstance as well as my long term emotional enlightenment.

Thus, I think I am trying become more New Agey.

Just because I am trying to become more New Agey, however, does not mean I am succeeding.

For example, I did yoga the other night. Yoga is New Age, right? So we’re doing Malasana, and my hips are so extremely tight that I could not splay my legs nearly as wide as necessary (not sure if this is due to my obsession with spin or my lack of hip chakra?). The instructor looked directly at me and was like “just widen the gap between your feet” as if it were so plainly obvious and easy. I attempted, but yelped in pain as I realized, “wow my body does not contort to such extremes.” Rather than be like, “you know what that’s totally normal and you can do X variation of this pose,” she looked really worried and was like “oh, wait…really?” and kind of laughed. They don’t make you sign a waiver before yoga class, so I think she should have been more concerned, but that’s just me. I’m honestly so Old Age that I don’t know how I am going to get more advanced in my practice to the level of “pose your spine in a figure 8 while levitating 6.23 degrees to the northeast and spur the elevation with a flapping half arm motion as you tighten your core and breathe one inhale every other minute while chanting the Sanskrit meditations you have osmosis obtained.” I just set my intention and hope for the best, you know?

However, there is one area of New Age that I have made progress in! So, breaking news: my sister got me an essential oil diffuser for Christmas.

As I thought about this, that Kermit The Frog mirror meme came to mind. You know how there is regular green Kermit speaking the voice of reason? And there is also evil, hooded Kermit (I think he appeared in my tarot reading too)? As I contemplated the oil diffuser, the following dualism emerged:

Green Kermit: As far as I am concerned, I have made it to age 27 without any of these so called “essential” oils, so they can’t possibly be that critical.

Hooded Kermit: Ya, but you are literally miserable at life and nothing else has worked so far…

And I guess this is how I ended up receiving an Amazon Prime delivery of essential oils from Hooded Kermit.

I wasn’t sure which ones I would like, so I got the Variety Pack Extraordinaire with like 390 flavors in it. I have endless possibilities of elixirs to concoct! What are the aromatic properties of Essence of Char?

Well, I have put on my New Age cap and have begun to sniff out what exactly all these oils stand for and the significance their diffusion can bring into life.

The Official #WellnessByChar Chart of Essential Oil Usages

  1. Lavender: Grandmas seem to love this stuff and supposedly it helps you sleep.
  2. Geranium: Is obviously for your cranium.
  3. Ylang Ylang: Aside from being a plausible name for a Siamese cat, why would anything be called Ylang Ylang and what even is it?
  4. Bergamot: Sounds like a strain of mold; rhymes with rot; have not sniffed it yet.
  5. Clary Sage: Sage is a cute name for a dog, but imma need some claryfication on what the difference between sage and clary sage is.
  6. Patchouli: I always confuse ‘patchouli’ with ‘potpourri.’ Idk maybe it goes in the bathroom to help combat the smell of poo.
  7. Eucalyptus: If you long to snuggle with koala bears, dump lots of this into your diffuser and await cuddly koalas to materialize from the mist. If this doesn’t happen, your chakras are probably missing and you should book a flight to Australia to go look for them and/or for koala bears.
  8. Clove: You cannot spell clove without love. Diffuse a shit ton of clove as you complete your nightly Bumble swiping session and love just may bee in the air. A good pairing with Eucalyptus oil, because if you match with a guy on Bumble holding a koala bear, you can ask him what his boyfriend koalifications are (this has actually worked for me).
  9. Cinnamon: WTF I HATE cinnamon. People who use cinnamon toothpaste or gum cannot be trusted.
  10. Pink Grapefruit: Is the color clarification really necessary here? I mean, have you ever seen a grapefruit of another color? Do Albino Grapefruits exist? Did anyone get a rogue grapefruit color in their variety pack?
  11. Orange: V expected and safe and lovely.
  12. Lemon: Part 3 of the citrus sisters; see above.
  13. Lemongrass: Lemon, only more exotic and earthy.
  14. Oregano: They use this a lot in Italian food. Stave off gluten gluttony and carb cravings by inhaling the steam of oregano diffusion.
  15. Tea Tree: Wake up to the caffeinated aromas of tea tree (but only because they haven’t created coffee tree essential oil yet).
  16. Rosemary: If you want to fool your guests into thinking you are v. domesticated and cooking a lovely roast, pour this into your crock pot and invite them over.
  17. Frankincense: It smells earthy and medicine-y, and I am currently inhaling loads of steamy Frankincense. Supposedly it helps you sleep, manages anxiety, and permits oral health and joint health — allow me to reiterate, my jaw recently fell out when my mandibular joint got all messed up from stress…sooo, Frankincense seems like a good choice.

Frankincense, if you are unfamiliar with it, basically smells like woodland cough syrup. You may regard that description with a great deal of sketpicality, but rest assured that it’s actually quite lovely.

Some thoughts I’m having as I diffuse — Okay yeah, Frankincense. Good stuff. Feeling soothed….Can you get high off of essential oils? Aren’t diffusers basically like a vape for your room? Are rooms going to start taking over? I mean, they have their Alexas, which are like handheld devices for rooms, and now they have their own vapes, too. Next thing you know, rooms will be infiltrating the workforce and taking jobs away from the hardworking middle class as they vape around while asking Alexa what the traffic is like on their commute. Oh forget it, this is just the Frankincense high speaking…

So, I’m excited to see all that I inhale into my life and my nostrils through my ultra New Agey aromatherapy practices. Please follow the hashtag #wellnessbyChar for continued updates on my foray into this advanced realm.

10.06.2015 – Hurt People Hurt People

At the Long Beach Trader Joe’s I frequent, I often come across a man outside. He sits with a sign saying he is homeless, laid off, hungry and grateful for assistance. He does not seem too much older than myself. As you walk by, he does not ask for anything – particularly not money, alcohol or cigarettes. He is not on drugs. He is not shouting at patrons of the store. He is not following anyone inside. He keeps his head down unless you interact first.

Recently, I asked him, “how can I help you today?” And it was difficult for him to even look me in the eye as he thanked me and requested a salad. Heartbreakingly polite and humble about the fact that he needed assistance.

A couple weekends ago when I went to Trader Joe’s he was there again. Only this time, Trader Joe’s had parked right beside him a sandwich chalkboard proclaiming something along the lines of the following message:

“Trader Joe’s just not support the solicitation or loitering of anyone outside of our store. Please feel free to ignore such persons as you go about your shopping!”

Part of me really wanted to take a photo of this. The other part felt like that would deny dignity to the man sitting right next to the sign, whom the message was obviously directed at. The exact wording escapes me, but the part I am sure of, the part that has haunted me for weeks now, was:

feel free to ignore such persons

Written in a cheerful, flowery script, with an exclamation mark following the phrase.

Trader Joe’s felt the need to give people permission to IGNORE HUMAN LIVES.

Without getting too charged up, let me tell you that I find this attitude absolutely more offensive than the homeless man’s behavior. Shame on you, Trader Joe’s. Shame on you, patrons of Trader Joe’s who complain about the presence of a homeless man sitting outside. Shame on you, because ignoring human lives is exactly the underlying root of so many of our society’s problems.

On a related tangent, recently, as I was walking through downtown Los Angeles, I noticed someone had stenciled on the sidewalk, “HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.” This is such a heartbreaking reality. When we think about people who hurt people, whether it is mass shootings or crime rates or violent transgressions, who are the people that are lashing out?

It is the hurt people.

Where does this hurt begin? It commences the moment we isolate, ignore, dehumanize, marginalize. It blossoms in the moment we strip away dignity, human rights and respect. Anyone subscribes to an attitude of thinking they are superior to those in different life circumstances is fostering an environment of negativity and disconnect.

Connected, positive, happy citizens are generally not disrupting society. Those who are participating in these actions are those who have been shut out of community, denied love and told they are not good enough. We look down on India’s caste system, but at a different level we definitely allow similar ideals to prevail in our society, without recognizing them for what they are.

Among approximately seven other books, I’m working through The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell right now. From it, I was reminded of the Broken Windows theory (something I half slept through the first time around in Intro to Sociology circa 2009). Essentially this criminology theory postulates that urban disturbance (shout out to my own alliteration) is this downward spiral progression of self-fulfilling prophecy, where little crimes such as broken windows or graffiti are what cause big crimes such as murder and illegal drug business. As the book puts it, “the graffiti was symbolic of the collapse of the system.” Little indicators that the system is broken make way for people to break it further. If there is graffiti and broken windows around, it signifies to criminals that nobody cares, so a crime done in this setting is less punishable. I guess it is kind of like: which are you more likely to handle recklessly and carelessly — a brand new Tesla, or a junker clunker?

The “hurt people hurt people” stencil coupled with reminder of Broken Windows Theory actually led me to apply the theory to the human psyche. In my theory, the small transgressions like graffiti or broken windows correlate to small missteps like failing to acknowledge an interaction someone sends to you (which is incidentally the number one cause of marital dissatisfaction), or saying something insensitive and not caring to correct yourself. I firmly believe that interactions either build or break – there is no grey area here – so every time we do not act intentionally with love and compassion, we are breaking windows. The more broken windows there are, the more broken hearts and broken souls and broken spirits we create, which is exactly what destructs our society. The hurt people are hurting people. But we are all responsible for hurting those hurt people in the first place.

Another book I’m currently reading is Blue Like Jazz, 74 years behind the curve, I know. I am only a couple chapters in, but one thing that stuck out to me really insanely powerfully was the following statement:

“the path to joy winds through the this dark valley. I think every well-adjusted human being has dealt squarely with his or her own depravity…I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror.”

(The Congo reference I loved because Heart of Darkness is one of my favorite reads of all time, but I think what he’s getting at is the extreme darkness of political turmoil, genocide, civil war, rape and other atrocities taking place there; using it as a catch-all of kind of some of the worst degradations of humanity).

But, back to that quote. It is saying, and I agree, I have been trying to get at this point in so many of the pieces I have written on here…any of the larger changes we hope to befall our society are never going to click into place unless we can face ourselves squarely in the mirror each day and commit to stop breaking windows and to stop hurting others, however directly or indirectly.

I am not sure what this means in your life. It could be offering more grace to your spouse, or ceasing to ignore those who are homeless, or letting go of your ill thoughts towards your co-worker. What is that area of your life that you are feeling convicted about right now? Who do you know needs a little bit more of your compassionate heart, and not your hard heart?

I know that my idea of love and community and connection, a society where we are not hurting one another, is radically idealistic in today’s society. My vision is complete compassion, total devotion, absolute affection, undying attention, unquestioning support, extreme selflessness. I fail at each and every one of these aspects every single day. But I believe so strongly that I need to keep trying.

I know this, because I’ve suffered a few broken windows in my own life.

On more than one occasion I have been told by people that I am one of the strongest people they know. Let me tell you something. Strong people don’t just happen. They are built from the circumstances around them.

My strength is both found and destroyed in the loneliness and isolation I often feel from my radical vision of love and connection not being met. I would venture to guess that on occasion I feel just as dehumanized and devalued as the homeless man sitting outside of Trader Joe’s. The difference is that theoretically I “have it made.” I’m completely independent, I’m paying my bills, I have a vehicle and a job and a great apartment and money to spend on hobbies and outings. I grew up in a white middle class family and have never known struggle in the way many of us would define it. While I experience broken windows, I guess because I have material security and basic needs met, it is easier for me to cope. I would never lash out against society, and I hope I never hurt others in the way that I have felt hurt. However, because of my capacity to feel so lonely and hurt, I can absolutely empathize with the hurt people who hurt people.

Without the depths of the lows I have felt, I would not possess a capacity for the potential of the heights I strive for. Science doesn’t make sense to me in an expressly scientific context. But Newton’s Third Law, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? That makes so much sense when you apply it to hurt and love. Apply Newton’s Third Law to life and what you find is that the most broken people are the ones with the most potential to love. Yet we never give them that chance because we are too busy keeping them down with the ways we ignore them and marginalize them. And, I would conjecture that it is just as dangerous to OURSELVES to deny love to those who need it most, as it is dangerous for those who are being denied.

So I’m vowing to stop. I’m vowing to acknowledge that often the people who cause us the most hurt are the ones who need the most love back. And that as painful as it is to open yourself up to the rejection that comes from loving them, there is no other way to live. I am vowing to approach each interaction with the intention of building rather than breaking – something I vow time and time again and always need to be better at. I’m vowing to be the kindness that comes along and sweeps up the broken glass from the windows of others who have had their hearts shattered by a world that doesn’t offer them the compassion and attention and affection they need. I’m vowing to use my strength built out of my brokenness to inspire others to raise themselves up and help repair the glass of others. I am vowing not to ignore a single human life or possibility for interaction. And I’m extending an invitation for you to join me. Please join me.

There’s two more points that I couldn’t get to fit in anywhere here without going off on majorly unrelated tangents, which I’ve already done enough of. But I will just briefly highlight them for you to consider yourself:

  1. If you operate on a religious basis, the model I am striving for in terms of loving others and deliberately avoiding creation of broken windows, even when it is hurtful and not always easy? That example comes DIRECT FROM JESUS. We are always shattering our own windows and the windows of others with the transgressions we make, and we are LOVED ANYWAY, and we are called to do this as well.
  2. If you are skeptical of how much I’ve emphasized the need for connection, community and compassion, and all of my long winded analogies do not make sense to you, just look at the way we prioritize social connection via our smart phones. If the way we perk up at a notification does not equate to a cry for more connection, albeit in an entirely misplaced and devastating way, I don’t know what does.

7.12.2014: Seagull Destruction: My Weekly Highlight

Since my blog is often all serious and thoughtful, I decided it was time for a little nonsensical light-heartedness, which is why I am bringing you the tale of the highlight of my week: DECREASING THE SEAGULL POPULATION BY ONE.

First, a disclaimer. My killer instinct is totally unintentional, always. Whether it is seagulls, plants, wine glasses, glimmers of romance, keyboards, sunglasses – it seems I am always killing something in destruction that is purely accidental, not premeditated. So, before you go accusing me of gull-slaughter, just know this.

However, there is probable cause here I guess because it is not really a secret that I think seagulls are pretty much the stupidest birds in existence. The biggest lie Disney ever told was the story of the Little Mermaid. Like, have you ever really stopped to consider how messed up this movie is? Let me break it down: the REDHEAD

  • Must decide between having her SOUL and her true LOVE as if they are mutually exclusive (it goes without saying that soullessness is already a sensitive subject for redheads – low blow, Walt)
  • Battles the evil underwater SNAKE lady, and in the animal kingdom snakes are far creepier than seagulls, particularly underwater kinds
  • Lives underwater herself, with her legs glued together
  • IS BFFS WITH A SEAGULL
  • Endures being mute for a period of time
  • Leaves behind her people in the end

Meanwhile, blonde Disney bitches are all twirling around in mansions and castles in their fancy dresses, being gifted with shoes by Prince Charming, and living happily ever after.

I’d digress to address all of the points, so let’s stick to the main one.

Do not believe Disney. Seagulls and redheads are not friends.

A few reasons why I hate seagulls:

  • Seagulls are totally greedy and cruel creatures. One time at Ellis Island I witnessed this cute little boy who was so excited to eat a hot dog BUT NOPE a seagull swooped out of nowhere, snatched the hot dog right out of the bun, and literally swallowed it whole.
  • Seagulls are shit machines (I mean, I guess I would be too if I went around swallowing hot dogs whole). When I was late to AP English like every day of my life in high school I would get stuck with the one parking spot nobody wanted – under the lamp posts where seagulls would amuse themselves by perching and shitting ALL DAY all over my car.
  • Seagulls have really creepy eyes. Do you even blink, bro?
  • Seagulls are not on the endangered species list but tigers are. That’s some bullshit.
  • Seagulls squawk in the most obnoxious way at the most loudest decibels in the most inopportune settings. Like usually right outside your bedroom window when you are trying to sleep in on a Saturday morning.

You know “A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran” ? DUH. Because “I ran, I ran so far away” is the best advice when it comes to encountering a flock of seagulls.

So now with all of this out on the table comes my confession. When traveling the 91 freeway at approximately 80 MPH this week, and out of nowhere a rogue seagull face-planted into my car, I was not even sad about it for a second.

It was more like, #BYESCUTTLE. #SORRYNOTSORRY. If you are stupid enough to hurl yourself into a metal mass traveling at high speeds, then you deserve what is coming to you (especially because it was probably coming to shit machine all over my car in the first place). If I have to contribute roadkill to the world, I really hope it is always seagulls. You may say vehicular homicide; I just call it a favor to the world. Potato, potato.

Redheads: 1; Seagulls: 0; Disney: 0. #AvengingAriel

In other news, the runners up for my weekly highlight:

  1. Extremely invigorating happy hour discussions that were a result of total spontaneousness.
  2. Led one of our sites at work to its highest Google Ranking yet with one of my articles. Tryin’ to be an SEO PRO, y’know?
  3. Caught a free set by Cults at the Santa Monica Pier. The most it has sounded and felt like summer yet!