Archive for the ‘Healing Diet’ Category

I Know that I Know Nothing

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

 

“We don’t know a millionth of one percent of anything”…..Thomas Edison

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong”….Bertrand Russell

 

There are some things I just don’t understand.  Like, how two brothers from Chechnya justify killing innocent people at a Marathon or, how people can believe the Holocaust never happened.  I don’t understand why airplanes don’t fall out of the sky or people can’t stop drinking when it is affecting their job, health and family.  I don’t get war, murder, rape, racism, conspiracy theories, cancer, football or why I have gained so much weight this past year.

I suppose there are some things, like flight for instance, that I may not understand but there is actually a clear- cut answer.  I know it has something to do with air pressure, gravity, thrust, and lift.  For a full explanation, I can look it up on the internet or get a book on the subject.  But that is only if I truly want to understand it.  I don’t.  And, I can live with the fact that I don’t get it. 

But there are some things that I don’t get that are much harder to live with.     

Terrorism, cancer, alcoholism, conspiracy theories, and well, my ridiculous weight gain.  Yes, my weight gain.  I have gained over 10 pounds this last year.  Some say that I needed to.  My Doctor believes it is from chemo-induced peri-menopause.  I believe both to be true but there is something else I cannot deny.  I am binge eating at night.  O.K.  I am not eating an entire gallon of ice cream.  I do stick to the pint size dairy free vegan version.  But, I’m still eating way too much when I am not even hungry.  I know many of you can relate.

I get that being worried about my weight gain seems pretty trivial in the whole scheme of things, even a bit silly, but I assure you it is not.  Why?

There is a common denominator between all of those things I listed above.  All of these “things” are either a result of or are in service to our need to get rid of the anxiety that comes from living in ambiguity. 

What is ambiguity exactly?  Ambiguity is uncertainty.  It is the not knowing anything.  Socrates got it over 2,000 years ago when he said, “I know that I know nothing.”  This he believed to be true wisdom; to admit that we know nothing and to be able to live happy productive lives with this knowledge, or lack thereof.

But most of us are not Socrates.  Living in this unclear, indefinite, equivocal state is not just unsettling; it scares the shit out of people.  And, humans don’t tolerate feeling uncomfortable for very long.

There was a great scene in Madmen, when Dr. So and So (sorry I don’t remember his name) told Don Draper,   “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.”  Then the doctor rides off in the middle of a snowstorm in New York City on New Year’s Eve at one o’clock in the morning on skis for a supposed “house call,” while Don heads upstairs to the Docs apartment to fuck the Doc’s wife.

 

So we drink, smoke pot, have sex with other peoples spouses, over eat, join fundamentalist causes, misuse political positions and for the truly disturbed and extreme, murder, rape and plant bombs at marathons, anything to alleviate our anxiety. 

The one surviving brother of the marathon bombing said that his older brother was “upset” by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that anger was the motivation.  He felt like he never belonged here and he didn’t have one American friend.

Not only was anger the motivation.  Fear was the spur and ambiguity the muse.

Our anxiety over ambiguity shows up everywhere.  In our politics, religions, schools and social lives as we try to manage, organize, command, control and even escape the unease from the uncertainty of life.  Dr. James Hollis, a Jungian psychologist says if we are truly honest with ourselves, “There is a fascist within each of us, a Nervous Nellie who wishes comfort at any cost.”  And Hannah Arendt wrote in Crisis of the Republic, “Throughout history the totalitarian mind is obsessed by a need for the world to be clear-cut and orderly.  Accordingly, subtleties, contradictions, and complexities are felt as intolerable, and have to be eliminated by whatever means.” 

Thank god the majority of us choose what seems like more simple vices, food, alcohol, sex, or religion.  But, simple as they may seem, you can go overboard and can cause a lot of harm to not only yourself but to others as well.

I admit I have tried a few other vices.  Sometimes they work (in the short run), most of the time they don’t.  In the long run, they always catch up with you.  And it seems when you get rid of one vice, another one takes over.  Take my emotional food binges at night.  Yes, that dairy free Coconut Bliss ice cream is to die for.  But is it really?  Is eating ice cream and gaining weight which results in too much estrogen in my body which could result in my cancer coming back worth it?  No, absolutely not, but I do it anyway especially when I am most tired and weak.  When ambiguity comes creeping through the dark halls of my soul late at night and I cannot resist the temptation of that sweet sugary something to alleviate my unease, I am putty.  

No, I need to get to the core of why I am eating if I am truly going to change.  I need to let go and accept ambiguity, embrace the unknown, learn to live in the midst of uncertainty, feel uncomfortable at times, and sit in my unease, then maybe I have a chance to not only fit into my jeans again, but maybe I can truly embrace a deeper more meaningful life.  James Hollis says, “Psychological, political, social and spiritual maturity is found precisely in the capacity of any person to tolerate ambiguity.”

I am getting there.  I really am.  I feel some progress but apparently, I still have more work to do.  I suspect we all do.

So, as I continue my journey, read the papers, watch the news, struggle with our world’s anxieties and that pint of ice cream at midnight, I will remember Socrates’ wise words, “I know that I know nothing.”  Or, do I?

The Texas Two Step

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Growth is an erratic forward movement:  two steps forward, one step back.  Remember that and be very gentle with yourself….Julie Cameron

A worm is the only animal that can’t fall down…A Texas Saying

I am sick.  After two years, I caught a nasty bug and it got the best of me.  I can no longer tout that I have not been sick since I was diagnosed with cancer.  My well streak is over.  So, it’s time to lift myself up by my sexy cowboy boot straps, again, and start a new well streak.

My first symptoms hit me on my flight home from Texas last Sunday night.  The plane had been delayed 4 hours.  My new departure time:   1:20 am.  Although I was happy as a clam, I was tired and hung-over from the night before.  It was my cousin Jeremy’s wedding.  And what a wedding it was.  A beautiful and sweet Texas bride, Randi and her adorable daughter Madee, an old farm house decorated with burlap and mason jars, pastures of Pike Oak, cowboy boots, beef brisket, and the Two Step. 

The Happy Couple - Jeremy and Randi

 

The McAleese Family

 

The Cuzins, Megan, Patricia and Deanne with the happy couple

 

I tried to stay on my special healing diet while visiting, but we were in East central Texas, Bryan to be exact, near College Station, the heart of Brazos Valley and the home of Texas A & M University.  There was not a juice bar in site.  Jamba Juice does not count.  I am referring to something a little more green.  Although Bryan is an old farming community, and “Aggie” is not a nickname for Agnus, the only green I saw were pickles and jalepenos.

Don’t get me wrong, Bryan is not a backward hick town.  In fact, according to Money Magazine, “due largely to the presence of Texas A&M University, in 2006 College Station was named the most educated city in Texas, and the 11th most educated city in the United States.”

They just happen to like their beef and crawfish over my rabbit food.  Do you blame them?  Apparently, a Whole Foods is planned for the area but too late to do me any good.

Crawfish Texas Style Rehearsal Dinner

 

Mom, Dad, Uncle Sam, Aunt Marilyn and Family eating crawfish

So, when in Rome…..

I learned how to peel and eat crawfish, drink Patron without lime, eat brisket, speak Texas drawl and play a perfect drum roll.  Ok, it’s not quite perfect yet, but it’s getting there.   And last but not least, Josh “learned me” to Two Step. 

The Two Step is not as easy as it looks.  Not for me anyway.  It consists of three steps:  two quick steps forward, one slow step back.  A bit like life, actually.  And, a bit like life, I fell on my ass right when I was finally getting the hang of it.  Now, I could blame it on:

  1. The beer soaked floor
  2. My new black leather cowboy boots
  3. Jagermeister and Patron
  4. Not being a very good follower
  5. All of the above

If you answered 5, all of the above, you know me well. 

But no matter, because even after my confidence was shaken, my butt bruised and my dress covered in beer, I got up, wiped myself off and kept dancing the Two Step. 

The Cuz's

 But all good things must come to an end.  After four days of fun, it was time to say my goodbyes and go home.  I was scheduled to fly out of Houston at 9:25 Sunday evening.  My parents were scheduled to fly out of Houston the next morning, but due to horribly planned freeways resulting in even worse traffic they decided to drive me to the airport the day before and get a hotel room close to Hobby Airport.  It was nice to have that time with them, alone, just the three of us.  That doesn’t happen very often, actually never.

In the meanwhile, I kept getting texts throughout the day from Southwest Airlines advising me that my flight has been delayed.  The first text said my flight was delayed one hour.  A second text came through a few hours later:  a two hour delay.  Third text:  three.  And so on.  Spring was cancelled in many parts of the Midwest due to a heavy late snow and it was causing havoc at the airports and on my plans. 

So, to buy some time, we decided to get some dinner.  We wanted to go to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, a well-known Cajun seafood restaurant that originated in Houston.  But, we did not want to get back on The Houston freeways.  We were in luck.  There was a Pappadeaux at the Hobby Airport.  I never get that lucky.

We caught a shuttle, checked my bags and headed to the restaurant looking forward to some spicy Cajun food.  There was one problem, Pappadeaux was on the other side of security.  Only passengers allowed. 

For a split second, I felt as hopeful as an old maid looking under a bed.  I really didn’t want to hang out at the airport for 6 hours all by myself.  We were tired and hungry, and we all wanted a cocktail dammit.

My mom was on a mission.  She asked a TSA agent standing at the front desk, “Is there any way my husband and I can go with my daughter to the gates, or at least to the restaurant?  The agent told her the only way they could get past security without a boarding pass is to put me in a wheel chair and go back to the check-in counter and ask for a Passenger Assisted Escort Pass. 

The next thing I saw was my mom pushing a wheel chair up to me, “Get in!” She said and “act sick, I’m hungry.” 

I sat down and did as I was told.  You can’t get lard unless you boil the hog.

The thing is, I already checked my bags and got my boarding pass.  I already walked up to the check-in desk with my own two feet, healthy and strong, pulling my big ass suitcase behind me and putting it on the scale to be weighed and checked.   Now we have to do it again, same counter, same woman directing the line, same everything except I am now being pushed in a wheelchair.

As we approached the line, the woman that directed me earlier to the check in counter said with a confused look on her face, “You are back?”  Keeping a straight face was impossible as I looked up at her to answer.  But someone was looking after me, because as I looked up at her, the setting sun was shining brightly through a window in the distance, completely blinding me.  I put my hand up to block the sun and the TSA agent.  At that point, my mom took over.  She pulled out the cancer card, albeit expired, and it worked.  She explained how I have cancer, and that I am weak from the chemo.  She went on and to explain what a trooper I have been but my flight is late and she doesn’t want me to be alone for such a long period of time.  She did such a good job pulling at the heartstrings of the TSA agent, she let us pass.  In fact, not only did we get through security seamlessly, they let us skip ahead to the front of the line. 

Honestly, with my mom’s neuropathy, and after she wore cowboy boots for hours to the wedding the night before, I should have been the one pushing her in the wheelchair, not the other way around.  But she was determined.  My mom wheeled me steadily and confidently past security, through the terminal corridors and right up to Pappadeaux.  I got up, walked into the restaurant, had a fabulous dinner, a glass of wine and ditched the wheelchair for someone else who really needed it.

The moral of the story, well there isn’t one. 

Although I am sure it was the crawfish, brisket, Jagermeister shots, late nights and plane flights that did me in and broke my health streak, it was truly worth it; especially knowing there will always be wheelchairs to help me along as I Two Step my way through life.  Hmmm…I guess there is a moral to my story.

Thank you, Mom for pushing my wheelchair all these years.

And, thank you everyone in Bryan for “learning” me to eat, drink, speak and dance like a Texan!  I had a fantastic time.  Love y’all! 

Checking out cuz's boobies as I shop for new ones!

Beer for Dinner (and Other Coping Mechanisms)

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

My dinner

 “You are so inspiring.  I wish I could have your control.”  These are words from a friend of mine that read my most recent blog, “French Fries are not a Vegetable.”

Thank you, Lori.  Yes, I do have a lot of control but not always.  In fact, I had beer for dinner last night, a Stone Pale Ale or two to be exact.  I was having a hard day and the thought of another salad made me want to puke.  So there, I do lose control at times. 

It is impossible to be on top of my game at all times.  Honestly, it is exhausting! 

Life is hard.  Sometimes, it is really hard.  I get down and my cravings kick in, chocolate covered almonds, ice cream, chips and salsa, been burritos with melted gooey cheese and beer.  At times like these, the site of another green juice makes me gag and I want to chuck that rice and kale bowl out the window for a big fat juicy “In and Out” burger. 

You might be thinking this is quite the turn from your last blog, Deanne.  What happened to sugar is poison, alcohol can cause breast cancer, transformation, best thing I have ever done for myself?  I guess it’s out the window with my rice and kale bowl for the time being. 

But that’s OK, because I want you to all know I am not perfect.  I mess up at times.  I am human.  We are all human.

So, yes, I am strong but not one hundred percent strong.  This month has been difficult, and this week even more trying, especially in the wake of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Friday’s shooting hit me hard.  I was getting my nails done at “Happy Nails” for a fancy Christmas party.  I was looking forward to a nice manicure and pedicure, a little time to myself while Maggie was at poetry class.  As I looked up at the TV, “Breaking News, police cars, and 27 dead, flashed across the screen.  Any “Happy” I was hoping to get at “Happy Nails” was gone.  “Happy Nails” was just “Nails.”

In fact, not only was my “happy” gone, my holiday spirit, my optimism, even my gratitude, all kaput.  I began wallowing in the swamplands, again.  And when this happens, I break out the chocolate.

But then I read a post on Facebook from my nephew Shawn.  He helped me put the chocolate away with his poignant reminder:   

My nephew Shawn

The other day I was asked why I dislike slow, depressing music. I just shrugged and said I don’t like being depressed. Now that I think about it, it is much deeper and yet as simple as that.

I had an amazing child hood filled with amazing people! I had great loving parents Steve and Barb Johnson. I have 1 biological brother Chris, an “adopted” sister and brother Terra and Will, two step brothers E…don and Steven, and a load of family that I just fell into, Cathy, Jonathan, Monkey, and of course my lovely Rawr Muffin Amanda. In my life I have seen true tragedy first hand. I’ve seen family forcibly ripped from each others arms and ripped apart. I’ve seen friends lose the people closest to them. I’ve seen TRUE violent psychosis. I’ve seen police overstep their authority and abuse the very people they swore to protect. I’ve seen betrayal from the ones i love the most. I’ve seen peoples trust betrayed. I’ve seen what true depression is. I’ve seen a friend wreck and barely be alive. I’ve lost my own grandmother whom I was very close with. I’ve seen mental, physical, and emotional abuse on children and women who I know and love dearly. I’ve seen a child’s voice and needs go ignored and denied. I’ve seen a lot of dark things for my age more than I care to put on this status……

BUT and this is very key….

I’ve seen unconditional love. I’ve seen both my parents accept people and friends in need and it made the world for them. I’ve seen my cousins grow into the most AMAZING people. I’ve seen friends grow and prove their parents proud! I’ve seen my parents give a home to friends and make them family. I’ve seen family break the chains of oppression and live free from abuse. I’ve given a young man a voice. I’ve had my trust in people rewarded 10 fold. I’ve been invited in and made part of a business that is more of a loving family than a job. I’ve received so much love and help from a man that goes above and beyond the title of “Captain”. I’ve seen true deep seeded depression beat! I’ve seen bullies change their ways. I’ve fallen in love and am dating my best friend. I watched my friend get married. Saw addiction get beat. Saw my aunt kick breast cancer’s ASS! Watched my friend recover from his near death motorcycle accident despite what the doctors said and made it home for Christmas. I’ve seen families re united after weeks apart during rough times. I’ve seen beauty blossom. I’ve influenced a younger individual to turn their life around for the better. I’ve gained an amazing younger brother who i care for very much for. I won a game of alcoholic checkers against my “mother in law”. I hold my girlfriends hand through all the rough times.

I’ve seen a lot of beauty and amazing things in my life as well. When i listen to depressing music all the good fades from view. And I realized….. It is easy to forget the beauty and love in life and focus on the bad dark and evil. My father once told me “Your life is what YOU make it. The only bad days you have are ones you let happen. You can either sit there mope, cry, and get angry… Or you can stand back up and be determined to have a damn good day.” I have found this advice very handy and true.

So to my loved friends and family the moral of my long ass rant is this.

No matter how much tragedy you encounter there are amazing and beautiful things in your life as well, never fixate yourself on only the bad. So listen to some good happy nonsensical music and put yourself in a great mood. Realize life doesn’t suck. And have a truly amazing day.

I love you all.

Thank you Shawn for reminding me that in spite of all the bad, there is good, there is hope, there is love!    

We all have moments of grief and loss, when doubt hits us like a train and the pain is so overwhelming we cannot see the good.  I was having a moment like this.  But, as I have learned, this too shall pass. 

And it did, I drank a huge 32 oz. green juice today with a bowl of rice and kale and it was delicious!

French Fries are not a Vegetable

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

 Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food…. Hippocrates

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease…. Thomas A Edison

 
Maggie has been home since the weekend with a sore throat, runny nose, and fever.  Last week, Casey was down for the count and missed three days of school.  Kevin has been battling it for weeks and Riley, well he seems to be fighting it because he is the only one in the family that takes my advice about eating healthy.  But not me, I am fine.  In fact, I am not just fine, I haven’t been sick for two years, not a cold nor flu, nothing.  It seems a miracle for someone who battled bronchitis twice a year my entire life. 

It’s not a miracle, however.  No, it is simply a result of my new diet and lifestyle.  As many of you know, I changed things up a bit after being diagnosed with breast cancer and it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. 

And a special perk to boot, I can fit into my pair of black skinny jeans and better yet, no PMS!  Seriously, those days before my period when I couldn’t get enough chocolate, snapped at everyone, cramped, cried and wanted to kill my husband are gone.  Well, not the kill my husband part but that is for another blog. 

Ok, This is not me, but a girl can dream!

Many people, after hearing about my transformation, want to know what I am doing.  So, I have finally decided to write it all down in a blog and share my “modus operandi” with all of you.   

Although we still don’t know everything about cancer and why it grows in the first place, there is mounting evidence that cancer cells multiply when the immune system, our body’s natural defense is on the fritz.  So, to keep cancer at bay, I have made it one of my life’s missions to boost up my immune system!  How?  Living a healthier lifestyle, changing my ph balance from acidic to alkaline, and reducing inflammation. 

Low grade chronic and systemic inflammation is a leading cause in many diseases.  According to Young S. Kim, program director in the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute, “Cancer is caused by many different processes and inflammation is one of them, and if you could inhibit that process it would be tremendously helpful.”

In fact, doctors are now recommending a baby aspirin a day to help prevent cancer.    Why?  Because, an aspirin (81 mg) a day has shown to decrease inflammation.  It’s not just to thwart heart disease anymore.  But aspirin alone is not enough.  If it were, we would all be cancer free.  No, the real cure is a nutritional diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it.  I wish I could say it is as simple as it sounds, but it is not.  However, it can be done.  I am living proof.    

So, after lots of research, trial and error and more error, I have come up with the following plan and so far have been able to avoid that nasty winter flu, cancer coming back, PMS and committing murder.  Enjoy!

  1.  Take your mom’s advice and eat your veggies. It is pretty clear, we are what we eat.  But, just as important, we are what we don’t eat.   According to Joe Cross in his film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Americans are not eating their vegetables.  In fact, for many, veggies only make up 5% of their overall diet.  This is not good.  Our bodies cannot live on carbs alone which makes up the majority of the American diet.  Do you know that potatoes are the most popular vegetable?  I call it the “white food group” which Maggie loves.  Potatoes don’t count!  You need some green stuff.  Veggies are packed with phytonutrients.  According to the voice of sustainable wellness, Frank Lipman, “phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know is they help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.”  An important tip:  cooking can kill enzymes in many vegetables and certain vitamins found in veggies, so make sure that you include raw veggies in your diet very day.  A salad a day keeps the doctor away.
  2. Drink your juice. A 16 oz glass of fresh green organic juice straight from the juicer is like drinking pure sunshine.  Power packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and chlorophyll, all that liquid love goes directly into your bloodstream instantly oxygenating your body, releasing stored toxins, improving your blood circulation, and cleansing your liver giving you tremendous energy. You truly can’t go wrong with this elixir of life.
  3. Chew, Chew, Chew.  Our digestive system actually begins in our mouths.  The combination of chewing and our saliva gets things started so our bowels don’t have to work so hard.  When our digestive system is on overload, all our healing energy goes to that area of the body taking away from other areas that may need the energy.  When our digestive system is working properly, all is right with the world. 
  4. Ditch the sugar.  Not only is sugar poison to our bodies, sugar is to cancer as oxygen is to fire.  Americans eat on a per capita basis 156 pounds of sugar per year.  This is equivalent to 31 five-pound bags. That’s a whole lot of sugar.  Beware of hidden sugars.  It’s in your salad dressings, ketchup, Spaghetti sauce and cereals.  Honestly, you are sweet enough without it.
  5. Limit your alcohol.  According to the Harvard Nurses’ Health study, drinking more than one alcoholic cocktail per day can increase breast cancer risk by 20 to 25 percent.  Imbibing in an alcoholic drink can certainly relax you after a long day or help you to break loose a bit at a social gathering but like sugar, cancer loves it as much as you do.  There are other ways to relax and have fun.  You may need to get a bit creative but the results are worth it. 
  6. Reduce your caffeine intake.   The jury is still out on this but some studies indicate that caffeine plays a role in breast cancer.  One thing known for sure is that caffeine increases levels of cortisol and stress hormones in your body.  Maybe you can consider herbal teas instead.  Slurp!
  7. Shake your booty.  Get active, go for a walk, ride a bike, go dancing, join a gym or swim in the deep blue sea.  Whatever your choice of activity, get off that couch, log out of Facebook and dance your heart out for thirty minutes or more a day.  The trick for getting the most bang from your walk, break a sweat!    
  8. Take your vitamins. Many of our foods today are depleted of their natural nutrients due to poor soil conditions, toxicity, pesticides, early picking, and many other modern agricultural practices.  To make up for this, it is a good idea to take supplements.  For example, most Americans do not get enough Vitamin D in their diet and low amounts of vitamin D are linked to some of the most aggressive breast cancers.  A glass of milk, fortified orange juice or a day in the sun will not give you the needed amounts.  This is one of the few times when popping a pill is good for you.    
  9. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.  Stay away from processed foods, chemicals, food dyes, and foods treated with pesticides.  We know MSG causes cancer yet all the big food companies put it in their products including the 4 most popular packaged foods, Hamburger Helper, Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix, Progresso soups and Campbell’s soups.  Also, most frozen pizzas, chips, processed vegetables, canned meats, frozen pot pies, seasonings and sauces contain MSG.  And do you know that all those salad dressings we dump on our healthy bowl of lettuce and veggies are full of chemicals, yes MSG included.  So, make your own salad dressing.  It’s easy and tastes a lot better than those bottled brands.  One last word of advice, never take a trip to fast food nation again!  When I think of all those Happy Meals I bought my kids when they were young I cringe.  Ban Micky D’s, try Pho Bowls instead. 
  10. Limit your exposure to non-organic foods and residual hormones found in dairy and meat.  In fact, limit your exposure to meat and dairy all together.  Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chance of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  Although I am not yet convinced that meat is horrible for you, I do know Americans eat way too much of it.  Instead, get the majority of your proteins from nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.  If you eat meat and dairy, choose free-range organic chicken and eggs or wild caught fish.  And, if you are craving a big ass piece of steak especially around your period, make sure it is grass fed.
  11. Maintain a healthy body weight.  Estrogen is stored in fat tissue.  This stored estrogen is known to increase your risk of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers and PMS.  Maintaining a healthy weight also helps you to feel good, look good, and squeeze into your favorite jeans.  Hey, maybe those skinny jeans won’t just be for your daughter anymore. 
  12. Do a daily dry rub!  I know what you are thinking.  No, I am referring to rubbing your skin.  In Chris Karr’s words, “We dump tons of toxins out of our skin so it’s important to keep the pathway clear. Dry brushing loosens dead cells, stimulates acupressure points, tickles your chi, massages your meridians, moves the lymph, helps reduce CELLULITE, stimulates your immune system, wakes up circulation and makes your skin soooo soft and velvety!”
  13. Ok, here it is!  Have lots of orgasms!  Orgasms release endorphins (natures own happy pill), relieve tension, help you sleep better, calm your cravings for junk food, ease your pain, burn calories and simply feel good.  Need I say more?
  14. Get your zzzzzzzzzz’s.  Your body does most of its healing while you are sleeping.  Treat yourself like a princess.  Slip into some comfy pj’s, fluff your pillow, splurge on some silky sheets and drift off into wonderland for at least 8 hours every night.  I was listening to a radio talk show the other day.  The guest speaker, a health consultant, said if there is only one thing you can do on this long list towards getting healthy, get your sleep.  It is first and foremost! 
  15. Don’t worry, be happy.  There is an incredible mind body connection that we are just beginning to understand.  Our thoughts and feelings can positively or negatively influence our bodies.  As Lawrence LeShan, Ph.D. and father of mind-body therapy states, “Feelings affect body chemistry, just as body chemistry affects feelings.”  And Albert Einstein said, “I admit thoughts influence the body.”  You know what it feels like to be stressed out about work, devastated over a break up, anxious about those teenage kids or those unending bills.  Your muscles tighten up, your stomach churns, your head pounds, or a pain in your chest makes you wonder if this is the big one.  This is stress and it can wear down your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.  So, sit with those negative thoughts, decide whether to throw them away or deal with them.  But, do not let them run your life.  And, practice your affirmations.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  I am an amazing, beautiful, happy, healthy woman.  For the men, I am a strong, handsome, powerful and productive man!  Got it?  Good! 

We are interesting creatures. Many of us know that we should be taking better care of ourselves but it usually takes something like cancer or a new love affair to take real action.  We smoke when we know it causes cancer.  We sit on the couch and promise to exercise tomorrow as our muscles shrink and our bones thin.  We eat an exorbitant amount of empty carbs, sugars and bad fats as our waist grows and our energy is depleted.  We drink way too much alcohol even when it makes us feel like shit the next day and studies connect alcohol consumption to breast cancer.  We think French fries are a vegetable and Red Bull “gives us wings.” 

But it is never too late to change. 

If I can do it, you can do it!  I promise.  And, I can tell you first hand, not only is it worth it, you are worth it!

So, as this New Year approaches, instead of taking time to get a flu shot, go buy yourself a new juicer, eat your veggies, ditch the sugar, take your vitamins, get your zzzzz’s, shake your booty, have lots of sex and say your affirmations!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!  I am worth it!

Now if I can just get my family to do the same.

Deep Fried Frenzy

Monday, July 25th, 2011

 As my kids stood in line at the Heart Attack Café at the OC Faire about to indulge in deep fried food frenzy, I was filled with mixed emotions.  I was excited for them to “just be kids” and partake in this deep fried insanity and horrified by the thought of all these people in line about to stuff their face with processed sugar, trans fats and ingredients I can’t spell or pronounce.  Deep fried Snicker Bars, fried chicken, curly fries smothered in ranch dressing, deep fried Twinkies, chocolate covered bacon and the end-all, deep fried butter on a stick. 

 Casey and Harrison decided on a deep fried Snicker bar.  As I watched them devour cancer on a stick, I pulled out my raw organic sprouted vegan gluten free nut bar I snuck into the fair.  No outside food or water allowed. After a bit of sweet talk’n, I used my cancer card and got my Mountain Valley Spring water bottle past the security guy at the entrance check point.   

 I don’t want to seem holier than thou.  There was a day I would have indulged in the deep fried frenzy myself.  And, I don’t want to keep my kids from having a bit of fun either.  I know that the deep fried snicker bar was more than a treat, it was an experience.  But, by the look of many of the Heart Attack Café patrons, fried food is not a new experience.  It is a familiar practice.

Since my battle with cancer and my better understanding of how food plays a part in our health, I admit it is difficult for me to watch.  Even though I have always eaten what I considered to be healthy, salad instead of a Reuben sandwich for lunch and salmon instead of pork chops for dinner.  I realize that it was not healthy enough.  I’m sorry that it took a life threatening disease to help me see the light.

We humans are interesting creatures. Why do we wait until we are sick and all hell breaks loose before we make major changes in our lives? We smoke when we know it causes cancer.  We sit on the couch and promise to exercise tomorrow as our waist grows, our muscles shrink and we lose bone density resulting in osteoporosis.  We drink too much alcohol even after many studies connect alcohol consumption to breast cancer.  We think French fries are a vegetable and Red Bull “gives you wings.” 

And, sugar!  Don’t get me started on sugar. Americans eat on a per capita basis 156 pounds of sugar per year.  This is equivalent to 31 five-pound bags.  I admit I had a major sweet tooth.  I used to devour Robin Eggs at Easter, demolish dozens of cut out cookies with powdered sugar frosting at Christmas, gobble down slices of  my mom’s apple pie for my birthday, stole Kit Kat bars from my kids pillow cases at Halloween and snacked on pretzels and M&M’s chased by a beer for happy hour.  Sugar!  Sugar!  Sugar!

Resulting in Cancer! Cancer! Cancer! 

Sugar is to cancer as oxygen is to fire.  It is pretty clear we are what we eat.  But, just as important, we are what we don’t eat.   According to Joe Cross in his film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Americans are not eating their vegetables.  In fact, for many, veggies only make up 5% of their overall diet.  In his documentary, Joe shares how he ditched his old ways of eating and stressful lifestyle with juicing and exercise.  He not only lost a ton of weight, he helped others do the same.  And, “ta-da,” today he is off all medications for a rare skin disease that appeared with his growing waist line and now has disappeared with his shrinking waist line.  How?  Veggies! Veggies! Veggies!

Why are vegetables so important? Answer:  Phytonutrients.  According to the voice of sustainable wellness, Frank Lipman:

”We have known for a while that plant-based foods are extremely beneficial to consume, and phytonutrients may be the reason why. There are literally thousands of them in our food. Some phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, others help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand. What we do know is they help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote health.”

Cancer grows when the immune system is on the fritz, genes mutate and inflammation is rampant.  I didn’t eat my veggies.  Sorry I didn’t listen Mom! 

Veggies just don’t taste as good as cookies.  Ask my daughter.   But, the less sugar we eat the better and sweeter fruit and veggies taste.  These days I actually prefer a slice of a sweet organic apple over a Kit Kat bar.  I would not have said that 10 months ago.

Maggie prefers a Kit Kat bar.  She is not alone.

Americans in general prefer fast food to organic fruits and veggies.  Food stands at the OC Faire like Chuck Wagon Charlie’s Fried Chicken Shack and The Heart Attack Café depend on this fact.  But the problem is as fast food consumption goes up, medical bills go up.  According to Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet book, in 1960 18% of our national income was spent on food while 5% was spent on health care. Today 9% of our income is spent on food and 17% on health care.

Eating healthy in America is expensive but so is cancer.  I easily spend over $300 a week at the local health food store on groceries and supplements.  But, we have spent thousands and thousands in medical bills for my treatments and we have medical insurance for god sake! 

My family has not yet embraced my new eating habits but they are making small attempts. Tonight I made Urban Zen Juice, a recipe from Kris Carr.  After pushing kale, celery, broccoli, fennel, apples, lemons and ginger through a juicer, Maggie made a valiant attempt to drink it but to no avail.  She honestly could not swallow it.  

I am hoping Maggie will eventually like it but change is difficult.  When I am faced with the choice of eating a deep fried Snicker bar versus a raw organic sprouted vegan gluten free nut bar, I will choose the later every time.  Not because change is easy for me.  Not because I have amazing willpower.  Not because I want to fit into my skinny jeans.  Because I want to live!

Good Riddance Jack, Bonjour Brie de Melun

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Have you read the book, Who Moved my Cheese?  It is a sweet story about four little mice that find out their food source, cheese, is no longer in its usual location and they must go out into their mice world, a maze, in search of it.  One little mouse is successful at it, the others are not.  Why?  Simply because the successful mouse found the courage and strength to face his fears and conquer the big dark scary labyrinth of tunnels to find more cheese while the others did not.  The cheese is a metaphor for the things you want in your life; love, happiness, a secure job, health, or peace of mind.  You either adapt to unexpected changes in your life or you die.

I have tried a third option, yelling at the universe to quit moving my god damn cheese but apparently the universe has other plans for me.  This month alone Kevin has a new job in LA after a year of unemployment, my house is in Escrow, Maggie started school this week for the very first time in her life,  I spend hours each day cooking and eating food for rabbits and I will be having a mastectomy in the next 10 to 14 days.

So how do I deal with all of this?  Adapt or die.  Adaptation is a process where you become better suited to living in a certain environment.  If your outer world changes, you need to change too.  You can do it kicking and screaming, you can drag your feet and wallow in sadness, “oh, woe is me”, you can blame others for your situation or you can have a positive attitude and grab the world by the lapels but whatever you choose we must all change to live a fuller life.  If the fish can leave the sea to walk on land, surely I can adjust to a new job, new house, and new boobs.

I have written about this before because it is a constant theme in my life.  Actually, I bet it is a theme in all of your lives as well.  The one thing for sure in this world is that nothing is for sure.  Things are always changing, sometimes small and insignificant, other times huge and earth crushing.  There is no way to avoid it so you better make the best of it, stay positive and continue to look for new stashes of cheese.   When hit with adversity and difficult times, it is time to kick into gear and adapt to the new circumstances.   Riley conveyed this beautiful positive spirit yesterday in his amazingly upbeat optimistic words he sent me in a text, “I can do it Mom!”

Riley started school at Dana Hills High School this year as a junior after 8 years of unschooling.  Unfortunately, when he first enrolled last semester, they told him that he will not be able to graduate with the class because he does not have any accredited classes for the first two years.  Well, yesterday we spoke to the assistant principle and asked her if there is anything Riley can do so that he can graduate with the class.  She said, “Since he is a great student, we may need to be creative but I’m sure we can figure something out”.  So figured it out she did.  It will require Riley making up 120 credits, taking some on-line classes, courses at Saddleback College and summer school while still taking a full load at school. 

Riley is psyched.  I am so amazed at his positive attitude.  His belief in himself and his gumption to make this happen even though it will require a lot of extra work and will not be easy absolutely blows me away.  I’m a proud mama.  Instead of Riley feeling sorry for himself because he has so much more work than everyone else or blaming me or the system for failing him, he is going to work hard and persevere.  Perseverance is essential in adapting.  One cannot give up.  If those little fish gave up millions of years ago we would not be here today. 

Kevin did not give up when looking for a job.  I will not fall off my macrobiotic diet.  Riley will graduate from Dana Hills and Maggie will transition into school.  It is not always easy but the results are worth the hard work and determination.  And better yet, when one does not give up, it creates an opportunity for a bigger and better door to open. 

Kevin may leave the house at 6:00 am every morning and not get home until 9:00 pm Monday thru Friday but he finally has a job he absolutely loves, a steady paycheck and huge opportunity.  I honestly can’t complain (which I would have done a few years ago, relentlessly).  And, yes, it is sad that we have had to sell our house in a short sale but we are hoping to rent back from the new owners for less than our mortgage, a substantial monthly savings.   And, of course, I will miss unschooling, but I am so excited to see an entire new world open up for Maggie including new friends, new opportunities and new adventures.   And damn if I still don’t crave Trader Joe’s chocolate covered almonds and homemade oatmeal cookies but now I have more energy, I have lost weight, and am learning to sit with my emotions instead of stuffing them with chocolate.   

Not too long ago, breast cancer was a death sentence.   I am grateful to live in a time when it is possible to recover fully.  I am not happy about having a mastectomy.  It will definitely not be an easy road; three surgeries, reconstruction, lots of rabbit food, and other unforeseen twists and turns but I will be better, wiser and stronger in the long run. Like Riley, I can do it!  Like the little mouse, I know there is a bigger and better stash of cheese waiting for me.

So when adversity hits, and you find that your favorite block of Jack cheese found in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store is no longer available, try a new and better cheese, maybe Brie de Melun flown all the way in from France.  It may not offer the predictability, comfort and security you are used to, you may have to change your menu, learn new recipes or spend a little extra money but I am certain it will lead you to something bigger and better, or at least different.  So I say good riddance Jack and bonjour Brie de Melun! Adios home ownership y hola the world of renting.  Ciao unschooling and buongiorno public school.  Bye bye boobie and hello silicone!