Friday, May 30, 2008

Silence and Smoothies

Shannon, at Raw Mom, has also undertaken a speaking fast. It seems she's finding herself in a rush of creativity. Perhaps I'll reach that point if I remain silent longer.

Right now, I'm reaching the point of headache. I homeschool Wonder Girl, and while she works very independently, my written coaching is getting on her nerves. I'm also finding it hard to keep her on track. It normally only takes a word or two, but she's taking advantage of my silence, and trying to debate me on what she should or shouldn't be doing. LB would help me out, but he's working out of the house this week. It probably would've been wise of me to wait for this until he could be here to help me out, but I was tired of waiting for the perfect opportunity.

On the wonderful side, started the day with an extra yummy green smoothie! Spinach, blueberries, and frozen mango, strawberries and papaya. Oh yes, and a bit of ground flax seed. We haven't been doing smoothies much in the colder weather, but now they seem to be finding there way back into our regime. I'm taking the rest of mine out to the backyard, where I'll lie in the hammock and read a book in the sunshine. . . all alone.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


3 and a half hours into my first day of silence, and already I'm frustrated. Not good!

For a little over a year now, I've wanted to go on a silent retreat. I've even tried to devise ways to get everyone else out of the house, while I made my home into my own silent retreat. I haven't been able to pull any of this off. Recently, Phillip at LovingRaw blogged about going into silence at home. I thought about doing a media fast (no TV, computer, radio, etc), but I share my home with 3 other people, and it seemed too complicated. Finally, I settled on just shutting my mouth. (That's the thing that's most likely to keep me out of trouble anyway.)

So for however long seems reasonable (hopefully 3 days), I'm not talking. I communicate via text, email, im, twitter, and scribbled notes, but I can't speak. If I continue through the weekend, I'll have to make an exception for my friend's Open House on Saturday. Her daughter is graduating high school, and a vow of silence might distract everyone from the point of the day. I'll just try to do more listening than talking.

How's the fam handling it? I usually talk to my mother and sister on the phone everyday, so this will probably be both a surprise and a nice break for them. Lovely Boyfriend seems to wonder exactly what the point is, but he's supportive of it, just as he was when I wanted to do the Biggest Loser week, and when I wanted to dive back into Raw foods. He trusts that I'm striving to be better. Fierce Teenager said, "This is going to be annoying." I just shrugged. She basically thinks my love of the stairs (I recently did 12 X 225, a new PR), my passion for Raw food, and my hair are all freakish. Wonder Girls, keeps forgetting she can talk. She writes back to me instead, which is a nice opportunity for her to fall quiet, but makes for really drawn out communications.

In this short time, I've quickly run up against some of my greatest flaws: short temper, impatience, intolerance for whining/complaining, and oh yeah . . . short temper. To deal with some of this, I quickly instituted a no complaining AT ALL rule for the kids, and made up some cards to respond to their typical questions and requests. My favorite is: ASK ME LATER.

What am I hoping to get out of this? I don't know. I have major life changes going on right now: FT graduating from high school and going to the other side of the continent for college, moving out of the home I've lived in for longer than I stayed in any other place in my adult life, trying desperately to complete my first novel, shopping for a home in an unfamiliar city, launching a business, selling off and giving away things I've lived with for a long time. Many of these are wonderful changes, but they still add stress to the day.

Hopefully, being quiet will allow me to better hear my family and friends and to better see what they're going through, so I can be more available to them. Hopefully, I'll be more productive, move my projects forward, and spend more time in prayer. Hopefully, I'll work on some of the above metioned flaws, and gain a greater sense of how to deal with things without non-stop verbal exchange.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Horses for Sale

Though I rarely eat animal products, I am not 100% vegan. With that fact in evidence, I just finished watching a recent episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and found myself struggling with the segment on the slaughter of race-weary thoroughbred horses. Apparently owners will sell them to butchers for a few hundred bucks once they feel the horses have outlasted their money-earning utility. They showed footage from the killing process, and several times referred to the fact that the process was designed for cows, not horses. They highlighted individuals and organizations that work to rescue noble steeds from the cow-butchering machine.

Once again, I am not a vegan. Yet, is the hypocrisy here not obvious? What's good for the cow is too cruel for the horses.

Yes, change has to start somewhere, but are we still arguing that horses and cows are so different from each other? In other countries, where most of the horse meat is sold (7 days from stable to table), most people would scoff at us for being so sentimental about an animal that has served its purpose and can serve one more in death. We're not talking about people who have nothing else to eat. We're talking about cultural tastes.

Does a cow, or sheep, or goat, or chicken, or pig deserve a less noble fate than that of a horse that once ran a good race?

While I think Real Sports is one of the best news mags on television, I have had issues with the host over the years. Perhaps that bias is coloring my judgment. I don't think so though. Either its okay to brutally slaughter animals for dinner or its not. Let's not pretend our affection for one species, or the fact that it once had the potential to win buckets of money, somehow earns it better treatment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Raw Food Tips

Haven't been in much of a blogging mood lately, though I've continued to enjoy reading Raw food, fitness and political blogs. In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I'll try posting some tips that I've picked up along the way. (Not that I always follow my own advice!) Many thanks to all the Raw foodies out there who've contributed to my knowledge.

Raw Food Tip: Keep it fresh. Dehydrated snacks are great but are best balanced with fresh food. A ration of 3:1 (fresh:dehydrated) or greater works well. Adding a green salad to almost any meal can make it easy to cover 3/4 of your plate in fresh living foods. This actually works great even if you're not going Raw. Imagine how much healthier a SAD plate becomes when most of its covered in living plant food.

Stay Raw, yall!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Salad - Getting Hot in Here

Lame post title, but it's the best I can do this early! In the cooler weather, I started to crave warm foods, not necessarily anything cooked, just something that felt comforting. While I enjoy soups, I can be quite lazy about pulling out the blender. Here's a great alternative- the dehydrated salad.

Toss ingredients in a bowl, in this case: tomatoes, corn, spinach, chopped mushrooms and onions. Pour a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and ginger, sea salt, and a bit of agave over it all, and toss well. Spread on dehydrating racks and dehydrate for 3-4 hours. I like to stir occasionally to prevent bits of spinach from crisping up.

The whole family loves these salads. (I added avocado to this one after it finished warming up.) There's a lot of, "can I have a pinch?" and "when will it be ready?" all of which makes me happy. We get more greens in this way too, as they're easier to consume once they've wilted down a bit.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Staying on (or Reclaiming) the Raw Wagon

Did you go Raw overnight, twenty-seven years ago? Have you managed to make it more than a decade without consuming so much as a drop of nama shoyu, a piece of questionably dried fruit, or a heat-shelled nut? Congratulations, you've made it into an elite group that most of us will never join.

I first discovered Raw food as dietstyle five or six years ago. I was working my way through some Tony Robbins tapes, and he advocated a very low-fruit, high fat, high greens Raw way of eating. I tried it with great success, but eventually slid back into my old conventional foods. The results I achieved on Raw (weight loss, glowing skin, mad energy and more) impressed everyone around me. Still, no one got it. None of my friends or relatives knew how to support me in my Raw quest, and I had no idea what to ask of them.

The world's a much different place for me now, with Raw restaurants, products, meet-ups, social networks, websites and more. Going Raw came much easier this time. (Thank God for the Internet!) Though I still didn't have a miraculous over-night transformation, I've come across many more tips and tricks to aid me this time around.

If you're facing challenges with Raw transition or maintenance, check out this coaching call. Karen Knowler, the UK's Raw Food Coach, shares some insight with a client. It's 45 minutes long, but worth the investment of time, even if you have to listen to it in pieces. Good stuff to support any of us on this journey.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Walking the Tightrope

Last weekend Lovely Boyfriend and I spent four days in Los Angeles, celebrating our friend's fortieth . . . I mean twenty-first . . . birthday, and hustling Wonder Girl to her play performances. It was a lot of fun, but a very different schedule than I'm used to following. Part of me wishes I had packed in more events, and part of me is happy to have found some time for more relaxing, self-focused activities, like climbing the sand dune (6 times!). By Sunday night, I was exhausted and ready for some solitude.

This week, I've set major goals for my fiction work, but also have vowed to eat a more simple Raw diet. Wonder Girl's homeschool work still needs my attention, the finances have to be managed to accommodate unexpected expenses (like the $500 deductible on $6000 worth of car accident damage), Fierce Teenager needs to begin organizing for graduation, I must get my workouts in, we're making major decisions about moving to another city, and the household still needs to run.

I'm not complaining about all this. In fact, I'm excited about most of it. It's just that my personality isn't particularly suited to balancing all these things. I don't like living in a world of multi-tasking. Given my way, I could shut myself in a room for six hours each day until I burned out on a project. Unfortunately, life demands that I give each area it's due.

Here are some tools that have helped. I've added a countdown timer to my Google sidebar, forcing myself to quit working on a given project when its allotted time expires. In the kitchen, I just use the oven timer. I've also created a free page on, with lists of all my short-term goals and the immediate steps I need to achieve them. This is now my home page. I've used this system for a couple of weeks, but the weekend of partying threw me off a bit.

Today, I'm back to seeking balance, trying to keep one foot always on the tightrope.

*The photo is from Tees For Change, a socially responsible t-shirt and jewelry company.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Biggest Loser Finale

Our Biggest Loser week ended on Tuesday. I averaged 4 hours of workouts each day, and I brought intensity to them. On Wednesday, I only worked out 2 hours, and I felt as if something were missing. Alas, real life continues around me--work, writing, chores and errands, kids' activities, church, classes, and the like--so it will be difficult to get those long workouts in on a regular basis.

Some things I learned:

The recommendation to get 30 minutes of activity each day is fairly bogus for healthy people. In the days of hunting and foraging, our bodies would've moved much more, and we still have essentially the same physical design as our forefathers and foremothers. Even when I was obese, I enjoyed working out. It seems my body always knew it should be in motion.

It can be okay for a healthy person to take their workouts to what most people would considered an extreme level. Perhaps I would've run into injuries if I'd continued, but I believe that listening to my body would help me to avoid that.

Prolonged exercise creates feelings of ecstasy. In all likelihood, this had a lot to do with the fact that I stuck with activities that I loved. The positive mental attitude, along with the brain chemistry initiated by exercise, was a winning combination.

Sleep problems can be alleviated by giving the body the level of activity it craves. This may not be true for everyone, but I found that I fell asleep faster, and slept more deeply and consistently during my Biggest Loser week. I woke up refreshed and without the aid of the alarm clock.

There's enough energy to go around. I'm sure that eating a Raw diet, including green superfood smoothies, contributed to my quick recoveries and tolerable levels of soreness. I had plenty of energy left to accomplish other things. I took an occasional nap, but that's nothing new for me. Obviously my body was able to do the workouts and still complete my other tasks. I'm no Superwoman. Though I was a slim teenager, it wasn't because of any effort on my part. I didn't get into running until I was in my 20's, and started weight training after that. I'm not physically superior in anyway to the average woman. If I can do it, most anyone can, given time and planning.

I encourage everyone to push your body and see what it accomplishes. Don't be ridiculous and try to curl 20's when last week you were curling 8's, but do look for ways you can diversify, intensify, and even extend your exercise. Book a few sessions with a trainer, if you don't know how to do it safely.

Our modern culture is so incredibly sedentary. Even if I spend 5 hours working out, I'm spending at least 8 sitting down (driving, teaching, writing, surfing the internet). Going forward, I'll continue to workout about 2 hours each day, but I also plan to include at least one Biggest Loser day each week. Just for the sheer joy of it!