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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Accepting Rejection

Who is rejecting whom?
Recently, I applied for a position which would have returned me to the "corporate world".  I made this decision as I thought it would facilitate my financial and personal goals.  My dream to study ayurveda yogic doctrine and become a certified yogini.  I had researched and found the place in which I wish to study, the teacher, and a tuition structure.  This study requires a commitment of time that can not be afforded within the parameters of my current part time employment.   Thus, I felt the need to return to what I know best, administrative work.  I know this work like the back of my hand.  I've not only performed the position, but I've supervised, managed, and even trained others on how to perform this work. So, I applied for a position I could easily do with my eyes closed.  In my arrogance, I did not want to work anywhere for anyone.  I selectively applied to organizations I thought would compliment and run concurrent with the personal dedication I made to be of a giving nature.  One such company contacted me and I interviewed with them a total of three times:  initially, a callback interview, and finally with a panel.  In each interview, I confidently told my truth, submitted my credentials, and tried to explain, in a manner I thought of as humble, that although I was overqualified, I could deliver the objectives of the position. I had eight references ready, and I was confident that I had secured the position.

One  Basket

Much to my surprise and utter shock, after receiving what I thought was good feedback, I did not get the position.  A position that was elementary to me.  I was devastated. Questions flooded my head.  Why?  Too old?  Too confident, Too intimidating? Not enough (fill in the blank)????

Remember - everything doesn't have to go into one basket
We always have several at our disposal.
I was not as concerned of not being accepted by strangers as I was concerned that my truth had been rejected.  When you stand vulnerable and honestly present your truth, your intention is for reception.  That's the only reason we do it in the first place.  It  is the very real fear of rejection that many of us never present nor face our truths.  I had also made another fatal mistake.  I had placed all of my future hopes and dreams into one basket.  No one thing brings us to any point or goal in life.  It is a myriad of variables aligning at a particular coordinate at a particular time that delivers us where we are at that time.   Why place everything into one basket when we have several at our disposal?

Why had something that seemed to be going so well suddenly crashed and burned?  Perhaps the interviewers were mirroring that which they saw before them:  rejection.  Perhaps the image I thought I was projecting was not what I was actually presenting.  Perhaps as I presented my truth to them, I wasn't listening or looking at myself.

"Ain't funny that the way you feel shows on your face?
And no matter how you try to hide, it'll state your case" © Earth Wind and Fire

Perhaps the panel could "see" the personal, internal rejection I was battling , trying to mask the decision to return to the very world I vowed to leave.  I was reluctantly and readily sacrificing a little bit of freedom in lieu of the big picture. I had dressed for the part wearing clothing and shoes I hadn't worn in years - clothing which no longer fit both physically and mentally.  Perhaps my body had rejected the business attire the same way my mind was rejecting the back and forth game of the interview process of trying to give the "right" answer in the right manner, the same way my soul was rejecting the idea of fitting back into the box I so loved to think outside of.  Perhaps the struggle and rejection was so evident that the panel had no other choice but to reject me in lieu of another candidate who deserved to be there.

Not quite ready to accept this truth, I submitted my resume to a "professional reviewer" for a critique.  The main point he claimed was wrong with my resume was that it screams that I am a "doer" not an "achiever".  Hmmm, this puzzled me.  Yes, I am a doer.  I get things done, I've made things happen which has lead to a previously successfully career.  I've achieved and accomplished quite a few awards, commendations, and recognition.  For a fee, the reviewer could elaborate this for me.  NOT!  I looked up the free definition for myself:
do:  to perform, execute or produce; to achieve
achieve:  to perform or carry out with success, accomplish

The slight semantics here could have been what lead to my rejection.  Achievement comes natural to me which is why I don't think about "doing".  To me, it is one and the same.  I now realize that to others, there is a big difference.  I don't think I want to expend that much energy into worrying about it. It is no longer who I am.  So, as I look into my mirror to recognize this rejection,  I  accept it.   I am listening to what is being said and looking at what I am being shown. I can not return to that world in the same manner I left it.  I have evolved.  I am rejecting it.

"Opportunities surround you if you know where to look" - Chinese proverb

I had prematurely and mistakently placed my yogic goal into a basket that I did not own. The lesson here is that there is more than one way to reach a destination.  You just have to know where to look.  This job will not be the vehicle which will take me where I wish to go.  I accept this rejection.  I am not revising my resume to highlight achievement over doing.  I shall instead, place it into its own basket labeled Employment.  There will be another opportunity in which the truth I tell and the truth I exhibit will align.  The learning is knowing the correct audience in which to reveal.  True alignment will always bring success.   It is important to stay on the path. I will study ayurveda yogic doctrine but it will arrive in a manner different from what I once knew.

Rain Water

You may ask what does this have to do with yoga. veganism, and transformation? Everything. The conversion to veganism is certainly filled with rejection but it doesn't matter what you apply it to.  Rejection of any thing you present, whether it be transforming lifestyle, changing diet, relationship, or employment, still feels the same. It is up to you to face it, understand it, do something about it, to seek new opportunity and to accomplish.

Use the rain collected in the vessel to
cleanse and begin life anew.
With this in mind, I have decided  to take out a few additional baskets in which to place a few other things:  one for Yoga, one for Vegan Adventures, one for Aspirations, and a special vessel to collect the rain that falls when we feel rejection.  Accept this vessel.  Use the rain water collected to refresh, rejuvenate and revive. Rain is water;  water which cleanses and is the key of life.  As you accept your rejection, learn from it.  Look in the mirror and be clear about that which you also reject, place each thing in its proper basket. Don't limit yourself, use as many baskets as you need to avoid the mistake of putting too many things in one basket or mixing inconsistent items.  Accept the rain and use the vessel to begin life anew.

Yoga -  Chant:  Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru

In preparation for opportunity yet to come, this Mantra, meant to initiate the healing process, is appropriate for beginning anew after accepting rejection.  The chanting of Guru Guru Wahe Guru, Guru Ram Das Guru
 is also a source of protection, spiritual light, guidance, and humility.

In gratitude,