CFDS Episode 007: Licking Stamps for Scientologists

Picture of me in Licking Stamps for Scientologists

How you can end up licking stamps for Scientologists, pumpkin heads (I kid you not), and why you might want to feed pumpkin to the men in your life.

What you will learn

  • how you can change your feelings about a scary event in your past
  • why you might want to feed pumpkin to the men in your life

At the end of this episode I’ll share with you three things that you probably don’t know about pumpkin, including why you might want to feed some to the men in your life. Oh and the story also features a brief appearance of three pumpkin heads.

On with the story

Living in Paris, France

This story takes place in Paris, France, where I discovered in my twenties that there are all kinds of weird and wonderful (sometimes not so wonderful) ways to make money.

If you’ve listened to my previous episodes, you’ll know that for a while I was living with a kind of crazy French guy (whom I call Dave) who used hypnosis to teach people English (more about that in Episode 1). Unfortunately for us both, Dave wound up getting totally sucked into the world of Scientologists. This is how one day I found myself licking stamps for them and getting more than a glimpse into their inner world, which had some good things about it but also some pretty creepy things. It’s also how I came to see the pumpkin heads, which turned out to be a very good thing.

But first I need to start by telling you how Dave and I got involved with the Scientologists in the first place.

My first encounter with Scientologists

Dave and I were walking along the Paris streets at night – as you do because it’s just so beautiful – and we saw this poster outside a beautiful building that advertised a talk given by the Scientologists on past lives. The talk was happening in like 10 minutes, so we thought, “Great! Perfect timing!” Plus it was a free talk, so we figured we had nothing to lose.

In our defence, we didn’t know anything about Scientologists at that time. Dave wound up losing his apartment which he’d bought himself as well as his health, but that’s another story.

We attended the talk, and while the content was pretty interesting, it basically turned out to be a big pitch to sign up for one of their courses. The courses were pretty expensive, but they said that you could attend the courses for free in exchange for volunteering. So Dave and I were curious and we thought, “Why not?”

How to get free food

You also could get free food if you helped them with some extra stuff, which is where the licking stamps comes in. I was desperate for an income at that time, and I figured that if licking stamps for Scientologists for a couple of hours was what it took to at least get food, I’d do that.

It was pretty easy work. I was basically in a basement office with this other girl, and she stuffed envelopes while I licked stamps. Then they’d feed me and I’d go back home. That part was easy.

As for the pumpkin heads, well that part’s coming up now.

Getting ‘clear’

So in exchange for our volunteering, we not only got some free courses, but we also got a free auditing session with a trainer. An auditing session at that time was a one-on-one session, so a bit like a therapy session, where the goal is to help you achieve a state of mind that the Scientologists call ‘clear’.

They told us that being ‘clear’ means that you’re free from irrational fears, phobias, insecurities and that kind of thing. Sounds good, right? Who wouldn’t want to be free of those things? I was totally willing to give it a go because I thought it would be really interesting.

And I was right. It was extremely interesting. While a lot of Scientology is just plain scary – and I’ll share why in the next episode – some of their principles are actually useful. The key word here though is ‘some’. Not all. Definitely not.

My auditing session

For my auditing session, I went into a small room with what looked like a long dentist’s chair with squishy cushions. The auditor – I have no idea what his name was, so I’ll call him Matt – told me to lay back, relax and close my eyes.

He then asked me to think of a time when something happened to me that I found either scary, stressful or otherwise unpleasant. And that was easy because this all took place just a few weeks after my run-in with three teenage gangsters on a train (which I talk about in Episode 6).

Tell me a story…

Next Matt asked me to tell him the story of what happened, so I did. I told him everything, starting from when they got on the train, then everything that happened with the gun (which I won’t go through again here as that’s in Episode 6), and finishing with them leaving the train.

Once I’d told the story, I was expecting Matt to ask me questions, or make a comment or something. What I didn’t expect was him to say rather blankly, “Tell me again”. I was like “The whole thing? Again?” He was like “Yes, again”.

So I did. I told the whole story again…and again…and again. I must have told that story about ten times, and after each time I was thinking ‘surely this is enough, he must be getting bored by now’ but he would just keep saying “Again”.

Part of me was thinking “Damn, I could be doing this at home with a couple of girlfriends or something, not much therapy or change going on here”. But I complied and repeated the story from the exact same place and ending at the exact same point.

From ‘fear gear’ to ‘neutral’

Suddenly on the 11th telling or so, I just burst out laughing. What I saw was just so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing. So Matt asks, “What’s so funny?” And I told him that the three guys came into the train and each of them had a huge pumpkin for a head. I mean, you had to be there to find that funny I think, but for me it was hilarious.

And in that moment I understood the power of this particular technique: the negativity around the experience was completely gone. It really did feel cleared out. Even when I talk about it now, it’s like it doesn’t have any emotional impact on me, it feels neutral. Neither positive nor negative. It’s very weird.

How useful is it to feel neutral, really?

Now before you think I’m going to start singing the praises of Scientology, let me just say that for this particular experience, feeling neutral about it I think is a good thing. But I wouldn’t want to feel neutral about everything difficult that ever happened to me.

I don’t know what you think and I’d quite like to know so feel free to pop your thoughts in the comments.

For my part, I’d rather feel healed or integrated than neutral.

This was at the very beginning of my experience with the Scientologists, but a few short weeks later I was running out of there totally freaked out. I couldn’t wait to put lots of distance between me and them – and I’ll share why in the next episode.

On to the pumpkin goodies

For now though, I’d like to share with you three things that you may not know about pumpkin, including why it could be an important food for men.

Benefits of pumpkin

First, did you know that you don’t have to cook pumpkin? You can actually eat it raw, and I’ll say more about that in a moment.

Second, pumpkin is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which gives it its orange color and converts into Vitamin A once we eat it. This is important because foods rich in beta-carotene are thought to help delay aging, fight cancer and prevent degenerative damage to the eyes which occurs as we get older. So pretty powerful stuff. I’ll link to an article that goes into all of these benefits in more detail. It also has links to in-depth scientific studies, just so you can see that I’m not making this up.

By the way, the article that I’ll link to mentions that pumpkin and other beta-carotene-rich foods can be particularly effective against prostate cancer. So ladies, make sure the men in your life are getting some pumpkin in their diet, OK?

And third, pumpkin is actually a great food if you’re trying to slim down or not overeat. It has a lot of fiber for very little calories compared to other foods. You can make it into bread, cookies, crumbles and all kinds of delicious food.

Some ideas for eating pumpkin

Now, how do you eat pumpkin? Well, as I said, you can eat it raw. But whether you decide to cook it or not, you definitely have to peel it. The easiest way is to cut round the top of the pumpkin as if you were going to carve it, take the top out, and then scrape out the seeds and the fleshy fibrous bits.

By the way, don’t throw away the seeds. You can wash them and then dry them out and eat them. Some people toss them in oil and salt and bake them, but I just pop mine in a dehydrator and dry them out that way.

As for your pumpkin, once you’ve removed the seeds and the stringy bits, you cut it in half and then into quarters, and peel each quarter with a strong knife. You’ll be left with the flesh, which you can roughly chop and put right into your food processor or blender to make a smoothie or puree or whatever.

I’ve got a recipe for Pumpkin Mousse on my blog which I’ll link to in the show notes if you’d like to give it a try. It takes 5 minutes and is delicious.

So if you run into anyone with a pumpkin, whether it’s on their head or in their shopping cart, at least you’ll know what to do with it.

And if you’d like other recipe ideas for all kinds of fruit and veg, I’ve got lots in my 5-Minute recipe ebooks that I’ll link to as well.

Have YOU got a story to share?

If you’ve got a crazy, true story to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Got a question, or a comment?

Got a question, or a comment? Pop a note below in the comments, that would be awesome. You can also subscribe to the podcast to listen ‘on the go’ in iTunes.

I hope you have an amazing day. Thank you so much for being here with me to share in my Clean Food, Dirty Stories. Bye for now!


Pumpkin Mousse recipe:

Article on benefits of pumpkin with links to scientific studies:

5-Minute recipe ebooks:

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