Storm Moon Rising

Storm Moon Rising

Some Native American tribes call it the Full Snow Moon, since February is the month with the heaviest snowfall, coming down in droves of silent white, blanketing the earth in frozen fabrics of stillness and pallid quiet. Other tribes named it the Hunger Moon, the Ice Moon or the Storm Moon, for with the heavy snow comes scarcity. Hunting would therefore become increasingly difficult, leaving many hungry and cold.

 

 

The moon has long been an honored cosmic feminine energy in many cultures spanning the ages. And like any female energy, she is an enigma dictating the pushing and pulling of tides of oceans and seas across the face of our Earth. She is a whitewashed muse of emotion hanging in our starry sky, scattering her seeds that take root as the fruits of creativity, strength, vigor, and sometimes, madness.
The full moon and lunar eclipse of February have been a waxing collection of rising energies that have been building up over the last five months since September 2016. Take a moment and reflect upon the last few months of your life. Have you noticed an ongoing trend of transformations and an insatiable thirst for change, one which cannot seem to be satisfied? Personally, these past five months have been a collection of tumultuous hunts of self, and of deep reflection and questioning.
During this month of February, a month of love, snow and hunger, we shall explore the full moon in Leo and Penumbral lunar eclipse that will take place on the 10th of February. We will answer questions as to what this moon symbolizes and what it means for our own push and pull of the mind and heart. We will recommend ways to prepare and garner the benefits of this Storm Moon so you do not go hungry this month. It is time to sit, eat and listen.
Total Eclipse of the Heart

Lunar eclipse energies usually spans over a period of six months and is often a period of contemplation of both our unconscious thoughts and drives. On February 10th, we will finally be allowed the opportunity for renewal of relationships and reconstruction of our lives. In a world that does not sleep or slow down, this window of rest must be taken advantage of. Make sure you set an intention of truth and grounding, for these intents will last for another six months until the next lunar eclipse, which takes place during August 2017.
The Rise of Fire and Snow

Storm moon rising in Leo, a sign of fire, loyalty and zeal, will be a time driven by the Lion’s vivacious passion of expression of self, which, unsurprisingly, draws many people to their whimsical and enjoyable company. And while Leo is indeed a patron of devotion and jubilation, its dark side takes form in aggression, arrogance, introversion and jealousy. The full moon in ‘Fire’ should therefore be a time when we embrace the positive and uplifting side of Leo, stepping out into the dazzling sunshine of exuberance that sings and radiates with joy and uplifting qualities. Leo’s ruler is the sun, embodying the light and full awareness of self. Without the sun there can be no life or growth, but too much sun can be deadly. So step out lightly in its glow, basking in rays of balance.
Preparation

So what can we do to reap the harvest of this ‘Moon of Snow Storm and Fire’?
First, let us create a sacred space to surround ourselves with, and reinforce our spiritual forte to fully relish the benefits of this full moon:
Gemstones

It is believed that some colors manifest certain energies and frequencies capable of healing, elevating and enhancing our moods and humours. As our moon reaches her beautiful round self and dances to the beat of Leo, the color we should therefore be surrounding ourselves with, is yellow.

 

 

Gather your gemstones, especially those boasting the colors of Leo, such delicious honey hues of yellows, golds and cream, and set your sacred space ablaze in their beneficial healing properties and vibrations.
You can choose from an array of yellow gemstones such as ruby and amber (the stones of Leo), dark citrine, carnelian, topaz tiger’s eye and iron pyrite. Once you have gathered your arsenal, authentically set intentions, whatever they maybe, and sit by your gemstone fireside as you feel their warmth of healing, opening your heart and mind to their welcoming powers and ritualistic embrace.
Yellow, a “sun color”, represents the third Chakra (solar plexus). It signifies all that drives our ego, and celebrates courage, self-confidence, self-orientation, joy and laughter. Sounds like our loyal Leo doesn’t it?
As well as sharing a colour and characteristics, this Chakra’s element is fire, an expressive and explosive culmination of dynamism and blazing power. Be aware of this element and respect it. It can been nurturing and life giving, but it can also be a destructive reaper of discord if left wild and unchecked.
Take this time beloved and surround yourself in a golden embrace with colors of courage and yellow gemstones, like little suns orbiting your cosmic moment of peace.
If you are going through a transition, whether is it adjusting to a new career path, a new relationship (or an end to one), this color will be extremely valuable in arming yourself as the full moon and eclipse reach their zenith of transformation.

 

 

Intentions Intentions Intentions

This is a time for spiritual purification and initiation. So allow yourself to take a much needed moment during your busy schedule to sit down in preparation for the upcoming full moon. Write, journal or meditate on specific intentions that will nourish your self-confidence and orientation.
This is a time to reinforce your sacred place and home, channeling in the power of this moon, and flooding your space with its cosmic glory.
Create affirmations and mantras. Compose music and paint! Go crazy and lose yourself in the lunar lust as you dance in the moonlight. If your body calls for rest, then do so.  Take a long hot bath in purifying salts and minerals.
Forgive yourself. Forgive those around you who you feel have wronged you, but do not resurrect buried grudges and conflicts. Do not burn bridges, but Instead, reinforce them with forgiveness, mercy and love.
Plan, stretch and inhale deeply. For the full moon cometh, and with it comes a time for spiritual purification and time for initiation.
It is a time of rising you.

Food for thought

Did you know that you have a second brain? It weighs about the same as the one that sits in your skull (0.9 kilos) and shares many other similarities with the first brain.  For instance, serotonin, which is a vital chemical neurotransmitter thought to be responsible for maintaining our mood, behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, sexual drive and many other vital functions, can be found in both brains. The only difference is that 80-90% of serotonin levels found in the human body is located in the second brain. What is even more remarkable is that the second brain is actually your stomach.

The stomach, so aptly named the ‘second-brain’, is usually associated with the generic responsibilities of digestion, absorption and expelling waste.  But it may come as a shock to some that deep down in our GI tract is an intricate network of neurons that line our gut forming a mass of neural tissue similar to that in our brain.  Scientists believe that our ‘second brain’, which is filled with an arsenal of neurotransmitters, can partly determine those physiological symptoms caused by nerve-wracking moments.

The enteric system, or the ‘second brain’ is made up of neurons that are found in the walls of the alimentary canal, which is the long tube located in our gut measuring 9 meters long from esophagus to anus.  There are approximately 100 million neurons in the enteric system, outnumbering the neurons found in the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system.

While our second brain is not adept at contemplating thought provoking poetry or analyzing politics, it is still undoubtedly a complex system within itself.  The magnitude of neurons mentioned above found in the ‘second brain’ has equipped the gut with its own reflexes and senses, thereby independently controlling the gut from the brain.

As mentioned earlier, our second brain is not responsible for processing philosophy or scrutinizing art work, it does however send signals to our mind regarding such things as emotions and traumas through nerves in our intestines.  An example of this would be the sensation of butterflies dancing around in your stomach when you see someone you admire for instance.  The butterflies you are feeling are part of a signal system that manifests in your gut as part of a physiological response to stress.

After examining the commonalities between our two brains, it is easy to see why and how our mental health directly affects our gut.  Ever wonder why you are warned about possible side effects of depression treatments and drugs you may encounter like nausea and diarrhea?  The enteric nervous system, similar to your brain, uses roughly 30 neurotransmitters, and as mentioned earlier, 80-90% of serotonin in found in our gut.

Certain antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to increase serotonin levels in the body.  This directly causes undesirable side effects in your stomach, thereby causing ‘mental illness’ in the second brain.

Intestinal terra incognita 

Deep within the dark chasms of our intestines lies a collective community of trillions of bacteria, which is also known as a gut microbiome.  While the idea of having an infestation of bacterial colonies in your GI system may make your skin crawl, these intestinal inhabitants play a number of essential roles in the internal interworking of our health, and in our lives.

They are responsible for a number of functions such as digestion, the management our immune systems and our weight.   Astonishingly, scientists are also discovering that these microbes are heavily involved in transmitting signals to the brain, altering our behavior and emotional state, and if off balance due to issues such as over use of antibiotics or irregularities in your intestinal environment, can lead to more unwanted symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Surprising parallels are being drawn between the bacteria endemic to our gut and the impact this symbiotic relationship has on our stress management and immune system response.   Each and every one of us is affected by stress in some shape or form.  Whether it is the stress from work, family or shattering your smart phone screen, we all suffer from intestine-twisting pressures brought on my life’s little unfriendly experiences.   Further studies are being conducted concerning the potential intestinal bacteria has on bettering our mental health and tackling diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and autism.

As evidence continues to mount, and the gut-brain axis plot thickens, we should begin to question how we can best improve and strengthen the links between the two in order to prevent intestinal and neurological diseases.  For starters, nourishing your gut with beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, is absolutely vital towards creating harmony between this two way street of our two brains.  The old saying “you are what you eat” suddenly has a renewed sense of importance as we find out how the food we put in our mouth directly affects, not only our stomach, but our mood and mental health.

As someone who has had her fair share of  intestinal bacterial infections, which often led to doctors prescribing intense rounds of antibiotics (sometimes two at a time), I am far too familiar with the side effects these gut flora altering experiences have on mental health.

Upon starting any course of antibiotics I began to feel the immediate emotional inertia brought on by the medication.  A fog of depression settled upon me, rolling in and clouding my judgement, and along with this hazy stupor came a sense of listlessness and hopelessness.  The most isolating part of these experiences was that I could not reason nor rationalize as to why I felt so crestfallen. This in turn, isolated me from those around me.

Probiotics, I soon came to find,  were (and still are) vital during any disruptive time following antibiotics since they do not only destroy bad bacteria, but also eradicate the helpful flora imperative to our quality of life.  Once I started healing my gut with probiotics and other helpful ‘guthacks’, I began to feel the waves of malaise and depression recede from my cognitive shores.

So are probiotics the new Prozac in a sense?  Feeding and strengthening your intestinal flora may be the new way we can tackle, not only physical ailment, but mental illnesses such as depression.  One study published by the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility stated that the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 stabilized anxiety-like behavior in mice that had colitis and did so by moderating the vagal pathways with the gut-brain axis.  One other study showed that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus had profound effects on certain parts of the brain including the GABA levels, the inhibitory neurotransmitter that greatly involved in regulating a number of physiological and psychological processes. The probiotic also lowered levels of the stress-induced hormone known as corticosterone, which in turn reduced anxiety and depression in patients undergoing the trials.

A series of experiments conducted on ‘germ-free’ mice that had no microbiome in their intestines, were unable to recognize and intermingle other mice that were around them.  These studies were used to demonstrate how valuable microbes in our gut, and in the guts of these mice, may help communicate with the brain and helps us be social and interact with those around us.

Additionally, the mice that lacked good bacteria in their guts were more prone to engage in high risk behavior and as scientists tracked these altered states of gut related actions, they also found that they were accompanied by neurochemical changes in the animal’s brain.

If the ‘germ-free’ mice were exposed to regular mice with microorganisms early on in life, their anti-social behavioral patterns were reversed.   Moreover, the scientists found that if the intestines of the germ free mice were colonized and ‘seeded’ with bacteria from a healthy mouse, the animal took on personality traits from the donor.

However, once the mice reached adulthood and were isolated from beneficial germs during the formative stages in their lives, these behavioral tendencies were permanently irreversible even after scientists attempted to colonize the ‘germ free’ mice with microbes.

Along with the bacteria’s significant role in aiding our social skills with those around us, studies have also revealed that the absence or presence of intestinal microbes during infancy, can permanently alter gene expression.

Genetic profiling has enabled scientists to observe how the absence of microorganisms affects genes and pathways that are closely linked to cognitive functions such as memory, motor control and learning, further strengthening the hypothesis that the presence of beneficial bacteria found in your intestines is vital towards social development and behavior.  Along with neurological illnesses, those lacking beneficial gut bacteria can also present issues such as asthma, allergies, skin irritations and problems, autoimmune disorders.

While a majority of the research concerning the gut-brain axis is being done on mice primarily due to the fact that we do not have ‘germ free’ human beings willing to be tested on, there have been some successful human trials proving the positive side effects of ‘feeding’ the flora found in your intestines.

One study focused on a group of women who regularly consumed yogurt that contained beneficial bacteria and had improved cognitive function compared to women who did not consume the cultured yogurt.   The study further revealed that the women who did not eat the yogurt had decreased activity in two regions of the brain that are responsible for central processing of emotion and sensation: the insular cortex, the part of the brain that is linked to perception, awareness, interpersonal processing and experience and motor control to name just a few.  The second region that was affected is called the somatosensory cortex, which is the area responsible for the body’s ability to interoperate a spectrum of sensations.

The idea of harnessing bacteria and conducting microorganism transplants in order to ease the suffering of those struggling with mental malaise may seem farfetched, but everyday intestinal pioneers are discovering the undeniable benefits of beneficial flora and the positive impacts these microbes have on the delicate balance between the gut-brain axis.

Feed and seed your gut

Dietary feeding and ‘reseeding’ are paramount in the battle against good and bad bacteria. And on a personal note, after having endured ongoing treatments for Helicobacter pylori, or most commonly known as H.pylori, a not so friendly strain of bacteria that inhabits the digestive tract of its host and attacks the stomach lining, I can tell you that feeding and fortifying my stomach against an alien invader has proven to be a life altering experience, and a muse to my health.

This specific strain of bacteria resides in over 75% of the world’s population, affecting 3 out of 4 people, so chances are some of you reading this have it.  While not everyone who has the bacteria presents with signs of being infected, those of that are symptomatic may experience and present with a number of diseases ranging from peptic ulcers to an inflammatory condition in the stomach called gastritis, to more serious life-threatening conditions like stomach cancer.

H.pylori is highly adapted to living in the harsh acidic environment of our gut, and it is here where this rogue bacteria can wreak havoc on our GI system.  It can reduce the acidity in your stomach in order to create a better living space for itself, thereby affecting the pH balance of your stomach.

The word Helicobacter comes from the Greek word ‘Helico’ meaning spiral, and it is this spiral shape of that bacteria that gives it the ability to drill beyond the gut’s protective lining where the bacteria are safely protected by mucus, and by our body’s immune cell.  The H.pylori can then interfere with the body’s immune response in order to ensure that it is not destroyed and further proliferate and thrive within us.  Following three courses of specifically engineered antibiotic prescriptions called Triple or Quadruple Therapy, probiotics and the right food, I have won the battle against my spiral shaped foe.

Considering that up to 80% of your immune system is located in your intestines, strengthening it should be one of the pillars for optimum health and happiness.  One way is by consuming probiotics that can be taken orally.  Probiotics are supplements made of living bacteria and yeast, and as stated early, they are one of the cardinal tools for improving your digestive and mental health.

Probiotics can also be found in certain types of foods such as fermented foods (unpasteurized traditionally prepared are the most effective).  A number of these foods include:  Kefir (fermented grass fed organic milk), lassi (an Indian yogurt), pickled or fermented cabbage and vegetables and my favorite, kombucha (fermented tea).  There are many delicious ways to culture and reestablish beneficial microbes in your gut, by simply exploring the menu, you can find your most palatable route of dietary adventure.

One of the more powerful and healing tools to have in your gut army is bone broth.  “Good broth will resurrect the dead,” so goes a South American proverb.   This is something I have come to swear by and have watched my body flourish in the reflective golden brown savory pools of soup that I gladly sip on every day.   Broth has remained a cure-all for centuries and has been used for a number of natural remedies from reducing inflammation, improving hair and skin, boosting the detoxification process in the body, combating respiratory illness and improving joint health.

Known as nature’s multivitamin, broth is packed with a number of nutrients ranging from nineteen essential and non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), collagen, gelatin, mineral and electrolytes and many other nourishing compounds.

One other benefit of bone broth is that it is highly valuable towards strengthening and improving your gut health.   The gelatin and collagen found in broth works together as a healing elixir towards improving and reinforcing lining of your gut, which in today’s malnourished and stressful lifestyle has taken the blow.

Broth not only strengthens the lining of your gut, but helps battle food intolerances, allowing for the gut to heal from damages caused by daily stressors, processed foods, medication, unwelcomed bacterial or viral guests and other unhealthy lifestyle choices.  Because bone broth is so easily absorbed and digested by the body, it is able to completely utilize all of the nutrients, thereby allowing for complete absorption.

During the nineteenth and twentieth century, scientists believed that our guts were responsible for determining our overall mental and physical state.  They extrapolated that the toxic accumulating of waste found in our colons were primarily responsible for triggering illnesses linked to a term they phrased as “auto-intoxication”.  These early intestinal explores rationalized that gut released harmful poisons into the body, thereby creating and leading to severe imbalances and diseases.  This condition was then treated by either administering unpleasant colonic purges or bowel surgeries.   Fortunately for us however, these practices were proven to be nothing but pseudoscience.

But were these nineteenth century scientists and scholars onto something?  Studies have continued to emerge, mapping the unchartered fascinating waters of the gut-brain axis, and have gone so far as to say that improving our intestinal health could mean preventing mentally debilitating disorders and illnesses and improve the lives of millions up people.  But until that day comes, I will leave you with this last deliciously simple morsel.  Go with your gut.

 

My kitchen floor confession

I write to you from rockbottom.  Well, for me it was the kitchen floor in the arms of my mother sobbing hysterically.  This morning I had a sudden mental break and felt the weight of everything in my life bring me down to my knees, and on that beautiful dark wooden floor, I let out a wail of raw grief.  I have only let out that sounds twice before in my life and it was when I was told I lost a friend to a car crash in 2006, and when I was told  that my beloved grandfather had passed.

The fight with my mother, aka the tipping point of my sanity, was over washing mason jars. Yes people, mason jars. We could9de433482e02812ef90758693580-postn’t agree as to whether or not we should put them in the dishwasher to properly clean them.  It was then and there I snapped and began yelling out “you always dismiss my anger and fears” and after this bizarre quarrel over cleanliness I crumpled to the floor, finally succumbing to the crushing weight of the worries of my life.

After the wailing, tears and nausea, I arose feeling better and lighter. It truly felt like a total body purge, and my entire body felt like it had been bracing itself for this expected wave of darkness to hit me. Well, I made it out the other side and this lugubrious swell that washed over me taking with it everything that I had been hold on to.

This has been the most trying time of my life, it is a great test of unknowns that the universe or whatever higher power has bestowed upon me.  It is t
he unknown of love, career and health, and this trifecta has pushed me so far into the stratosphere of discomfort I cannot even remember what my comfort zone feels like. My body is still raging with bacterial infections, and last week my GI informed me that along with some other bacterial infections in my gut and bladder and God knows where else, I am also playing host to a bacterial strain called H Pylori, which is probably the cause of my digestive issues, nausea, and can eventually lead to more terrifying symptoms such as stomach ulcers and the fun part, stomach cancer. Looks like the endoscopy and colonoscopy was a good idea.  So now I feel like undesired a petri dish with gastritis.

The course of action? More antibiotics of course! Three at once for fourteen days to be exact.  My one year anniversary of antibiotics recently passed last November and it was a very sobering moment of realization that I have been on antibiotics for that long.  Sometimes even two at a time.  Eventually they had to stop administering them since I became resistant to some.  Now my GI wants to put me on three, and that began this sudden spiraling ride into the pits  of despair, one which I am finally clawing my way out of.

 

 

Bottoms up

It had a metallic sweetness to it that made my stomach churn with nausea, and as I sipped on the noxious cocktail all I could think was, I still have 16 ounces of this stuff to finis!  It is day three of my pre colonoscopy and endoscopy prep and so far, this is the most unpleasant part of it.  Tomorrow is the day I will have a small tube-like mechanism with a camera on the end of it poke around to take an in-depth look through my body in order to discover just what the hell is going on with my digestive system.

Two days ago I started my ‘low fiber’ diet, which is primarily food with zero nutritional value and loads of sugar. Hey any excuse for sugar is the diet for me! But seriously, it wasn’t all bad and list included some of my favorite things like pretzels, saltines, pancakes and and peanut butter. The only real food I have eaten these past fews days are melon, ripened bananas, which I discover I love putting on saltines (weird I know), and eggs that came from happy cage-free country chickens I promise. Saturday I stuck to my diet like a good little patient and had pancakes with peanut butter, how dedicated am I?  It is these delectable memories that I carry with me through this final leg of the purging race.A race, that is exactly what it feels like right now, running back and forth from my bed to the bathroom and keeping myself entertained in between each dash with Netflix.

Before having to forcefully drink the clear 16 oz. liquid prescription that basically incinerates your insides and simulates a watered-down version of ebola (too soon?), I was ‘hangry’ and strung out on sorbet all day.   You see, on the third day of prep you begin your ‘clear liquid diet’ and sorbet was the closest thing to solid food permitted on this fabulous liquified menu. After the impending clock stuck five today, I had to take my first of two doses of a bowel prep kit and after finishing one this evening I am not sure if I am going to have the courage to polish off another one tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM.

Oddly enough what really scares me about this procedure isn’t the constant race back and forth or the putrid brew, but it is the idea of the anesthesia. I have yet to be put under since I have fortunately never had to have surgery, and for some odd reason, I do not like the idea of not being in control of my consciousness.  I am the commander of this crazy ship and having a stranger being the master of my awareness is just something I cannot get comfortable with.  Many have tried to soothe my apprehension and have told me this is the most painless part, it is just like falling asleep.  This should be easy shouldn’t it? Then why am I nervous? Most people would complain that the bowel prep is the hardest part, however for me the test will come tomorrow as I give the helm of dreams away to another and pray they sail my ship through calm waters.

A spoonful of acceptance

Acceptance is a powerful tool, one which I have been playing with all week.  Its a malleable things that can fit and be molded to any problem or hardship plaguing your daily life.  This may seem like a watered down cliche but I promise you, it is the greatest medicine there is.  Accepting what is first came along while I was exploring the soothing world of HeadSpace, one of the greatest apps in my opinion. It is meditation for the modern man.  At first I did not understand what the calming voice of Andy Puddicombe, who for ten minutes, talks you down from the ledge of life’s angsts with useful tips of accepting all of the ghosts of adulthood we are haunted by in order to allay and comfromt the difficulties we feel.

In several of the videos that accompany the ten minute sessions, the modern meditator is told to accept and acknowledge the referred pain of what the body is feeling thanks to the crippling thoughts of the mind. We are all guilty of ignoring even the tiniest complaints of the body due to our busy lives and tendency to discount our well-being.  Accept that feeling of anxiety the body is feeling.  Accept that overwhelming sadness that has been dwelling in your heart. Unfortunately we have found many ways to avoid acceptance through several avenues and facets such as social media, alcohol and my all time favorite, food.

As stated in earlier accounts I have written, when it comes to hiding and finding a safe comfortable space where I pretend like nothing can touch me, food is the warm cushiony place I flee to. It welcomes me with open arms and I graciously accept its momentary medicine and deposit of dopamine I so desperately need when I am either stressed, saddened or angry. But of course that will eventually wear off and I am left feeling even worse and bloated.

The other day I had an enlightening discussion with my sister who I have come to revere and deeply respect.  No matter what the circumstance, she is always there to offer a guiding hand and in my darkest hour she has been my guiding light home.  I told her of my chocolate shame last Saturday and how happy it made me feel.  She then stated that whenever she has spoken with a woman of her most enjoyable time it usually includes sweatpants, a couch and jar of peanut-butter.  Personally, that is when I am most at peace, in that small pocket of time when nothing matters and my tastebuds are bathing themselves in waves and waves of chocolate peanut-butter swirls. I have never experienced this nourishing nirvana during a salad.

My sister raised an interesting point, if we constantly deprive ourselves from that time of peanut-butter paradise, or berate ourselves for succumbing to our cravings will our body even absorb the nutrients of that salad? Or will we reject its nourishment and mindfully prevent it from being ingested when faced by a wall of self-hate and negativity. 66841dde6f83c62d85de1b299b4_-post So why not accept the momentous times spent on the couch with your best friend as you both gorge yourself on whatever meal you both usually consider to be taboo. By excepting this form of nourishment, the nourishment of happiness and communion, we can then accept other wholesome things into our body and soul.

Accept what you are feeling, do not hide from it.  We continuously play this toxic game of hide and seek with ourselves and our emotions hoping never to be found. Eventually however, that anguish stops counting to one-hundred and comes looking for us. Rest assured, it always finds you.

Welcome to day 7

As I rolled over in bed this morning, slowly waking up to the harsh reality of the day streaming into my room along with the sunshine, my stomach began to ache with guilt and gluten. Today is day 7 of my Nourishing Cleanse and I feel hung over. But this hangover is not from the remnants of a glass of wine or a stiff drink, its from the bag of dark chocolate covered almonds,coconut ice cream and gluten free pretzels.

Yesterday was day 6 and I knew it was going to be my most challenging. Why you may ask? Well because it fell upon a Saturday, a day when I usually allow myself to enjoy the simple pleasures and flavors of life and avoid any sort of adult responsibilities,such as GRE homework or emails. It is the day when I can completely run away from my problems.

Day 6 started out strong.  I woke up, did some body tapping and walked into the kitchen to prepare my bone broth and veggies.  As I heated my soup, arms crossed in frustration, all I could imagine was sugar. Sugar, my one weakness, sugar my one true hate and lovIMG_468723308e.  Sugar, the sweet rug woven of chocolatey threads and peanut butter patterns where I sweep all of my troubles and torments underneath.  I tried to remind myself that sugar and snacking was where I hid from my problems and pressures like a kid underneath a blanket, and that is what I was trying to break free from.  However with this ten day cleanse I have been left like an exposed nerve, raw and naked to my demons with nowhere to hide. And like any terrified cornered animal, I lashed out in fear.

Yesterday was a day that beckoned for a couch, Netflix, snacks and my best friend who shares my affinity and appetite for sugar. No, I thought to myself, I must push these delicious and comforting images out of my mind and persevere.  It was a cold and dreary day outside and winter had officially announced itself.  The Austin sky was blanketed in a parade of gray clouds that resembled shades of silver cotton candy (mmm sugar) and upon this scrumptious canvas, I saw the sprinkling of temptation on the horizon.

As the day passed, my strength and will-power waned as it washed away by the cold rain.  To escape the chilling weather, my friend and I went into a little cafe on South Congress and ordered a hot chocolate and12122899_10103496508131630_6007383513195763696_n copy a decaf Americano. Yes, decaf, I had been barred from caffeine as part of my healing and while I wasn’t sure if decaf coffee was even permitted on this cleanse, I did not even care at this point.  Sitting with our hot drinks on the porch swing of the little charming cafe, steam swirling in the grey light of day, I had had enough!  I wanted sugar goddammit! I was like one of those ants infected by parasitic fungus that takes complete control over its host and completely manipulates its behavior. I gladly succumbed to my sweet parasitic manipulator, and dove headfirst into a bag or dark chocolate covered almond and from there forgot about the cleanse, my health and my sugar-free sanity.

It is day 7 and I am preparing a savory redeeming bowl of chicken broth. In it I have put grass-fed bison, roasted acorn squash, zucchini noodles, fresh cilantro and avocIMG_468711657ado.  While I may not have thrown in the towel yesterday, I did gently set it down to be ‘forgotten’ briefly and then conveniently picked it right back after dancing madly in an altered sugary state of madness.  They say that to err is human. If I can benefit in any way from this blunder it is to forgive myself and continue these next few days with gentle compassion.  So I raise this nourishing bowl of soup to my lips with love and sip graciously for the start of a new sugar free day. Salut!

Ten Day Soup Salute

Today is the first day of my Nourishing Cleanse journey. This is not your average cleanse that simply administers a protocol of starving yourself through severe food restrictions and rules that basically leave you dizzy and ‘hangry’, making you a menace to society.  What I admire about this ten day journey to wellness is that it adds a plethora of food rich in nutrients and healing broths and soups that are meant to reinforce the body’s ability to heal and recover from the many contaminants we ingest and absorb through either our food or the air we breath.  Life today is dizzying blur of chaos and stress and we are bombarded by toxins, anxieties and poisonous pressures administered by the hand of expectations we put upon our society.

So how has day one gone? So far it has been as comforting and savory as the soups and broths I have slowly drunk today.  I added a range of vegetables to each of these warm delicious pools and sipped with absolute pleasure and the intention of healing.  For part of this cleanse is also about the healing of the spirit, to set a goal of meaning throughout these days put aside specifically for peace and tranquility.  One of my intentions is to be mindful and to take pause in the moment in order to truly be present in anything I do.  This may seem like a simple task however, it has already proven to be an eye opening experience. I often catch myself detached from the ‘now’ distracted by my phone like the many around me, all of us with our heads bent in technological submission bowing to the information gods in our palms.

Here we go. Ten days of healing. Ten days of real food. Ten days of baptizing my body with the nourishing properties of broths, soups, and positive declarations.