Thursday, June 11, 2009

PGL has moved!

Praise, Gratitude, Love can now be found at it's own domain:

Thanks for following!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Missing Meditation: Why it Shouldn't Matter Today

For the past two weeks, my sleep schedule has been thrown off. I can't blame this entirely on the midnight showing of Wolverine, though that didn't help matters. I just haven't been going to bed when I should. Then I wake up in the morning, and an extra 10 minutes of sleep sounds way better than getting up and Ascending, even though I'm going to be tired either way and at least the meditation will get me focused. But there's just not that much logic first thing in the morning, especially after a late night.

So I've been skipping my morning Ascension. And then for no reason whatsoever, I've skipped most of my evening meditations, too. I stopped setting the expectation for myself to do it every day. I lost track of my priorities.

I can always tell when I haven't been Ascending. I feel tired, my brain isn't as sharp, I tend to have less self-discipline and be more emotional. It's easier for me to get down about things when I'm not tapping into that sense of bliss twice a day. It's just no good.

This morning as I stumbled around in a sleepy daze, trying to find a matching sock and some pants that weren't wrinkled, I looked longingly at my meditation chair which was covered in said unmatched socks and hastily folded laundry. I think it's been over a week since I used it for its intended purpose.

I felt guilty about not meditating for so long, then I felt kind of angry with myself for not making the time, and then angry in general for not having the time. Suddenly I realized I was anti-meditating. I was creating stress for myself over not sitting. This was counterproductive. And stupid.

So I stopped. I took a deep breath, and dropped an attitude. And made an agreement with myself to get up earlier tomorrow, to meditate.

I am reminded once again to approach each moment with innocence; in other words, not allowing yesterday's failure to influence today's action. By getting upset with myself for skipping a meditation, I'm letting the mistake I made yesterday already start to ruin my actions today. I have to be compassionate with myself, allowing a mistake to be okay, so that I can leave it where it was made and move on anew. Each mistake needs to be left where it was, so that today's action can be made in alignment with its goal. So that I can meditate in joy and peace. Because whether or not I meditated yesterday doesn't matter anymore, so long as I am sitting today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Adam vs. Katy: Cognitive Dissonance Over My Diet

I've always found it interesting that humans don't innately know what we're supposed to be eating. Other animals seem to know if they're predators or herbivores, they go out and find food that nourishes them. And unless we're the ones providing their food, animals don't tend to have weight problems and dietary diseases.

This concept struck me when I moved into my first apartment during my junior year of college. After two years of dorm food, I was excited to be cooking for myself, and wanted to eat more healthfully. As I set about making that first grocery list, I was suddenly bewildered. I realized that had no idea what I ought to be eating.

Ever since, I have gone through periods of dietary exploration. I tried being a vegetarian for 4 years, a "flexitarian" for two of those. I've gone through times of cutting out all dairy, then all soy. I've gone on oatmeal kicks and yogurt kicks, eating the same meal for breakfast every day for months. I ate only organic food for a few months, and to this day avoid partially-hydrogenated anything. I have not owned a microwave since college, because I've been told that it's bad for you.

I just want to know what to eat to be healthy. And as with many things, the more I learn, the more confusing it gets.

Since last summer, I've been on-and-off following the guidance of Dr. Katy Wallace, a naturopath who focuses on healing through food. She emphasizes proper food combining, cleansing, and eating a whole-food diet. As regular readers of this blog know, I did a six-week "Body Tune-Up" cleanse with her this winter.

It was an intense, but positive experience. By the end of the program I was feeling good, had pretty stabilized energy, and I had lost 10 pounds and cleared up some skin problems. But I did have some misgivings about maintaining the kind of diet Katy teaches. It's a good diet, but not the easiest for someone who likes to eat out and throw dinner parties and the like.

Katy recommends a low-caloric intake diet, consisting primarily of fruits and veggies. She says most Americans eat way too much protein, and that your daily protein intake only needs to be about 5-10% of your daily calories. So, when you're on a low calorie diet, you don't need to be eating a lot of meat. Beans and even the protein found in veggies and whole grains is usually enough. Which is fine. Except as I said, I like to eat out, and I do enjoy a few alcoholic beverages with some frequency. So the whole low-calorie diet thing goes out the window.

What I haven't told you since the end of the cleans is that when I went on vacation, it all went to hell. After 6 weeks of being so strict with myself, I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, the whole week. I completely binged. I had a lot of stomachaches and didn't feel so hot, but damn those cookies and pastas and drinks tasted good.

For the month since I got back, I've been at my pre-cleanse weight again and wallowing in self-disgust over it. After losing all that weight, being back at what used to be normal for me feels way worse. I've tried to get back to eating the way Katy would recommend, but I'll be good during the week and binge on the weekend. I've been working out more, but my body hasn't budged.

I put the new pants I bought during the cleanse away in a box on top of my closet. And then I and emailed Adam Gilbert of My Body Tutor. I need someone to help me stay on track, and that's what he does best.

I've talked with Adam twice, and started his program yesterday. I'm a little nervous though, because Adam's eating guidelines are sometimes in alignment with Katy's, and sometimes are very different.

They're similar in that they both encourage eating whole foods, avoiding refined carbs and sugar, and eating plenty of veggies. And they both teach their diets as lifestyle changes, rather than short-term weight loss programs. But as far as I can tell, that's where the similarities end.

Adam is big on protein. He wants me eating protein with every meal. His aim is to get my metabolism working so that it's constantly burning fat. That sounds pretty good to me.

However, I've been following and believing in the proper food combining that Katy preaches. The biggest part of this is not combining grains and protein at a meal. If I'm eating protein at every meal, that's going to be hard to avoid. (There are other food combining rules that will get broken by eating this way too, but that's the big one.)

Katy also encourages variety - not eating the same kind of grain or protein more than once every 5 days, so that your system can completely clear it out before it's introduced again. If I'm eating protein at every meal, that's a lot of different kinds of protein I need to keep on hand. This concern is exacerbated by the fact that Katy strongly recommends against tofu, (too processed,) tuna, (high mercury and they're being fished out of existence,) and the regular intake of dairy (congests the digestive system,) - all protein sources that Adam recommends.

So I'm disconcerted; I really don't know which is the better or healthier way to eat. They're different theories in their entirety.

The rationalization my brain has come up with is that maybe there's no one best way - you eat differently to achieve different goals. Katy's program is focused on cleansing and healing, while Adam's emphasizes upping the metabolism. Both say they can help with weight loss, but they come at it from different directions. I haven't been hungry much on Katy's plan, so maybe it's because the low-calorie, low-protein diet has slowed my metabolism way down. But maybe a slower metabolism is better in some ways, because then the body isn't working as hard just to absorb nutrients. Then again, maybe it is better for it to be faster and burn through more calories. I don't really know.

I'm not sure how to resolve this dissonance. How do you figure out what the best way to eat is? Is Western Medicine and science right? What about the science behind Naturopathy? Or is it just a matter of experimenting and seeing what works best for you?

For the time being, that's what I'm going to do. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

If Katy and/or Adam read this and care to comment, your feedback would be great!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What it Feels Like NOT to be Overbooked

This morning, I was ready for work 15 minutes early. This NEVER happens. I had NO IDEA what to do with myself. So I sat down and tried to figure out what was up. I hadn't rushed more than normal, if anything I was moving slowly. I had slept later than usual. I hadn't forgotten to do anything... so how did this happen?

I had planned ahead, and did a really good job of it.

The backstory:

Looking at my calendar on Sunday, I saw the following on my list for the week:
-prep for and teach a massage class
-do interviews and write a magazine article
-go to two dress rehearsals and perform in three concerts
-host a dinner party

and in addition, somehow still get my actual work done at work, make it to the gym, prepare and eat healthy meals, and get plenty of sleep so my voice didn't suffer.

I knew that there was no way I could "wing it" the way I usually do and make all of this happen, not without sacrificing the sleep. I'm trying to be more proactive about eating right, sticking to my exercise routine, Ascending more, and sleeping enough, and I knew if I was going to pull it all off without a stress freak-out midweek I'd have to do something I haven't done in years: schedule it all out.

So I sat down and planned out, in 15-minute increments, my entire week. This included blocking out travel time, (which I almost never account for) when I was going to cook, shower, etc. I made sure I had adequate time for everything.

It worked beautifully. My week has hummed along easily, and I've never had to be in a rush. I've gotten everything done.

It feels really, really odd. I still rush. I keep finding myself getting home and racing around, even though I have plenty of time. I have to stop and remind myself to slow down, I have to remember that there's plenty of time. I don't need to be stressed or pushing myself. Everything will happen in the time it is supposed to. But part of me keeps saying "don't we have somewhere to be? Are you sure you're not late for something?"

Whoa. Why does part of me want to be stressed out and running around like crazy? Because that's what I'm used to.

By changing up the way we do something, whether trying it a new way or just stepping back from it altogether, we can gain perspective on what we consider "normal." Sometimes we don't even realize that we're doing something in a less effective or even self-destructive way, and it takes changing things up to see that.

Look for more stories next week on this topic.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Find Your Flaws, Improve Your Skills, and Gain Perspective: Teach.

I've always thought one of the best ways to get better at anything you do is to teach it to someone else.

My first job ever was working as an assistant instructor at my karate school. In college I ran the swing dance club and taught all of the lessons.

Both times, teaching greatly improved my skills. When you have to figure out how to explain something to someone else, you gain new insight and break down the elements you have always done without thinking. You figure out exactly how you do them, and why they're done that way - or if they should be done differently.

Teaching can show you where your weaknesses are. You find out what parts of your subject you don't know so well. You realize where you've always made a shortcut on something. But best of all, you figure out how to do it all better.

I haven't taught anything in several years, at least, not in a real class structure. Starting tonight, I'll be teaching a partner massage class at the student union. I'll admit that I'm a little nervous, because I've never taught anything on massage before. So inevitably, I will uncover some weaknesses, standing there, in front of my students. The good news is that they don't usually notice. They'll be busy trying to learn something completely new.

That's the other great thing about teaching: it gives you perspective. When you've spent years learning and building up a skill, it can be easy to forget how challenging it was at the beginning. We tend to take well-developed skills for granted, and trying to teach someone how to do something that you're particularly good at or have been doing for a really long time will throw that back at you. Sometimes it can be frustrating how slowly people learn and how very basic you have to be with your instructions. But it is a great reminder and reference point for how far you've come, and what you have to offer.

So I'm excited to teach, in spite of my nerves. I know the experience will make me a better Massage Therapist, and a better teacher. And hopefully, it'll make a bunch of other people better at giving their S.O.s and friends better backrubs. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Expectations: When Vacation can be Stressful

It's just barely 8:00 a.m., Mountain Time. I have been awake for over three hours, sitting in the Denver International Airport for most of that time. My flight doesn't leave for another 2 1/2 hours.

Getting up 6 hours before my flight because it's the only time I could catch a ride to the airport was annoying. Realizing I had neither blogged during my 10-day trip nor posted anything about being off the grid for the past week made me flinch a bit. Spending a week of intensive group time with my family and our friends was fun, but stressful.

I had tried to prevent any stress for the trip by being completely organized, and figuring out every last detail before we left. I made spreadsheets indicating where we could rent skis and at what rate. I had worked out a system for grocery expense sharing, and had created a schedule for who was responsible for preparing which meals. I thought nothing could go wrong, I had the important things thoroughly planned out and had left plenty of room for flexibility and spontaneity.

What I hadn't counted on was how different it would feel to be surrounded by people for a week straight. I'm an extrovert, I love my family, I was thrilled to have Ian come along on the trip and to see old friends. I just hadn't realized how much I have gotten used to having complete control over my own time.

Starting the day we arrived, people were rushing me - everyone had different priorities, and different expectations. Mom thought I'd be helping her with the first grocery run. My brother wanted us out the door and on the slopes by 9 a.m. Ian wanted to sleep in and cuddle and maybe not even go skiing the first day. I wanted a healthy breakfast and time to meditate. By the time we snapped our boots into our bindings, even the gorgeous snow and bright sun struggled to pull me out of my BAD MOOD.

As the chairlift scooped us up and carried us to the top of the mountain, I knew I had to find a way to let go of my annoyance with my brother rushing me in the morning, mom constantly asking questions about the meal plan (and refusal to refer to my meticulously prepared spreadsheet), and my need to have things be a certain way, or there was no chance that this trip was going to go smoothly.

My short fuse stemmed from the fact that I hadn't Ascended in a few days and was sleep-deprived from our 6 a.m. flight, but the real problem was I had expectations.

Having expectations that things "should" be a certain way sets us up for unhappiness. Especially when those expectations go unexpressed. If you don't tell the people you are with what you want out of an experience, they can't help you create the experience. Worse, they'll probably get in the way, because they have their own idea of how it should be.

Expecting a particular outcome is essentially the same thing as deciding in advance that we will be unhappy unless things turn out a specific way. Sounds pretty stupid and self-sabotaging when you think about it that way. Not to mention that when we are focused on expectations, we are forever thinking about how we want things to be, rather than enjoying how they are. It pulls us out of the current moment, and into worrying about the future or being unsatisfied with things in the past. I only had a week in my favorite place to be, and I didn't want to spend it being unhappy thanks to un-communicated expectations I had set.

So I took a deep breath, and decided to let go of my expectations for the trip. The things that were really important, I communicated to the people involved. I decided if I wanted my quiet morning, I needed to get up before everyone else. If Ian wanted to sleep in, we'd plan to ski on our own rather than holding up the group. Once I chose to be okay with how things were - kind of chaotic, definitely out of my routine, but spontaneous and fun nonetheless - I started to feel like I was actually on vacation.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Natural and Alternative Nutrition Practitioners Threatened by Legislation: Why I oppose Senate Bill 115

As I have been writing about for the last two months, I have been consultinga Naturopathic Doctor, Katy Wallace. She specializes in nutrition and healing with whole foods. I have had great success with her help, in losing weight, reducing pain, improving my energy and digestion, and overall well-being. I believe in alternative and natural healing, and in our right to pursue whatever kind of health care and health information we so choose.

There is a bill currently moving through the Wisconsin Sate Senate, SB115. This bill aims to regulate the field of dietetics and nutrition, creating a licensing regulation for anyone who provides nutritional services. I strongly oppose this bill, as it would limit what information practitioners are allowed to provide about diet and nutrition to solely western-science based information.

The bill extends the control of dietitians to all nutrition care services in the state (developing a monopoly over nutrition services available) and makes it illegal for any professional with a position different from the American Dietetics Board (ADA) to provide individual nutrition care to consumers. This is problematic, as the ADA has a specific perspective. For example, one of their positions is that there is no evidence that organic foods are healthier than conventional foods.

Under this bill, my Naturopath's practice, as a natural health consultant, would be considered illegal and she would be put out of business. I wouldn't be able to obtain the kind of health care or information I choose and want. The excellent information she provides and education she has in her field would be considered illegitimate and illegal to share.

In order to be a registered dietitian, practitioners will be required to:

1) receive a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in certain nutrition fields from a college or university that the board determines is accredited or receive a degree from a program in nutrition approved by the board;
2) complete at least 900 supervised hours of dietetics practice; and
3) pass the registration examination, or its equivalent, established by the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Because many of the alternative health practitioners do not prescribe solely to Western Medicine's views on diet and nutrition, they would not be able to become registered dietitians, or if they did, they would have to provide information they do not necessarily endorse nor agree with. It would limit the source of nutritional information available to the public to one perspective: that of the ADA. To keep consumers and communities healthy, Wisconsin deserves access to a variety of valid approaches to nutrition.

This bill is primarily being pushed by Registered Dietitians, who on the whole take the stance that they are the only practitioners with "real" nutritional knowledge. Many of them consider naturopaths to be "quacks" (as one RD described to me). I am willing to recognize that from their perspective, this bill would "protect the public" from receiving "bad" or "unfounded" health information and services. I respect that they are trying to push an agenda that they feel is best for people. I realize that in general, having regulations and licenses for health practitioners sounds like a good idea (I myself am a licensed massage therapist; I have a level of ambivalence about this I would be happy to discuss) but not when it means that the state is taking away our right and ability to choose alternative care or to use medical practices not currently recognized or endorsed by Western medicine.

Western medicine provides a lot of valid information about health and nutrition. But it is not the only "right" source, and I want to be able to choose what I believe about my health, how to manage it, and what kind of practitioner I want to see about it.

I believe it should be up to individuals to research their own practitioners and find what kinds of treatments and practices best serve their personal needs and align with their own beliefs.

Please contact your legislator (find out who your legislators are and get their contact information at: and encourage them to oppose SB 115.

The text of the bill can be found here:

and for more information, the Wisconsin Health freedom Coalition website is useful:

Please pass this information along to other alternative and natural health minded friends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Postponing the Pizza

I had really been looking forward to the end of the cleanse. Not that I wasn't reaping benefits from it - I've lost nearly 10 lbs, had more energy, and my skin looks better than it has in years - but I kept thinking about going out for drinks with friends, or finally eating at the restaurant I live above (one of my favorites) or baking cookies.

But even though it's over, it doesn't really have an end.

As with any good health or personal development program, the cleanse I just finished was actually the beginning of a new way of being. I'm never going to go back to the days of frivolous eating. A small part of me is disappointed about that.

Somehow it hadn't occurred to me that the whole experience would really change my perception and how I make choices about food. At least, not as dramatically as it has. This is a good change, and a healthy one. Obviously I'm still going to have times I don't eat as healthfully, and other times where I'm really good about my diet. But I don't think I'll ever look at food the same way.

I often think of a pendulum swinging back and forth - it swings really far one way, and then really far the other, and goes back and forth until it eventually settles in the middle. I'm in that settling period right now.

The final consultation with Dr.Katy yesterday showed that I've made some progress, but there are several things I can and want to keep working on. None of them are major health problems - some I wouldn't even be aware of if not for the tests she does. But I'm glad I know about them, and know how to work on them. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have resolved some long-standing issues by just changing my diet.

I guess I had hoped I'd go in and see that all sorts of big things had improved with this cleanse, so I was a little disheartened to find out that some issues are still far from gone, or hadn't changed much. But these things take time; Katy said on average it's three months to heal a problem, plus another month for every year you've had the problem. Really, it could take years to completely resolve some of the damage done by poor eating habits in the past.

Glad I got started now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

About Consistency and The End of the Cleanse

On Consistency
I made a decision last week to post regularly on Mondays and Thursdays. I posted said decision, telling my readers they could count on me for those regular posts. Then I promptly didn't follow through.

There is an element of this that has to do with my "ENFP-ness:" as soon is it's a commitment, something I'm supposed to do, then it's no longer fun, the creative energy no longer flows, and I struggle to follow through. But I don't think that's really the case this time. At least, it's not a big enough issue to have overpowered my desire to write regularly.

Honestly, I have so many things I want to write about here, I often have trouble deciding which topic to go with on a given day.

This time it wasn't about a lack of follow through. It was about the last days of the cleanse being really intense.

I'll get to that in a minute, but first I want to finish my thoughts on consistency. Penelope Trunk posted about the value of consistency in personal decisions today. I've been thinking about that issue a lot lately - for people like me who have a lot of interests and, therefore, a lot of commitments, you have to really make an effort to be a dependable person. When you overbook yourself, it's easy to become unreliable, or just reliably late and unprepared.

Just last night I was thinking that I'd like to make each one of my commitments feel like it/they are my priority when I am working with them. That means being on time with everything and always following through. Moreover, you have to be fully present with whoever and wherever you are. If you make it to a meeting on time but show up flustered, under prepared, or act like you're just dropping in before running off to the next thing, that person/group won't feel like they're the priority, nor that they can count on you. Even if in the grand scheme of things they're not at the top of your list, they should be #1 during the time that you spend with them.

I find Ascension helpful in these circumstances, as using the techniques is calming, grounding, and focusing. If I'm running in the door, thinking of all the other things I need to be doing, I can use them to help me become fully present where I am.

The End of the Cleanse
I do plan to be more consistent with the blog posts. I want to be a good, reliable writer. So I intend to work on my consistency there.

But my missing posts this past week were more due to the end of the cleanse, as I said before.

Last week Tuesday and Wednesday were the apple fasting days. They were easier than I expected; I was craving something salty by the end, but otherwise eating apples for two days was alright. I didn't have an abundance of energy, but I didn't get too tired, either.

Wednesday night was the grand finale with the drinking of the "liver cocktail;" 1/2 cup of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. I'd gone to Vom Fass and bought an expensive olive oil I liked the taste of (this one was rosemary infused) to make it a little easier. The taste was fine, though the consistency (no pun intended) was a little gross. Mostly the way it felt as it glopped into my mostly empty stomach was unpleasant.

As directed, I went to bed right away. I want to encourage people to do the cleanse, and overall it was much easier than it sounded from the onset. But I'm not going to lie, I felt pretty terrible most of the night. Which is not to say that everyone who tries this would - One of the women in the class said she didn't feel anything. I, however, was obviously detoxing a lot out of my liver.

The olive oil cocktail is meant to flush any junk that has built up in the liver and gallbladder out. In my case, that was about 30 liver stones. (Not as bad as you think - liver stones don't pass - or hurt - the way kidney stones do.)Guess I needed the cleanse.

I felt okay by around noon on Thursday and went to work. I was worn out - my body had done a lot of work - but no more grossness. Friday I was still kind of tired and low-key, but by Saturday I was back to normal.

So now I'm done with the entire 60-day cleanse. I am equal parts glad that I did it and glad that it is over. The next step is to break the cleanse, by slowly adding in some of the foods we haven't been eating, and paying attention to how our bodies respond.

Of course, I won't go back to eating everything. Refined sugars and carbs are to always be avoided (or at least, extremely limited). I'm going to try to mostly stick with food combining rules. Ultimately, the goal is to find a balance between health and the enjoyment of food. It means regularly eating healthy, thoughtfully chosen foods and only allowing the occasional indulgence. When it comes to choosing healthy foods, it's all about consistency.

I have my final consultation with Dr. Katy on Thursday morning. Look for more information and reflections on the cleanse then!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back to the Beginning

I audited a First Sphere this weekend.

A "First Sphere" is what we refer to the introductory weekend of workshops in which you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. There are several groupings of meditation techniques, referred to as "Spheres." In the introductory weekend (a class that happens over Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons but isn't usually an overnight-stay kind of retreat) you learn the first grouping of techniques - the First Sphere.

Once someone has taken the First Sphere, it can be audited for free as many times as they would like. I think this was my 8th.

I was attending the First Sphere this weekend primarily to support one of my best friends, Kim, who decided she would like to learn to Ascend, and also to connect with the local Ascension community, since I missed the Advanced Retreat last weekend.

Kim is someone I have known for many years, and had always hoped she would find something like Ascension. She is a wonderful, cheerful, and eternally loyal friend. But like many of us, Kim gets stressed out. Sometimes the craziness of a mind that won't shut up and emotions that refuse to disengage get to her. It just makes life harder than it needs to be.

I'm proud of her for deciding to do something about it. She's been having a rough time lately, and I think it shows great strength to be dealing with that kind of thing and then make the decision to do something proactive, rather than just giving up.

Now the key is sticking with it. I hope she will - between me and Ian and my mom, she has a lot of support.

I've seen a lot of people go through the First Sphere and not keep up the practice. The difference between the ones who do and the ones who don't usually has to do with whether they have a support system - friends and family - who encourage them to keep up with it. or, if they're someone who is really, seriously on a path for self-improvement and this practice just resonates.

But more often it's because there's someone in your life to remind you to "drop an attitude" (as we call using the techniques)when you're upset, or to sit and Ascend instead of watching TV before bed.

Thank you, Mom.

What I learned
As I said, this is my 8th First Sphere. Yet every time, I hear something in the teachings that I didn't before. Or I understand it better now that I've had some of the experiences Lyrea talks about. I still take notes every time; they always turn out differently.

In many ways, this weekend provided an excellent reference point for hindsight. Being there with Kim reminded me of where I was in life when I started this process, and just how far I have come. It's reassuring to have those moments, because the practice of Ascension is so subtle. Oftentimes we don't realize we have reached moments of higher consciousness until well after the fact, when we review and see the differences between that experience and what was before.

As Lyrea talked about different aspects of how Ascension can effect your life, I started realizing how they had effected my own. (Look for a future post on "Dating and the Shadow Self" related to this.)Perhaps most unexpected from this weekend was what I got out of it. I thought I was going to support a friend, but I gained a lot for myself, too.

Approaching With Innocence
Lyrea always reminds us to go into every sitting with innocence and without expectation. Every time you Ascend is different.

Yet I found myself preparing for this weekend thinking "oh, it's just a First Sphere." As if the time we spend Ascending is somehow less valuable or powerful during an introductory weekend. It's not.

You have to meet yourself where you are today. I have heard yoga teachers talk about this in terms of doing the yoga that your body needs today - not expecting to stretch as far as yesterday, or assuming that since you did 20 sun salutations before, you should be able to do 21 now. Today you may only be ready for 15. I've always taken it to heart, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it applies to the yoga of the mind, too.

Today's Ascension might be a hen house. Or it might be an Exalted experience. Or you might fall asleep. Whatever it is, you can't decide ahead of time how it's going to be.

Because it's good to be regular

Just a brief note for now; longer post shortly.

I've decided that new posts will appear on this blog on Mondays and Thursdays. Readers can know that there will always be posts on these days, and it will be good for my discipline as a writer. Occasionally there may be intervening posts if something particularly timely comes up, but otherwise you can look forward to Mindful Mondays and Thoughtful Thursdays.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Feeling Fantastic

So the kidney cleanse ended last week, and after four days of intense detox and fatigue, I couldn't have been happier. Except that I was, because after some rest, I woke up feeling fantastic.

Sunday morning I snapped out of sleep an hour earlier than I needed to, full of energy and motivation. It was great. And it's lasted most of this week.

I am on the liver cleanse at the moment, but the first 10 days just consist of continuing with the cleansing diet and drinking a tea that helps to tonify the liver. So it's fairly easy, and shouldn't involve much detox until the last couple of days.

The last two days of the cleanse are fasting days; we can eat apples but nothing else. Avoiding meat, dairy, and fatty foods means that the liver isn't doing much in the way of digestion. Apples are good to eat because the acid in them helps to soften the gunk in the liver up. The second night of the fast, we drink a cocktail of lemon juice and olive oil (yum, right?) and go to bed. The next morning, the liver should clear itself out. And then it's all done.

I'm not looking forward to that last part, but the fasting days I'm not too worried about. I've fasted before, and while eating apples for two days doesn't really appeal, it's just two days.

I'm thrilled that I'm really feeling the benefits of this whole process. For the last week I've been sleeping well, waking up energized, and maintaining that energy steadily throughout the day. It's hard to put into words how great it feels.

I am so glad I did this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Money and Meditation: a lesson in priorities

Three or four times a year, Lyrea sets up and hosts an Advanced Retreat for Ascenders who have completed the First Sphere weekend. The First Sphere is what the initial weekend of workshops is called, where you learn the basic techniques of Ascension. Advanced Retreats are four days in length, and rather than being in a workshop format, you stay in residence for the entire time. We have more in-depth discussion about Ascension, it's origins, practice, and purpose, as well as a full day of fasting and silence during which you simply Ascend for the day. It's very interesting and most people find very helpful and sometimes a powerful experience of really increasing your connection to that deep place we refer to as Ascendant Consciousness.

The Debate
Anyway, there was an Advanced Retreat this past weekend. I hadn't planned to go, as I just went to the one in November and will go to one in May. With a vacation coming up and having just recently taken a trip to visit my grandmothers in South Carolina, I wasn't planning to afford the retreat.

But with all of the cleansing things I've been doing, four days of Ascending started to sound pretty good. So at the last minute, I found myself trying to shift my schedule and scrape together the money to go on retreat.

It was really stressful.

The Advanced Retreats aren't that expensive; they're actually cheaper than the First Sphere weekends. But it's still a bit of money that I wasn't planning to spend at this point in time.

I found myself thinking that if the debate was between finding $150 and not getting four days of Ascending and learning from Lyrea, the choice was obvious. It seemed silly to me to even be considering not going over the cost. Of course, then you have to factor in that the retreat started at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, so I'd be missing 1.5 days at my day job and the seven massage clients I usually see on the weekends. Suddenly the retreat would cost me more like $400.

Still, I didn't like the sense of choosing money over meditation. But when it came down to it, I just don't have the money right now, and worrying about how to pay for the retreat (much less rescheduling weekend clients and classes) was becoming more detrimental in terms of stress than it would be worth to go.

Input from Emil: Prioritizing Goals
As I often do when dealing with spiritual issues, I hopped on Gchat to talk with my friend Emil, who has similar kinds of spiritual pursuits. I told him I was feeling guilty about choosing to save money over the higher pursuit of personal development. He re-framed the choice I was making, by saying that I was "picking a long term goal over an immediate one."

That totally changed my perspective. Rather than feeling bad about choosing money, I could feel good about making a choice that supported a longer-term goal of saving money for future things - possibly future retreats.

Choice and Effect
I got to thinking about the effects of each choice, too. If I spent the money, it would take me awhile to recoup the damage done to my budget. A lot of stress would come out of feeling broke and having to work a lot. Whereas skipping the retreat doesn't really have any negative impact. Certainly attending would have some positive benefit, but between the two, it seems that more stress would be created by choosing to attend and therefore spend the money.

After all, the pursuit of spiritual growth and development happens over a lifetime, and has no real urgency. I don't have to become enlightened NOW. This is not a one-time opportunity; it will always be there to pursue.

Not going on the retreat doesn't stop my growth with Ascension. I may not get the boost of encouragement and "sinking in" that one gets with a retreat, but I can still sit and Ascend every day on my own. I can still keep moving forward with my practice even if I can't make it to every retreat or meeting right now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Willpower Breakdowns and Start of the Kidney Cleanse

I had about a week between the end of the critter cleanse and the beginning of the kidney cleanse. As I mentioned in previous posts, the critter cleanse was pretty rough on the the last few days, so I decided to give my body a few days to regain equilibrium before putting it through any further detox.

During my week "off" I kept up with a few supplements - a probiotic and buffered vitamin C - as they should help with absorption and digestion.


I had a potluck in the midst of this week, where I let myself have a glass of wine and a few bites of food that I wasn't supposed to have. Ian was great enough to make a vegan lasagna, but of course the refined noodles aren't on the good list. Neither were Ben's fabulous snickerdoodle cupcakes. Or Dwight's banana muffins. Or Scot's mini brownies.

Unfortunately, as will often happen with sugar and carbs due to their addictive nature, a few bites turned into a whole cupcake. And a muffin. And 4-5 mini brownies. And a second serving of the lasagna. Did I mention someone brought home made bread?

Yeah, I felt gross the rest of the night and the next day. Mostly, I was just bloated, and a little lethargic. But it was amazing to notice how some not-so-good for you food (I mean, it's not like I downed a bag of chips or a pint of Ben and Jerry's) can make you feel. Part of the point of the whole cleansing diet is to get back to the basics, so that as you introduce new foods, you can recognize what they do to your body. I took note.

I was good about everything until Friday, when Ian's work had a party with free drinks. I wasn't going to, but my will power gave out when they handed me the drink ticket. So I got a glass of wine. What was good was that it took me nearly 2 hours to drink it. I have NEVER nursed a drink that long in my life. And I didn't indulge in the bad food; I only grabbed a few veggies, no dip. I drank 2 glasses of water to my one glass of wine. So I thought I was all good.

I hadn't felt the other two glasses of wine I'd consumed during this process. I don't know what was different this time around, but Saturday morning at work, I could tell I'd had some alcohol. I wasn't hungover by any means, but my head was a little foggy. And I just... felt it. It felt like the very tail end of a hangover, I guess. It was subtle, but I noticed.

It was a little horrifying, knowing that for most of the last few years, I've had a couple of drinks a couple of nights a week. And I rarely noticed the effect. I guess when you get used to it, you start thinking feeling that way is normal. So long as you're not full out hungover, it's okay. It made me really rethink how frequently I'm going to drink when I'm done with all of this.

Sunday was yet another pitfall, this time it was a key lime tart. I wasn't going to have any, but someone cut me a piece. Then I was just going to have one bite, but the Oscars are long. As the tart sat there, I slowly chipped away at it. After three hours, it was gone.

I felt gross on Monday. You know, the way you do if you drink way too much soda. It was a sugar hangover. Eew. At least it went away pretty quickly.

I'm not proud that I went off the good diet so many times. It sounds like a lot more when I write it down - I guess that's why food journals/blogs are good for dieters. It's easy to justify a small "cheat" when you've "been so good for so long." But it's harder when you look at your journal and realized you just "cheated" two days ago.

Kidney Cleanse

Tuesday I started the kidney cleanse. It's short, but intense. It involves staying on the clean diet, though skipping out on salt (even sea salt) for a few days. We made a tea with some herbs and parsley broth and black cherry extract, that we are supposed to sip over the course of two days. It's rather potent, so you really are only supposed to have a sip or two an hour. It doesn't taste very good, but I've gotten used to it. And there are a few herbal supplements as well.

I've definitely been rather tired and had a lot of detox soreness the last two days, but it could be worse. I even decided to do the third optional day of the tea today, for good measure. Tomorrow, day 4, we just take the herbs. And then on to the liver!

The kidney and liver cleanses were really the reason I took the course. I drank a lot last fall (Ultimate Frisbee league sponsored by the Great Dane - brilliant and dangerous at the same time.) and was genuinely getting worried about what I was doing to my system. I wanted to do what I could to heal and support it.

There's really no way to measure the effects of this cleanse. With the first one, I could see weight loss and my skin clearing up. I've noticed since I've been on the better diet I don't get the mid-day energy slump, I don't crave sweets or cheese anymore, I sleep better. But I don't know what to say about my kidneys. I hope they're happier!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Cheating" on Valentine's Day

The second of my four cleanses, the digestive cleanse, ended on Valentine's Day. Not a day too soon.

I really struggled with it in the end; I think it's like those last 5 minutes on the treadmill, where you're so close to finishing that they drag out forever. That and as I mentioned before, the herbs were not sitting so well by the end. I'm still not sure whether the G.I. distress I had those last few days was a sign that my body was ready to be done, or that it was clearing some major stuff. Either way, I'm glad that's over. Now I'm just on a maintenance diet until I do the kidney cleanse in a few days. I've been pretty tired the last two days, and my digestive system still hasn't seemed to get to a place of normalcy. So I'm going to wait a little and make sure my body is ready to handle the next cleanse.

Valentine's night Ian and I went out for a dinner at Chautara. Aside from it being my favorite restaurant in the city (which is significant considering the many excellent restaurants in Madison) it also is one of the most vegetarian/vegan friendly places around. They had a $25/plate V-day special that included soup or salad, appetizers, an entree, and dessert.

I was able to eat most everything without straying too far from my good food combining and clean diet, although Katy strongly recommends against tofu (too processed and a lot of estrogen) and eating that was unavoidable if I wanted to have a full meal. The Paneer served with my meal was tempting, but I only had one bite, and then ate all the sauce and veggies around it. Oh, and the appetizers were all wrapped in doughs, so I just cut them open and ate out the veggie fillings. That felt kind of lame. Happiest for me was that the dessert was brown rice balls soaked in rose water. Probably more sugar than is ideal, but not technically off the diet. :)

I did "cheat" by having a glass of wine, and since I knew I would only be having one, I ordered one of the more expensive ones. Sipping it throughout the meal was successful, and it made me stop to think I should always try to do it that way, rather than having the 2-3 glasses I normally would over the course of a meal out.

Overall, I felt pretty good. I'd been a bit concerned by the many warnings from both Katy and Lyrea to reintroduce foods slowly, one at a time, since I had several things that night - including alcohol - that I haven't in awhile. But it was fine.

It was another good experience with regard to breaking old habits. I didn't eat everything I was served. I didn't drink too much. I really enjoyed the meal, and because there was less alcohol, none of the flavors of the food (or the conversation!) were masked. And it was cheaper than usual eating out, just because there was no bottle of wine on the tab.

I'm not trying to make it sound like I'm a recovering alcoholic, nor that I'm not going to go back to drinking with some frequency once this is all done. But having new awareness about potentially self-destructive habits can be very informative. It can help you be more objective about the habit, and see the way it influences various aspects of your life more clearly. When you step out of a habit for awhile, it also becomes easier to imagine breaking it permanently; it loses its power, and shedding it becomes more fathomable. You become empowered by your own choices.

I encourage everyone to make tough decisions for themselves, or experiment with breaking a routine for a period of time. You can always go back to it if you decide it is what you really want. But stepping outside of the norm for a little while can really help you to gain perspective, make more informed choices, and really take control of your life. This is what creating your own reality is all about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Healthy Vegetarianism

My latest article, "Healthy Vegetarianism: Don't Forget the Veggies!" is out in the March issue of Wisconsin Woman Magazine!

For this issue, I interviewed some local nutrition experts on how to be a healthy vegetarian, and what to think about if you're considering changing to a vegetarian diet.

One of the people I interviewed was Katy Wallace, ND, CNHP. Katy is the naturopath who teaches the body cleansing workshops I'm doing right now. She's amazingly knowledgeable about nutrition and natural health, and I think I got about 1/32 of all the great information sh shared with me into the article.

Critter Cleanse, days 7-11

The last few days of the cleanse have been a little rougher. Stomachaches here and there, and herbs messing with my birth control a bit. I won't go into the details on that one, but for anyone considering herbal treatments or major dietary changes (this cleansing process, for example) be aware that it can reduce the efficacy of hormonal birth controls. (Not to fear, we use backup.)

I'm ready to be done with this cleanse, though I'm finding myself quite pleasantly surprised that I'm already on day 11 of 14. It's gone by fast, despite some of the issues I've been dealing with the last few days.

With regard to good effects, I'm still feeling great overall. An unexpected benefit has been that my chiropractic adjustments are holding better, and I've been cut down to two appointments a week instead of three. And I've lost 7 pounds! I'm still trying to mentally prepare myself for gaining some of that back as soon as I'm eating some of my old foods again, but I'm trying to get more exercise in, too, to negate that factor.

All in all, I'm still really glad I've decided to do this. It's amazing how quickly you can adjust to a new pattern - I'm not missing drinking or a lot of the other foods I'm not eating anymore. Except pizza. I'm looking forward to pizza. :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cleanse #2: the Critter Cleanse (Days 1-6)

Saturday the 31st ended the digestive cleanse. By the end of it, I was feeling fine and had adjusted to the cooking and food preparation. Sunday the 1st I started the second cleanse of the program, the "Critter Cleanse." This two-week cleanse is designed to help get rid of bad parasites we pick up from food (particularly meat) as well as things like yeast that are in the system.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm still primarily eating just fruits and veggies, though now I can add in 1-2 servings a day of whole grains (primarily long-grain brown rice, quinoa, and millet)and avocados. Hurrah! The night of the super bowl, dinner was a bowl of guacamole eaten on carrots. Yum.

This cleanse hasn't seemed much different from the prior one so far. I'm taking more herbs with my meal, ones designed to help get rid of the "critters." For the first few days I had more energy; I think that was due to the addition of the grains. Yesterday and today I've been pretty tired, and had a headache most of the day. I'm taking that as a good sign that I'm detoxing and clearing out some stuff. I've also been taking it a little easier; I was relieved when two of the three commitments I had after work last night were canceled. Sometimes I think life gives you exactly what you need most.

I have been meditating more, which has really been wonderful. For the most part, my sittings have been the "henhouse" with stuff just constantly clearing and very little quiet. Though yesterday during the intense detoxing I had a very deep and restful meditation. I've been very drawn to wanting to spend lots of time meditating - it really feels like my system is wanting to rest and get on track. I'm really impressed with how just adjusting my diet has gotten other systems to want to "get in gear" too.

On a social level, it is getting easier for me to be at events with food and drink I'm not currently eating. I just have to remember to eat before I go. That being said, there's definitely part of me that's ready to be done. There's a little internal dialogue that says "oh come on. Can't we have a slice of pizza already? I mean, is this really necessary?" But I'm hanging in and staying strong, and I really appreciate my roommate and my boyfriend for encouraging me to stick with it when I near moments of weakness.

I am finally starting to see some results, and that has been very motivating. I've lost about 5 lbs, which was definitely a goal. I am aware that the weight could easily come back when I go back to a more "normal" diet, so I'm trying to get to the gym a few times a week in an attempt to thwart that. And, because you know, working out is good for you. Best of all, my skin is clearing up wonderfully. I've been fighting acne for years, and right now my skin looks great. As soon as a few of the red scars left from the last round of blemishes heal, it'll be all clear for the first time since I hit puberty. This is a big triumph for me.

Most interestingly, I've suddenly had a lot of people asking me for nutrition advice. I'm happy to share what I know, with the disclaimer that I'm not trained in nutrition beyond what I've learned through this class and from a few other sources. But I'll gladly share recipes and what I do know, and I highly recommend seeing Katy for a consultation, or attending one of her many workshops at the Willy St. Co-op.

This is causing me to consider whether I perhaps ultimately want to get some training in the field. I've really been enjoying talking with people and helping others to make healthier choices in their lives, too. I've been wanting to go back to school for a Master's in Public Health, and there's an option to focus on nutrition while doing so. It's something to ponder.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cleanse: days 7-10

As you can tell by my less regular posts, the last three days of the digestive cleanse were really easy. While I've gotten used to all of the cooking, I'll look forward to not having so many dishes to do. When you prepare all of your own meals, they pile up fast.

I've been feeling pretty good all week, and am happy with how this has all gone.

Even Friday and Saturday were easier than last week. There were a few temptations for a glass of wine while watching movies with my mom (we do a chick flick, red wine, and chocolate night once or twice a month. This time she had the wine and chocolate while I had cherries and cocoa tea. Not a bad compromise though.)

On Thursday I played bridge with my mom's group, and that was a little challenging. They always have lots of snacks around - nuts, cheese, crackers, candies - and wine. But I held strong sipping tea and eating carrots with salt on them as a substitute for cashews.

Last night (saturday) we went out to a big event at a local bar. I had been thinking it would be really tough not to drink and that I ::might:: even let myself have one beer. But we got there and I really wasn't tempted at all. I actually quite enjoyed being sober all night - I had more energy (and balance!) for dancing and didn't feel so tired when we got home. And it was nice to wake up after a late night out feeling clear-headed with my feet being the only thing that hurt. (dancing in heels.)

Overall what I'm seeing in myself is that I am breaking some old patterns and habits, which of course is what we are always trying to do with Ascension. Not drinking and eating the limited diet has really made me notice how many of my activities are food-centric, and particularly so around less healthy foods or drinks. Over these first ten days, it has become noticeably easier to not be tempted to fall into the old pattern. I'm looking forward to having an awareness about how I manage it when I am no longer on the special diet. I am hoping it will be easier for me to make better choices - such as not feeling like I "have" to drink when I go out to a bar or similar social event, and still being comfortable and fully enjoying the evening without feeling like I am missing out.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I'm sure this will do wonders for my self-discipline, and I imagine this should all help to break down the physiological desires for things like sweets, carbs, and other less healthy foods.

Today I begin the second of the four cleanses we are going through in the class: the "critter cleanse." This cleanse works on getting rid of the bad parasites in your body. We all get them from meat, dairy, and other foods. I'll be taking some special herbs for the purpose, and I'm still on a limited diet. Though I now get to add in some whole grains, and I can eat avocadoes again. Guacamole for the super bowl, here I come!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cleanse: Day 6

Aside from having a little bit of a cold, yesterday went pretty well. I even went to the gym after work and did a light workout, being careful not to push my body too hard since it's had very limited carbs and protein for the last week.

last night's "Odd Tuesday" potluck was fun. It was a little bit of a bummer for me when everyone first showed up with their food and I realized there was little besides the salad I could eat. I had expected that would be the case, but wasn't completely prepared for it. And then I opened up the broccoli I was going to cook and found that it was completely covered in mold, so I began to get distressed about my food prospects for the evening. Ian saved the day by picking up some soup I could eat on his way home.

Dwight prepared diced oranges in red wine for everyone, thinking I could have some since it was vegan... guess I failed to mention I'm not drinking right now, either. I decided to be creative and mixed mine with black cherry extract and discovered a fabulous dessert!

Once I got over the initial "oooh, homemade mac n' cheese... I wish I could have some..." the rest of the night was a breeze. I remember thinking to myself last night "it's okay, I have the rest of my life to eat mac and cheese. I can forego it this one time."

This leads me to believe that an unexpected perk of this whole cleanse thing is that it may do wonders for my self-discipline going forward.

The other thing that has been surprising is the response I'm getting from people. I expected that people would think the whole thing is weird or wouldn't really take it seriously, but everyone I explained it to last night thought it was cool, and respected that I was doing it. Who knew?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cleanse: Day 5

Day 5 was fine for the most part. During the weekdays, when I'm just preparing my own meals, eating a strictly limited diet isn't difficult.

The biggest challenge probably is still time. I keep a very full schedule, and frequently go straight from work to the next thing to the next thing, dinner being a salad grabbed at whichever Barriques is on my way. So last night I found myself racing back across the city between appointments to cook a dinner which was thrown into a tupperware and eaten at my choir's board meeting.

That, and I'm fighting a cold. My immune system is usually pretty strong, but I'm sure it's being challenged enough as it is by the detox. When Ian came home from the toy store with the sniffles, there was little chance I wasn't going to catch whatever it was.

So today I'm stuffed up and have some swollen glands, though I'm feeling better than I was at bedtime.

Tonight I'm hosting my bi-weekly Odd Tuesday Potluck. I've been encouraging folks to bring vegetarian/Vegan food, both for my vegan roommate's sake and in hopes that I'll be able to eat something besides whatever I prepare. And it'll be another challenge of a food-centered social event.

I'll post about the results in my Day 6 update. More than halfway done with cleanse #1! woohoo!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alternative Healing Therapies Article

Three posts in a day?!? I know. It's a little excessive, especially after being off the grid for 6 months. I'm motivated today.

Anyway, I've been freelancing for Wisconsin Woman Magazine for a few years now, and they've let me start pitching my own articles. Here are the ones I've done on healing and alternative medicine:

Alternative Healing Therapies, see page 24

The Many Types of Massage, see page 22 (My friend Laura Malischke did the photography!)

At you can find all of the previous year's articles online. I've also written ones on Planning a Second Wedding, How to Stop Arguing About Money, Green Decorating, Planning Your Honeymoon, Travel Experts' Favorite Trips, and more.

Why you should get out of bed to meditate

This morning, as many mornings, I had great intentions of getting up early to meditate before work. I was hoping that maybe I'd even get up early enough to go to the gym. No dice.

I did wake up about half an hour before my alarm went off. I thought to myself "this must be my system telling me it wants to meditate now." But instead of getting up, using the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and sitting in my meditation chair, i decided I'd just stay where I was, warm in bed, and would meditate laying down.

I have done this many mornings, always with the same result.

The meditation simply isn't as good. Really, it becomes dozing with the occasional use of a technique.

If I get up and do a few things and then sit in my chair, my morning meditations can be quite lovely. Often they're full of inspiration, or they get me to a very gloriously still place, or at the very least they're a henhouse of clearing thoughts. But when I stay in bed, it's just half-sleep and mushiness.

I guess there needs to be a differentiation between sleep time and meditation time. Hopefully I'll remember that tomorrow.

Cleansing: Days 3 & 4

Days 3 & 4 of the digestive cleanse were both better and worse than the ones that had preceded them. They were easier than the first two days because I had the food I needed in my fridge, I started to get in the groove of preparing my all-veggie meals, and the headaches went away. I'm hoping that means I de-toxed whatever was giving them to me.

But it was harder just because it was the weekend. On Saturday we had dinner with friends, and they graciously took on the challenge of cooking something I could eat. They did a good job making a vegetable curry and salad, though they all had chicken and rice with their meals while I just ate the peppers, carrots, and mushrooms in the sauce.

It was insightful to realize how constantly I like to consume things. Unless I'm actively engaged with something (like working out or doing massage) I am always eating or drinking something. For the most part that's just tea - I sip it at work, and while I'm home at night. But it was really challenging for me to sit through a couple of hours of board games without pretzels or nuts or something sweet to snack on. (The tupperware of cherries I brought for this purpose only lasted for 30 minutes.) Not to mention not having a tasty beverage to sip on. After one kombucha and three cups of tea, I just wanted something... more. It really wasn't about the alcohol, but there's something heartier about those kinds of beverages. And I drink them slower - I can drink about three cups of tea in the time it takes me to polish off a beer.

Sunday morning was tough, too. We usually wake up and either go out for brunch or cook something like eggs benedict. I was craving bacon and eggs hard core. But we satiated ourselves with a trip to the co-op for fruit smoothies, followed by what turned out to be a very satisfying vegetable stir-fry. The rest of the day was fine; even spaghetti night at my folks' house. My mom followed suit and ate her sauce over spaghetti squash, and only prepared enough bread for Dad to eat.

I was proud of my mom for this. It's hard for her to turn down carbs if they are available to her, even though she's not supposed to be eating them. And I understand how challenging that can be. But she was very good about it; eeven preparing the food for Dad but not eating any of it herself. I'm excited to encourage her on her own path to a healthier way of eating.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cleansing: Day 2

Day 1 went okay. I felt a little tired and decidedly cranky in the evening, but once I had dinner, things felt much better.

Dinner itself was fabulous. We made spaghetti, using spaghetti squash in place of pasta and making a sauce dense with vegetables. It worked out really well... I have a feeling that squash may become a centerpiece of many entrees during this cleanse.

Most people struggle with any kind of special diet because of the sense of deprivation. There tends to be a lot of remorse around what you "can't" have, and often giving in to the temptation of eating what you aren't supposed to is the end of a healthy diet. I wasn't feeling this much at all though, which surprised me. Perhaps it's a little early into the process, but I haven't had any real sense of "oh, I'm going to miss _____."

I did some introspection about this, and realized that it's because I am so excited about what I am going to get. When I left work, I was speculating on what I could cook, wondering what I could be creative with to make a tasty, satisfying meal.

When trying to be self-disciplined about anything, the key is to focus on what you do get to have, rather than worrying about what you don't. Which really goes back to having gratitude - being grateful for what we have, rather than remorseful about what we lack.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cleansing: Day 1

So my last post was 6 months ago... I could feel guilty, or embarrassed, or bad about that. But that would be useless. So I'll just pick up and start writing again.

It's interesting to me that my last post was about being tired when I do massage. Shortly after that I had a consultation with a naturopath in town, Katy Wallace, ND. ( She looked at my diet and habits and helped me to make a few basic changes that made a huge difference in my energy levels, endurance, and several other things.

I thought, "gee, if I get all of that out of a free consultation, imagine what she could help me do if I paid her!" And, six months later, I'm taking a class with her.

It's called the "Body Tune-Up series." It consists of two private consultations, weekly group classes, and participation in a series of internal cleanses.

On Tuesday, I went in for my consultation. She checked the ph of my saliva, we looked at my blood under a microscoope, and talked about the things I want to work on and gain out of this process. She recommended a few supplements, vitamins, and special drinks (a smoothie and liver cleansing concoction) to take alongside the cleansing process.

Last night was the first class. We discussed the history of and reasons for cleansing, proper digestion, and how to do the first cleanse. We start with a digestive cleanse, which is important to do first. Since your body primarily eliminates toxins through the colon, you want that to be in good shape before you start encouraging other systems to flush themselves out.

This cleanse involves eating only fruits and vegetables, along with some supplements, for 10 days. Of course, alcohol, caffeine, and other things that aren't generally considered good for you are out.

I'm excited to see what this process brings, even though I'm already feeling challenged by the amount of time I need to spend preparing my own food. No grabbing a slice of pizza or a granola bar for a few days; I have to make sure I've got plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand for snacking. But at least so long as I'm eating the right foods, I can eat as much of them as I want. :) And, I'm sure it'll expand my cooking skills. Tonight, I'm going to learn to prepare beets.

I am also very interested to see what effect this process has on my meditation. One thing I know already is that I will be meditating more frequently; after the morning liver cleanse drink I'm supposed to sit for half an hour to let it do it's thing. And since I won't be going out to the bars and that kind of thing, I'll be home a lot more. Already, it's amazing to see how much what you eat effects your time - how frequently you go to the grocery store, how much time you spend preparing food, and everything else that goes into the process.

I've fasted during meditation retreats before; changing your diet in this way can bring a great deal of mental clarity.

So to my friends and family, please excuse me if I decline invitations, or come over for dinner and bring my own food for the next week or two. I'll be keeping you posted on this process through this blog, and I'll be happy to discuss or answer questions. It will be an interesting process!