Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Time

A few nights ago I was sitting on my couch in my warm, cozy living room, soaking in the still of the moment, and asked myself a question. "What would be your perfect career and how would you feel in it?" So I closed my eyes and let myself imagine. I felt purpose and a natural rhythm of moving and doing—I clearly knew. I had vision and pure intrinsic drive. I was in sync with my true self. I was helping people, coaching people, sharing my health journey. I was speaking and teaching and connecting with people. It felt energizing and exciting and rewarding! I felt fulfilled and creative and so happy. I was relaxed, having fun, and authentic. I was me!

This journey that started out as an experiment with a new way to eat to heal from rheumatoid arthritis quickly became a journey of self-discovery—a road to finding myself. Because of that, much of my time over the past 21 months has been spent quietly processing what I've been learning rather than publicly blogging about it like I'd planned. It's been a solitary journey. But after visualizing my dream career, it all went click-click-click in my brain, and I said aloud, "Is it time? Is it really time?!" Then I felt the freedom and joy of creating come back to me. I instantly knew I needed to blog my "I LOVE U" post that had been waiting for months. And then I flipped to a powerful journal entry I'd written while sitting on the lawn of the capitol, and so I made a separate post. I post-dated both entries so they'd authentically follow my timeline of health. And then I knew it had to be this way—I need to fill in the holes of the journey using my journals so it's as authentic as possible. I want you to feel like you're really on this journey with me, especially if you're seeking healing too. It'll give you a logical perspective of time, pain, foods, improvements, discoveries, and all the highs and lows. This feels good. It's time!

My journey is very personal to me, as I am sure your journey was/is/will be, but if my opening up and sharing can help even one of you, though it may leave me a little exposed and vulnerable, I know it will be worth it. Much of this journey has been to teach me to let go of worrying about what others think, so I guess this is putting that to the test. It's time to be real. It's time to be honest. It's time to let you all know that I'm just as flawed as you think you are, and I'm also just as divinely radiant, infinitely wise, and boldly courageous as you may not yet know you are. Isn't this exciting guys?! You too are on a path to become the person you were always meant to be! (I don't doubt there's a reason you're here on this blog right now, reading this post.) I want to shout all I've learned from the rooftops. I want to shout how grateful and joyful and blessed I am. But I guess for now this blog will suffice. One post at a time I'll share what I've learned.

Though nonconventional and nontraditional in every sense of the words, this journey to healing is undeniably real. I am walking, running, dancing proof that we can be healed if we are open and willing and believing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Leave RA in the Dust

        (Despite having leprosy, these men wore huge toothy grins. They were a huge      inspirations to me when I visited Egypt in November 2008.) 


WARNING: To begin this trek of leaving rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the dust, I must give a disclaimer. This journey is not for the weak at heart. Your endurance is vital because this road follows the pace of nature. RA may overtake you periodically for a mile or two, but with a steady pace and a heart full of hope, you will achieve the victory—not only leaving RA behind forever, but in the process discovering a more fulfilling way of life and a better you.

1.      1. Take a deep breath. Release slowly. Take another deep breath and release. I can only imagine RA is the last thing you want for your life right now and it’s okay to mourn. The sadness is often fierce like a tidal wave. Most likely you have a lot on your plate already, so the RA is just the icing on the cake. Despite all the opposition, I believe in you. All of us who’ve come before are cheering you on.*

2.      2. Look in the mirror and decide that RA is not you. This is not the life you want. This is not the life you choose. You choose health and happiness. Your firm determination to leave RA in the dust despite all the naysayers may be the only thing that gets you through at times, so you must determine now who you are and what your future holds.

3.      3. Imagine yourself healthy. Visualize yourself doing something you love or just going about the normal routine. What does it feel like to move without pain? Do you feel happy and light, or maybe full of energy and gratitude? What would you be doing as a healthy person? Taking a walk through your neighborhood? Playing with your kids? Hiking up to a gorgeous overlook? Re-create these feelings daily and keep visualizing the health you will once again have.

4.      4. Take responsibility for your health. Know that you ultimately are in control. You can undo whatever’s been done. Believe it and own it. You can blame your dead great-grandmother all you want for passing on her RA genes, but it will only create bad energy and make you feel worse. Taking responsibility for your health is empowering and liberating and will fuel you forward in your journey to health.

5.      5. Decide that your health is worth the price. You literally can’t put a price tag on your health. Health most likely is a top priority in your life now that you have RA, even if it wasn’t before, but you must believe that you are worth the cost. If you decide now that you are deserving of health, the money will find it’s way to you. It happened to me time and time again in moving and often baffling ways. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

6.      6. Know that you most definitely are going to get better if you make time for your health. This means proactively helping your body, mind, & spirit heal through diet, exercise, processing & releasing emotions, and other natural means. Learn from the pace of Mother Nature. By healing naturally you will be healing from the inside out in lasting ways, rather than masking outward physical pain with medication and ignoring the inner workings of your mind and spirit. Believe me, a year from now you are going to be saying that RA was the best thing that ever happened to you because it opened your eyes to what was out of balance in your life and forced you to change. I for one admit I probably would’ve have changed if I weren’t in excruciating pain.

7.      7. Release all fear. Journal it out of you, scream it out to the empty air around you, tell your sorrow to a patient, empathetic loved one. Whatever you do, get the fear out through written or verbal words. I remember how scared I felt after talking with doctors and well-meaning people with RA. Most of them counseled me to hit it hard at the beginning or I’d end up with joint damage. I felt like I was literally in bondage to RA and the medications until I decided to put my trust in my higher source—Jesus Christ. Decide what or who your higher source is, put your faith in that source, and then together determine the best course of action for you. Even after deciding to go the natural route and putting my trust in God, I most definitely had wavering moments where I’d stare fearfully at my fingers, wondering if I was already getting joint damage. But once I better understood that I was responsible for creating my RA (maybe a new concept to you, so please don’t throw rocks), my sense of empowerment and control increased, and I knew that there was nothing to be afraid of if I continued to proactively care for my body, mind, & spirit. My goal was total healing, and I knew there was no room for fear of the unknown (i.e., joint damage) in that mix.

8.      8. Keep releasing your negative emotions as they come up. Every emotion you bottle up inside stays inside and contributes to your ill health. If you’re not at all able to identify your emotions let alone feel comfortable expressing them, join the club! Does that make you feel better or what? All I can say is, you will be amazed at how self-aware you will become. I never gave my feelings a second thought, because I’d been trained to pretend they didn’t exist, but now I am instantly aware if a conversation makes me feel like I’m not good enough or left out or angry. I do my best to process those emotions so I know why I felt that way and then clear myself of all negative feelings that are weighing me down.

9.      9. Eat foods that are fresh, whole, and as natural as possible. Start to pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods to know what to eliminate. If it grew out of the ground, you’re probably safe to eat it. If it's been processed and preserved, I'd probably pass. The better the foods you put into your body, the easier it is for your body to heal.

10  10. Do what you love. There may be some things you can’t do right now because of your health, but focus on what you can do and make time for it. For your sanity and for the health of your body, mind, & spirit, set time aside for you to feel joy in the lifestyle you are currently living. I admit this was very hard for me at first because it felt like I couldn’t do anything I loved like yoga and rock climbing and traveling. I loved to write, but some days my fingers hurt too bad to hold a pen, but I did the best I could. I went on walks even if my feet were cursing at me—much slower walks, of course, but I still got outside and found something I loved. I took up gardening for the first time, and it is so symbolic and dear to me now. Find your own new source of joy.


*Future blog posts will dig deeper into each of these 10 ways to leave RA in the dust.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I LOVE U

My fingers woke up stiff as usual, but the right pointer, pinky, and thumb have stayed swollen and unbendable all day. As I was getting in my car to head to work, I was inspecting my right hand, and the message suddenly jumped out at me. In my fingers' stiffness they were spelling out I LOVE YOU.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Pause in a Day of RA

7:15 p.m.
Capitol Hill

Was driving up State Street, seeing the majestic capitol up ahead. I thought of the memorable summer days when I came up here to run or sit on the grass. So, split-second decision and here I am, still broken physically but filling my spiritual reserve. My foot will absorb Mother Nature's nurturing energy and no longer feel like a stone block. It's been a rough today.

I don't want to walk anymore, my feet hurt so bad. It hurts to write, so I'm holding my pen differently. Usually my finger stops being swollen a few hours after I wake up, but not today. The "guilt muscle" in my back just started hurting. I am unhappy with my institute class. I spent all morning reading the wrong assignment. I bought the wrong textbook. I just feel crappy, and my head hurts. I want my healthy feet back! I need to call the acupuncture people. I also need a massage. I don't know if waking up at 5 a.m. was the best thing today when I have a class that goes till 7 p.m. I need a heavenly hug.

The Madeleine Cathedral bells are ringing. Small winged bugs keep landing on my arms. The light breeze is barely rustling my hair. I'm in the shade. What a beautiful time of day.

For some reason I let myself be controlled by culture—seasons, in particular, and school beginning. Just because school's started doesn't mean I bury all lessons learned about fun and spontaneity. I'm taking my life back. There's a large bearded man speaking Chinese (I think) at the top of his voice and walking this way. But I know I'm safe. He reminds me of Hagrid.

I release all guilt for not being perfect. I release all guilt for not being a better friend and for not doing my iStar work today. I forgive myself for setting me up for failure. I forgive myself for having expectations that aren't humanly possible.

Hagrid is stumbling closer and yelling louder, so I think my time has come.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sea Shell Windchimes

In movie of Sense & Sensibility, Margaret, the youngest daughter, makes the coolest sea shell wind chimes when her family moves to a cottage by the ocean. She inspired me, so as I watched the movie the other night I created my own wind chimes from shells I'd collected over the years.

Creating is one of the best ways for me to raise my spirits. It breathes life back into me. It's a wonderful, healing addiction!

To begin my project I gathered together the following:

-shells with a hole already in them
-shells with some sort of an indentation where a drill bit would stay put to begin drilling
-twine
-power drill
-1/8-inch drill bit (or the smallest you can find)
-Sense & Sensibility DVD and my laptop

I'd never used a drill before, so it felt quite empowering to be sitting crossed legged on my living room floor holding a power tool in my hand while watching Jane Austen on the big screen. Some shells were thicker than I thought and took longer to drill through. What? Another lesson on patience?

After making a hole in the shell, I'd lay out the shell on the carpet with the other shells to envision them hanging together. I knew I wanted the shells to be staggered in how they hung, and I knew I wanted some shells to be tied onto the same strand of twine, so I made some twine strands longer and some shorter. I tied the shells onto the individual strands of twine I'd cut, and then when I had all the shells in place, I tied each individual strand onto a longer strand that they all now hang from.

Makes me so happy to see my sea shell wind chime every time I go outside!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

No Green Goes to Waste

I was thinning my beets a few weeks ago and thought, "Hey, I should eat these baby leaves instead of composting them." Maybe everyone else naturally knows to eat them, but I sure thought it was a brilliant plan. So here is my tuna sandwich topped with baby chard and baby beet greens—my first taste of the garden! Nothing compares to eating produce you grew with your own two hands.

1 slice sprouted Ezekiel bread (gluten lectins are destroyed in sprouting, but read ingredient label carefully)
Albacore tuna
Tomato slices
Baby chard
Baby beet greens
Any other greens you'd like
Pepper to taste

Asian Sesame Slaw

I originally got the framework for this recipe from The 28-Day Cleansing Program cookbook and then did some tweaking to come up with what you see below. Feel free to do more of your own tweaking to personalize it to your taste buds.

1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons gluten-free tamari (or replace with soy sauce)
1 teaspoon agave
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Combine cabbage, carrots, and onion in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine all other ingredients except sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, and stir well. Pour mixture onto veggie mixture and stir well. Add seeds and stir.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Salsa Salad

3 large red leaf lettuce leaves (or your favorite green substitute),
   chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup soaked & cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup  soaked & cooked black beans
1/4 onion, chopped very fine
6 baby carrots, chopped coarsely
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped very fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper (tasting as you dash as to not over do it)
Salt to taste

Optional: tortilla chips

This creation was inspired by my graduate professor Cheryl, who always knew the perfect day to bring food for the office—the days I forgot lunch or had no food at home to bring! Replace the garbanzo or black beans with Great Northern beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans . . . whatever you prefer.

Combine all ingredients and devour. Tortilla chips can be crunched up and added to each personal salad or used to scoop up the salad for eat bite.

A Master Enjoys the Present

 
A few months ago I went to a Body Mind Spirit workshop given by a dear friend of mine, and this week I've been rereading the materials she gave us, searching for answers as to how I can rise above physical pain, which basically means emotional pain—new paths, new perspectives, connections. Basically, I'm searching for truth. In the process I came across a list of powerful descriptions of victim behavior, survivor behavior, and master behavior. I've referred to it several times a day this week, so I figured if it's helped me this much, it's gotta be of use to some of you! It's enlightened my perspectives, helped me reach for something higher, and given me specific reason to process and release certain emotions that I know are holding me back and making my body act out in pain.

Today I'm sharing #8 with you because it's root emotion is FEAR, which is the most common negative feeling in the world right now. The antithesis of fear is safety, peace, trust, faith, flexibility, and power.

VICTIM BEHAVIOR: Victims are driven by their fears. Their focus on the past creates regrets. Their focus on the future creates worry. Their health and energy are often compromised as they feel powerless and helpless.

SURVIVOR BEHAVIOR: Survivors discipline the mind to live in the moment. They know that guilt, worry, resentment, and other negative emotions rob them of their health and precious energy. They practice trusting the universe (God) in order to let go of fear.

MASTER BEHAVIOR: Masters have an ability to enjoy the present moment, allowing life to just happen, rather than manipulating things to "make" them happen. They are able to manifest their reality as they choose and trust the flow of life.

We compromise our health when we allow ourselves to fear, either reliving the past or mentally creating a worrisome future. To release fear, tell yourself that you are in control of your life. You are powerful beyond your own comprehension, and you have placed your trust God, who you believe will never fail you. You are safe, and you have complete faith that everything will work out. You are flexible and open to new ideas that may lead you down better pathways and increase your joy in life. My mantra for this year is "I am open to everything and attached to nothing," and it has saved me time and time again and led me toward the greatest blessing I would've normally been closed off to.

Today's message: Enjoy the present and allow life to happen. You are the master of your fate. You are courageous, powerful, and fearless!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homemade Granola


This healthy granola is yummy! (Please excuse the poor quality picture) And guess what? It does not contain refined sugar or any other processed ingredients!

4 cups rolled oats (not instant oats, which are a processed food)
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup nuts (I used macadamia and sliced almonds)
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

Mix well.

Heat these ingredients on stove until just melted.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup water
optional: 1/4 cup coconut oil
optional: 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pour over dry mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, preferably on a cookie sheet. Stir halfway through the baking process. Keep in pantry for up to 2 weeks, or refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Enjoy! (You can serve this with almond or rice milk, and sprouted raw sunflower seeds)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Room for Indulgence

By nature I am a stickler, a rule-abider, a promise-to-the-death kind of a person. I never realized how powerful my self-control was until people were in awe at how I changed my diet so quickly a year ago and how I did it so "effortlessly." They'd ask me about treats and I'd say, "I don't need them." It took a while for me to get it, but I recently recognized that too much self-control can stifle your spirit and deprive you of joy in life. Who needs joy, right? All I need is health. Interestingly joy and health go hand in hand. Balance. Moderation in all things. Self-control is fabulous as long as you indulge wisely every once in a while.

My indulgence? Halloumi cheese. A Cypriot native, halloumi cheese is the only cheese that can be grilled without melting, and it tastes divine in a fork-full of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber. It is worth its weight in gold, but if I'm going to indulge my taste buds and bring a little joy into my life, halloumi cheese is worth the price.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime Pasta Salads

Of all the gluten-free pastas I've tried, hands down, Mrs. Leeper's is the best. I buy the organic rice vegetable twists, and actually just started ordering them in bulk on Amazon.com. Some of the other rice pastas I've tried are so temperamental to cook, hard on the inside and mushy on the outside, but not these ones. Although beware that I have tried the Mrs. Leeper's corn pasta, and I'm not a fan. See what you prefer, but I recommend sticking to the rice pasta.

To throw together a pasta salad I mixed together the following:

gluten-free pasta twists
olive oil
cucumber, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
green bell peppers, chopped
black olives, chopped
Parmesan cheese (vegan option is Vegan Grated Topping)
salt

This is another combo option I tried just yesterday:

gluten-free pasta twists
olive oil
spinach, chopped 
tomatoes, chopped
avocado, diced
Romano cheese, crumbled
salt

Maybe throw in hicama, cilantro, parsley, orange, red, & yellow bell peppers, asparagus, grated carrots, chopped kale, or cashews. Have fun making your own salad combinations. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cookie Mix on Trial

Many, many months ago I put the Namaste Chocolate Chip Cookie mix on trial. Read what I thought of them here. Since that time I've found an even better tasting gluten-free and dairy-free cookie mix. The Cravings Place: Chocolate Chunk Cookie. Try them. You won't regret it. Just look at these guys (see mouth-watering photo above)! Again, my long-standing recommendation to you is to make all your food from scratch, but it's nice to have an emergency backup just in case.

Why these cookies over the Namaste ones? They are more substantial and fluffy. Are those good descriptors? I'm not sure they are, but the Namaste cookies would not stay together. They were wimpy and thin. I literally crave these Cravings Place cookies, and it's great to have a treat that has only 4 grams of sugar from beets as opposed to 16 grams of refined sugar. Use coconut oil where it calls for dairy-free margarine. One time I added apple sauce to this mix instead of  coconut oil, and they ended up way too sweet and way too dense.

WARNING: Sugar depletes the body of minerals because of its acidity. To regain pH balance, our bodies pull minerals from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid in our systems. Be wise and eat sugar in moderation.

Cupcake Mix on Trial

I work with children on the Autism Spectrum, and we are careful what we feed them. Many of them are allergic to tree nuts, casein, and gluten, so we often go the vegan route when preparing snacks for them. Recently we made cupcakes for a celebration we had with their families, experimenting with the Namaste Vanilla Cake Mix and Cliff's Best Gulten-Free Brownie Mix. As always, my long-standing advice is to make all your food from scratch, but it's nice to have an emergency backup just in case you need a gluten-free or vegan dessert in short notice.


In the end, the vanilla cupcakes the boys had grabbed ended up in the trash. Very disappointing, but oh well. Now we know. The vanilla cupcakes tasted more like bran muffins while the chocolate cupcakes could've passed as any of their regular white-flour cupcake friends. Even though Cliff's are a brownie mix, their consistency is more like cake, so they worked great as cupcakes.
WARNING: Sugar depletes the body of minerals because of its acidity. To regain pH balance, our bodies pull minerals from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid in our systems. Be wise and eat sugar in moderation. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Babies Are Growing!

I don't think there's anything quite like watching little sprouts appear out of nowhere from simply planting a seed. It's miraculous! For the first time in my life I have my very own garden, and I suddenly feel like a protective parent . . . and a surprised parents: "You won't believe what my chard did today! They're growing all on their own! And the turnips have the cutest little leaves on them now!"

Because of the winter weather that crept right in the door meant for spring, we planted in cycles. And also, I admit, it was because I was lazy. Planting everything in one or two days seemed impossible, so I just barely planted the beets, spinach, and cilantro. The chard does its own thing and is already sprouting up everywhere, as you see in the picture. Behind the chard in the picture are beautiful purple flowers of our chives. Our turnips, radishes, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, all kinds of squash, tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini, and potatoes are healthy, so now it's time to watch the beets, spinach, and cilantro to see what they do. Okay, Mother Nature. Do your thing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Tacos

Many thanks to Aunt Cynthia, who introduced me to Sweet Potato Tacos. I could eat them any time of day, and leftovers are just as good. Prepare yourself—these seriously are to die for.

2 medium sweet potatoes (not yams), baked
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups black beans, soaked and cooked
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic (but go crazy and add more if you love garlic)
1 1/2 chili powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cilantro, chopped
Tortillas (corn or sprouted)

Optional additions: corn, tomatoes
Optional toppings: tomatoes, spinach, avocado, lettuce, fresh salsa

Put the coconut oil in a large frying pan and saute onion and garlic for about 15 minutes. Add beans and seasonings. (I actually have never added chili powder and ground mustard, and the recipe has still turned out amazing.) Stir. Add vegetable broth. At this point I usually add frozen or fresh corn and cilantro. Simmer with lid off until almost all broth has cooked off.

Mash the sweet potatoes with their skins on. Spread some of the potatoes in the middle of the tortilla and top with the beans. Add whatever other toppings you'd like.

What do you want?

How many of you have heard the phrase, "Ask and you shall receive"? Maybe the better question is, how many times have you hard the phrase, "Ask and you shall receive"? And how many of you sometimes sit baffled, skeptical, or indifferent when you hear those words? Like you're missing a vital piece of the equation. Like you must not be worthy of what you want because you sure have not gotten it and have actually stopped asking. Like it just must not be something you'll ever have, so you should just accept it.

Some people say "It's all in the Lord's timing," to make themselves feel better that they haven't gotten what they wanted. Sure. That's an easy excuse. (Sorry to be harsh.) Do you really think a loving God would withhold a righteous desire from you? Instead of saying "the Lord's timing" we should say, it's our timing—we're not yet in a place to receive. What it really comes down to is, do you truly believe that you can have what you're asking for? Now I know your initial response may be to get frustrated and start flinging your sweat & tears at me—I've been there plenty of times myself, so please feel my support, but again, if we've heard the scriptural phrase, "Ask and you shall receive," hundred upon hundred times, it must be important and true. So let's do a little experiment, since that's what this blog is all about anyway, right?

Think about something you really want. You don't just want this if it's convenient, you want this no matter what. This could be physical health, freedom from an addiction, an iPod, peace of mind, some good lovin', thick healthy hair, a new dress, piano lessons for your son, or a dream job. What do you want more than anything?

Now, think about how much you believe you can have this desire. I'm not asking if you deserve this desire, I'm asking if you believe that you can have it. At this point logic often starts to creep in. "Well, I've had bunions for 12 years, so I don't really believe they'll ever go away. And they're hereditary, so I'm stuck with them no matter how much I want them gone," or "I have no clue how I'd be able to afford piano lessons for Joey. We're barely scraping by each month, and I don't see how any extra money will be coming in," or "I've survived my job this long, I guess it's not so bad. I should just feel lucky to even have a job." What do we call these? Cop outs!! Dig deep. Keep going. If belief is your roadblock, now you know where to put your attention.

The desires of your heart and your beliefs must be on the same vibration for you to get what you desire. What does this mean? This means that your desires and your faith must match in strength or you will never get what you want. You either (1) don't believe that it's possible even though you have a lot of desire or (2) don't want it enough even though your faith is strong. Or (3) you have neither strong enough faith nor adequate desire yet. Again, please don't throw rocks until you've processed this information and experimented with it in your own life. Desires are realized at different speeds depending on where we are on the spectrum of belief and the spectrum of desire.

One more fascinating thing to consider: like attracts like. When I said that our desires and beliefs must be on the same vibration for us to get our desire, our thoughts and words must be focusing on what we want, not on what we don't have (i.e., focusing on how fat you are instead of on how you're going to get thinner: "I'm so fat. Nothing fits. Oh my gosh, my hips are so huge. I wish I were as skinny as Sheila," vs. "I'm ready to eat healthier because I deserve to look good and feel good. I look so much healthier than last month! I love myself for being determined to change.") Whatever you put your attention on, you will get—either exactly what you desire or more longing for what you don't have. It's up to you.

For me this part is especially hard because I sometimes feel like I'm flat-out lying to myself. If my whole body aches and I can't move my arm without shooting pain, do you honestly think it's easy to tell myself I'm getting healthier and that my hard work is paying off? Number one, I didn't say it was easy. But it is actually pretty comical at times—I love telling myself that I am the healthiest I've ever been when I'm lying in bed because my hip joints are in so much pain. But even better than being comical at times, it works. I've experienced it. Even this morning I had a good long talk with myself about some emotional issues from last night that triggered pain in my hip and elbow. To be honest, I dread those self-talks. Why? Because it means work and change and doing hard things. It means doing things I don't always want to do, like confronting my inner demons. But if I remind myself that I am working through emotions to keep my body from hurting and to ultimately get what I want, it's not brainwashing or telling lies to myself—it's ultimately focusing on what I want rather than on what I don't want. It's making my beliefs and desires strong enough that by natural law—God's universal laws—I have to get what I desire.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's True

I just wanted to add to what Katie said in her 'To Be Super Human' post about Vitality. The supplement is amazing! I have been taking it for about a month and a half now. In that time I have doubled my weekly running mileage to about 30 miles a week, and it hasn't even phased me. I feel like I have more energy and am not as tired. Here's a link to my running log: http://www.running-log.com/calendar?athleteid=11833 (I didn't run as much last week because I had the flu.) I have been working hard to get where I am currently with running, but I also feel that Vitality has helped me have the little extra I need. I feel like a teenager again!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Drink Hot Pink

When Robyn Openshaw says her Hot-Pink Breakfast Smoothie is hot pink, she isn't kidding. I went to one of her green smoothie workshops this week, and she asked how many of us had tried her hot pink smoothie. Only a handful of people raised their hands, and I wasn't one of them. For some reason I just hadn't gotten around to trying it even though I've had the recipe for more then a year now.

Well, I woke up this morning and decided today would be the day of the hot pink smoothie. I even had all the ingredients except for the coconut liquid, so I replaced it with coconut milk. It probably came out much thicker than it was supposed to because of that, but it was amazing! No wonder Robyn drinks 4 quarts of it every morning.

1 1/2 cups coconut liquid (raw or canned)
1 large carrot, cleaned and cut into 3 pieces (or 5 baby carrots)
1/2 medium beet, peeled
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup dates, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 frozen strawberries

Put the coconut liquid in your blender first. Then add everything else except the strawberries. Blend on high. With my Blendtec I put it on speed 4 to really puree the beets and carrots. Then add the strawberries. I ended up adding 15 strawberries. Be prepared to be amazed!


Friday, May 20, 2011

To Be Super Human

True: Today I ran 5.6 miles instead of the 4.0 miles I planned on. (Hey, I felt good and wanted to keep going—I'm not sure that's ever happened before.)
True: My last mile was paced at 7:58 (I was also running down hill).
True: I haven't run 5.6 miles in almost 13 years!
True: I haven't run, period, in 12 years!
False: I could go run another 5.6 miles right now, piece o' cake, because I've got super-human powers.

Although I am not Super Woman, I do have a confession to make. Two months ago I started taking a supplement that resets your genes. That's exactly what I said, but this aint no science fiction. The supplement is called Vitality, and believe you me, I did my research before putting it in my body. I actually refused to try it until I took a bottle to my holistic doctor, to have her test it's compatibility with my body. Her computer registered it very high, meaning my body would greatly benefit from Vitality. So I shed me skepticism and gave it a try. My only regret is that I didn't start taking it sooner—I would've sold just about anything (including my earring tree, which everyone knows is the first thing I'd grab in a fire) to have had Vitality a year ago when I was in such unbearable RA pain.

Vitality is full of all kinds of natural extracts like cordyceps mushrooms, pomegranate, and ginseng (nonstimulating), but the key ingredient is the "Ageloc formula" based on the research of the human genome. The scientists who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the human genome are the same guys who created this Ageloc anti-aging, gene-resetting formula. For more on the science behind Vitality, click on the image below.

So what happens after taking Vitality? That all depends on your body—everyone is different. After three weeks I noticed that the rheumatoid arthritis in my right hand stopped reared it's ugly head!—for the most part, my right hand is the last remaining area of RA in my body. And after about a month and a half I noticed I could not only get by with 7 hours of sleep, but I could function and felt totally rested! To go from needing about 9 to 10 hours every night to 7 is a modern-day miracle. Many of you who read this blog have auto-immune diseases and know all about exhaustion! Others of you have small children, which, I may be so bold to say, is comparable to having an auto-immune disease when it comes to energy level. If Vitality could help give you part of your life back, like it has me, it is worth trying! This is not a shot of energizer bunny for the quick energy fix or the all-nighter, but this is the natural way to get your genes producing energy more efficiently, like they did when you were 20 years old, if you can remember that far back. (Oh, and Vitality helps with mental acuity too, for those of you who can't remember being 20.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

"_ _ _ _ _ _ _ isn't everything, it's the ONLY thing."

At the moment I'm breaking in my new SmartWool PhD light half-cushion running socks and playing around with my new Nike running band, which just arrived, thanks to See Jane Run. What does all this mean?? Go ahead and say it! . . . I'm running again!! Literally and powerfully and joyfully my body is moving like it's never moved before, and this new kind of motion has become quite an addiction. An exhilarating mix of pure gratitude and complete awe at what I'm capable of. Every time I run, the thought comes to my mind, "This is your life!" and I know this is a good life. A good, good life.

In January I knew I wanted to run again, and for the first time in ten years I believed I could. First I bought a pair of running shoes, then some running shorts and running socks. I was painting a very clear picture of what I wanted. I wanted to create some hype for myself, turning 30 years old and all the end of March, and really wanted to be running before that. But it didn't happen. So I patiently waited and health-ified my body even more and officially started running April 21st. But boy was I walking before that and even when I did start running it was about 5 minutes at a time with a lot of walking in between. On Saturday I ran 4 miles in 45 minutes and felt great. Anyone up for doing a half marathon the end of the summer? The best part is, I'm serious.

PS: I will keep you posted on how the new socks hold up after a long run. And once I figure out the running band, you'll be able to follow my running online and know that honest to goodness, these feet are  not just walking without pain, they are running up hills and down. For now, check out my running log by clicking here or start your own by clicking here. Sam will have to give you her running-log info too, so you can see what a stellar runner she is. Watch for her in the next summer Olympics.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Global Visitors

I happened to just now take a peek at the details of the stat counter, which lets me know from where in the world people are connecting with this site. I was so excited to see that people from Canada, India, and Belgium are passing through to see what we have to say! Yes, I've dedicated an entire post to you, and I'd love to hear your comments, please! I'm in a very open and teachable stage of life (which may not last too long, right?), so in case this stage is more fleeting than I thought, I'd love to hear from all of you. Even my fellow Americans.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Only True Medicine

c/o http://www.davidthompsonart.com/photography.htm
Have you noticed that the flood gates have opened at last, and I can't stop sharing now? It's finally time. I've also been recently shelving a few of my other responsibilities in order to make time to post, but it's time.

From a few of the books I've been reading, I'm seeing how our emotions are often directly connected to whatever physical pain we're experiencing. Yesterday I decided to go deeper and evaluate what emotions I need to be dealing with based on what showed up on Barbara's computer on Wednesday: Epstein Barr Virus (yep, it's back!), circulation, spleen, head and neck pain, and lungs. Sure we could say that rheumatoid arthritis causes poor circulation or that I'm stressed and that causes EBV to flare up as well as headaches and neck pain, but why am I stressed? Why am I allowing myself to feel stress? We could also assume that my lungs are a little clogged from the winter inversion and my daily commute to a big city, but what is really causing these malfunctions in my body? Why is my body weak enough to allow these environmental or genetic problems to effect me?

So I did more research and gathered all of the emotions that could be linked to these physical malfunctions and reflected on what I've most recently been experiencing in life. What I found that matched was the following: fear, resisting love from others, anxiety and pressure, stress from responsibilities, not being sincere with myself and others because of lack of self-love, not allowing myself to feel others' love/feeling rejected, fear, resentment, not feeling approval, hurts from love, feeling life is monotonous, not being able to do things my way, inflexible state of mind, moving under pressure, wanting to let feelings out but don't dare, tension, discouragement, not enjoying my job but I can't quit, putting myself down, and feeling I must prove myself. Yikes. What does that all mean, and can I really admit that all of that gunk is mine? To be honest, it takes a lot of courage to admit we've got a lot of nonsense going on inside our heads. You are all my confidantes now because these are not things I like to admit. But I'm beginning to see that I'm not alone. None of us are immune to negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy, but by becoming more aware of our tendencies we can help alleviate the emotional and physical pain.

So next I did some more reflecting and thought, "What is the positive alternative to all of these negative emotions?" I concluded that it was LOVE and PEACE. I then dug a little deeper to discover that my need for peace actually stems from stress and anxiety to perform because of needing approval. If I felt more LOVE, I wouldn't need to perform and feel like I have to be perfect to get it. Thus, LOVE is the true answer! The Beatles were right—all you need is love. LOVE is the only true medicine.

Last night I finished Guidepost #2, "Cultivating Self-Compassion" in the book The Gifts of Imperfection and that got me thinking about the root of the antithesis of LOVE. For me that root is perfectionism. This basically means 1) needing approval, acceptance and to feel good enough and 2) fear of judgment, blame, and shame. It's that feeling that in order to feel or deserve love you have to earn it.

So since I now know that LOVE is the only true medicine, I decided to list all of the moments people showed me love yesterday—all the hugs, the "I love yous," the smiles, the little acts of kindness, the moments of acceptance, the acknowledgments that I exist and matter. And then I thought back to how I felt in each one of those moments. I realized that in quite a few I was quick to deny the love or discount it or challenge it. Why?? Why do we often feel unworthy of love? That's something we all have to uncover and understand for ourselves.

For me Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of love, so this morning I decided to list the ways He showed love. Teaching, healing, performing acts of kindness, working miracles, seeing and hearing people that others didn't, forgiving, accepting, seeking out "lost sheep," believing in people, inviting people to follow Him, making time for people, empathizing, sharing His gifts, being Himself, being self-compassionate, connecting with people, washing his apostles' feet, mourning with those who were sad, being patient, speaking truth, being courageous, caring for His mother, talking to and playing with the children, chastising when the circumstances required it, and being selfless in everything He did. How was it possible for Christ to give LOVE without limit?

It's one thing to know that LOVE is the true medicine, but without knowing how to allow it into our lives, it means nothing. I decided that Christ's ability to give and receive LOVE came down to three things: 1) He knew who He was; 2) He understood His earthly mission; and 3) He had appropriate expectations. So in order to let LOVE in, we must know who we are and our true worth; we have to understand what great purpose we have in this life; and we need to recognize that everyone is imperfectly human, so we can't have faulty expectations of not only others' abilities but our own abilities as well.

I don't know about you, but I feel exhausted now! Excited to be getting more answers but drained. I think I need to do some more internalizing and processing and planning to know how to put this all into action. These roots stretch deep, and this post is only the tips of the branches.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over

A lot has happened in a year—my life wouldn't sparkle like it does now if I hadn't known the pain and fear that often accompanies illness. This thorn in my side called rheumatoid arthritis has been my guide to better understanding who I am (past, present, and future) and has motivated me to change for the better. But it's time to say good-bye to RA—you are not me. The dog days are over!

This morning I paid Barbara a cheery visit—I was actually ecstatic, smiling at the walls all week long because I couldn't wait to see what she'd find . . . or not find. Barbara takes care of me holistically, and as of today happily reported that my RA pain was coming in on the computer at a 4. Not an 800 like it did in May, not a 15 like it did in October, but a 4!! She also has a high-tech computer that does light and sound treatment, so she flooded my hands and feet with light until they felt as good as new. Thank you, thank you!

Some of you may be wondering how my RA pain could've dropped so drastically without ever going on medication. When I started on this journey a year ago—and started this blog—my focus was to heal through "an experiment with a new way to eat" instead of getting on any medications. My external resources at that time also included holistic remedies, prayer, religious texts, and priesthood blessings. I studied intensely to know what God could tell me about healing, learning primarily from Christ's power to heal, and how light, faith, and forgiveness play a role in healing. Then starting in August my diet path started to widen little by little to also include meditation, fasting (which I hadn't done in 7 years because of the hypoglycemia!), reflexology, massage (craniosacral and water drop), chiropractic, physical therapy, visualization, and positive thinking. I've never studied, prayed, or fasted so fervently. Every ounce of healing I've experienced has been because of my Savior. I could write volumes about the power Christ has to heal each and every one of us. I now know clearer than ever how the power is in us to choose to be healed and that once we choose to be healed, it is only through Christ we can be made whole. Some of you have other higher powers that you call on, but it all comes from the same source.

A year ago tomorrow I went in search of answers to all the mysterious pain that was taking over my body. The doctors took X-rays and ran my first round of blood work that determined I had RA. Since this has been the journey of a lifetime—the most profound thing I have yet to experience—I want to share with you how it all began:

February 24, 2010—Wednesday
          You know how sometimes you inspect your life, and it's nothing like what you thought it'd be? When I woke up this morning with bursitis in my right wrist, I went on a 30-minute walking adventure and thought that thought—that this is not how I expected my life to be. And then I thought more specifically how the Lord had prepared me to know that I would become acquainted with sickness. I thought about it tonight while I was splashing water on my face, and it made me laugh out loud. Then I thought about it again after I got a text from Aunt Lavon, and it made me cry.
          Bursitis hurts like strained, frozen muscles being tugged and even yanked. Like there's an impossibly heavy weight attached to every nerve and every tendon in your shoulder or hand or jaw. It's deep. Stiff. Eee-err-eee-err . . . almost squeaky. Tense and achy. It's torture. I felt better tonight when Aunt Gail emailed a second time to say she'd had bursitis before, and she said it hurts way worse than than RA.
          I'm not sure what to expect tomorrow morning at my doctor appointment. I just want to know how to keep this pain from happening so often and from spreading. I've been super blessed so far not to have two parts of my body with bursitis at the same time—this week did come close though with my left shoulder freezing up from Saturday to Monday and then my right wrist taking over today. Will I eventually need hospice? I'd prefer a husband.


February 25, 2010—Thursday
          I hope that if I have a new, unknown disease that they call it Mildred Syndrome. Or Unhappy Joints Disease. Something catchy.
          After lots of tubes of my O+ blood were drawn and about 10 X-rays were taken, I was left to wait the results. (Dang, I'm realizing how tense I am all the time. How do I loosen up more?) Dr. Martin told me she'd call me with the blood work results tomorrow. The X-rays showed no joint damage, but they did reveal a mysterious stress fracture in my right foot. (Yep, I've been feeling that for two weeks now, but I did nothing to get it—just woke up one morning and couldn't walk on my right foot.) Dr. Martin says that bursitis doesn't cause rheumatoid arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis can cause bursitis. What the doctor doesn't think sounds right is that my bursitis is spreading. That doesn't generally happen. Hmm. Prodigy?:) I'd like to think so. Like Roald Dahl's Matilda—I'm reading it right now and love the diversion.

Well, I'll close there for now. I think I've shared enough of my juicy journal writings for one day. 

I still have a ways to go with my health, but these dog days are definitely over. I am full of only gratitude and anticipation of what I will learn tomorrow.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Self-Love

When I say "self-love," I don't mean narcissism. And I also don't mean that "yeah, sure I love myself" kind of love where it's more like you put up with yourself. This is a higher love where you listen to your own hopes and dreams and encourage yourself. The kind of acceptance and admiration you may give others but shy away from when talking about yourself. Self-love is when you are kind to yourself even when you screw up or say something stupid—when you accept yourself for who you are at this very moment.

I've been onto this idea of self-love since the end of January and have been doing a little experiment of my own. I decided that I wanted to be more self-nurturing, so I've been taking care of myself and talking to myself as if I were someone else, meaning, being as nice to myself as I am to other people. (I tend to give everyone but me the benefit of the doubt, which I know goes for a lot of you too.) So to get the self-nurturing ball rolling, I'd say stuff like, "I'm taking a nice relaxing bath because I am self-nurturing" to hold my hand through the awkwardness of serving myself. I'd also stop and think, "Okay, if I were self-nurturing, what would I do? . . . I would take a quick nap instead pushing through the mental fog." I suddenly felt a new acceptance of myself. For the first time I was considering my own needs and wants just like I'd always considered everyone else's. It's slowly sinking in that I have nothing to prove to anyone, and I don't need such unreasonable expectations for myself.

Even though I've been telling myself that I am self-nurturing for a month now, the breakthrough didn't happen until Tuesday (two days ago). By breakthrough I mean, my mind and my heart connected—my thoughts and feelings were united. The words I'd been saying (e.g., "I am good enough," "I am important," "I am magnificent," "I am self-nurturing," etc.) had mostly just been words that then led to actions (e.g., letting myself curl up on the couch with cookies, ice cream, a huge blanket, and a good book with candles lit even though I still had more studying to do). These were positive actions that helped me go through the motions of noticing my needs and being thoughtful to myself, BUT these words had no't yet registered in my heart. Until Tuesday.

Tuesday was a busy day, like most of our days are, right? I had projects and papers and errands to do before I left for a meeting. Everything on my to-do list had to do with school, work, or household tasks. As I was hurrying home from errands, I was about to pass my chiropractor's office. I have a package deal going on where I can work out in their exercise room as much as I want. That usually ends up being a meager one to two times a week. Well, I was about to pass the building when I made a split-second decision to stop. I was a little annoyed at myself because I knew I'd be more stressed later when I had less time to finish my paper, but I did it anyway.

I worked out for 20 minutes and then did laser treatment on my joints for another 20, and then headed home. Everything worked out fine, and I finished my paper just in time to head to my meeting. As I was driving up my street, my mind started thinking through the morning's events. My brain slowed down as I thought about me going to the chiropractor, and the thought came, "I made time to work out because I am important." Then I realized what I'd just done without any prodding—I'd acknowledged that I am important. Bam! I literally was hit with a wave of love and gratitude and genuine acceptance of myself. I've never, ever felt such approval of myself and genuine joy for being counted as a top priority in my life.

Just a minute ago I was reading an article in the February 2011 Yoga Journal called "Nurturing the New You." The title jumped out at me because of this journey of self-nurturing I've been on. The most effective way to change something in ourselves is through compassion, not self-criticism, impatience, or anger. I recently read in Feelings Buried Alive Never Die that it is not humanly possible to be without flaw, but we are all fundamentally perfect when we are in a state of change. (Which is basically the case for every one of us!) The only way to be changing in a positive direction is to accept and love yourself for your weaknesses and be forgiving of yourself when you don't change as quickly as you'd like. You are worthy of your own love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back from Lunch

(Out To Lunch by Tammis Keefe)
I've been out to lunch from this blog for a really, really long time. I've thought about you guys a lot, I promise, but I've had such a mixture of thoughts and epiphanies and ahh-hhas running through my head that I was hoping to trod a little deeper before I published my findings.

I did almost post on October 21, 2010 when my holistic doctor showed me on her computer screen how the rheumatoid arthritis pain in my body had dropped from an 800 to a 15 on the scale. WOW is right.

And I almost wrote to tell you guys that since being on this new diet—gluten-free vegan—I no longer take medicine for EBV. After 7 years, it is gone and has been gone since August.

Miraculously, I also no longer needed to take hyperthyroid herbal drops as of July, because my energy levels had stabilized and my thyroid was happy once again. Should've shared that with you guys too.

In September I almost told you how I was starting to read a book called Anatomy of the Spirit and then was gifted You Can Heal Your Life, which led me to even more books and a new way of thinking. I'll most definitely get to talking about that. I stayed quiet through November, December, and January because I was processing.

And I did almost write about those many, many days of pain and utter frustration scattered over the past half a year to show that you're not alone and that I still haven't completely said good-bye to illness. Those blessed days when I can't cut my toast (yes, some of us do cut our toast, at least when there's a fried egg on top) or dress myself or walk without wincing are still familiar to me. Every day is full of surprise moments of gratitude (e.g., Like two weeks ago when I couldn't swallow or even lick my lips because the muscles around the hinge of my jaw were so tight and inflamed and then a few days later when I could eat again—I was suddenly beyond grateful for those muscles I never paid attention to before!). I thank God for those inconvenient days because they're days and not weeks anymore, and because without them I wouldn't be as conscious of what my body is trying to tell me. It's been talking to me for years, but I ignored it. That's why it's screaming now.

Being conscious, being aware is where my journey has led me the past few months. I've been asking myself, "What's really going on up there in that mind of yours, Katie? And what are you feeling?" And then once I became conscious enough to recognize my thoughts and when I was feelings something, I next asked myself, "Why are you feeling that way?" Peeling back layer after layer is no easy job. I'd say this part of the healing process has been ten times harder than giving up Oreo cookies. I wasn't prepared for that. So the majority of my next posts will most likely be about this more spiritual, inner journey I started on when I felt like the healthy food was no longer enough. Body, Mind, and Spirit. We must heal all three.

What's your secret to being more aware of your body's needs?

Know Your Greens: Kale

Why eat kale?

Because it's off the charts in Vitamin A, C, and K.
Because it's the prettiest green you'll ever see.
Because it's also got moderate amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, and manganese.
Because it's got mad ruffles, but it's not all girlie.
Because 1 cup raw, chopped kale contains 121mg Omega-3 fatty acids and 92mg Omega-6 fatty acids.
Because it can put the green in your green drink or green smoothie.
Because it even has a little protein in there—1 cup raw contains 4% of the daily protein requirement.
Because it's got dietary fiber, and you know you need some of that.
Because it comes fresh out of the ground, and thus it can be called food (read In Defense of Food for more information on the difference between nutrients and food.)

For full nutritional details on kale go here.

Here's a chart that lays it all out for us, care of The World's Healthiest Foods.

Eureka!

Believe it or not, today I discovered a gluten-free noodle that DID NOT taste like a gluten-free noodle. Imagine that! I was blown away. I've become accustomed to noodles that are either thick & pasty or prone to dissolve while boiling. None of the above here. The pasta salad I made today was a small piece of heaven in my mouth. I never knew how happy it could make me to feel like I was eating "normal" pasta again!

Mrs. Leeper's
Organic Rice Vegetable Twists
Ingredients: Organic brown rice flour, spinach powder, beet powder.
A Wheat, Gluten, and Casein Free Food.

www.worldfiner.com

Please share your gluten-free pasta discoveries too. We'd love to hear what's your favorite.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carrot and Beet Salad

1 pound carrots, chopped
1/4 cup currants or raisins, diced
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
2 scallions, chopped
Olive oil
1–2 medium-size beets, chopped
1 navel orange, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons mint or basil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Sea salt

You may chop your veggies however you choose—with a food processor, a turbo blender, or a good old-fashioned knife. (I chose to put the carrots and beets in a food processor and chop the scallions by hand.) Then mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow mixture to sit for a few hours in the fridge so that the vegetables can absorb the flavors. This recipe makes a ton of salad, so I recommend first quartering or halfing the recipe if it's for just you and a few friends. As you can see by the picture, it's a very bright and cheery dish, and the perfect combo of colors to add pizzazz to any plate.