Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Schizandra and the Gates of Mu

It is not very often that I read a book that literally gives me tingles from head to toes and captures me with deep, inner truths and enlightenment. Schizandra and the Gates of Mu, by Laura Bruno is a rare gem of a novel, taking the reader through a journey of self discovery and infinite potential.

The novel follows heroine Schizandra Ginger Parker on a mythical journey of awakening. After the death of her beloved father, Schizandra finds herself living in Sedona, Arizona with her unfamiliar, vegan grandmother. Completely out of her element, with her life turned upside down, the young girl's life takes another harsh jolt when she falls into a mysterious slumber after passing out in biology class. Nothing could prepare Schizandra for the soul discovery that stems from going deep within on an odyssey that unviels her true self and limitless potential.

Schizandra and the Gates of Mu blurs the lines between fiction, reality, spirituality and mythology. Never have I read a fiction novel that touches on so many esoteric topics. This novel is incredibly unique and magical, filled with depth, symbolism and wisdom. It speaks to the individual reader on so many levels, unveiling universal truths as Schizandra discovers her gifts and purpose. There were lines in the novel that rushed at me full speed, causing me to look within and question my own life path. It's brilliantly written and fast paced, yet speaks to all age groups with characters like a cacao addict Lemurian queen, hilarious, quirky, spinster twins and a hot, bachelor helicopter pilot.

Author Laura Bruno creates an amazing tapestry of characters, insights into hidden truths and mythology and weaves it all in an entertaining page turner that magically rivals Harry Potter, yet is amazingly relatable. If I had children this would be the ultimate bedtime story to read together, as it is funny and entertaining for adults and children alike, yet artful in its facilitation of revealing wisdom. Schizandra's journey will continue in the upcoming sequel, Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar. I can't wait to see what other magical musings and adventures await! :) You can purchase Schizandra and the Gates of Mu from Amazon here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Curing Menstrual Pain

To any men out there who read my blog, this will be an overtly female blog post. I understand men don't particularly like to read or hear about "that time of the month", but I urge you to read on, as we all have mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends that may greatly benefit from this information.

As a women, "that time of the month" is highly individual. I will never forget my first period. I had looked forward to the day I would get my first as a mark of women hood and a right of passage. When it did come, it was everything I never expected. I was staying with my aunt, uncle and cousin for a couple weeks in the summer. I was 13. At first it was a little exciting. My body was changing and I was growing into a young women, but by the second day, the most immeasurable pain took hold. I remember laying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position wishing for death. I'm not trying to be dramatic. It was that bad. I couldn't move or talk. All I could do was lay there praying for the pain to end. I was humiliated because my aunt kept checking on me and seemed very confused as to my pain. She and my cousin did not suffer in this way. My stomach was a mess and I frequently had to use the bathroom as well.

I dreaded my period from then on. It was literally a nightmare. Straight out of a horror film. Lots of blood, pain and tears. When I was about 16/17 I decided to go on the pill. I had heard the birth control pill helped with menstrual cramps. I also had a steady boyfriend and felt I was being responsible all around to give birth control pills a try.

I was shocked and amazed at how my body responded. Painful periods became a memory of the past. Having my period no longer ket me in bed clutching my abdomen, writhing in pain. I felt free for the first time in years. I continued to stay on the pill for about 8 years.

If you have read my first blog, you know about my story and when I decided to go off all medications. I was not yet raw. I would say I was eating a whole foods diet and had eliminated most processed foods. I boldly went off birth control pills with the hope that cleaning up my diet and tools like acupuncture would ward of any painful periods. It didn't. Into my third period after going off the pill I had the most horrendous pain yet. Not only was the pain indescribable, but I felt sick to my stomach like I might throw up. All I could think was how this couldn't be normal and I wondered if I might die from the pain. I couldn't feel my legs, as it felt like there was no blood flow to my lower extremities.

The intense pain usually only lasted a 12-24 hour period. I got some herbs from my acupuncturist to help take the edge off, but I was still far from functional on these days. When I went raw I did see an improvement in my period pain, but not the miracle I was hoping for. I thanked the heavens I didn't work outside of my home because I would have had to call in sick at least once a month. I don't think that would have gone over very well in the business world.

So that's how things have been for me for almost two years now. High raw and still having painful cramps. I coped by really nurturing myself on those days, taking herbs and using a heating pad. A doctor once asked me, "why I let my body get away with that...take 3 IBUProfen", he said, as if my body was something to drug into submission. Pain from the body is always a message and not to be ignored, yet rather contemplated, and then the message integrated. After all my body had been through, I knew in my heart covering up the problem was not the answer. So I dealt with it and intended some day I would figure this puzzle out.

Knock and the door shall open :). About a month ago now I read a new article written by Shazzie. You can check that out here. She had a similar journey as myself with period pain and has found amazing relief after mega dosing on DHA. I had just purchased some Omega-Zen when I read the article and thought synchronicity once again popped graciously into my life to get me those pills. So I started taking four a day. The recommended dosage is one a day. Shazzie took ten a day, but I knew I had about a month till my next period and four felt right to me so I trusted my intuition.

Another factor that happened in this time frame is I went 100% raw. This was not a conscious decision, it happened naturally without me really noticing. I just have not had any desire for cooked food in the last three to four weeks. It feels like a natural progression my body has guided me to.

My period came on Monday. I waited for the pain to kick in. It usually does after the first 12 hours. It hasn't come. I slept wonderfully last night and awoke in amazement that I am pain free. I'm not sure if both going 100% raw and the DHA are factors, but I feel the DHA is the main reason I am feeling so great. I had a deficiency that I am now correcting and I am so thankful.

Thank you Shazzie for sharing your experience and shining your light. You are truly a goddess and I love you for all that you do and all that you are. There is a cure for period pain. I now know of two people, myself and Shazzie, who have had incredible results with DHA.

There are some in the raw food world that feel all supplements can cause problems, with the logic that we are a nation sick from over indulgence, not lack. I would just like to express that illness can be caused by both excess and lack. We live in a world that has mineral depleted soils and pollution is a part of our very existence, from the homes we live in, to our water, to the air we breath. It is significant to think of this as a yin and yang balance. Removing the things from our diet that cause dis-ease and adding in what is lacking. Only when we achieve balance can there be true health. Fixating on one extreme will only create imbalance.

With lots of love and hope~


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Clear Skin

Bravery at its best! Me, right out of the shower :)!

I have learned a lot about skin care over the years. When I was a young teen, about thirteen, I began to suffer from mild acne. Thus began my escapade with every acne medication known to man :). I can see in hind sight that all the medications only complicated my situation. My acne went from mild to moderate, and I began to get cystic acne on my chin. Two rounds of Accutane could only keep my spots at bay for a short time, so my love/hate affair with topical medication continued into my early twenties. To read more about my history with acne you can read my first blog post.

I remember having the most neurotic thoughts about my skin, like when the bird flu craze was all over the media I thought to myself, "If I can't leave my home, I won't be able to get my prescription acne medications." What in the world was I thinking?!?!..... What about food? Who was I worried was going to see me with some pimples in the middle of this supposed crisis, and why did I think they would care about my skin?! I was a crazy woman about my skin.

I can honestly say some of that anxious emotion was tied to certain foods I was eating at the time, but some of it was also me feeling out of control in my life. I wanted so badly to feel in control with my skin and my body. I was confused, slightly depressed and lost. Focusing on my appearance allowed me to not focus on the real problem. The real problem was I didn't truly know myself and I wasn't on path, meaning I wasn't fulfilling my souls deepest yearnings. I was trying to do what I thought I was "supposed to do", what society and often family and friends expect us to accomplish, but it wasn't feeding my soul so I lacked enthusiasm and drive. I fixated on other things to avoid the uncomfortable nagging of my soul.

It wasn't until I began to change my diet that I began to get very clear mentally. I began to tune into my true self (or some might call this my "higher self") and it was then that every aspect of my life began to rapidly change, including my skin. In the past, I had always been afraid to go off my acne medications. Now that I had a new awareness, I decided I didn't care any more what the consequences were for my skin. My decision was about my health, not vanity. I knew for the health of my entire being it was the best choice to stop putting toxic chemicals onto my skin and in my body.

I remember that week so clearly. I stopped all my medications at once. I was using two topical medications, one in the morning and one at night. I was also taking birth control pills which I was convinced was also keeping my skin clear. I stopped those too. I decided I was done with all over the counter medications also. I swapped Tylenol and Claritin for homeopathic herbs from my acupuncturist. I kept waiting for the horrific acne to present, but it really wasn't that bad. I wondered if the medications were unnecessary the whole time, but then I would slip and eat some pizza and wow! Sore pimples and greasy skin.

I have been on this raw food journey long enough now that I have a very consistent diet and I can't remember the last time I had pizza :). I have learned what works best for my body and I no longer have crazy cravings unless I haven't gotten in enough greens :). I have experimented enough though to share that for me, dairy and refined sugar are sure enough to bring on breakouts. Grains tend to make me very puffy, like I can't recognize myself in the morning. Cooked oils make me oily :), and on a different note make my throat really sore. Too much salt, raw or processed, causes me to break out. Salt is my Achilles heel, but I get better with that vice every day and my body seems to be guiding me in the right direction.

With skin, less is always more. This goes for your diet, what you do to take care of your skin, as well as what you put on it. These days I try to keep everything as simple as possible. I'm not perfect, and I still get small breakouts from time to time, but practice, attention to my diet, listening to my body and continuing to work on self growth has proved to be a great formula for healthy skin. Oh and how could I forget love :). Loving others and loving yourself. Practice emanating love as much as possible and not only will you feel more beautiful, but you may find little things that used to bother you about your appearance slowly fade from your thoughts and are replaced with thoughts of gratitude.

I keep it really simple and don't put products on my skin I would be afraid to eat. I wash my face with a mild soap (like Dr. Bronners or Terressentials) only if I am wearing makeup. Otherwise, water or a flower water toner do the trick. I do exfoliate by dry brushing my skin and sometimes use a gentle, natural scrub. That's about it! Occasionally I'll do a clay mask, but it's not a consistent part of my skin care routine. I rarely need moisturizer. But sometimes I will spritz with some essential oils because it smells really nice :). If I am in a super dry climate or it's a really dry winter, a tiny amount of shea butter does the job.

Diet has made the largest impact on my skin. I can't stress enough that the health of our skin starts from within. Not only will a raw foods diet with lots of greens improve acne, but you will see health in the sparkle of your eyes, the color in your cheeks and the rosy tint of your lips. I used to hate how pale my lips were without lip gloss. I really don't need it now unless it's for fun. My lips take on a healthy pink color because I flood my body with oxygen.

For more details on skin care and my beauty musings you can check out my interview with Laura Bruno about natural beauty here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Beyond The Medical Reasons For Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

In the recent years, it seems Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance have become a prevalent health issue. Mainstream media has been covering these two medical mysteries on shows such as The View, as more people are being diagnosed and discovering their sensitivities to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in many grass like grains, such as wheat, barely, spelt, kamut and rye. Celiac Disease is characterized by a severe, sudden, immune reaction to gluten, whereas gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune condition of unknown origin where gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine. With gluten sensitivity, the onset is slower, and symptoms can often occur days after ingesting gluten. If the two were thought of on a spectrum, Cealic Disease would be an extreme on one end, while gluten sensitivity could be at various intervals along the spectrum. In both cases, gluten can inhibit absorption of nutrients resulting in a wide range of possible symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

eczema and other skin problems

irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and other gastro-intenstinal problems


aching joints




nutritional deficiencies, like low B12 or iron

The vast array of symptoms can make these conditions difficult to track and often eliminating gluten from the diet for several weeks is the best option to really know how one does with out gluten. There are some tests one can take, but it has been found there are some who test negative for Celiac Disease, but through eliminating gluten, find their symptoms go away. I myself am gluten intolerant, and after much research, self discovery, and spiritual growth, I would like to share some spiritual and metaphysical reasons for what seems to be a sudden burst of intolerance to this once revered grain.

Historically wheat symbolizes both life and death. Stories of harvesting and cultivating wheat can be traced from Europe to North America. Wheat, being the staple food for many civilizations was nessesary to live, and therefore, symbolized life itself. Ironically, in order to harvest more wheat, it needs first to die and then be buried in the ground. Months later it is reborn anew as a spike emerging from the earth. This resurection of sorts then provides sustanence and has feed humanity throughout the ages.

Wheat, as well as other cereal grains, has a very complex and rich history, from symbolism in the bible, to pagan traditions and cultivation. An abundant wheat harvest meant a rich kingdom or society. Egyptian goddess Isis was known as the goddess of magic, rebirth, motherhood and femininity, and was called the Lady of Bread. Egyptians believed the Nile River flooded every year because of her tears of sorrow over her husband Osiris' death. This was symbolic to a death and rebirth of Osiris, by the power and love of Isis.

The fruitfullness of wheat symbolizes security, dependability, helpfulness, sensuality, north, grounding, goodness, wholesomeness and all the abundance the earth has to offer. So why would food so trusted, dependable, and symbolic create such havoc on a new generation? What has changed? Although there are some factors that lie in the physical realm, such as the changes in agriculture and how we cultivate and grow our food, there are also metaphysical reasons for these symptoms that correspond to a greater planetary shift and the speeding up of conscious expansion.

When I first discovered I was gluten intolerant I went through an intense morning period. Wheat, being a staple food even today, is the essence of every meal celebration and is hidden in nearly every commercial food. Family and friends often show their love through pastries, cake and pasta. I was high raw, vegan, but now I could not make exceptions at family affairs unless I knew specifically what was in the food. I mourned aspects of my social life, the traditions I had grown up with centerd around food and said goodbye to traditional holiday feasts. I felt such a deep deprivation for what I felt was my identity.

Surprisingly to me, as time when on, my new found intolerance forced me to become even more educated about what I put into my body. It also lead to me making new connections with like minded people. I finally started going to raw pot lucks and met inspiring individuals who were on similar paths to myself. I found that I no longer participated in social interaction that, deep down, had not been in alignment with my values or interests. Without being able to make "exceptions", my body took on a new vibration, as everything I put into my body was organic and unprocessed. I also found myself not craving cooked food as often. I had unknowingly eliminated a major source of my food cravings. When we are sensitive to a food, or a food is toxic to our system, our body begins to build a tolerance to that substance. When the food (or substance) is removed, all of a sudden the tolerance is felt as a sharp demanding for that very food that was harming us. These cravings are potent and can often be mistaken as a "need" by the body.

In time, due to my gluten sensitivity, I was creating amazing new connections, eating a diet that was very high vibration and was not struggling to maintain an amazing level of health. I also felt happier and at peace. I felt, well, reborn :). Parts of myself that were no longer serving me had fallen away. New traditions and connections were created, but these changes in my life have been in complete service to my souls evolution. They feel good on every level of my being and have created a happiness in my life I never knew was possible.

In these rapidly changing times, gluten intolerance asks us to disconnect from that which no longer serves our highest good and that of the planet. By having these old traditions, patterns, and possibly even connections fall away, often we can open up to our true selves, without societal expectation or programming. We have a rebirth of self, but often in ways we never dreamed were possible. Gluten, being a particularly gluey substance which can stick to the colon and clog up our waste system, can in turn lower the amount of life force energy flowing throughout our bodies. It is heavy and dense. Removing it allows for life force to flow more freely, allowing us to feel happier and more connected to ourselves, others and the planet.

Wheat needs to be cultivated and symbolizes wealth. Enlightenment, growth and abundance (wealth) in all aspects our lives (not just monetary) also must be cultivated. It is a process of growth, death and rebirth. A constant process that yields fruitful rewards to those who dare to do the labor and look within. The sensuality embodied by wheat and many cereal grains represents an unfolding of our true nature and our deepest desires. When we are surrounded by comfort and are comfortable with ourselves we take on a sensuality that is magnetic. This richness is so vast that is extends to the material and spiritual planes.

When we are struggling to find our way, often our body steps in on behalf of our soul to nudge us in the right direction. As my friend Laura always says, the body always works with the soul, for the soul's highest good. The body and soul are like lovers. What one can not, or won't do, the other will step in and provide. This often creates a place or situation where the soul's true desires and needs become apparent. I now look at my gluten intolerance as a beautiful gift. There is no loss. It feels good. Where I am now and the changes that have occurred in my life are what I would have wanted for myself if I had been aware enough to make the changes on my own.

It is said that delaying gratification is a mark of wisdom. I have to agree. Some times we think we know what is best for us, but our body knows better. It is connected to our true self. This process is often needed for stabiltity and comfort. Just as one must save grain, not eating it all, to plant for the next harvest, which brings abundance to those who save the crop.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pet Holistic Health Update

In my second blog post I wrote about our pets raw diet and some information about their holistic lifestyle. The little gremlins seem to be a favorite by everyone who views their pictures or reads about them so I plan on keeping everyone posted as to how they are doing as well as discuss successes and any stumbling blocks with their lifestyle. We recently have made some changes to their diet so I wanted to update everyone :).

Our three pets, Malachi, Maikoda and Milo are still doing very well :). They are all three still raw and love their Primal pet food. Despite their love for their food, Malachi, the black and white male, developed an inflamed annal gland....ewwww, I know gross. In light of helping others to navigate a healthy, raw or holistic diet for their pets, I felt I should share what we learned, despite the unappealing symptom :). An inflamed anal glad often develops with dogs when they are not getting enough fiber. You know that commercial with the dog dragging its bottom across the carpet!? That's often what dogs do that have this symptom. Luckily Malichi never did the butt drag... Phew!  

My husband and I take our pets to holistic vet, Jim Coddigton of The Country Vet in Navato. Dr. Coddington is very kind and knowledgeable. I love that he has alternatives to pharmaceutical medications, such as herbs and acupuncture. He lets us know when there is an herbal option and when he feels a medication may be necessary. Dr. Coddigton talked to my husband about our dogs diets and what they are eating. He told my husband that unfortunately the raw foods for dogs that are out on the market are not a perfect food and often lack enough fiber. Of course this depends on the particular dog and their individual needs. I was a little surprised at first because we often give our dogs fresh roughage mixed in with their food, but around the time this problem developed, we had been slacking with mixing in their fresh roughage. We were very busy because we had just moved and I figured they were getting a complete and balanced meal, and that what we added was just extra good stuff :). Silly me, as of course just like humans, dogs benefit from variety. Our vet suggested a dehydrated brand that he feeds his dogs. 

I took this information to heart and researched the brand he suggested. The ingredients actually ended up being nearly identical to the raw food with the exception of potato. This particular brand was also not organic and, if possible, I like to keep my pets on organic food, as commercial animal products (especially pet grade) often contain hormones, antibiotics and many toxins. Our pets also LOVE their food, so my husband and I decided to first try to add more fiber to their current food and see if they did well. Our vet also suggested this option, but in the form of psyllium husk. 

We have been slicing up sweet potato or squash on our mandolin and storing that for a couple days at a time in the fridge. The thinly sliced/chopped pieces enables the sweet potato to be easily digested. Dogs in the wild eat roots and tubers as a part of their natural diet. This gets mixed into their food along with any other roughage we have been eating, such as carrots, zucchini, greens and celery. I also have been saving the pulp from juicing (when it is safe for the dogs) and rotating that into their food as well. They still have been loving their meals and Malachi's situation has resolved. Yay! 

Ironically, this little incident shows that dogs are omnivores and need more vegetation that many realize. I stated in my past post that there are many dogs that actually thrive on vegan diets, if done carefully and with supplements. Our cat didn't need any changes to his diet. Cats are carnivores and do much better with a higher percentage of flesh. 

I would also like to add that we rotate the different types of Primal meat so our pets get a viriety of nutrients. For a couple weeks they will eat chicken, then they may eat duck and the next salmon. All our pets do not do well with the larger animals meats so we do not feed them bovine or sheep meat. It is important to observe your pet carefully for any sign of allergy or intolerance to particular foods. I have heard of many dogs and cats being sensitive or allergic to bovine, so this is something to monitor when feeding your pet. Signs of sensitivity include loss of hair, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, runny nose and watery, runny eyes. Also, trust your pets instincts if for some reason they avoid a particular type of food or do not eat very much of it, later becoming sick. Here is a quick list of foods that are not safe for pets: all parts of the avocado, chocolate, apple seeds, grapes and raisins, green tomatoes and tomato leaves and stems, onions, spicy foods, caffeine (not great for humans either) macadamia nuts, persimmons, salt, spinach and milk (most adult cats and dogs do not contain the enzyme to break down the sugar lactose in milk products). There are other possibilities, so it is wise to do your own research and always monitor your pet for their individual needs.

We also began alternating the echinacea supplement to our pets food every other week. Our vet informed us it was best to rotate, as the immune system can build a tolerance when it is constantly being introduced to the system. Our dogs seem to be doing really well with this eating regimen so far, and I will of course update as to any news or changes on this front. We are keeping the dehydrated food as a possible option for traveling, as it is convenient to simply rehydrate in a small bowl of water. Their current pet food is frozen, so it's a bit trickier for traveling. We usually bring a cooler anyway to transport some of our own raw goodies, yet options are always good :).

Lots of love and light from the Margraf clan ~ XOXO

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bringing Back The Garden

Last Sunday we had a great fathers day up in Auburn with my parents. We went on a long hike, and it was just what I needed to feel reconnected to the beautiful outdoors. The majesty of the foothills is breathtaking. The dogs had a great time and they were filthy to prove it! Nothing like that iron rich soil to turn you orange, LOL. We all had a great time and a lovely dinner together. 

Dinner with a gorgeous view

On our hike

Malachi passed out after the hike on my dirty leg :)

Two very dirty, happy dogs :)

Once again, here in Sonoma, we had another HOT, gorgeous weekend. My husband and I enjoyed our lovely neighborhood, taking our dogs out early for walks before temperatures got too uncomfortable to be out in the suns rays. Our sweet little neighborhood is lined with old, flourishing, wise trees :). They lend their magnificent branches out to provide shade and cooling even on the hottest of days, and today was a scortcher, reaching into the triple digits. 

One thing I really love about our neighborhood is there is so much green and growth. The beauty and energy is undeniable and provides a much different feeling compared to newer track home neighborhoods, where perhaps the only green is some highly hybridized grass and a wisp of a tree in front of a home. I couldn't help but dream of the of the day when every home is a flourishing garden, an oasis that nurtures, feeds, sustains and loves its inhabitants. I know in my heart of hearts this day will come. Those who are "waking up" can attest to the changes that our precious earth is going through.

Yes, change is upon us. Change can be scary, but it's important to remember that often in order to grow anew, there must be a process of breaking down the old, what is sick or dead, and systems that are no longer serving the highest good. The earth mirrors the body in this way, or perhaps it is more accurate to say, our bodies mirror the earth in this way. When we begin to clean up our diet, excluding that which causes imbalance and acidity to our bodies, we go through a process of detoxification and our body often gets worse before it rebuilds healthy, strong cells and tissue. If one is unaware of detox, this can be a frightening experience because the body literally gets rid of anything and everything that is sick or dying. So it goes without saying, it often gets worse before it gets better. But get better it will, and so too will our planet! 

I manifested such a nurturing area to live, one that would remind me of my deepest yearnings of helping to restore our earth to the paradise garden it can be. I envision a world where one has only to walk barefoot across their domain to feel energized and to receive healing from the earth. I see loving families planting trees together, trees that will provided food, shelter and love for centuries to come. I also see these family domains being the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. Naturally sustained without toil and labor, planted strategically for the appropriate environment and setting so the living, breathing, ecosystem flourishes without effort. Just as our creator intended. I envision a world where humanity is once again in tune with all life, where we co-create with one and other and our creator. Creating the most beautiful home, nurtured and tended from our hearts. 

The name of my business, Crystal Eden, is actually a reflection of my dream to return the earth back to paradise. I had been trying to think up a name for a while, when one day as I was meditating, Crystal Eden came to me. Eden of course refers to bringing the earth back to the garden, its glorious, flourishing state. I chose Crystal because a crystal reflects all spectrums of color; all the frequencies of our mother earth. The earth, once renewed, will be glorious in its vibrant spectrum of color that will once agin cover her landscape. She will be a beacon. A glittering reflection of light to the cosmos of what is possible when rooted in love. Hence, Crystal Eden is really about the shining example of love we can embody, if so we choose.

To anyone who shares this dream, I highly recommend the book series, The Ringing Cedars of Russia. The first book in the series is titled Anastasia. These books changed my life. They explore the beautiful dream of a woman recluse living in the Taiga of Russia, of a more sustainable world. Saying these books are inspirational does not do justice to the power of this book series. They strike a cord within you, leaving the reader permanently changed and pulsing on a different frequency. You can find out more about this series here.

Right now I am really focusing on creating the most nurturing environment possible in my home, so I am ready to tackle some big goals. In order to make big changes in my life, I have had to do some deep soul work and break down patters, thoughts and systems that no longer serve me. I'm starting with myself, because the world around us is really but a reflection of our inner world. As I make these changes on a soul level I am astounded and rejoice at the changes that follow in my life. Life is taking on such a richness that, I know it sounds crazy, but I am often moved to tears, simply because I am so filled with love and joy that I get overwhelmed. 

To honor my vision, and the vision my husband and I share together, we are creating our own little eden in our backyard, facilitated by our backyard bee hive. My husband is a hobby bee keeper and we have high hopes for our busy bees. Our place has a fig tree (score!), plum trees and a walnut tree. We are hoping the increase in pollination will literally bear lots of fruit! :). When on our walk yesterday we passed upon the most beautiful wild cherry tree with the most amazing tasting cherries. We kept the seeds and plan on planting our very own wild cherry tree from seed. Ahhh, mother nature is miraculous and abundance is everywhere if we choose to see it and know we are worthy :). Happy gardening everyone and may our dreams of paradise bloom for all to see!

Our backyard bee hive

In love and light~


Monday, June 15, 2009

What "Raw" Means To Me

I have come to the impression that many people who are not already immersed in the world of raw foods, think eating raw is about eating apple slices, carrot sticks and bland salads. Some also wonder if I eat raw animal flesh and other raw animal products. I felt it was time to set the record straight on what eating raw is all about for me. There are many variations of the raw food diet, so please keep in mind, this is how I personally eat and my own personal reflections on what this life style choice means to me.

First I would like to say, in my opinion, someone who eats all raw or a large percentage of raw foods, would be someone who follows a raw diet. There are some out there who feel you must eat 100% raw to be able to call yourself a raw foodist, but that mindset doesn't resonate for me, as I am all about inclusiveness and focusing on how we are similar rather than how we are different :). 

The second thing I would like to say is in my world, raw is not law :). There are some who feel if it is raw, it's fair game and healthy. For me, I focus on what makes me feel good, what digests and is eliminated easily, and what doesn't contribute to further burdening my system with toxic waste or residue. There are many raw plants that don't fit into my diet and it is well known that there are many plants that are poisonous to one wouldn't go about eating these just because they are raw, now would they ;)? We must use our own logic and intuition when choosing to make lifestyle changes. For example, although I have healed many food sensitivities, I am still sensitive to the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers) and so of course, I don't include them at this time.

Thirdly, raw is really a lifestyle rather than a diet. A diet implies it is short term to gain a desired result, whereas lifestyle is about integrating deeper meaning into your choice. It is about incorporating beliefs and having your lifestyle choice run parallel to all facets of your life.

So, what raw foods are included in my diet? I eat a variety of raw foods from the following list:

Fruits, Vegetables and their juices

Smoothies, especially green smoothies

Leafy Greens

Wild Greens

Large Salads


Sprouted buckwheat

Nuts, Seeds and their mylks and butters

Sea vegetables



Superfoods (I am not a huge consumer of commercial superfoods, but I do enjoy small amounts of maca and dried wheatgrass powder. I like the Greener Grasses brand. I also like chia, mesquite and beepollen)

Raw oils and vinegar (These are great additions when I'm in the mood for something more savory)

Beepollen and honey

I also eat some cooked, whole, vegan foods from time to time, as I mentioned in the previous blog post.

My lifestyle does not include meat and dairy. This is a personal choice and there are some people who eat raw that include raw flesh and dairy. 

There are so many possibilities of creation with the above list that it is far from redundant or boring! Variety is key. It never fails to amaze me the miraculous creations some come up with in the raw food community. You don't ever have to feel deprivation and can satisfy just about any flavor fix you are in the mood for. I have never been one that wants to spend lots of time in the kitchen and I enjoy a simpler raw diet. Even in my cooked days I was all about quick and easy :). Easy and simplicity are key for me and it's important to find your comfort level as well. I notice my vitality, energy and glow are optimal when I eat simply and focus on greens, green juice, fruit and vegetables. On rare occasion I make some complex stuff in the kitchen, and when I do, I will be sure to blog about it, but those meals served more of a transitory purpose in my diet. When my husband has time, he is very creative in the kitchen and with our dehydrator. I'm lucky to get his yummy treats from time to time :).

We all come with our own individual experiences and circumstances that we must take into consideration when approaching a new way of eating. I don't do well with gluten, so this is not a part of my diet. For me, my lifestyle is best approached from an angle of abundance, rather than deprivation. Some like to look at raw as an elimination method of getting rid of as many unfit substances as possible. When I think in this mind set it creates a lot of resistance and I start to feel deprived and get hang-ups about food. It has really helped me to move into a space of abundance, looking at all the great, beautiful options I have and feeling excited to try new things I would have never been exposed to before this lifestyle. I can truly attest that I LOVE these foods, the way I eat, and the way my my mind and body feel. Do what feels best to you, and use your intuition. It is also helpful to read or get coaching from someone who resonates with you and seems to be at a place mentally, emotionally and physically you would like to be at.

I would also like to add that eating raw is so much more to me than making food choices. It has transformed my entire life and has radically effected the way I integrate all aspects of my being. Not only do I eat this way for health, but I do it for its sustainability, the empowerment of being able to grow my own food and to know exactly what I am putting into my precious body. I do it because it is kind to all life and mother earth. I do it because it tastes amazing, fills me with light, love and energy, and has allowed me to get out of a rigid box when it comes to preconceptions about what food is. I also eat this way because it connects me to the planet, to my true self and to spirit.

In love and light~


Friday, June 12, 2009

Just Paying it Forward

Mmmmmm, life is good people! I have been completely absent for some time now (I told you all I wasn't sure if this blogging thing is for me)! Life has been busy and transformative :), but what's new? That's how the last couple years have flowed for me. Last Sunday I was certified as a Reiki Master. It was such a beautiful experience and everything I hoped it would be. Getting my Reiki Master certification allows me to teach Reiki to others. I definitely plan on teaching, but probably not for a bit, as I have some spiritual and personal work do before I feel ready to take on the teaching.

I have had some time to really reflect on my goals and what I want to focus on for the upcoming months. One priority is to start blogging more! I have so much information to share with all you lovelies out there. I feel like I just may burst!! :) It's my intention to light up at least a few lives, spread joy, health, and abundance. After all, I have so much to be grateful for it's time to pay it forward, know what I mean? Some things I want to focus on with this blog are raw foods (of course :), whole foods, spirituality, beauty, green living, holisitic living, and downright spreading love and joy! I'll probably update as well about what's going on in my life, on the physical level and beyond ;).

I have been enjoying food soooo much lately. Often I hear comments from people that they couldn't eat the way I do or eat a high or completely raw diet because they love food too much. Well let me tell you! I love food just as much as the next person!  I looooove to eat. For a while, it was my favorite thing to do! ;)

As I have moved along on this path, it has gotten easier and more joyous as I have found other passions in my life. Things that really fill me up with light, love and happiness, much in the same way great food always has. When you are being filled from other areas of your life, it is easier to approach food in a balanced manner. So what are some things that fill me up with joy besides what I eat? Meditation, spending time out in nature with my dogs and hubby, yoga (a new found joy in my life!), dancing, practicing spiritual pursuits ;), reading, writing poetry, photography, laughing till my insides hurt, stargazing, learning about ancient civilizations and connecting with other like minded souls. My list could go on and on, but what I am trying to point out is, it is easier to start making modifications to your diet when you are being filled up by other aspects of your life. 

If you feel that you are at a place where you can not possibly make changes to your diet, that's OK. Maybe focus first on balancing other aspects of your life, and when you feel ready, start out with baby steps, perhaps tackling one food habit you would like to nix. Maybe you want to give up soda, or coffee. Maybe you want to become a vegetarian or vegan. Perhaps you want to start to become educated about what actually goes into mainstream food and to start eating a more whole foods diet. Whatever your goal, you can do it at your own pace and in your own time. Eating raw, or any healthy lifestyle for that matter, is not a race. It's about self growth, conscious expansion and self responsibility. Awakening to truths and taking back our personal power.

So many people in the health movement, including the raw food movement, are focused on right and wrong, black and white, good and bad, when it comes to food choices. We, as a planet and collective consciousness, are moving out of that paradigm of polarity and into one of inclusiveness. It is not difficult to get caught up in the ego, trying to rationalize our opinions, observations and personal experience. When we do this, we are forgetting the most important detail. We have the power of god within us and we are within god, we are pure love and light, and all possibilities and realms are available to us. We have the power to choose and manifest whatever reality we want. When we choose from a space of love we are guided to an outcome that is beautiful for ourselves and the highest good of all life. Let us not separate, and judge each other. Let us not latch on to dogma and beliefs. Let us rejoice that there are so many ways to eat and nourish our bodies and let's celebrate each others freedom of choice. When we stop trying to figure it out with our heads, and choose with our hearts, we can't go wrong. Does the way you eat make you feel beautiful, happy, healthy and alive? Does the way you eat give you energy, peace and connection? If so, you are doing something right :). If not, perhaps it would be a good idea to look within and see where you are meeting some resistance. 

So what have I been eating lately? Really yummy food! :) I love the way I eat, and I wouldn't do it anymore if I didn't. When I first got on the raw path it was strictly about health, or more specifically, getting rid of some symptoms that were not fun and dangerous. I'm finally at a point where it's not about restriction any more, rather abundance! Do I eat 100% raw? No, I don't. I do eat a very high raw diet, some days eating only raw foods, but 100% raw is not my goal. 100% health and happiness is. I may become 100% raw at some point, but for right now eating a high raw diet is wonderful for me. Here are a couple pictures of foods I have made in the last couple weeks.

OK, I didn't make these, but I have been looooving cherries!
Yummy green salad with avocado, sprouts, olives and raisins
Carob Nut Shake
Marinated Veggies
Romaine Boats with cucumber, nut cheese and Lydia's Raw Crackers

Staples in my diet include green juice, green smoothies (lots of leafy greens), fruits, vegetables, nuts (often as nut mylks), seeds, avocados (a fruit :), and big salads. I also sometimes eat steamed veggies, legumes, and grains like quinoa or bhutanese rice. For those who are into percentages, I probably eat roughly 90%-100% raw depending on various factors, like the time of year, traveling, or what my body is asking of me. The percentage is so hard for me to estimate, as one week I may eat 100% raw and the next have steamed veggies for dinner 3 different nights..... I'm really not into percentages as it can give a false impression. I was going to write 75% - 100% then my hubby told me I eat "way more raw than that!" So it just goes to show you, percentage is a matter of opinion. What are we basing those percents on anyways? Try not to get hung up on it. I encourage everyone to find out what works for them and not blindly follow anyones individual truth, including my own :).

Love, light and happiness to everyone!

XO ~ Cassie