Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Day in the Life

A year ago this week, I made the commitment to become a raw vegan.  Although I had only become vegan three months prior and still stumbling my way through food selections,  it wasn't a dramatic decision.  In fact, the choice to become raw just happened naturally.    I had been invited to participate in my first juice fast.  In preparation, my coach suggested that we eat raw the week leading up to Juice Day 1 to ease our way into the fast to avoid a jolting  "shock" to our systems.  Despite eating raw, as you'll recall, my first attempt did not go over so well (Rescuing Failure).   Keeping that episode in mind with  respect to the realization that that my body had begun to purge itself of toxins, the last thing I needed to do was consume cooked foods.  I began to eat raw and starting researching how to "eat raw properly".   I liked the way I felt after eating raw.  It was a noticeable difference.  I had energy, stamina, and a feeling of euphoria.  I did not experience the lethargy that accompanied a cooked meal.  I suddenly could practice yoga or even workout in the evenings if I were inclined to.  My second fast (Breaking Fast) was a success, most likely due to the fact that I had practically one full month of eating at least 75% raw.   What I discovered is that:

Better preparation leads to better results.

Wow.  All of that seemed so long ago.  Today, I am constantly asked what I eat in a day or how can I "be full after eating raw all day"?   It is not difficult to eat raw.  Yes, there is a gourmet raw version of  practically every cooked dish and it is fun to be creative.  However, keeping it simple is the easiest way to eat and maintain a raw diet from day to day.  I save the fancy raw meals for fancy times the same as anyone consuming cooked foods treat "going out" to eat.  A common mistake when transitioning is consuming high fat raw meals.  They are tasty and mimic cooked counterparts.  By keeping it simple, you can eat low fat raw with ease. Keeping it simple was the very first lesson I learned when I first converted, (What a Bargain), remembering to KISS my foods (Keeping It Short and Simple). Show your love as you give yourself a kiss with each meal.   You can, in fact, go about your tasks:

Kissing Yourself All Day

To demonstrate how easy it is, here is my picture diary of a typical, random day.  It is my KISS to you:

Early Morning 
Water                   Herbal Tea                           Water  
6am - I always start the day with a glass of water, keeping a full glass ready by my night stand. Meditation and  yoga followed by a cup of herbal tea.  Usually drink two glasses of water prior to daily 5k run. The morning is completed with weight training and a glass of water.

Breakfast to Mid Morning
Bananas & Pears        Water                        Apples              

Breakfast is either fruit, a fruit/vegetable smoothy, or a green juice followed by a glass of water.  Mid-morning snack is a mono-meal of fruit.

Lunch to Mid-Day
                   Salad                           Water          Red Bell Peppers
1pm -Lunch through mid-day is when I eat the largest meal, usually foods which are hard to digest or take longer than fruit to process. This is also when I will consume the majority of fat intake for the day. A glass of water is typical after lunch.
 The perfect mid-day snack is a mono-meal of a fruit or vegetable.

Herbal Tea                        Bananas                       Water
Afternoon is the beginning of "winding down".  A late day cup of herbal tea is wonderful.  A mono meal of fruit usually will hold me over until dinner followed by a glass of water.

Dinner to End of Day
Squash noodles/sauce         Tangerines        Herbal Tea
5pm - Dinner consists of a light vegetable meal.  Later, around 7pm, a mono meal of fruit.  The day completes with a quiet evening asana and a cup of soothing herbal tea. The evening ends by pouring a glass of water to sit, on the nightstand,
                                                                                 ready for the next morning's wake. 

Getting Started
As you can see, it isn't an arduous, formidable task. Some days, I eat fruit for every meal.  Other days, I drink thick juices or soups made from extracted fruits and vegetables.  It's up to you. The more simple you make it, the easier it is. To get started, I suggest to begin by substituting foods, one meal at a time.  Breakfast is probably the best meal to begin with.  After you have replaced a meal successfully and repetitively for at least one week or more, move on to substitute all mini-meals or snacks before you continue with the next major meal replacement until you feel comfortable.  To be honest, I did not do it this way.  I took the plunge and dove in head first, replacing 75% of all meals within the first week and moving to 95% within the first month.  Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Do what is best for you. Pick the fruits and vegetables you enjoy to get started.  If you eat something you like eating, it will be all the more easier to stick with it.
  2. If you fall off the wagon, dust off and jump back on.  There isn't going to be a test at the end of the day.
  3. As always, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Not only is water "brain food", it is crucial to the digestion and will help elimination process through your body consistently and in a more efficient manner.   
  4. Eat frequently.  I eat an average of every 2 hours in a 12 hour span of time.  When you add that up, that is quite a considerable amount of food.  I am satiated and never "feel" hungry.  If hunger pangs hit you, a piece of fruit will always answer the call.   
  5. Phone a friend.  Find a coach or someone who is an established raw vegan who will be happy to aid,  guide you, or provide step by step resource materials as you need it.
  6. Discover new ways to prepare and eat foods previously cooked.  Explore! Throw away old fears - trying a new exotic fruit or vegetable you never had before.   
Enjoy yourself, have fun "uncooking" and seal it with a kiss.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Being Vegan

I celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends.  It is a traditional American holiday filled with foods that I no longer eat that no longer have the same focus for me.  In the past, it meant gorging on unhealthy foods that made you feel lethargic afterwards and to be grateful to eat it among family and friends.  It was something I thought (along with millions of others) an event that actually seemed quite fun.  As I evolve, I realize that the meaning of this holiday has changed.  Now...for me... it is no longer fun to eat something that will not help in the grand scale of things.  Now...for be grateful is something that needs to be addressed per diem, not just on the last Thursday in November.  Now...for is a responsibility to eat kindly every is just part of being vegan.

First Raw Thanksgiving

1st Raw Thanksgiving
Marking the milestone as one year Raw approaches
Everyone around me had the traditional  animal by-product based meal.  It was something I did not wish to partake in.  As their meal was prepared, I worked, excitedly, to create my own raw meal.  My first raw meal at a table filled with just the opposite in both palate and guests.  As I put my dishes together, I rejoiced that I did not have to prepare myself mentally to be defensive for I was fortunate to be in the midst of those I love and who love me.   There was no judgment in the room.  The focus was on the ambiance and spending time together.  Afterwards, a wonderful thing happened.  One of the guests came up to me and began to ask questions regarding how to get started on a vegan path of their own.  Exuberant  and happy to assist,  I immediately gave him taste samples.  He was surprised at how "tasty" they were and that the food was "uncooked".  I gave him a bag of raw goodies to take home with a heart-felt promise to help him transition.  I am proud of the decision he has made for his health and quality of life.  My meal appealed to him and sparked inspiration.  For this, I am thankful.  I had carefully thought out the meal, wishing for an opportunity to speak about live foods, not realizing that this small wish would come true before the night ended.  This meal was special for me, it symbolized my gratitude as I look forward to next month in which I will celebrate, marking one year since converting to raw, live foods.  I was happy to express how my life has changed, and overjoyed to share my appreciation:

Yellow Squash Noodles with Cashew Cheese Sauce
Grate squash with a noodle maker or spiral vegetable slicer
Soak 2 cups raw cashews for 4 hrs, drain, puree in blender.  Add garlic and lemon juice to taste
Garnish with slithers of red pepper

Mushrooms Stuffed with Chopped Kale and Tomatoes
Core Mushrooms, stuff with chopped kale and diced tomatoes

Savory Corn Cakes
    Adapted from the recipe by Michael Lloyd-Billington, 
Yogi, raw chef, fitness instructor, and owner of Alternative Personal Training: 

                                4 c. sweet corn
                                1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
                                6 shittake mushrooms, finely chopped
                                2 shallots, finely minded
                                Juice of 1 lemon
                                1 t powdered rosemary * (adapted - substituted with sage; taste preference)
                                2 c. raw cashews, processed to light meal * (adapted -  I chopped cashews and added to mixture)
                                1 T olive oil * (adapted - omitted from my version)
                                Cracked black pepper & salt to taste * (adapted - omitted from my version)

Whisk lemon juice, oil & seasoning.  Pulse corn very, very lightly in food processor -- literally just 2 quick pulses--then fold in chopped ingredients & dressing.  Add just enough cashew meal to very lightly bind.  
Form into cakes & then very lightly dust with a little more meal.

Pureed Sweet Potatoes
Yes, you can eat raw sweet potatoes!

Banana Pudding
Puree 2 bananas, sprinkle with cinnamon

Wow.  It turned out to be a wonderful holiday.  It had changed yet stayed the same.  I enjoyed a wonderful meal with wonderful people.  As the day ended, one of the guests remarked that I looked different.  Hmm, I didn't think I looked different other than the obvious weight loss. As I thought about it though, I guess my look had changed, especially to those who haven't seen me in a while. Since my transition, my hair has grown, my nails are strong, my skin is clear, my smile is wide and my heart is happy - all because...I Am Vegan. I wondered...did I "look" vegan?

Faces of Vegan Project

What does being vegan look like? Lisa Viger,  photographer, vegan artist, chef, and author of the blog "Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!)"  who describes her work as "art : food : life" asked herself this very same thing.   She asked vegans to engage in her "Faces of Vegan Project" in which she set out to answer the question.  I, along with several friends, eagerly volunteered to participate and was honored to be included in the resulting video that was appropriately released on Thanksgiving Day:

What does being vegan look like? Vegans look like me and you, the man next door, the woman upstairs, the child playing in the yard outside.  There isn't a formula of what a vegan should look like as we all are walking through divergent points along our paths.  The passion though, is congruent - does this mean that vegans look "different" from those not vegan and the "same" as other vegans?  It's possible - perhaps that is what my guest sensed in me...the difference in my spirit and in the being of who I am now from that which I used to be.  I can not tell you what being vegan looks like. It is up to you to decide.  I can, however,  tell you what it being vegan feels like.   If these feelings flow from within the body and demonstrate themselves physically on outside, then I guess that what being vegan looks like is .....happy, beautiful, and free.  With that, as I reflected on the day, I wasn't far off tradition after all.  I had much to be grateful for - to Michael for sharing his recipe; to Lisa for putting together the video project; to the many people who have inspired and changed my life this past year; for enjoying a meal with family and friends; for the opportunity to rejoice in the prospect of helping someone transition; to being able to say openly, "I am proud, I am different, I am ... Vegan".

Yoga: Anjaneysana -
 Crescent or Low Lunge 

Anjaneysana, which strengthens balance, back, and legs, is practiced to stimulate the diaphragm and open the heart.  It's expansion and reach is also an expression of praise, abundance, joy and gratitude.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hearts and Souls

Last  week, I witnessed tremendous outreach from two individuals, each unbeknownst to the other, who, despite personal loss, sought to inspire, give and encourage, basking in a bright light of positiveness under circumstances that would have caused others to sulk in sorrow.  Although their happenings were different, each individual, chose not to ask for embrace, but to give it instead.  It is humbling and astonishing to see such courage and strength in action.  Prevalent in each is a quiet, peaceful patience and a generosity that comes from deep within...with a pure love from their hearts and souls.

A Cup of Soul Tea™

I wondered what enabled these two beings to act in the manner in which they did.  The answer came to me after I attended a yoga practice in honor of the launching of the e-book, "A Cup of Soul Tea".  The book is a personal evolutionary journey of "transformation from unfulfillment to fulfillment".   My friend, Jen McGown, the author and yogi,  led us in a mindful movement of Anahata, to honor and open our heart chakra.  The practice was intimate, quiet, solemn, focusing on self reflection and meditation.  Afterwards, in a dimmed room illuminated by soft candlelight, we shared in gratitude over a cup of herbal tea.  Although no one was required to, the five of us spoke in whispers.  The ambiance seemed to calm our souls and dictate a peacefulness.  How apropos.  Anahata symbolizes awareness of love, selflessness, and devotion.  The spiritual lesson of Anahata is forgiveness, unconditional love, letting go, and compassion.  When we suffer loss, our heart chakra is wounded and we take it personally.  I was taught that as you move through Anahata postures, it helps to silently recite "blessings, thankfulness, and love" as you forgive those who have caused you pain as well as those whom you have hurt.  This mindful movement opens, cleanses, and heals the heart.  The key to moving forward is loving, in spite of, without malice.  When you are able to do this, you have learned to open your heart.  It takes an incredible faith to love with selflessness - to give while in the midst of pain;  yet,  it is this very thing that fosters rejuvenation.

"Stay true to the song in your heart, while inspiring all those around to a life of abundant gratitude" - Jen McGown

Cha No Yu

In Japan, the tea ceremony, called Cha No Yu,  is a very reverent event.  It is conducted through self refinement with focus on harmony, purity, respect, and serenity.  It, like Jen's ceremony, it conducted with no more than five guests. The objective is to cleanse and clear the heart, creating patience which is the pathway to the soul .

"In your patience, possess ye your soul" - Luke 21:19

What I love about enjoying a cup of tea is the preparation.  To make tea properly takes time.  Time teaches intentional and respectful patience. The practice of Cha No Yu is a lengthy one. It requires patience.  Patience, according to it's definition, is:  to endure calmly when faced with difficulties.   Eighteenth century writer,  Bishop George Horne, states that "patience is the teacher of humility and forgiveness,  cherishes love, strengthens the spirit, subdues pride and extinguishes envy...patience is the preserver of peace".

A Lesson in Patience

Making tea properly, teaches this lesson. When we think of making tea, most of us think of a hot cup with aromatic tendrils wafting up into the air. It is a lovely thought.  To make any tea however, requires a calm, poised endurance.  This summer, I made sun tea.  I love the flavor and natural warmth of the tea from the hot summer sun.  It was a lesson in acceptance of time as I had to wait for the tea set and the flavor to become imbued by the fruit.  The hours it took to make the strong, flavorful tea was worth the wait.  My patience was rewarded by naturalness of the deep fruity taste.  This past week, my friend Chris, did just that.  He has a love that is so deep, so true and that it has filled his heart, overflowing to others with quiet equanimity.  When he experienced a heart-felt pain and injury to his ability to love, instead of closing up to languish in self pity and hurt, he stood still, wide open in the bright light of the sun...deciding to wait patiently for the natural warmth and the reward of a full harmonious flavor.  While he stands for that which he knows will someday return in one form or another, he shines intensely with positive energy, giving and helping others with words of inspiration, motivation, wisdom and even a little humor instead.  He does not know if or when his reward will come - he is not seeking it.  He is prepared to wait, without expectation, possessing clear heart and soul knowing that if it is for him, it shall be.  He exists with a calmness being insistent on not harboring any negativity or any anger at the source of his pain. He encourages all around him to follow his love from afar is better than not loving at all and to appreciate reception and fulfillment of the experience itself.   I have renamed him a "sweet angel" and am honored to receive his message and to be in his presence as a friend.

"I know it ain't easy giving up your heart"  
Adele, One and Only©2011


The lesson I learned this past week is that while it may seem difficult to give up your heart, you will achieve healing in time through acts of selflessness.  You will be strengthened.  We all have experienced deep loss, hurt, injury and pain. When we reflect upon it, we somehow fail to realize that we do not remain in the place where it occurred whether we've addressed it or not.  While we wait, time still moves and moves us with it.  No one stays in one place in exactly the same point.  We will move - how we move and in which direction we go depends on the strength of our souls, the openness of our hearts and the lessons learned during the quiet period we felt time slow down.  Growth is moving forward while you stand in your patience.  Through generosity, you will gain this openness and vitality. The soul is strengthened when the heart is selfless.  Wear your heart openly and share your soul freely.   It shall empower you.


Yoga: - The Color Green

Each chaka is represented by a color.  The Anahata chakra is represented by the color green.  The symbolism meaning of the color green is self control, renewal, soothing, and relaxation.

As we departed practice, dear Jen gave each of us a gratitude love token.  I have placed mine within a green cloth to remember the day...a little heart filled with a little tea... as a reminder to celebrate the openness of our hearts and the largeness of our souls.

Om Shanti.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Busting Myths...The Raw Way

For the past couple of weeks, I have been posting pictures, of friends who inspire me. Some for their wisdom, some for their commitment to health and fitness, raw veganism, or walk a peaceful yogic life.  I am grateful to these kind souls who so freely share their light and positive energy with me.  Recently, as I began to decide who I would post next, I suddenly stopped searching and posted a picture of myself.  I decided that day, that my inspiration would be ME.  Please do not think this is a vanity move.  It is far from it.  That day I posted self inspiration because it is important to continue to believe in who you are, as you are, where you are and what you represent.

"You will never succeed if you don't first believe in yourself"

As I rejoice in the euphoria of support from those on a similar walk, I still hear echos of the voices of those who are not.  It their voices which propel me to stand strong to believe and accept the inspiration that swells within me.

"Uneasy is the head that wears the crown" from Shakespeare's play Henry IV,  is a warning to take heed -  when you accept a greatness and enjoy all which comes with it, be aware and be responsible of the opposite which lurks as well.

Yin and Yang
Co-existence:  Yin and Yang 
Throughout this walk, many positive, wonderful experiences have showered my path.  You may ask why would I choose to dwell on anything not positive.  Very simple, while focused on forward movement, it isn't healthy to acknowledge it presence, however, you should recognize that which may harm you in order to reinforce and strengthen your stronghold against it.   In this instance, for every yin, there is a yang, every positive, a negative.  They co-exist.   Yin and Yang isn't always positive and negative.  Many times yin and yang are simply opposites.  They oft times need each other. For example, yin represents senses, yang the air.  You need both in which to enjoy a warm wind blowing across your face.  So, I choose to see these sometimes negative experiences as simply....opposite.

Constructive Criticism
The "opposite" experiences received come often in the form of "constructive criticism" and "concern".  Instead of feeling defensive, I have decided to welcome comments and advice from those with genuine health or nutritional education content whose intent is to improve the manner in which I ingest nutrients.  In this instance, it would be true constructive criticism as defined by Wikipedia:

"Constructive criticism aims to show that the intent or purpose of something is better served by an alternative approach. In this circumstance, the target of criticism is not necessarily deemed wrong, and its purpose is respected; rather, it is claimed that the same goal could be better achieved via a different route."

So, ok.  We agree to disagree or to at least respect one another.  I find however, that in most cases, the source of "advice" comes from a viewpoint contrary to healthy tips.  It is usually unwarranted linked to words like "obsession",  "anorexia", "compulsion".  Hmmm.  Each one of these words are associated with illness.  So, if I understand correctly, I am suffering from ailment or soon will be because I decided to work towards improving my health.  These comments overall, are almost accompanied with criticisms disguised as "facts" which I'll call "myths", for although they have some truth, they are presented as if they can not be achieved through a raw vegan diet.

Myth # 1 - You need some carbohydrates.  You need to eat bread, potato, pasta or starch in order to get proper carbohydrates.
A good carbohydrate
True: Our bodies need carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the source of energy and is found in all of our food.  The myth is thinking we need to get them from breads, pastas, or potatoes.

Myth Buster -Actually, the best sources of carbohydrates is fruit.  Yes, fruit.  Our bodies were designed to consume naturally sweet fruits. Sweet fruits also contain water and the combination satiates the body. Cooked starches likes breads and pastas are water deficient causing the body to retain water and bloat.  These types of carbohydrates are "refined" and are actually considered "bad" for you because they increase the glycemic index (blood sugar level). Excess blood sugars become stored as fat.   Naturally sweet fruits which contain "good" carbohydrates are full of fiber and actually lowers the glycemic index.

Myth # 2 - You need to eat some sort of protein with every meal. If you give up meat, then you need to eat beans and nuts regularly.  True:  Our bodies need protein.  The myth is how much we need and where we should obtain it.

Amino Acid/Protein-filled  Simple Salad
Myth Buster - First, it must be realized that protein is not needed for energy.  That's what carbohydrates are for.  Our nerves, tissues, and bones are made up of protein.  As we age or damage these crucial body components from poor diet, we need protein to repair and replace them. Protein also helps on the cellular  level because it produces the antibodies we need to fight disease and viruses.  The amount and source of protein needed is key.  Proteins are made up of amino acids.  It is actually the amino acid that our bodies need.  There are twenty three standard amino acids. Of that, eight are crucial or "essential" to cellular health. Many argue that plants and vegetables do not provide complete amino acid.  That is because in this instance one plant or vegetable does not provide all twenty three.  That is why it is essential to eat a variety of vegetables to get all of the amino acids. You can find overlap of the amino acids in amongst many vegetables.  For example, if you ate a simple salad of  tomato, cucumber, celery, kale or lettuce with an avocado dressing you would have eaten a sampling of the eight essential amino acids...and a burst of protein.  It is not necessary to eat all eight in one setting. Some fruits, vegetables and nuts such as tomatoes, bananas, or almonds contail all eight.  It is important not to overdo it.  Only 10% of your daily caloric intake should be protein.  Too much protein can harm your kidneys.

Myths # 3  - You shouldn't skip meals. Just drinking juice isn't healthy.
Power Packed Nutrient Filled Beet Juice
True:  You shouldn't skip meals.  This reference is to juice fasting/feasting.

Myth Buster - Just drinking juice if it is raw or cold pressed in conjunction with a cleansing fast is very healthy.  Juice fasting gives the digestion process a break.  Keep in mind that the juice isn't the same as the one on store shelves with additives or preseratives.  Juices in fasting should be made with proper food combinations for their nutritional, mineral, and vitamin content to ensure energy and vitality. Juice fasting also provides detoxification of the kidneys and liver, delivering fiber, mineral balance, cell regeneration, restoring clear skin, alkaline balance and immune system.  Juice fasting cleanses the body and restores health.  A proper juice fast provides nourishment, does not leave you hungry, it replaces a meal instead of skipping one. The purpose of juice fasting is to improve health...not destroy it.

Myth # 4 - You need a "complete" breakfast to start your day.
You shouldn't eat just one thing for breakfast (a reference to mono-eating)
A Complete Meal
True:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is key to starting off on the right track .

Myth Buster:  Eating one thing for breakfast is fine if you are mono-eating. The definition of "one-thing" is the crucial component here.  For example, if your one-thing for breakfast is eating 5 bananas, then it is perfectly normal to eat one thing.  In this instance, the criticizer sees just bananas without understanding how mono eating works. Mono eating gives the digestive process a break.  Digestion is one of the most labor intensive processes our bodies must perform.  Mono-eating allows the digestive system to focus solely on utilizing and breaking down one specific food.  Different foods breakdown differently in our bodies and requires different enzymes. When we combine foods, our digestion system must split resources to address each item.  Our bodies work harder to digest nuts than it would piece of soft fruit.  Eating them together does not allow the body full realization of the nutrients of each item.  Eating each one as a mono-meal provides full benefit of the nutrients and minerals of the food source.  If not mono-eating, keep it simple - eat "like" or similar foods in the same meal, foods with the same digestion time frames. Mono eating can be defined as one food for one meal or the same one food all day.  Food consumed in this manner also doesn't "stay" with you and moves through the intestinal track more quickly than combined meals.  Disclaimer: Of course, mono eating is only beneficial if it is with raw, fruit and vegetables.  It is detrimental if cooked foods are mono consumed.

So, for those yang to my yin...I thank you for your concern and I  hope this provides a little clarity so that we may all continue to evolve harmoniously.  Consider a few myths and the busting thereof.  If you see me, then feel and  flow with me as all yin need all yang.  We can ebb and flow together in unison. We can co-exist.

"The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves." ~ Pema Chodron

For those who eyes remain closed and shall never see or feel me, this too shall pass for I will continue to seek  inspiration and belief from within and from around, removing focus of accepting difficult times that do not to have to be received.

Yoga: Vaja Guru Mantra
Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum - the mantra for peace, healing, transformation, and protection.

Friday, September 30, 2011


 I recently participated in a Mindful Movement Yoga Retreat under the tutelage of my dear friend Jen.  The objective of the retreat was re-establishment of roots, grounding, and realization of self.  One component of this empowering experience that struck a deep somber chord within me was Affirmation.  I've briefly touched upon it before but I don't think I realized how important it really is.  Let's break it down - according to several dictionaries, Affirmation is :
  •  to declare as a fact
  • to make a declaration with solemn resolve
  • to maintain as true; to tell with confidence.....
        solemn - deeply earnest sobriety
        resolve - get, consume, receive, own, ingest

Thus, an affirmation is ownership of your path.  It is true acknowledgement of what, when, why, and how you are, it is declaration of who you are.

Self -Fulfilling Prophecy

We must recognize that affirmation is a serious matter.  We must remember to be careful to how we use our words for the things we say, we believe.  Things we believe, we affirm, even in jest.  How many times have you said or heard someone say, "Oh, this will be the death of me", "You make me sick", "For the life of me I can't...". Oh, I'm such a failure, idiot, klutz, fool, etc"?  We need to choose our words and thoughts wisely for what we think and say will surely become our truths, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care..." ~Buddha

In a previous post, I wrote about looking into self acceptance, about how your actions change when you realize you will not fail. Affirmation allows you to do anything you set out to do, to look into your mirror to speak your truth with confidence.  I realize now that is only a part of the equation.  The other, crucial piece is thinking.  What and how we think is just as important as what we say and do,  for our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions. We must therefore remove those seemingly innocent negative sayings from our thoughts.  For example, why should you be upset when you fail a tough exam when all you said while studying was "Oh, I'll never understand this"?  In this example, you have fulfilled your prophecy and managed to block the flow of positive energy.

Being Mindful

During the retreat, I began to focus on the title "Mindful Movement".  For me it meant small, intimate practice.  While this was true, I've come to the realization that it was also about thought processes and true connections.  Yogini Jen led us in an exercise of self love by giving us an elementary introduction of foot reflexology.  We learned about the different points of the feet and how each point corresponds to a particular organ within the body.  As we practiced techniques massaging the "soles" of our feet, we were learning to be mindful of them, the base of our rooting, the base of our "souls".  We meditated, flowing into affirmation with the focus shifting to being mindful and moving in our thoughts.  The asana and vegan lunch taught us to be mindful of our bodies. Thus, we practiced Yoga, uniting of body, mind, and soul.

As I returned home, I thought, what does is mean to be mindful in thought? It is different for each of us.  Although it's personal and germane to our individuality, regardless of our different acclimation, one thing rings true for each of us, to take heed to choose powerful, action words for they shall become our destiny.   In any high school or university writing course, you are penalized for writing passively.  Use of phrases from the verb pattern "to be" confuses the reader about the subject of the sentence. You are taught and rewarded when you use action words or are more specific.  Therefore, be specific in your affirmation. Do not be afraid to state exactly who you are and what you want.  Let the affirmation examples posted on this page be examples of the  beginning of the sentence you complete for yourself.  Think and affirm in the same manner with positive intention even if you are yet to accomplish a feat.   For example:

"I climb mountains"

Whether you've scaled Mt. Fuji or made it to the top of the small dirt hill in the backyard, is not the action the same once you take that first step, lifting your foot upon the soil?  The person in each instance started at the same point with the same objective.  Think about the statement, 
"Begin with the end in mind" 
(The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People).  

What does it mean to you?  
Try this yogic exercise:

Stop, be still and sit quietly in meditation.  Close your eyes, visualize yourself positively successful in the place or state of  existence you wish.  Realize the influence your thoughts have over your actions and the effect your actions have on your mind, body, and soul.  With this in mind, speak your affirmation out loud, with truth. Absorb and feel good about it...your success awaits you.

Sat Nam
 (Truth is thy name)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Angels and Anniversaries

"Angels are among us; when you find them, cherish their presence everyday"-unknown

This month  marks the anniversary of this journey.  It has been one year since I first placed pen to paper.  What began as an effort to document progress, force commitment and a vehicle to deal with demons, has become the grounding foundation I sought to seek.  It seems as if it were just yesterday that I began, yet so much has happened, as if a tremendous span of time has passed since last September ..

Angel of Catalyst
365 days ago, I had very little knowledge.  All I knew was that I could no longer continue in the direction in which I was going.  While stumbling out of the gate and researching online, I came across the website, The Vegan Muse.  Something about the site was beckoning and easy to follow.  I wrote the creator, Charlie Pinkston, sharing my truths and my story.  I explained my inexperience, my dreams, my vulnerability and my desire to live a vegan life.  She quickly responded and did an amazing thing - she welcomed me openly and unconditionally.  As we corresponded, Charlie quickly became the catalyst, igniting a fire within me.  In return, not only did she share with me, she freely gave advice, nutritional tips, friendship, and inspiration to stay the course.  When I tried my hand at what became my signature dish, she invited me to participate in the book
The Vegan Muse and The Sexy Raw Vegan
Angels of catalyst and fuel....
...who graciously became my Sisters
she was planning (and eventually published this past Spring), "The Vegan Muse and Friends".  I was stunned for her book is filled with features from seasoned yogis and professional vegan chefs.  Yet, despite this, she also included me, a pure novice, to participate.  Charlie believed in me more than I believed in myself.  She wanted to show that regardless of your experience level, it isn't hard to create a vegan dish if you have the desire to just simply try.  Low and behold, I reside on page 136 as a testament in gratitude to the angel who opened the door to reveal my true journey.  How can you give up or fail when there is a guardian angel evoking and leading the way?  Charlie saw or felt something I had yet to see.

Angel of Fuel
Once ignited, I became insatiable, hungry for more information, possessing a new motivation to learn and to create.  Unfortunately, as angels lurk, so do demons:  initial smells and temptations of former favorites, lack of support, self flagellation, mental deprecation, second guessing, feeling alone, forced defense, and doubt all hovered internally.  Simultaneously, I was externally left flabbergasted and devastated by the negativity, hatred, harsh unsolicited judgment, and ugliness of others, leaving me at times, loaded and downtrodden as the steam began to fizzle.  Through Charlie, I had begun to meet several kind people, one of which provided an experience -  a pure burst of positive bright vegan energy, Drew McCall  Burke.   Drew quickly became the fuel to combust the smoldering embers within me.  Drew, better known as the "Sexy Raw Vegan",  also fitness guru and raw vegan chef,  became my guide.  She possesses an uncanny understanding of how what you put into your body effects how your move your body.  Food is fuel.  Fuel provides power.  Drew's ability to communicate this became the power and the energy needed to move forward, to stay the course.  She selflessly opened her heart and began to coach me, eventually introducing me to a raw, live food lifestyle.    Her promotion, telephone calls, emails, and chats provided positive support.... continuous fuel to feed the flames now burning bright within me.  She challenged me to move outside of my comfort zone and to stand up to face my demons - those tangible and those in the forms of poor food choices. She became the fuel to my fire.

Angel of Fire
With an intensity, this past year has been an incredible experience. I have learned so much and am eager to return as much as has been given to me.  I am on fire.  I burn with voracity consuming all in my path, learning and reaching out to as many as I can.  The student is becoming the teacher.  With burning passion, I have begun to adapt and to "uncook" meals that once served as staples.  Last year, I was so pleased to present Veggie Tuna.  It was my signature dish, it served me well.  Although it did not contain any fish, it was a mock version consisting of cooked garbanzo beans, grapeseed vegan mayonnaise, green pepper, red onion, and tomato.  It was a triumph to create this dish...and it is equally pleasing to present a live, raw version:

LIVE Veggie Tuna
Sprouted Garbanzo Beans
Sprouted Quinoa
Green Pepper
Red Onion

Sprout beans (takes 3-4 days), sprout quinoa (takes 24-48hrs).  Chop/dice green pepper, red onion, tomato. Ground garbanzo beans in food processor or blender. Add other ingredients.  Liquid from tomato should hold it all together.

When you are blessed with the presence of angels, you are able to defeat your demons with fervor. As you reach any milestone or anniversary demarcation in your life, you reflect.  Reflection allows you to:

                                                           see:    where you've been
                                            acknowledge:   where you are
                                                 determine:   where you're going

As you see where you've been, you will be able so see where you're going.  In order to acknowledge where you are, you must acknowledge where you've been.  As you determine where you're going, you determine where you are.   Whether you rejoice loudly in celebration or sit quietly in somber gratitude, whether you recognize or not, you should know that you have not arrived at any particular point in your life alone.  You've had to deal with demons, assisted by angels who have guided and supported you along the way.   Over time, as you reflect, you will begin to recognize them, as they reveal themselves in the form of teachers, friends, neighbors, parents, and sometimes strangers - people we do not know but are grateful that they seemingly are in the "right place at the right time".  As angels grace, do not let their assistance be in vain.  As you have received, let the fire ignited within you burn bright and use it to become an angel for someone else.  Freely offer and avail yourself to another in your stead.  As you receive, you so should give in return.

Fire once started need not be extinguished.  It can be a continuous event, as long as it is consistently fed and nourished.  Use your angelfire to ignite and fan the flame of someone else.  Being an angel isn't difficult and doesn't have to be a complex endeavor, it can be as simple as a few kind words, opening a closed door, a pat on the back, being either a catalyst or a provider of fuel.  How ever you choose to spread your wings, always remember to be a pillar of support where none exists.  Burn your fire with intensity for as you grow, so shall all you encounter.

This anniversary I see clearly now, having successfully conquered demons.   With humble gratitude,  I am fortified with the blessing of both the catalyst and the fuel, angels who have graciously become my sisters... and I embrace with thanksgiving the many angels met this past year (to name just a few: Jen, John, Glen, Chloe, Jo, Travis, Brian, Marcus, Asante, Toni, Suky, Ron, Danelle, Gina, Mitzi, Jason, Rosie, Xavier, Yogini, Zenita).  To each of them, to those too many to name, and to each of you, with my deepest bow,  Namaste.

Yoga:  Manipura, the third Chakra
The third chakra, also called the navel chakra or solar plexis, is located within the digestive system.  It is represented by the color yellow as it is considered the life force,  the "seat of fire within the body". According to Yoga Journal, "this chakra is involved in self-esteem, warrior energy, the power or transformation, governing digestion and metbolism."  It is the source of generosity and selfless service, provides courage to take risks, and reinforces ethics.
I practice Dhanurasana with Breath of Fire..
...keeping ignited embers lit.
Pose:     Dhanurasana - Bow Pose
The bow pose stimulates the Manipura.   In Kundalini Yoga, the bow pose is practiced in conjunction with the Breath of Fire (rapid breathing technique). It massages the abdominal organs and strengthens the back, increasing digestive fire.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Standing and Blooming

Confirmation always comes
from sources least expected
Recently, I was involved in an incident in which I was deeply offended by a very hateful remark disguised as a joke.  I sought and received an apology from the offender but it was not was not sincere.  Since this had occurred in a professional environment, I requested acknowledgement and documentation of the occurrence and I sought validation.  None came.  Hmmm. Perplexing.  Why must the offended be the seeker of that which should come without solicitation? The offender received a reprimand but more importantly, an opportunity for redemption and a feeling of value.  I, as the recipient had not, received any outreach nor contact, as if there were no need to also feel valued.  The process was flawed and killed any motivation to remain within the situation.

"In spite of difficulties, you must keep self confidence" - Dali Llama


After careful consideration and deep meditation, I severed ties with something I had grown to love for close to two years.  I had to take a stand for what I believed to be justice. If I had accepted the blow I was dealt and remained in the environment from whence it came, I would have allowed the negative energy to slowly eat away at my spirit.  "Rise above it" many said.  Some things can not be risen above.  Sometimes you must stand and face that which needs facing.  What a liberating feeling to stand strong, fortified within your righteousness.

As I stood, a funny thing occurred.  With gratitude, I realized that I had absolutely no malice in my heart against the offender.  How can you be angry at someone blissful in their ignorance?  Hopefully the lesson of second chances and discovering how something thought minor was actually serious enough to be escalated, would perhaps become a cold splash of reality to awaken from the err of their ways.

"If you do not stand for what you believe in,
 you will fall for anything."

Standing, I became conscious that although I had to walk away, it was time to do so. My heart and spirit were no longer there.  It was time for the body to follow.  Time for new adventure. Time not to fall.  So, as I stood, I began to rejoice at the opportunity of the freedom that comes with standing.  When you stand, you take risk, with risk comes courage, with courage, conviction and with  To walk out on faith takes belief in that which is to come whether you know what that will be or not.

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom"- Anais Nin

Every Spring, new fresh flowers do this very thing.  Young stems fight their way free from the cold underground.   Reinforced by their roots, the stems begin to stand, growing tall and stronger each day.  Vulnerable and susceptible, they stand in spite of the environment, humans, animals or insects and bask in the light of the sun.  At some point, when the time is right, at the top of the stem, a bud with a seed appears.  Slowly, the bud opens and a beautiful flower emerges,it has, fresh, and beautiful.


This stand could not have happened at a better time.  I had just committed to move to 100% raw diet, experiencing an explosion of creativity to conjure up new meals, to write, to increase education, and to pursue these thrive in the blossoming of ideas.  Never doubt, as you believe in yourself, you will receive confirmation from sources you'd have never imagined.  Over the course of three days immediately following my stand, I had a soul connection with three of my sisterfriends.  Each, unbeknownst to the other and each, not knowing my situation had provided the same message.  Blossom. On the fourth day, I received the placard pictured above in the mail in the guise of an advertisement.  I had to chuckle.  Confirmation loud and clear. The time for standing is now over.  It is now time to bloom.

Yoga:  Urdhua Hastasana - 
Raised Arm Pose

The Raised Arm Pose is also called the upward salute.  It is a beginner's pose meant to align (stand) the body and is the precursor (bud/seed) to more advanced postures (bloom).  The posture resembles a blossoming flower stem.  The body is upright standing strong with extension in the arms, the head tilted up toward the sun, the hands in open lotus position, stretching in full blossom.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ready for RAWGUST!

Join Us for RAWGUST!© design by Brian LaRoche
A non-judgmental support group, regardless of your current status.
September will mark the one year milestone of the decision to become  seriously vegan and nine months of live foods.  Throughout this journey, I've taken some bumps, quips, and stumbles, but have remained steadfast on the vegan path.  I am quite proud.  While I haven't been totally raw, I would estimate that 90-95 percent of my meals are.  The objective for the next year is to commit totally to 100% raw live foods.  This August, I'm testing the waters by participating in a month-long raw, live food pledge.  I've joined three  groups each dedicated to this endeavor.  Two are support groups on social media, the other, is a more formal personal pledge, through the Raw Food Institute of the National Integrated Health Associates in Washington DC. Each of these events are appropriately titled "Rawgust"  a funny blend of raw and August.  Here are their links:

I'm participating with the feeling that these events shall serve as the perfect lead-in to my anniversary and become the catalyst to my new objective.  I am energized and excited for the new adventure on which I am to embark.   I am Ready for Rawgust! and I invite each of you to join me.  It will change your life.

Why Raw?

These events promote eating raw for the entire month of August and encourage others to at least try a raw meal if they are not ready to permanently alter their lifestyle.  Why?  Because, according to the Raw Food Institute, "when you cook food, you loose at least 30% of the nutrients and 100% of the enzymes in that food.  Nutrients are the building blocks of cells in our bodies, aid digestion and other bodily functions.  Further, cooking food chemically changes the molecular structure of raw plants which may convert to toxins, mutagens, and free-radicals associated with diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.":

Cooked or raw, we are constantly being told to "add color to our plates".  In the article, "Nature Always Right, Cooks Never: Why Eat Raw?", Tonya Zavasta makes an interesting observation that researchers are excited when they discover new health benefits of particular colors and that the bright colors of fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants.  She continues by asking each of us to picture a bright, vibrant rainbow (i.e. raw produce) where all of the nutrients and disease fighters reside. Then, imagine the colors fading and the nutrients dying - the effect of cooking.  Who wants to eat dead food? When I tell people I am a raw vegan or a live foodist, they can not grasp the concept.  They ask if I can eat particular items which tend to oddly be dairy.  For some reason, the thought of giving up cheese, milk, or butter bothers people more than eliminating meat.  After explaining it's all the same to me - animal products, the response is usually  "Oh I can't give up .... " filling in the blank with some not-so-good for you-even-if-you-eat-meat dish.  

Most importantly, raw foods help and heal the body on a cellular level.  Raw foodists tend to eat less, as live food is very filling, increases energy, and decreases body fat. It's really simple, just think of it this way: When you eat cooked foods until you're full, you are sluggish and lethargic, when you eat live foods in the same manner, you will experience a burst of energy.

Again, wanting to be ever so helpful, I feel compelled to explain that it is about paradigm shift and changing the definition of what is good food. I still eat all of the so called "favorites" just in a different (better for my body) manner.

Be Creative 
When most people think of "raw" they think of a cold dish or that one eats salads every day.  Not true.  There are "warm" raw dishes.  Enzymes can live up to 118 degrees Farenheit (49 Celcius) As long as food has not been heated past that point, it is considered raw. (Note:  some enzymes begin to loose their value at 106 degrees).  With that in mind, the possibilities are limitless.  There is a live food version of every dish out there.  Prior to my transformation, my favorite junk food was pizza.  In the beginning as I detoxified, I missed it,  but now, I  can not go near a slice.  The thought of the discomfort associated with that cheese and its effect on my body is enough, not to mention the cholesterol and sodium.  As you transform, you learn as you go.  Experiment! Make mistakes, make adjustment, tap your creativity and be creative.  Figure it out!  Here is my raw version of the very thing I used to love:      
 Crust - sunflower seed, flax seed, chili powder        Sauce - pureed sun-dried & fresh tomatoes
"Cheese" - raw almonds, lemon juice, & garlic          Toppings - fresh oregano, basil, parsley

Soak sunflower seeds and almonds overnight.   CRUST:  Ground flax and sunflower seeds. Note: flax seeds can be ground using a pepper or coffee grinder.  Sunflower seeds can be ground in a blender or food processor.  Add seasonings and a little water to make dough.  Form into large patty. Roll out to form crust.  Place in sun (or use a dehydrator) to remove moisture.  
SAUCE: Puree sun-dried and fresh tomato. Add onion (optional).  Spread sauce on "crust".  CHEESE:  In a blender, puree raw almonds, add fresh garlic, and lemon juice. Place in a cheese cloth and squeeze out moisture. Spread on top of tomato sauce.  TOPPING: Add fresh oregano, basil, and parsley.   OPTIONAL: Sprinkle a red pepper flakes over top.

A Word of Caution:
While there are many wonderful benefits to eating raw, use caution as you create:  research, and seek guidance from an experienced raw nutritionist.  There are mistakes to be made that can be detrimental to your health.  Here a just a few:  
  1. You can not sprout every bean, for example, kidney beans are poisonous if sprouted or eaten raw. 
  2. Do not overeat high fat foods such as nuts and seeds.  Have them in moderation. 
  3. Watch your seasonings.  People tend to over season raw foods, increasing sodium intake.
  4. Don't give up good nutrition, vitamins, or protein.  Remember to eat a well balanced meal.
Get Ready for Real - Make a personal Pledge
As you learn, you transform and you become creative to fill the space formerly filled with dead, faded food.  Remember, it's called junk food for a reason.  Any food that is not contributing to improving your health is junk.   If you are not able to dedicate an entire month to live foods, try these alternatives: 
  • one meal per day for the entire month.  Just adding a simple salad to your dinner plate or having fruit for breakfast instead of eggs, bacon, and bread would meet this objective. .
  • just one day per week - eat light veggies and fruits all day, go to a raw vegan restaurant for dinner
  • Just on the weekends - visit your local farmer's market; try a new vegetable you never tasted before
  • one full week - have fun, have fruit and veggie smoothies; go to a  vegan market for ideas, look up raw recipe websites and videos.
If you try and fall off of the bandwagon, don't beat yourself up.  Dust off and hop back on.  One raw meal is better than none.  The most important thing is getting started.  
Do your homework, join our support group, and get ready for real, get ready RAWgust! 
If you want help, join our support group or contact me at
Good Luck!

Get support, get ready, get started.
One meal, one day, at a time
Yoga:  Yoga Blocks

Yoga blocks are accessories or props to help beginners who are not as flexible or are unsteady on their feet.    Everyone is a novice in the beginning, you need help as you become more seasoned.  Yoga blocks build stamina, strength, and help sustain balance during challenging postures. 

They are the perfect support for those just starting.