Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blessings From Above

I want to blow up two new businesses. The first is Chef Leah Ahmeet Ellis of Institute Life Everlasting. She is a young sister (26 years old!) who just released her first book, Blessings from Above. She is self-published, as am I, so I know how tough that can be. Her book, full of simple, easy raw food recipes, is $19.99 plus $2.00. Leah can be reached at heretolive7@hotmail.com.

And my friends Amaadi and Tanikka just launched Eastern Organics. www.easternorganics.com. No matter where you live in the United States, the company delivers certified organic produce TO YOUR HOUSE. You read it right. Organic produce on your porch. So go to the site and support these wonderful women, while helping yourself. ◦

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bag Lady

I had a powerful experience this morning. One that I did not expect. My husband and I care for disabled relatives. Both are adults. One of them has schizophrenia w/ early dementia. Mental illness is not a joke. It’s insidious, poisonous, and can pull the caretakers (read: me and Rom) down into a morass of the other person’s madness. This is the reason why I have chosen to go raw vegan. I have to care for myself because I care for so many other people.

So this morning, I watched my relatives leave, as they do every morning, to go to their medical day program. The younger one walked out first, as she always does, practically running for the bus. The older one, walked out second. Once she was outside, I saw that she was carrying not one, but two bags. One was stuffed with stuff as it always is. And I couldn’t tell what was in the second one. In that moment, it was like a flash of lightning hit me in the chest. “She’s a Bag Lady,” I thought to myself as I watched her get on the bus.

My relative is weighed down by everything. She walks stooped over, at an almost 45 degree angle. Scoliosis and two back surgeries are the medical reasons why she is stooped over. Nineteen years of agoraphobia, no exercise, and the mental weight of never letting go of her traumas are the real reasons. Call that last one mystical or metaphysical if you want to, but I know that a person’s thoughts create her life. And in her previous home, before she moved in with us, her bedroom was a perfect metaphor for her life: chaos. Black trash bags, filled with newspapers and magazines, covered the floor. A tiny trail led from the door to her bed. Her dressers where filled with more newspapers, some from a decade ago. I realized that if she didn’t have us, she would be a bag lady on the street pushing the shopping cart full of stuff that means so much to her, but is in fact, weighing her down.

I have bronchitis right now. I promptly cleaned my living room when she left. And I so want to go from room to room and throw out crap that we no longer need. I want that Salvation Army truck to come pick up things right now.

I do not want to live my life holding on to things that no longer serve me. That is one of my intentions this year. Magazines from 1993, and mailings from 1995 (things I have found in my relative’s room) serve no purpose. Cleaning out to make room for the new makes the most sense. It has been a long road with me and this relative. I can honestly say, for the first time, that I can see her major purpose in my life. She teaches me that living in the past, not forgiving yourself and others, and not dealing with your pain, leads to a life filled with sadness and anxiety. I only have an inkling of what happened to her. Some of it was traumatic, yes. The bulk of it we will never know because her parents are passed, her ex-husband is MIA, although he did show up for a minute to fill in some clues, but he rolled out again too, and the rest of her relatives don’t want to have anything to do with her.

But I know mental illness can be healed. I know two people who were very sick, but now lead normal lives. And I am so curious as to how two people can experience the same trauma, but one goes mad and the other uses that experience to heal herself and others. I think of Oprah, Louise Hay, ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza, who survived the Rwandan Holocaust and lost all of her family members except one, and that was only because he was in another country at the time. She hid in a bathroom for ninety days with five other women. And she forgave her family’s killers. My God. I can’t even say I could do that. I have friends who have been through some serious hell. The one thing that all have in common is their faith, regardless of what it is.

I’ve had enough spiritual experiences to know that God is real. I channel Angels. But I also know that we live on Earth. We are here for God to experience life through us. We are here to love each other, enjoy each other, and to live as spiritual, mental, and physical beings. I call it “keeping your feet on the ground and keeping your head to the sky.”

I just had to get all of that out. Spiritual teachers don’t usually come draped in robes, full of enlightenment. Most come as ordinary people, some wise, some mad. All have something to teach…if you pay attention. ◦

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hoodwinked and Bamboozled

long post, forgive my loquaciousness

I like how Barak Obama slipped in "You've been hoodwinked. You've been bamboozled," into his speech after his "Potomac States" win on Tuesday. "You remember that?" he said. Who ever thought a serious contender for the White House would quote Malcolm X and get away with it?

Speaking of hoodwinked and bamboozled, we certainly are being given the shaft in terms of food. This post was inspired by Sarma Melngailis' latest blog on We Like It Raw (www.welikeitraw.com) and her going off on Dunkin Donuts. So I decided to look up some ingredients of my own. My children love pancakes. One of the ingredients in the syrup is Sodium Benzoate. I googled it, and here is what is said on Wikipedia:

sodium title="Food preservation" preservative. It is not bactericidal, only bacteriostatic. It has fungistatic activity. It is effective only in acidic conditions (pH< title="Vinegar" vinegar), carbonated drinks (carbonic acid), jams (citric acid), fruit juices (citric acid), pickles (vinegar), and Chinese food sauces (soy, mustard, and duck).[citation needed] It is also found in alcohol-based mouthwash and silver polish....It is also used in fireworks as a fuel in whistle mix, a powder which imparts a whistling noise when compressed into a tube and ignited.It is found naturally in cranberries, prunes, greengage plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and apples.
In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate may form benzene[6], a known carcinogen. Heat, light and shelf life can affect the rate at which benzene is formed.Professor Peter Piper of the University of Sheffield claims that sodium benzoate by itself can damage and inactivate vital parts of DNA in a cell's mitochondria. "The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it - as happens in a number of diseased states - then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA - Parkinson's and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of aging."

I won't be buying that syrup again. And I'll be honest, money is the reason why I'll get the cheaper stuff over maple syrup. And anyone who does not acknowledge the higher cost of a raw food diet is not being honest. I get around this by participating in the DC Produce Coop bi-weekly. And there is a company coming that will deliver produce to your door (but I have to keep it a secret for now...but its coming!) I do get "seconds" sometimes from my local health food store (the produce that is overly ripe. Sometimes I can get it for free).

So my mother and I were talking about preservatives and how we, as a country, are being shoveled a bunch of &^%$ to eat, for lack of a better term. For a country so well-educated, we believe that pharmaceutical drugs are really going to heal us. Are you kidding? I know for a fact that some people need pharma drugs. But drugs and surgery should be a LAST resort, not the first. Western medicine is fantastic for emergency services. If I'm in a car accident, I need to go to the ER, not see an herbalist. But you can be sure that while I'm in the hospital, I will forgoe the hospital food and have my family sneak in green smoothies.

I have spent a lot of time in hospitals lately because of my mother-in-law's multiple ailments. And she ain't trying to hear about natural remedies. She was in a nursing home briefly and the food they were served got me heated. Mashed up chicken and gravy, overcooked green beans, and rolls. What is healing about that? The population that needs clean, alkaline food the most is not getting it. And when my MIL was discharged from the hospital, she came with three slips of paper with ten prescriptions. Me and Rom were like, "what is all this for?"And based on her behavior at the hospital, those medicines were a prescription for disaster. We got four of them filled, and left the rest.

Now that my rant is over, the good news is that I was able to travel to Detroit to see my family this past weekend. I was not completely raw. My aunt Beverly made a kick-butt spinach quiche that rocked. Everything else I had was spinach salad, fruit, and raw veggies. I love the fact that my family is so open and accepting of my lifestyle. I nearly cried when I told them that I had the best family in the world. I meant it. Some folk have families who don't get it. Mine does. I will be enternally grateful.

Blogger is not letting me post pictures, so I'll post photos from my trip next time. Thanks for reading! ◦

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sunflower Vegetable Burgers

I got this recipe out of Incredibly Delicious, the vegan cookbook I always recommend. This was in the RAWSOME section. The burger is darker than the photo indicates. The flash makes it look like an uncooked beef burger. It was surprisingly good. The ingredients are almonds, sunflower burgers, celery, bell pepper, scallions, carrots, beets, tahini, nutritional yeast, and sea salt (I used Spike). I would definitely make it again. Good stuff.
Also, I decided to do a 3-day juice fast on my birthday weekend. My birthday falls on a Friday in March, and it's a New Moon too. I'm using Queen Afua's Heal Thyself as my guide. Everyone is doing a 92-day juice feast it seems, but I won't be doing that until my children are much older and more independent.
And I made a carrot-apple-beet juice tonight. I'm going to make it again tommorrow and take a picture. It was super super good. I almost couldn't believe it. And it was beautiful to look at. Beets have never been my favorite, but in this mixture, I could drink it everyday.


Sexyback II

I've lost seven pounds! Whoo hoo! I love this. I was so excited to see that on the scale. I had been a little disheartened. I've been working out the YMCA and eating raw, but the old pounds weren't moving. This is very motivating for me to keep going. I've learned that weight loss is a true "release." It's releasing pounds of pain. I meant it when I said the 2008 would be about joy.

Also, on another note, I was flipping through an old Yoga Journal last night. An article mentioned Ahimsa which is the princple of non-violence. Most yogis are vegetarians because ahimsa is translated as "non-harming" or "non-killing." But the article also interpreted ahimsa as "non-violence against the self." So when we (I) eat emotionally, we are harming ourselves. That gave me pause. I still eat chocolate when I get upset. That means I am taking my anger, frustation, whatever, out of myself. I'm harming me instead of speaking my mind. Hmmm. That is something I'm going to keep noticing as time goes on.

I know we are divine beings more powerful than we know. Remembering that on a daily basis is the challenge. I have noticed that staying raw keeps me on an even emotional keel more often that not.

Any comments?

Althea ◦


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