a lesson in detoxing

as i mentioned in my last post, i just completed a five-day detox. that means that for the last five days, i’ve moved very intentionally when it came to food. i woke up early to prepare my meals, had a list of nourishing options at my disposal, knew what my day would consist of and stayed within those boundaries.

i chose a hybrid of detox options from sources i trust and came up with this:

day 1 & 5: raw food. banana, avocado, juice, etc. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

day 2-4: Ayurvedic detox soup (mung beans with lots of delicious spices–cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, etc.) + sautéed greens for each meal. detox tea, also with lots of yummy spices to sip through the day. fresh juice. no caffeine, sugar, wheat, meat, etc.

i felt amazing.
my head felt clear, my yoga practice focused, my body light and manageable. and not once, not one single time did i feel starved. i ate when i felt hungry, and stopped when feel. i felt nourished and generally content.

an equally important part of a detoxing period is rest and reflection. rest, so the body can use that energy to work on detoxing the cells. and reflection to discover ways in which we perpetuate the build-up of toxins in our systems.

it’s true that some toxification we have no direct control over–air quality, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, etc. but a good deal of it comes from our personal choices, what we put into our bodies. namely, food and drinks and smoking. rest and reflection gives us the space to seek those out.

a few things arose during my rest and reflection over the last few days. of course, the temptation to do too much, as i mentioned in my post a couple days back. here are a couple more:

1. i rarely put my needs first.
this can manifest in a variety of ways, from allowing someone to repeatedly take advantage of my time to not using the bathroom until all my work is done. food and nutrition, of course, take a hit as i put work before lunch or helping a friend before planning a meal.

2. i overdose daily on electronics.
from when i wake up to when i go to bed, i have my finger on some piece of technology, scrolling Facebook, checking email (writing blogs! ha). i can’t disconnect, and have to admit my bigger problem is detaching from other’s opinions.

3. i have a distorted view of what it means to care for my body.

this is the big one, and actually didn’t come up until i was done with the detox. in the past, any time i’ve fasted or detoxed (whether for health or spiritual reasons) I’ve sustained myself on the vision of what i would eat/drink/consume once the fast was up. i made promises to myself of large lattes from Starbucks and 3 egg omelets w/ bacon and some more.

so, when my sis invited my to dinner at a fav restaurant on the night of my 5th day, i decided i’d been a good enough girl and would make that meal my re-entry into the world. no huge indulgences, no alcohol or anything like that, but i would order a dinner and enjoy it so much.

or so i thought.

i ordered fish & chips and, compared to the wildly seasoned meals i’d been having, it was quite bland. i felt neither satisfied nor content and didn’t finish the meal. in fact, i felt let down. the meal i’d been looking forward to wasn’t adding up.

a latte will help, i thought, and began to dream of the coffee and honey i’d forgone during my detox.

i woke up late, ran out the door without breakfast, and raced to coffee shop for a honey, soy latte. it felt delicious at first, soul-warming and grounding. but without any food to absorb the espresso, my system quickly went haywire. and now i sit, just after the lunch hour, feeling fidgety, shaky, hungry and irritated. where is the peace i experienced during my fast? where is the contentment?

i sacrificed them at the altar of desire.

and that is my greatest lesson from this detox session. i sacrifice myself often at the alter of desire, avoidance, laziness, etc. i gladly change in my self to feel temporary satisfaction.

they say admitting you have a problem is the first step. here’s to the beginning of a long journey!

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asking for help, pacing myself and other life lessons

“it is better to travel well than to arrive.”
-Buddha

about a month ago, i left my full-time, all-consuming job with a winery to pursue and fine-tune some dreams that have been brewing deep inside of me.  namely, yoga and natural health.  my schedule has lightened and is much more determined by me.  my income sources have also lightened, so i’ve added “selling Pampered Chef” to my list of fun endeavors.  all of this has left me on somewhat uneven ground, tilting back and forth as i try to find my sea legs and steady myself again.

a few of my less than shiny character traits have begun to rear their little heads during this time of transition.

recently, my shoulder has begun to hurt.  a deep, burning ache that happens when i’m using the computer or driving and especially after an intense yoga class.  feeling discouraged, i resolved to try harder.  until one day, after class, my arm ached all afternoon.  through two movies and lunch and shopping.  ache, ache, ache.  i hesitated to ask anyone, afraid i would need to lay off of yoga and all the things i’ve been working on. finally, i asked a teacher at the studio if i should just take a break.

“no,” she said, “not necessarily.  you may just be doing something wrong.  you should have a teacher look at your form.”  my relief at being able to keep practicing was short-lived as i considered asking someone to not only watch me practice yoga, but also to offer critique.

i’ve always been incredibly insecure about my “performance” in just about any area of my life.  in an effort to avoid commentary, i strive to do better than any expectations, to wow people before they can decide i’m not good enough or don’t have the skill.  asking for someone to help me see what i couldn’t felt less like help, and more like judgement.

nevertheless, i knew i needed help and it wasn’t going to happen spontaneously.  after class yesterday, i asked my teacher to come over, to watch me.  a couple other students, overhearing my request and having similar questions, stood by.  despite my fears, she listened and offered suggestion, noting my form and how my lack thereof was likely contributing to the pain.  she gave me some exercises to gain strength and i felt humbled.  in one of the best of ways.  humbled that another human would handle my request for help with gentleness and respect.

another character trait that has been known to both help and hurt is my “all or nothing” modus operandi.  “all or nothing” people are great and have a lot to offer.  they go after goals with tenacity and perseverance.  they are passionate and driven and, for lack of a better phrase, get shit done.  but “all or nothing” people are surprisingly fragile, susceptible to burn out and running themselves into ground.

that’s where i found myself in my last work position.  i accepted a job that had long been neglected and was in need of serious, deliberate attention.  i called it my wild stallion.  and initially, i enjoyed it despite the exhausting hours and sleepless nights.  but over time, it took its toll as i worn down more and more.  until i finally had to call it quits.

now, in my new season, i find the drive revving back up and my desire to hit the road running have kicked in.  especially in the area of Pampered Chef, especially after our spring conference last weekend.  i came back convinced i would be a director by July, setting my sites on that goal and going hard after it.

the yoga fell into the shadow of this dream, as did my studying for naturopathy.  suddenly Pampered Chef became the destination, not the vehicle.  i’ve joked that it feeds my need for instant gratification, as my dreams for yoga and natural health are things that will take years to attain.

this is not to say i’m quitting Pampered Chef or anything, as my “all or nothing” personality tends to dictate.  but i do need to put it back into its place, to realign my perspective.  i want to do PC well, to succeed and make money, but it’s not my life’s calling.  it’s not that thing that’s recently awoken within me.  it’s the vehicle for getting there and, who knows, may just pay for all my future dreams.

needless to say, life is busy here.  like the winter, i find my life is in a bit of still hardness. soon the soil will be tilled, the seeds planted, the baby plants growing and thriving and putting off fruits to nourish little bodies.  but for now, it is slow and hibernating and the perfect place to learn big life lessons with gentleness and humility.

looking for a sign

i have to start this post with 2 disclosures.
1. i haven’t prayed in a loonngg time.  and 2. i’m not really a person for “signs.”

that being said, i experienced both yesterday and it pivotal.

let’s back up a bit.

i’ve been thinking for awhile time, but even moreso in the last 6 months, that i’ve wanted to pursue some further education in the natural health field.  i did an intense batch of research back in February/March timeframe and settled on the school and program i wanted to pursue.  what i didn’t settle on was the financial solution.  so i put everything on hold until i could remedy my finances a bit and carve out the money needed to begin.  i set my goal for August and moved on, carrying the packet of information on this program with me regularly, pulling it out every now and then to remind me of my real focus.  my true north.

then August came.  and went.  and the money wasn’t really there like i expected.

but September was different.  September saw a bonus that would comfortable cover the initial down payment.  September saw me really have to wrestle with, literally, putting my money where my mouth had been for so many months.  i would get incredibly close to enrolling in the program, only to find myself shirking back in fear.  i wrestled with my hesitation, and what i would tell someone else in my position.  coaching myself to take a risk and follow my heart and all that cliche’d nonsense that is actually really good advice.  i told anyone who would listen about my struggle but internally i would feel an overwhelming chorus of “YES” anytime i considered the program or read the course descriptions.

and then i decided to try something different.  i decided to try prayer.

ever since leaving the church earlier last year, i’ve avoided any of the old practices i used to observe, needing a deep separation from anything that reminded me of that world.  it’s not that i’ve felt prayer to be bad; i’ve just not felt overwhelmingly convinced of who or what i was praying to, of what exactly was out there to receive my prayers, and even to the extent of what would want to even interact with us enough to want to answer our prayers.

i wouldn’t have even considered the option had i not been to visit with a spiritual guide of sorts, who’s first piece of advice was the practice of meditation.  his suggestion was simple: use meditation to pray, be specific and come with questions you want answered, and, if necessary, ask for a sign.  he mentioned feathers and butterflies or anything else that might serve as validation.

so yesterday morning i sat down, crossed my legs and closed my eyes.  i began to slow my breathing and focus my thoughts.

“ok,” i said with some skepticism.  “ok, whoever you are out there, tell me…should i start this program?  that’s what i want to know.  and send me a sign…a sign of….” my brain immediately thought “turtle,” my rational self thought that was silly.  still, “turtle” kept coming back to mind, over and over.  “ok,” i said, “show me a turtle.  if you think i should do this program.  show me a turtle.”

it was all i could do to remember to find a turtle.  i was on a business trip and busy with different activities and had to keep reminding myself to find a turtle in a place that was not really known to have turtle inhabitants.

towards the afternoon, on a walk across the island we were on, a sign caught my eye.  it looked exactly like one we had seen in the Florida Keys so i walked over to it, only to find this:

tortugas

that’s right, the bar was called “Tortugas,” the spanish word for “Turtles.”  it was not altogether obvious, lost in so many other messages.  but it was there nonetheless.

it was my sign.

but truth be told, it was really just an affirmation of what i already knew to be true.  that’s the thing about signs.  they really just help you to have the courage to choose the path you’re already on, to give you the confidence you need to put your foot out and take that risk.  it minimizes the hives and hyperventilation you feel when thinking about jumping off that cliff.

i registered for that program this evening, and will be starting a Doctor of Naturopathy as soon as they accept my application. happy to finally replace the debilitation of fear with the exhilaration of excitement; thankful for whoever or whatever is out there that sent “tortugas” to nudge me forward.

on the up & up.

“i have everything i need within me to be healed.”

the thought arose like a gentle whisper the other morning.  i sat cross-legged on my yoga mat, eyes closed as my breath began to deepen.  my thoughts were on the doctor’s appointment ahead of me and my health concerns.

“everything i need to be healed is within me,” went through my mind and a gentle peace began to settle.  i felt empowered and strong, ready to handle whatever may come my way, confident i would and could be taken care of.

the call came early in the week, confirming an abscess caused by MRSA.  given that my brain was lingering on the “C” word, MRSA sounded like a cake-walk.  until they switched my meds to a horribly intense antibiotic that caused heartburn for 48 solid hours.  still, it wasn’t worse and i was already visibly getting better.  the aforementioned doctor appointment went smoothly and quickly, with confirmation that i was getting better and, while i still would need to be checked in the future, i had no need to worry.

empowerment is an interesting thing.  while i may not always be able to heal myself without outside assistance, reaffirming the idea that i have it within me to confront and deal and be healed without fear was incredibly strengthening.  the empowerment it brought helped me to hold my head eye, instead of yielding to the fear.  just those few moments on the mat were all i needed to be reminded that i am a strong, formidable creature.

on a different note, thank you to so many of you who “liked” my original post and left notes of encouragement.  may we all be vessels of support and empowerment to one another, and thus work to change this world we live in.

the perils of being a woman.

DISCLAIMER: this post contains items of very sensitive nature.  please do not read if you will not handle with care.

“do you see that, at the top of the screen?  that big black spot,” the doctor asked as the moved the wand around on the slippery jelly.  the image shifted and sure enough, there it was, just as she described.  a large shifting black mass, surrounded by lots of white tissue.

my first ultrasound and i’m staring at a lump in my breast, not a baby in my belly.

it started out innocent enough.  a simple, small bump just below my nipple.  it has progressed quickly to a larger, more tender lump with the surrounding skin tissue growing redder and more inflamed by the day.  my first stop was the OB/GYN, who immediately put me on an antibiotic in hopes of a run-of-the-mill infection, but sent me to a breast care specialist in fears of the big “C” word.

cancer.

the ultrasound seemed to dispel fears of cancer, tho the specialist never said either way.  she simply called it an “abscess” and indicated a need to drain it.

“close your eyes,” she said as i lay back, exposing some of my most tender female parts to the wind. “don’t look at the needle.  this going to hurt.”  she paused.  “no, really, it’s going to be very painful.  you need to grip something.”  my arms fell to the side of the exam table, frantically grasping for an edge quickly lest the pain begin before i was ready.

the pain was unbelievable.  i cried, i groaned, my chest heaved in response.  tears rolled down my face and into my ears, as she pulled fluid from the mass.

as i drove home, my right breast wrapped in gauze, cradled in my bra, bracing myself for every bump, it occurred to me just how much women go through.  with little to no credit.  fear of breast cancer, of losing a breast or having their women hood permanently scarred with disease.  the inability to have children or, worse, losing a child too soon.  enduring the incredible physical pain of pregnancy and birth.  their are so many things, and my needle-stick-to-the-breast was just brushing the surface.

the mass has not drained as they said it would, nor has it begun to recede with the upping of antibiotic dosages.  my brain has turned back to the possibility/potential of cancer and i’m debating my next move.  it’s that tension of needing to be responsible and in-charge and progressive about my own body, while simultaneously being the victim.  those around me, while good intentioned and loving in their approach, want to reassure me that it’s just an infection.  but i can’t shut off that fear in my brain that it’s something bigger.  something more.  and if so, what’s my game plan?

for now, all there is to do is wait and honestly admit:

i’m scared.

going raw.

tomorrow, i’m going raw.

but let me back up a few steps.

i recently had a dream that i was diagnosed with cancer.  i’ve heard many stories of people diagnosed with cancer who decided to buck “conventional” treatment and, instead, bolster their immune system by eating a diet chock full of raw vegetables and fruits.  and so, distraught and emotional, i made a claim to drastically change my life: i was going raw.

i woke up craving raw brownies.

as i shared this dream, and my cravings, with my online community (aka. i posted on facebook), a good friend introduced me to the Rawtarian and her 30-day Raw Food Diet Plan.  i was intrigued, and had a slight twinge to try more raw recipes, but couldn’t convince myself that anything for 30 days, especially only raw food, would be anything close to what i wanted.

but then i kept thinking about it.  journaling about it.  reading about it.  and it actually is what i wanted.  for many reasons.

1. i’m tired of feeling sluggish.
i have a fairly healthy diet, but i’m still, as the Rawtarian puts it, “addicted” to so many foods that are not doing any good for my body.

2. my pants are too tight.
i’m also quite tired of being borderline overweight.

3. i want to see how my body will respond to such an overdose of healthy intake.  i want to see how my body works when it’s working at its best.

so i made the commitment, and set my sights on Monday morning for a start.  still, not all of me was convinced.  my inner child began to pout.  one of the first items on the shopping list, fruits, said simply, buy as many fruits as you like!  

i.  HATE.  fruit.  said my inner child, as she crossed her arms over her chest, stomped her foot, and scrunched up her face, throwing a temper tantrum in the produce aisle.  i gave her a minute (and a caramello candy bar) and heading for the check-out.  tantrums are fine, and it’s always best to be honest about how one’s feelings, but they shouldn’t always dictate our behaviors.

now, with my pantry stocked with nuts, and chia seeds, and all manner of fruits and veggies, i can’t help but feel i’m on the eve of some great journey.

weekday vegetarian.

there is something extremely gratifying about making dinner from scratch.

even after a long day.  even though there were a ton of veggies to cut.  even though it needed to boil and simmer and saute until it was almost 8p before we actually ate it.

even then.

a friend of ours recently explained how he was trying to be a “weekday vegetarian.”  his reasoning was simple: he loved meat, but he recognized a drastic difference in his body when he didn’t eat it.  he felt lighter, healthier.  so he made a compromise.  eat a vegetarian-based diet throughout the week, and indulge in some meat dishes on the weekends.

after giving this considerable thought, i decided to try it for myself.  i actually eat a lot of veggies as it is, but i tend to fall back on meat dishes when i’m tired/home late from work/lazy, etc.  a strictly vegetarian diet takes so much more intention on my behalf.  i have to actually think through each day, each meal, and what i will be making, and what i will be picking up at the market.

fortunately, there are some resources out there that make it easier.  Sonja and Alex Overhiser, of a couple cooks, are one such resource.  i was recently introduced to their blog, a collection of recipes from their kitchen, and i honestly can’t believe i ever did without.

my first experimentation, lentil and butternut squash soup with chard, was amazing enough to please even my skeptical boyfriend.  the majority of the ingredients were actually available at the winter farmer’s market and, on the recommendation of a friend, i substituted kale for the chard.  the result was pure deliciousness.  the primary veggies, squash and corn, created a sweetness while the oregano and thyme resulted in a savory delight.

this was not the only recipe that caught my eye.  in fact, the whole blog about made me drool off my chair, but my next attempt at awesomeness will be the sweet potato and red onion galette.  here’s to a more delicious level of food creation!

and to vegetarianism being tastier than expected.