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Why I Went Raw

July 3, 2012

Like most Americans, I grew up eating crap. And ‘crap’ is a nice way to put it. If I were to really describe it, I would say that I grew up, for the most part, eating so-called food devoid of nutrition…dead, full of sugar, dangerous fats, pus, mucus, chemicals and drugs.

The scary thing is, I was unaware of it for 39 years. Sure, I knew that lots of stuff that I ate wasn’t healthy, but to REALLY know what it’s composed of is something entirely different, and life changing.

Everyone around me, all my life, was unhealthy. I never knew anyone who was health oriented…and not just diet-wise. Even today, despite the increase of awareness regarding health, the ones that I do know today that walk a truly healthy life are very few and far between. You see, health is all encompassing. It’s not just about diet and exercise. That’s something that didn’t click with me until 2009, when I started to turn my life around.

Thanks to Facebook (which, by the way, I always say, has been the best university I’ve ever attended), I began to learn about health, through other like minded people and pages devoted to health. Articles on websites and YouTube helped tremendously too. As I began to research veganism, and subjecting myself to facing the horrible reality of factory farming, then to the disturbing facts about processed foods, and also to the sinister existence of Monsanto and GMO’s, it became apparent to me that my life was never going to be the same again. Ignorance is bliss? I beg to differ. Ignorance is just plain ruinous.

My eyes have been opened, never to be shut again. And while looking back on every poison I fed my body with…the so-called food, right down to the toxic thoughts, it’s still a wonder to me that I never had any illnesses that required at least a few days in the hospital. I’ve been extremely blessed and have skated by with nothing more serious than walking pneumonia at one time (which needless to say, made me want to die).

After learning what I’ve learned (and with more to learn, no doubt), I’ve come to the conclusion, thanks to the assistance of my God given intuition, that a raw, organic, vegan diet is the diet for mankind. It’s optimal…the pinnacle of nutrient density for the human body.

Is it easily achieved? For most, no. For most people, it is a process…something to work up to. Is it doable? Absolutely, and anywhere in the country. One goal that I’ve set myself to accomplish is to help others build their own organic garden. This, I believe, is key in empowering ourselves and breaking free from our dependence on supermarkets and even on farmers markets. By growing our own food, we can have access to organic fruits and vegetables in nutrient rich soil, and pick them and eat them quickly, to benefit from the nutrients available then and there, as the more time that passes between the picking and eating, the more the nutrients disappear.

By adopting this kind of diet, I’ve also simultaneously adopted a more calm demeanor. I used to have a very hot temper and get upset at the slightest thing. I used to worry all the time. I had toxic, dark thoughts as well. There wasn’t much in life that excited me. I was the biggest cynic ever. I now know that this was very much tied to the diet I ate.

I’ve reversed the aging process and continue to do so. At 42 years young, I feel better and younger than I did at 25. My outlook on life has done a 180…I look forward to the coming years, as I continue to evolve and transform. I love to learn and rarely get upset. I almost don’t recognize myself, and that’s a very good thing. I do know, though, that I am me…the me that I was born to be…that I started out as a baby, but regressed instead of progressed through the years, as life happened. The raw, organic, vegan diet and lifestyle that has become part of me has saved my life, and every day I’m so grateful for it. I’m continually humbled by it and want nothing more than for others to gift themselves with the same blessing.

A Post Powered by Love, Plants, and a Quote from The Alchemist

February 22, 2012

When I was a kid, my absolute favorite place to be was outdoors and in nature. I wrote about it here http://thechicanextdoor.com/2010/05/11/nature-girl/

Things have changed quite a bit since I wrote that…especially where I’m presently living and the fact that I have no space to garden. But nevertheless, it hasn’t in any way derailed the vision that’s been manifesting in me, for at least six months now.

Ever since I went vegan, and even more so, since I’ve incorporated more and more raw, living foods in my diet, the tendency to reflect on how absolutely blessed I am to be able to afford organic produce has become more frequent. Not only am I able to afford it, but I live in an area where it’s very easily accessible.

No amount of fancy clothes, jewelry, cars, etc., can, in my eyes, even come close to making me feel alive and united with nature the way being outdoors and eating living foods can. By the same token, I’m fully aware that I also live in an area where I’m surrounded by those who are unable to afford many, if any, organic fruits and vegetables.

And it’s not just a matter of re-prioritizing a budget. The cost of living, even when being single and living very simply, as I do (I don’t even have a TV), is expensive. When you look at the price of organic tomatoes at the farmers market (the kind that actually smell and taste like real tomatoes) and then you look at the price of inorganic, irradiated so-called tomatoes at the 99 cent store (where a lot of the poor shop for their fruits and vegetables. Either there, or the conventional grocery stores with the abundance of more inorganic, irradiated produce), you’ll see why price, more often than not, wins.

In an ideal world, more of the poor would be able to shop at the farmers market or places like Whole Foods, but in the real world, buying cheap inorganic produce and other Frankenfoods (genetically modified food crops) is the only choice they have, especially when a person has more than one mouth to feed. There are a lot of things regarding the poor that upset me, but nothing compares to this…this atrocity…that human beings of a certain income level cannot afford decent, nutrient dense, real food…food that will give their bodies what it needs and craves to run efficiently…food that will give children the energy to actually sit up in class and be alert (and maybe even enjoy school)…food that will help prevent diseases that are adding to the body count in the hospitals, and adding to Big Pharma’s fat revenue stream. I find it demeaning that in this country…a country that was founded on the idea of freedom, that food freedom is only available to others within a higher income level…that the proliferation of deals like 2 cheeseburgers for 2 dollars at Burger King is so much more doable for the poor, and even the very word “organic” automatically sounds “too expensive” to their ears.

So what to do about it? There has to be some changes made, yesterday. And from what I gathered at this page at Raw Food Network.com, changes are being made, slowly but surely: High Quality ‘Healthy’ Food, Organic Produce and ‘Food Justice’ for Low Income Americans.  The discussion goes further, here, at Raw Food Rehab. And just like most useful, socially conscious changes, it has to come from the people, certainly not from the government or corporations. The type of change needed, to help the poor have access to real food, has to be a grassroots movement. According to Wikipedia: A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the politics of a community. Amen to that. This is political, not just social.

My vision has been to make my work…my “love work”, if you will, for the rest of my life (as far as I can see), that of teaching the poor 1.how to grow their own food, 2. what raw foods are and how to prepare them and 3. the benefits of juicing. Any other topics related to helping to resurrect and assist their bodies to thrive will also be included. Oh, and of course, my work will include remaining the writer that I am.

My vision takes place in community gardens…ORGANIC community gardens, where the poor can either grow their food for free or for a very minimal cost, and where everyone’s harvest can be shared. It’s a place of learning and growing. It’s a place of free education about raw living foods and disease prevention. My vision takes up the empty lots found everywhere…space that can be put to use for the common good.

I don’t know how this will happen, but I know it will. I am very good at manifesting anything that I want, when I put my mind to it. And one thing that’s very heartening, is what Jacqueline Corbett, creator of RawFoodNetwork.com commented to me in her Facebook post, when I mentioned that this has been a vision of mine:  Renee, whether you realize it or not, your DREAM which you have been manifesting in your mind for the past six months IS a part of the ‘collective dream’ …. this emerging ‘zeitgeist’…. which is literally screaming and clamoring to be heard from people such as yourself… people with similar ideas located all over the globe. Please… put your dream down in writing if you haven’t done so already… and POST IT at the above link. This IS happening… and by adding your voice, your ideas, your energy, to the collective whole … you will be helping the your dream… and the COLLECTIVE dream… be born. Please join in… and, please share this post with your friends.

This means that I’m not alone in this dream, and have never been alone in it.. It’s only a matter of time before this all comes together, as a result of networking and the action needed to set the wheels in motion. I’m no stranger to these concepts. I don’t know how exactly things will fall into place, but all that matters is that they will. I’m a firm believer that where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ve seen it happen in my life over and over…there’s no question about it.

Jacqueline, I responded back to you that I would do what you suggested I do. Here is my dream in writing…in a blog post, no less…I will be posting to the discussion going on at RawFoodRehab.com…and I will indeed share this with my friends. I’m a woman of my word, and my word is gold, unless something absolutely comes up that interrupts what I say I’m going to do. With this, there’s no excuses. This dream is where my heart lies, more and more, since the power of living foods revitalized me and woke me up to my Self, more than anything ever did.

I look forward to seeing this happen, in whatever way it will. I will end this post with a favorite quote from one of my favorite books ever, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, that has always spoken volumes to me, and does to this very day: When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The End is Near

February 6, 2012

Some of my favorite places to shop are discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Ross. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt…like garage sales and thrift stores, but for new items. I like the fact that you just never know what you’re going to run into.

Today, I picked up a pair of low-top Converse All Stars in purple (with lavender laces!). These shoes have been my all time favorite sneakers to wear, and I have no clue as to why I haven’t worn them in about 20 years. I noticed that they’re insanely priced nowadays (maybe that’s why!), so I scored them for a really good deal.

But…what’s up with the long tongue, displaying the All Star label? I guess it HAS been a long time…they never had these before. There’s a button that you snap underneath it, to stay permanently there. Guess what? I’m taking the scissors and cutting that off. Oh yes, I am. Someone in the design department wasn’t thinking clearly. You don’t mess with a good thing.

Which brings me to an update on my fast. I’m on day 36 of my 40 day fast. I feel fantastic, and although on day 30 I felt that my cravings for gluten disappeared and my mission was accomplished, I decided to just stick it out for the remaining ten days, for good measure. Even I still can’t believe I’ve made it this far. It’s almost become too easy, I’m happy to say.

What’s on the horizon, after day 40? A commitment to raw, living foods, is what. I’ve been incorporating raw foods in my diet since mid 2009, and I’ve slowly added more and more of them in, as time has passed. There’s been days where I’ve actually eaten nothing but raw, living foods, and those, needless to say, have been the days that I’ve felt at my very best, in every way, except of course, when fasting. Why, then, have I not stuck to a high raw or mostly raw vegan diet, consistently? The answer is that gluten, my addiction, always got me pulled back into eating  junk and cooked foods. You can read about it here. When I hear people say that being vegan is too hard, they don’t know what hard is until they try to avoid cooked foods. It’s highly addicting, and much more difficult to stay away from than merely meat and dairy, I’ve found.

So back to my point of messing with a good thing: I’ve witnessed firsthand how fantastic, how alive and vibrant I feel and look on raw living foods. I’ve also witnessed first hand how lethargic, how tired, and how much older I feel and look on cooked, dead foods, whether it’s meat and dairy, or vegetables, gluten and processed “foods” (I have a hard time agreeing that processed foods are real foods, sorry).

My commitment to eating a mostly raw, living foods diet is going to stay consistent this time around, because I’ve been able to nail what it was that held me back or sent me back to the type of foods that don’t work for me.  There’s nothing like consciousness and making a decision, that creates in me the will to carry something through.

Will I allow myself to eat cooked foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and quinoa, especially in cold weather? The answer is a resounding Yes. I see many benefits to those foods, and I will not deny myself that. What I have decided, though, is that a high raw, vegan diet is beyond good for me…it’s optimal. There’s a tshirt that I want to get, from Hail Merry foods, and it says Eat Raw, Love Longer. That pretty much sums it up for me. My health, my inner peace, my ability to deal with everyday problems, all benefit from living foods, more than I can explain to someone who only knows the SAD diet. The end of the yo-yo-ing between high raw and mostly cooked foods and junk is near. Some things you must experience, in order to understand. I’m no longer messing with this good thing.

Java Love

January 29, 2012

I love the smell of coffee. I won’t drink the stuff anymore, but I can’t deny that I love the smell of it. My bathroom smells like a coffee shop right now. New air freshener? Nope. I’m doing coffee enemas. Yes, you read that right.

Yesterday was the first time I ever had an enema, let alone one that was comprised of something that most of the world empties into their mouths, not into their rectums. I’m on day 29 of my fast, and while I’ve never used enemas, I knew that on this fast, I wanted to take my cleansing to a higher level. Even though I am regular, when it comes to bowel movements, I’ve known for a long time that cleaning my colon, through colon hydrotherapy or enemas, was what I intuitively wanted to do, because I know that stuff gets stuck in there, and because we live in a toxic world, there’s always some additional toxins in our bodies, besides old food particles.

Coffee enemas have been used for many years by alternative medicine practitioners as well as physicians such as Dr. Max Gerson, who helped to cure many diseases, including cancer. Why coffee? Coffee stimulates the liver and gallbladder to release toxins, into the intestines. The gallbladder helps digest fat and the liver has so many different functions…basically digestion and also detoxification. Drinking coffee won’t do that (sorry folks). It’s so important to take care of our livers. Remember, disease begins in the colon, and digestion is EVERYTHING.

The first time I emptied about half of the enema bag into myself, I was able to hold it in for 5 minutes, then had to unload it. The second time, I was able to hold it in for another 5 minutes, and as I emptied the other half of the bag in me, and laid there on the floor, all of a sudden, I started laughing uncontrollably…the thought came in my mind, “Do you realize how many people would think you’re just the strangest bird on earth, sticking coffee up your butt?” I couldn’t stop laughing…I laugh a lot inside too, whenever I talk raw foods or alternative medicine to a person who lives the typical American lifestyle. The blank looks on their faces are priceless. After I was done laughing, I then started crying. Not sobbing, just tears running down my face. The visuals make it look like I’ve really lost it, doesn’t it?

The reason, though, that I was crying all of a sudden, is that gratitude came into my heart…gratitude for the soothing brew that was moving into my intestine, helping to move my organs and do some housecleaning…gratitude that I didn’t let my nervousness about doing this, stop me…gratitude that I do not have any diseases, that I’m a healthy person who is bringing her health up a few notches by choice, not by a life or death situation…gratitude for my resolve to continue living the life that makes me happy, and not dictated by what most people deem as “normal” and “sane”.

The coffee that I bought was by a company called The Organic Coffee Company. They’re also a Fair Trade company, which I am happy to support. The blend I chose is called Java Love. So appropriate, indeed. I’ll continue the enemas today and if not every day for the rest of my fast, then every other day. My goal is to hold it in for 15 minutes. I felt awesome, after the enema yesterday…it really does give you a clean feeling, and I can see why people do enemas on a regular basis. If you’d like to learn more about coffee enemas, pick up my friend Lee Smith’s book, Coffee: Friend or Enema?

Signing off now and getting my enema on…like my friend Lee said in his book, “The best part of wakin’ up, is coffee in your butt.”

Breaking Bread, in a Way :)

January 24, 2012

Day 23 of my 40 day fast is ending, and it’s almost become too easy. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a cakewalk (pardon the pun), because there’s definitely moments here and there, where I would like to join others in a meal. When I’m by myself, eating is not much of a thought.

The other day I was at the farmer’s market with my friend Dara (who, by the way, has an amazing YouTube channel full of inspiring raw vegan recipes and lifestyle tips. I highly encourage you to subscribe. Here’s the link). We were at the stand run by the raw vegan restaurant Euphoria Loves Rawvolution. It was getting near closing time and they had a bunch of raw vegan breakfast burritos that I wish I could have helped them get rid of. Times like those are really the only times I feel like eating.

Speaking of burritos…if you read my other blog post titled Ahh..Stress, you’ll remember that I talked about one of my comfort foods, the burrito, that ends up being a discomfort to me, after I eat them, even if they are a healthier version of any that a typical SAD diet outlet sells. I know, beyond a doubt, that the main culprit is the tortilla, containing gluten.

I’ve known for a long time that my biggest weakness, when it comes to food, is bread. Some people can eat a pint or two or three of ice cream in one sitting. With sweets, I’m happy with just a spoon of ice cream (vegan, of course) or just one cookie. With bread, or gluten, more specifically, I can eat way too much of it, and STILL be hungry, which sets me off into eating more junk…specifically msg and other excitotoxin-laden potato chips. Boiled potatoes, I have no problem with. It’s those lovely added chemicals in those processed “foods” that throw me into the path of self-destruction.

Gluten is a protein found in so many grains, which in turn, is found in so many bread products. It took a while to put the pieces together.  I knew that oatmeal never satisfied me. Oatmeal, another gluten product, was supposed to be good for me…and yet, it just made me hungrier. I haven’t had that in about 3 years. But bread products have been a harder thing to give up…even though the truth’s been staring at me in the face for even longer than when I woke up to what oatmeal did to me.

Here’s a good article about what gluten does to many people and how it can lead up to major problems in your body. I, thankfully, have not had any diseases, but I have also, thankfully, woken up and admitted to myself that letting myself continue to consume something that instantly affects my body in a negative way, is just asking for trouble eventually.

Knowing how great I feel when I don’t eat it, and how even greater I feel eating more raw fruits and vegetables, and my desire to increase the amount of raw foods that I eat, made me finally decide to end this addiction of mine. And when I make a decision, I stick to it, no matter how hard it may be. How I do it, is something that may get modified here and there.

I HAD THE WHAT, NOW I NEEDED THE HOW

So, to conquer this hold that gluten (which, a friend, very appropriately, said should be spelled GLUE-TON) has on me, I decided that I needed to come up with a plan that was highly effective. Over the holidays, I was contemplating on what to do. Just not buying products with gluten wasn’t going to work. Been there, done that.

Fasting was the answer. I remembered that on my first long term fast (the Master Cleanse), the day after Thanksgiving 2009, I ended up conquering my addiction to cheese. Ten days proved to be long enough to succeed. But because bread was a much stronger drug to me, I needed to bump up the days of a fast. The number 40 came to me, so that’s what I went with. And as it’s turning out, it’s looking like that number is accurate. Around the time I hit day 20, my cravings for gluten have significantly faded, and I’m very happy about that. I do anticipate the cravings to keep on decreasing, and I’m confident that they will. I just keep reminding myself and remembering the countless times that this substance has made me stumble over and over again, in my quest for optimal health.

Even once I’m back to eating, I’m very aware of the fact that I will still be tempted from time to time to eat something with gluten. I liken it to any recovering addict’s challenge to stay away from their own individual drug of choice. It’s awesome that I have options to eat other types of breads without gluten but are still delicious. If I get to the point where I do cave in, which I hope to never do, but won’t beat myself up about it, then I know that fasting is always there to set me straight again. That’s another thing I love about fasting…it regulates everything in the body, to operate as it was meant to, while helping us to grow stronger mentally and emotionally. There’s so many win-win’s with this practice, and I’m so thankful for the day that I decided that I was going to make this a regular part of my life.

Who is strong? He that can conquer his own bad habits. –Ben Franklin

Fasting is the oldest, fastest, and most effective healing method known to man. –The Miracle of Fasting by Paul and Patricia Bragg

Fasting is the greatest remedy-the physician within!  -Paracelsus, 15th century physician

The Beat Goes On

January 20, 2012

Day 19 of my 40 day fast is coming to an end soon, and I’m doing very well. Tomorrow I’ll be at the halfway mark, and so far, it’s been relatively smooth. For every fast that I’ve done, they’ve all had their own unique symptoms, and this one is no different.

The first day, I had a headache for most of the day. Nothing really strong, but it was there, nonetheless, and I never get headaches. The second day I was completely lethargic. It was really hard to work, when all I wanted to do was sleep.

In the following days, I’ve had symptoms like a weird red rash on my left side of my jaw. I rubbed coconut oil on it and it disappeared within a couple of days.  I’ve also had the typical white coating on my tongue, which is almost cleared up. I have a headache right now, although it’s very slight. There was a day that I sneezed a lot. I’ve also been cold…really cold…especially in my hands. Thankfully, though, it’s been the worst only during the day when I’m working. And from what I’ve learned, it’s a sign that my energy is being directed more towards my abdomen, where it’s needed much more, so if working on the belly is what I get for the price of cold hands, I’m all for it.

I don’t know if this is a symptom, per se, but my period came so easily, and with only some slight cramping. No PMS symptoms and certainly no bloating. Ah, if only they could all be like that! But I do know that the difference in PMS symptoms when I’m eating a lot of cooked foods vs. when I’m eating a high raw diet is like night and day. When I’m eating a high raw diet, my period is almost like it’s been on this fast…very similar, which is just another reason why I’m determined to be more consistent with eating a high raw diet once I’m done with this fast. I’m also determined to not go through what most women do when they go through “the change”. I believe, and I’ve heard many testimonials, that a mostly raw vegan diet will practically eliminate menopausal symptoms. Talk about an incentive!

One thing about fasting is that I hardly ever find it boring. I guess I love being challenged too much. Much more than physical, this is a mental challenge, and I’m someone who has always been fascinated by anything requiring mental toughness.

I’m curious about what lies ahead of me in the next 20 days. I’m not sure how much more housecleaning is up the road for me, other than a couple of coffee enemas that I intend to do next weekend. THAT’S going to be an interesting experience…stay tuned!

And So It Is…Agape

January 16, 2012

I’m ending day 15 of my 40 day fast, and I have to say, this day has been especially wonderful and memorable. Honestly, if it weren’t for friends asking me how’s it going, or me reminding others that I’m on a fast, food or eating rarely come into my mind.

I went to the Agape Spiritual Center for the first time. Its founder and spiritual director is the Reverend Michael Beckwith, and if you’ve seen The Secret, you’ll remember that he was one of the commentators in it. I’m so glad I went, because the energy of the sanctuary and the members were both vibrating with Agape, which in Greek, means unconditional love, or love in the holy sense. This center has so many programs, too, for every group under the sun. They service the typical groups like singles, divorced, the financially burdened, etc, but they also include groups I’ve never seen a church assist, like gays and lesbians, people grieving over the pet who passed, and even photographers (this one caught my attention…I love taking photos and have been told I’m good at it.) Their CSA program, which is Community Supported Agriculture, is also something I want to take part in. It was a great experience, as searching for a place like this has not been an easy road for me. Usually, when a church service lasts 2 hours, I’m ready to go home at about 1 hour into it. I brought some water in case I felt weak or hungry, and I didn’t even need to touch it. Every portion of the service ended with “And so it is. Amen.” I’ll definitely come again.

ANOTHER CHOICE ENCOUNTER

I also met an elderly woman at a natural health food store. I went there just to check out what products were sold there, and to pick up some Kombucha. We just started talking and hit it off immediately. As we strolled the market, she told me stories about her life, and I laughed a lot. For a good half hour at least, we exchanged lots of pleasantries and shared lots of laughs. She was a very interesting person, and so full of life. She’s the type I look up to…who are completely aware that age is just a number, and who are young at heart, where it matters. The best retort to someone who’s whining nonstop is, “You’re so old!” Try it…see how fast they shut up or what nerve you’ve hit. Anyway, we made arrangements to meet again, and I was so happy to meet her. We hugged and told each other we loved each other. Agape abounded this day.

The couple I attended Agape with, and the elderly woman I met later, all accepted my fast without judgment and without any type of disbelief or puzzlement, which was very refreshing to me. I kept waiting for, “What?!!! Why would you do that?” or “Are you sure that’s safe?” or anything along those lines, along with dropped jaws. Although I like educating people, it was like having a day off. And the people who insinuate that I’m nuts, well I can’t help them. I felt so much lightness in my spirit…the fact that I didn’t have to explain or educate, that it was just accepted without any comments indicating that I was weird or asking for “trouble”.

On my drive home, filled with love and joy about my experiences today, I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as it is his birthday. How appropriate, that this day of all days, should be his day of birth…a man who exemplified Agape for all people…who walked a road less traveled that threatened his existence at any given moment, but who put others’ well being ahead of his own…a true Christian man, whether he called himself one or not.

How blessed I feel to have been uplifted today, my 15th day of my fast, like I was, when there’s times I’m challenged to quit, even when my body doesn’t want to. Agape acted as a huge shot of adrenaline in my arm, to keep going.