Friday, March 13, 2009

Shiny New Beginnings

Blessings my friends and shining people!!! I said I was starting a blog and here I am, giving a little piece of myself and living my truth! There are two major motivating factors that have driven me to start a blog. The first factor is I want to share all the wondrous information I have gathered over the past three years of my health journey. I have gained a great deal of knowledge in regards to holistic heath and well being and I have a deep need to share this information for the greatest good. I am excited to help people on their own journey to abundant health, balance and awakening and I will strive to always be of service to those whom I can help. Do with the information I provide what you will; I just hope that you try to receive this, possibly new information, with an open heart and mind. The second reason I feel so compelled to share my musings and knowledge on health and well being is to further facilitate the continuation of my own growth and healing. One very valuable lesson I have learned is by doing meaningful work, finding our path and helping others, we also help ourselves and heal wounds that were once immune to closure.

I thought for my first blog post I would explain my journey to raw foods and why I went raw. I was inspired by Shazzie, raw goddess of the UK, to give a thorough report of the voyage that lead to my metamorphosis. My story is not a short one, but like all good stories there is inherent value to this tale. So please, grab an herbal tea, green juice or smoothie, relax and enjoy :).

Growing up I had a traditional, American upbringing. I have a loving family and a mother who stayed home and took care of her family. We usually had family meals together for dinner and I always felt special that my mother was and is the best cook I know. I had some odd ailments that plagued me as a kid, but most children do have little health hiccups (so to speak) and this is considered normal in our society and therefore my family and I considered them “normal” as well. I had colic as a baby and ever since I was very young, cold weather, especially cold wind, would make the insides of my ears throb with pain. My ears would also be in excruciating pain if I did not take adequate amounts of decongestant and antihistamine before an airplane flight. As I entered my teens I began to develop mild to moderate acne…another common complaint of teens. I followed suit of many before me and loading up on antibiotics, topical medications and eventually the big guns…Accutane. Accutane is a very strong drug that is a form of synthetic vitamin A. Vitamin A can actually be consumed in excess and the body can suffer serious overdose symptoms. This drug was once hailed as a miracle drug for those suffering from acne, but in more recent times the serious side effects and risks of this synthetic medication have caused the FDA to tighten the reins on its distribution. Although these first symptoms may be considered common physical complaints and typical of youth, I now know that these were warning signs from my body that I had an overtaxed system and messages from my soul that I had work to do!

After undergoing a round of Accutane treatment, my acne subsided for a while and I felt blissfully confident. This didn’t last long as the skin irritations and eruptions began to appear once again. In a desperate attempt to suppress these embarrassing bumps, I went straight for the big guns again, and did another full course of Accutane. This time my symptoms were suppressed for much longer and I enjoyed acne free skin, moderated by some topical medications, for the remainder of my teens and early 20’s. My acne was under control, but at the age of 16, I had my first shocking physical symptom. I woke up to my face completely swollen. I could barely see through the swelling that surrounded my eyes. My face was purple, red and blue and resembled someone who had been in a car accident. I was immediately put on Prednisone, a steroid, and given a high does of Claritin, an antihistamine. My doctor thought it might be a reaction to the antibiotics I was taking for acne, so he switched me to another type of antibiotic.

This odd and frightening symptom continued to occur sporadically for years. It would usually happen at night when I was sleeping (which I now know is when our bodies are trying to come to equilibrium and are working hard to detoxify our systems). I was checked for common allergens at the allergist, but nothing came back positive. We just wrote it off as a medical mystery that could be controlled with drugs.

At the age of 19 I also began to experience what I refer to as “itchy spots”. I would have a blotch, blister or hive appear on my face that would itch intensely. I remember wondering if it had anything to do with my topical acne medications, but I was too afraid to go off them. I was convinced my skin would be unmanageable without these drugs. I coped by placing something cold on the spot and popping Claritin and Benadryl like candy.

My life went on this way for a long time, until my 23rd birthday when out with friends in a club, my face and scalp began to feel like they had been set ablaze. I turned to my husband (then fiancé) and told him I was not feeling well. He looked at me confused and shocked and told me I was developing swollen lumps on my face. My friends rushed me to the emergency room, because at this point my throat was feeling weird. I waited to be seen, but I guess allergic responses are not top priority because I was not called in to see a doctor. My friend ran into the grocery store and bought me Benadryl and frozen peas for my swollen face. I loaded up on the Benadryl and began to feel better.

After this incident I went to the allergist again and brought a list of everything I had eaten that night at a restaurant. The chef was nice enough to fax me a copy of every ingredient I had consumed. I was checked for everything on the list and NOT ONE THING came back positive! I was stunned and confused and a little scared because I couldn’t control my symptoms and I didn’t know what might trigger that response again.

My acne really started to flare up at this time and I would get extremely sore pimples that hurt and were embarrassing. I was completely desperate to control these symptoms because I was getting married and wanted to look perfect on my wedding day. I also remember that my skin was very oily and I felt frustrated by that as well. I began to get very neurotic about my skin. I would obsess over a tiny spot or blemish and feel completely unattractive. My emotions were very unbalanced at this time; I often had trouble sleeping at night as my mind would not be still, and I would find myself irritable and crying for no reason. I also would experience a very disturbing feeling through out my whole body when lying in bed that I can only describe as awkwardness in my own skin.

When looking back, I can’t believe I decided to do what I did next, but I went to the dermatologist and asked to be put BACK on Accutane. I was having strong reservations about going on the drug this time. I had heard many negative stories about this intense pharmaceutical concoction, but I turned off the loud voices warning me against taking it in an attempt to gain control over my appearance.

About a month into taking Accutane for the third time I began to experience hot flashes and facial flushing. My skin was as smooth as a baby’s, but my body and mind were unbalanced and screaming for help. As these symptoms persisted I began to see reason and that pesky inner voice was getting louder. I was reassured by my doctor that these symptoms would go away after I discontinued the medication, but my intuition told me to get off the medication NOW. I stopped taking it after two months (a full course is 5-6 months), but some serious damage had already been done. My flushing did not go away, and I developed a racing heart, anxiety and frequent tension headaches. I was in college and had always been good at presentations and speaking in front of people. I actually got the highest marks in my public speaking class and got to introduce all the speakers for the end of the year presentations. I got a freebie and did not have to do a talk :). My professor wrote me an amazing letter of recommendation that year. Despite the success I had in this area, after my third round of Accutane, I struggled with giving presentations. My heart would race, I would loose my breath, and that awful, uncontrollable heat would engulf my face.

As time went on my symptoms got worse and became out of control after I got some vaccinations before going on my honeymoon to Costa Rica. I became extremely sensitive to heat, and every day I dealt with itching, welts and hives. I was still taking Benadryl and Claritin on a daily basis, I had been on birth control for 7 years, and was sporadically taking a medication (a beta blocker) to help with anxiety. This does not include the topical medications I was using at the time. I began to fear social situations and felt like I was a prisoner of my own body. I struggled with knowing what do after college and after my wedding. Fears began to leak out of my subconscious and into my reality. I fell into a depression and began to wonder if life was worth living so miserably.

Thank the heavens that I had enough of a connection to spirit to know I would never harm myself, but the dichotomy was much of my happiness and zest for life had left me. My husband was my shining star during this dark time. He never failed to lend a shoulder to cry on or a kind ear to my venting soul. He never put me down for my bleak sadness; he never made me feel weak. He always lifted me up with his words of hope and his unwavering love. He reminded me daily that I was beautiful and worthy of unconditional love. It was because of him that I wanted to get well, that I NEEDED to get well. He deserved a wife that could give him just as much love, strength and joy as he gave me every day. It was because of him that I later realized that my soul’s journey was also a commendable reason to get back on my feet.

Feelings of light always have enormous strength, no matter how small they are. They beam out into the vast ether and cause ripples that will always reach us in our time of need. We simply must be awake enough to receive the messages that come to set us free.

The universe must have heard my tiny S.O.S. because one day as I was feeling miserable and dark I decided to watch an episode of Oprah to numb out the suffering I was feeling. The episode was on the new movie The Secret, about the law of attraction. I was inspired by these people who were so in control of their lives, but even more so by the claims of healing. Something inside me clicked that day. Maybe I was ready to fully take responsibility for my situation and my health, or maybe I just needed to see it was possible to control my own destiny. Something inside me told me to check for a nutritionist or natural healer of some sort. I opened the yellow pages and found The Natural Healing Center and made an appointment. I told my husband about the movie and we ordered it.

Changes in my life began to happen very quickly after I took an active role in my health. I no longer viewed my body or my ailments as something that had been done to me or something that just “happened to me”. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about healing naturally and found that there were answers to my questions. I had asked with a sincere heart and the answers were given. I was riveted and alarmed by all the information I was reading. How could people not know this??!! It seems so logical now, but it is often difficult to question the mainstream and think for ourselves. I stopped taking ALL my medications, including birth control, and opted for herbal remedies if needed. I underwent acupuncture and chiropractic care for a year and things began to get better. Through kinesiology I was found to be sensitive to over 100 things!! Foods, chemicals, preservatives, metals, fabrics, radiation and endless combinations were causing an autoimmune response in my body.

I completely dedicated myself to my healing. I regularly saw my acupuncturist and chiropractor and I made changes to my diet and to my thoughts. I read books on health and well being and did see some improvements for my gallant efforts. But the truth is, I was not better. I would get treated for food sensitivities with a technique called NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique), only to have many of them return weeks or months later…..sometimes more resistant to treatment. I still suffered from insomnia, irritability, facial flushing, headaches and I was very sensitive to temperature extremes. Being in direct sunlight or heat would often induce a flushing attack accompanied by intense tension headaches. I was missing something….

I knew deep down that there was an answer to my conundrum; I just didn’t know the answer to this riddle. I had studied and learned a great deal about toxins and the effects they have on our bodies and minds. I decided I needed to cleanse more. I had gone organic, eliminated heavily processed foods and foods containing chemicals, additives, preservatives, etc. I decided the next step was to do an intense cleanse for a week or longer to help my body remove waste.

I went to Copperfield Books to find a book that would help me determine a cleanse and happened upon The Miracle Detox Diet, by Robert Norse, N.D. I went home to read my new book and once again found myself in awe by the information I encountered. Dr. Norse explained the effects of cooked foods on our bodies, how cooked food causes what is termed leukocytosis, where white blood cells are produced to rush to your defense as if you have been poisoned. Leukocytosis also occurs with viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. Constantly eating cooked foods and not enough natural, unheated foods, constantly lowers the body's immunity. He also explains that no other animal, but our domesticated beasts, eat cooked food and that wild animals do not experience degenerative diseases. He goes into great length of the human anatomy and physiology and how our natural diet is one comprised of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. He also writes about the detrimental effects of animal protein on human physiology.

The information I was taking in completely resonated with me as if it was information I had long known but somehow had forgotten. The next day was Thanksgiving, and despite all the yummy food festivities, I went raw vegan, right then and there. I was unsure where this path was going to take me, but I thought I’d give it a try and see how I felt. I had no idea raw foods would change my life, changing me forever by awakening my soul’s deepest yearnings.

For the past year and a half I have been on this magical journey of self awakening and healing, facilitated by a raw foods diet. Raw foods have been my greatest tool in healing my body and more importantly my soul, because as I have learned, the body works with the soul and never betrays us. It has not always been a smooth journey, yet the ups and downs have provided me with valuable insights and wisdom. I feel like a completely different person after being on the raw path and I know in my heart that I am finally living my truth and purpose. I am clearer mentally than I have ever been in my life, and I can truly say that the future has never looked so bright.

Raw foods are not a magical quick fix (although there are those who claim to have miraculous healing very quickly and my husband saw ENORMOUS benefits early on in his raw path, but that is another blog post :)). What raw foods are, is a VERY powerful tool that allows the body to do what it is meant to, heal, detoxify and repair. When you stop putting unnatural, highly processed foods into your body and you begin to put living, natural, unprocessed foods into your body, the body and mind finally get a break from storing and being bogged down with waste. As the unnatural foods and toxins left me, so did the fogginess and low vibration thoughts. My mind has become so clear and I often experience states of pure happiness and bliss I never knew were possible. I also feel energy in and outside of my body in ways I never could before. I can feel energy movement and often can feel when the flow of energy gets blocked somewhere in my body. I have always been an "intuitive” person, but since going raw, this has developed into uncanny "knowing" often accompanied by visuals. I am currently working on strengthening these skills.

After undergoing a supervised fast of 3 days water, followed by two days on juice, I came to some powerful insights about my health and well being. I still have some food sensitivities that trigger facial flushing and some other mild symptoms that occur if I eat those foods, but many of the foods I once could not tolerate AT ALL are now slowly being integrated back into my diet safely. I no longer suffer from any of the other symptoms that used to plague me.... and it was a long list indeed! This success was largely facilitated by raw foods, my fast and really working hard on my spirit. The beauty in this whole process is I now understand that these lingering symptoms remain because I still have some work to do on an emotional and spiritual level. I know one component of this work is living and speaking my truth and sharing my gifts. So here I am, an open book, ready to heal, help others heal, and share with the world. I'm just one person who hopes to inspire and be inspired! I CHOOSE the raw path, the rewards are numerous!

I am you and you are me
Let’s help each other to be free
Free from fear, free from pain
Free from suffering, guilt and shame

I am you and you are me
Let’s share with each other under The Tree
Knowledge pours from my cup to yours
Intertwining us forevermore

Now my cup doth overflow
So I share with thee so we can grow
Blessed beings of love and light
Coming together to set things right

I am you and you are me
Let’s help each other to be free

In love and light ~ Cassie

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