A Nature for Health and Happiness

Millions of people have been sending their thoughts out into the world about Robin Williams’ recent death, and so, I have to chime in here, too:

How can anyone find happy thoughts

when the funniest man on Earth cannot find enough happy thoughts to stay alive?

Because, depression can take anyone, just like cancer, diabetes or a bad accident.

Gratitude. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Just to make it clear, I, like billions of others, was a huge Robin Williams fan. He was entirely and absolutely awesome and I am so very grateful for his existence. I am also very grateful for his strong fight against depression that he must have kept going for so many years.

I want to talk a bit about the media coverage and the way some said he died:

The term “committed suicide” is very archaic and intimates a crime. “Killed by/ died from/ succumbed to suicide/depression” should be used now instead.

However, I prefer “died from depression”, as it takes away the word suicide, which means “to kill oneself” or “the act of intentionally causing one’s own death”. With severe depression, I think the Depression, the Disease, is causing the death, not the person. The person IS NOT the disease, the person HAS the disease.

I send out my warmest thoughts, hugs and condolences to all families and friends of people who have died from depression. It is a wretched illness.

And to those who are fighting depression right now, I have some words:

Keep fighting, patiently try to wait to see each tomorrow and never give up… because, eventually, (and I speak from extensive personal experience), it can get better.

Remember to Look Up! Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

I have been very close to the devastating effects of depression (alongside other concurrent medical conditions) my whole life. I count myself as a lucky survivor. Without divulging the messy details of my own experience with this disease, (I might still want some fresh information about my life to use in my future memoirs) I can honestly say, I truly know how bad it can get, and I am also living proof it can get better… with time.

I am lucky to say I am Not the fourth person in my family to die from depression. And I promise I never will be, because I have healed somewhat and found effective weapons to use against depression, every day.

My weapons against my family’s genetic predisposition to depression are as follows:

  • Finding purpose and meaning to my existence and working for it like a mission,
  • Speaking, feeling and exhibiting daily gratitude for the existence of so many wonderful people (and dogs) in my life and the things they do,
  • A daily routine of healthy habits such as: a healthy diet, proper hygiene, exercise, keeping a clean home, regular naps, stretching sessions or “yoga”, meditative self-hypnosis, positive self-talk and quite importantly, “work before play” -procrastination of any chores, when one is physically capable of them, is a recipe for negative feelings in the future and often a provocation of feelings of depression.
  • Having family, pets, house-plants and gardens: surrounding yourself with living organisms that will not survive without your dutiful care is a great incentive to get up each day!
  • Fighting for/supporting/learning about the preservation of our environment, worldwide health and earth’s natural wonders – concentrating on things that really matter both on small and large scales.
  • Surrounding myself by nature and revering it as much as possible: hearing bird-songs and insects, listening to tree-leaves rustling, watching flowers blossom and whither, regarding sunrises and sunsets, hugging trees, spotting the moon and constellations on clear nights… all these are crucial for me to nurture my inner happiness.
  • Getting out in the sun: sunlight therapy is a must!
  • Physically creating anything that has a lasting, positive effect and impact is also crucial: laying down stone pathways, planting long-lasting herb and flower gardens, mowing a group of winding trails through a wild field of young saplings and tall grass, photography, drawing, painting, sculpting and writing… creating anything that can potentially last for decades or more, can sometimes be as therapeutic as medicines.
  • Concentrating on future dates, that may or may not have significant meanings to you: for instance, I once focused on surviving until 1999, then I focused on surviving until 2005, then it was 2012, now it is 2022…

Field Trails. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Entrance to the Kitchen Garden. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

The kitchen Garden was a long thought-out project for us that took years to finally get around to doing. We were working so hard on research and development of the Okapi Fan Control Systems, that landscaping around our home became low on the priority list.

However, this year, we found the time and energy and the results were fantastic! The whole area of the kitchen garden used to be just overgrown and unused, (except sometimes as a naughty-dog toilet!). I dug up the 6 inch deep sod, turned the soil, laid out where the paths and planting areas should be. We gathered the river-stones from my parent’s riverside farmland, Julian laid the gravel around them (raked up from an abandoned portion of our old driveway) and he inset the wood-stumps.

I like to sit in the middle of our new garden and think about the years that led up to this accomplishment.

Kitchen Garden's First Year. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Most of the perennials we grew from seed or transplant this year. The mint patch and chives are old transplants from a friend’s garden. They took off this year after some serious weeding and care. I have some mint harvesting and preservation to do! The sage, thyme, oregano and basil started indoors from seed, and now they have already filled out their plots. (I use them every day in my morning eggs!) I then planted: carrots, rainbow chard, lettuce, spinach, kale, yellow beans and bell-peppers from seed. From the local greenhouse nursery we got the seedling cabbage and tomato plants. I also made a border around the outside of the kitchen garden and planted a wild-flower mixture of seeds.

Gardening is good for the soul. It gives purpose, on top of the many purposes we already have in life. Gardens give you something to look at and check on every day, and if you look closely enough, you really do see them growing. I find this extremely rewarding and reviving: much better than TV.

Growing up on a farm, we had giant gardens every year. Now that I finally have my own, it feels like one of my life’s top accomplishments.

And, I am excited to expand and add more garden plots next year!

That very statement above is proof recovery from severe depression is possible. It does take time, and it is possible!

Blue Flowers are Special. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc

Three very special and blue family-members: my grandfather, his son (my uncle) and my cousin all died from depression.

I hope to never see another family member succumb to this disease. But like cancer, sometimes, despite the healthiest of lifestyles and the best treatments available, the patient still doesn’t survive depression.

And it’s never their fault.

We also do not fully understand the causes of depression, but we know for certain they have a huge basis in changes that occur in the chemical and structural make-up of the brain and body. There are many quite valid and supported theories that depression can be caused by short-term and long term infections, malnutrition, exposure to toxins, epigenetic changes resulting from short-term and long-term traumas both internal and environmental, inherited genetics, hormonal imbalances, many concurrent diseases and other yet-to-be fully understood causes of physical changes that affect mood, cognition, behavior, sensations…. Depression is much more than just a “mental-health” condition.

In the words of my grandfather, a practicing medical doctor, whom I never had the chance to meet:

“In the future, we will discover that behind many mental disorders are actual physical causes, that will someday be treatable.” – 1970’s, Thomas C. Donald, M.D., who died from depression.

So, never give up! The breakthroughs over the past many decades we have already made in many forms of treatment have been incredible! Every year we discover new and clever ways of helping those in need discover how they can become a healed and revived person.

If you are feeling blue, consider trying to live green.

Take a few simple steps toward this nice color. You may find it helps, just a little.

Have You Found Your Purpose? Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

There are a million ways to get greener.  It can be as simple as shopping consciously, using reusable bags, less plastic, creating less waste, using less electricity or heating fuels, driving less, buying local produce or growing your own, going for hikes and appreciating nature, or helping educate others about unique ways of getting more grounded, more in touch with the earth beneath our feet.

Live as is there is a tomorrow...because there is a tomorrow. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Green living certainly isn’t a cure for severe depression,

but is can definitely nurture a nature for health and happiness.

Live Green, Live Well. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

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Williams’ Beach and Searching for the Perfect Paint

I grew up on a farm near a river.

Our cows grazed on our hillside pastures, producing beef calves every spring.

We spent the hot summers helping with the hay harvest and cooling off in the river.

The part of the river that runs through our land is precious, and we named it Williams’ Beach.

 Williams' Beach, Salt Springs, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Since I was very young, I did rock paintings here.

I had a secret cache of my best painting stones hidden in a hole in the side of the riverbank, every summer.

 

In the riverbed are millions of stones. Many are granite, hard and speckled. There are fools-gold here and there, quartz and other strange mineral stones: some with multiple cubic indentations left from crystals that have dissolved or eroded away. Those always fascinated me as a kid. They looked like fossil molds, which I would sometimes find from ancient scallop-like shellfish. The idea of some ancient cube-shaped sea-creature never left my mind.

I am not a geology expert at all, but amongst all these very large, dense and hard stones are many smaller, lighter and softer stones, which I presume to be varieties of sedimentary rock: compressed compositions of ancient sediments. These are the stones that yield the colored paints.

So there went my little kid self, alone (except for my dog and following barn-cats), happy and free, collecting colored stones: white, cream, yellow, blue, green, purple, red, orange… I would draw, write, graffiti with them all over the harder, flat, large stones. Often, in deeper pools elsewhere along the river, my friends and I would draw and write on rock walls deep underwater, wearing goggles and holding our breath. It was a fun way to keep busy and stay cool for hours on end.

However, the most fun came with vigorous, repeated scrapings of a soft colored stone against a hard, rough “palette stone”. This had to be done at the riverside, because to make the paint, the stone needed to be dipped into the water frequently between rubbings. Slowly, I formed paste. This paste, the powdered sedimentary rock mixed with water, was my own, natural rock paint.

River rock paints palette and painting stones. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

Sometimes I would just paint my legs and arms or face. Other times I made cute rock-cards for my mum and dad: a picture and some simple words smeared on a flat stone. My mother kept some of the rock-cards many years later. She may still have them somewhere, faded and hidden away.

The neat part about it all was watching the rich colors of the wet paints change as they dried to lighter colors. It was sad, yet satisfying to watch the intensity of the color change to paler hue. Often surprising was the brightness of it, as compared to the look of the original painting stone itself. When applied in thick coats some varieties of the paints would crack and crumble off the skin. Others seems to adhere more evenly. They all had an earthy scent, and if applied to the lips, like lipstick, I sometimes tasted them: slightly salty, bitter, tangy and sweet.

Different colored stones produced different properties of paint: different scents, tastes and textures.

There is so much science in such an innocent and simple pastime.

 


 

Over this past year I have written to almost 30 different companies, trying to find a specially black-coated or painted aluminum mesh screen that does not smell or off-gas at the high temperatures.

We have plans to build our next set of solar air heaters using this special temperature-resistant black screen as the solar-heated element within the solar collector box. The mesh aluminum screens work at least 10% better at producing and transferring heat to the passing air than other solar collector designs, such as down-spout, pop-can or flat panel designs. This increase in heat-transfer efficiency and efficacy occurs because of the greatly increased surface area for the air-to-be-heated to travel by, through and around the hot screen’s woven wires versus just passing by a single, smooth flat hot surface. We know this because we have tested the designs against each other, and the basic science predicts our results, also.

Solar AIr Heater Screen Sample Testing. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

 

Standard insect screens do work well, but they will off-gas for a few weeks to months (depending on the type/brand) before they stop smelling. We know this from experience. I do not like this smell and find it unpleasant on the lungs.

I also refuse to sleep in a room that has recently been painted until the walls have completely cured. Even with the best of modern paints, claiming very low VOC emissions, this can sometimes take up to a month!

I have a sensitive nose and lungs. I really like my fresh air.

So I have been researching high-heat metal coatings and paints, contacting big paint companies, screen manufacturing companies, emailing and talking with technicians and presidents of these companies throughout North America and China.

I have stumbled over a few false leads, received many replies of “no such product is available” and tested samples that smelled even at room temperature, so of course they failed the heat-tests.

Recently, I made progress, however, and hope to have found the company that can provide the specialized coating just perfect for our needs. After further testings and research and soon we hope to be making a large order of this specialty black-coated aluminum screen that has no odor and is designed for high heat use.

Once we build a few large heaters with it and test them out on our own home, we plan to be able to provide this highly specialized solar-heater screen material to the public.


Okapi Fan Control Systems Warrior. Rock Paints. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

After about 8 months of research, I think I have come very close to finding this ideal black coating for our solar heater element, and at the same time, I find myself sitting by the riverside contemplating natural paints. So much science goes into paints and colored coatings.

I never mixed in a fixative with my rock paints, so they would wipe or wash away very easily. Now I am thinking it may be time for me to start learning about natural fixatives and how to truly make my own rock paint for artistic purposes.

Yet, the whole point of the rock painting of my youth was its impermanence and that it had to be done by the riverside. The process and simply being by the river, with the bugs,  rushing water, wind in the trees, bird and pets was as important as the end result of any painting. The idea of bringing painting stones and palette rocks back to my house and mixing up my own paint with egg yolk and water from the tap in my kitchen seems so very unnatural. Perhaps I will have to bring my fixative ingredients to the riverside if I wish to strive for some permanence of imagery.

 

Going back to the river, to Williams’ Beach, after being away from it for too many years,

was quite a spiritual reunion.

I quickly found myself with striped arms and legs, markings on my belly, chest and face.

I had found my old self again.

 Striped markings from rock painting. Okapi Warrior. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.

We visited Williams’ Beach again, yesterday.

Very quickly, my step-daughter had striped legs and arms, markings on her chest and face. She looked like a tiger, or perhaps more appropriately, a young, striped Okapi. She danced from stone to stone in the setting sun, wild and free, singing and smiling.

She didn’t want to leave.

Perhaps, because down by the river, surrounded by those ancient stones and fresh water,

it always feels like home.

River Dog, Ash never leaves the water. Greenhill EnviroTechnologies Inc.