I see me in you

Saw an old friend yesterday. He made an offhanded comment about his mother yelling at him from heaven for walking on wet grass in white socks. His mom died of cancer a few years ago. He really loved her.

In the car later, I told my husband that I feel bad for our friend. I actually said, “If there is any holiday that’s going to make you miss your mother, it’s Passover.”

My husband asked me if we were still talking about our friend.

Why could I connect the dots of his pain so clearly? While mine were still stuck in a rorschach ink spill.

I spent much of my life trying to be emotionally self-sufficient. I learned that needing emotional validation was a weakness. Yet, I gain so much comfort from reading other blogs and books. The feeling of “me too” is so powerful. Someone told me once that we read stories to understand ourselves. Maybe in hearing eachother’s words, we can finally see ourselves.

One of the most powerful effects of group therapy (both in person and through online portals) has been the opportunity to feel empathy and worthiness for others and thereby for myself.

I remember sitting in a room full of other mothers and their new babies. They each spoke of their feelings of worthlessness and despair. But I could see them each as beautiful women who were deserving of love and belonging. I could see their worth but not my own.

When I read Brooke Shields’ book Down Came the Rain, on her experience with postpartum depression, I could see parts of myself that I didn’t know were there. She wrote about how hideously ugly she felt. I thought that if someone so clearly beautiful could feel that, perhaps I wasn’t actually as hideous as I felt either.

So, to all of my dear friends who are locked in a struggle with your own broken brains… I hear you. I am writing so that you and I can both read these words and try to make sense of where we are.

We are not alone. We feel alone but we are here to catch eachother and to write letters to eachother that allow us each to see ourselves and love ourselves.

I love you all so much.

"The Delivery" by Amanda Greavette

“The Delivery” by Amanda Greavette

Jealous of the living

I’m tired. I want a break.

I want a break from work, from expectations of me, from winter, from to do lists, from responsibility, from meals…. but we all know that none of these things are really the problem. The problem is in my brain. The problem is always in my brain.

I need a break from people talking to me and also from being alone.

I need a break from missing my routine and a break from having a routine to miss.

I need a break from feeling alive and also a break from feeling dead.

I wish I weren’t so dead. I shut down in the middle of yoga class today. I just had to escape and the only piece of my day that I could let drop was to mentally check out of the one hour I set aside to actually be in the moment.

I had to stop moving my body. It was too heavy. I heard the instructor guide everyone through a beautiful flow while I laid there in shavasana (corpse pose). Jealous of them. Jealous that they were alive and able to move and I was just a dead corpse and couldn’t participate.

Then some tears fell onto my mat. They were probably mine. It just made me so sad that I was dead and I couldn’t do yoga.

I have a vague memory of finding an ability to feel joy like a fluttering bird warming my heart, but I must have relaxed and left the cage door open, because it flew away.

I have a necklace with a picture of a bird on one side and the word “happiness” on the other. It reminds me that eventhough happiness flies away from me like a flighty bird, I am supposed to keep chasing it.

But I’m tired of chasing. I don’t feel like I am able to catch that bird. Today I’m the half eaten worm already hanging out of his mouth.

Dear month of March, I kinda hate you. I know that sometimes I say that to all the months. But you hold a special place of disdain in my heart. Whenever you are around, I always end up dripping tears all over the city.

Galatea of the Spheres by Salvador Dali

Galatea of the Spheres by Salvador Dali – I love this painting.

Of soup and juice

I cooked some food last night for the first time in a long time.  Cutting up the vegetables to make the soup made me think about the similarities between juicing and making soup. They are really just different ways of making the nutrients more palatable so that we can ingest more of them and get more variety and quantity of the plant’s vitamins.

I think the goal of eating is to get the maximum amount of nutrients from plants to increase our physical stamina and brain power. That seems to make sense.

Humans are the only animals that consistently cook food. I remember reading something somewhere about how a big turning point in human evolution from the neanderthal was the knowledge and ability to cook food. I thought that the significance was just about cooking meat so that we could digest the meat. But now I see it’s more than just that.

But it’s really hard work to eat three big crunchy carrots each day. It’s much easier and more enjoyable to have carrot soup one day and roasted carrots the next and carrot juice another and then some carrots in a salad. If you find your food enjoyable and easy to eat, you will probably eat more of it. That means you will get more nutrients.

Also, because we can cook food, we can get more variety in our diets by different food combinations and by accessing the nutrients in those foods that can’t be eaten raw- like dried kidney beans, potatoes, cassava root.

So, in summary, juicing is a way of extracting more nutrients from vegetables that I would not normally eat. And cooking is sort of the same thing. I wonder if eating cooked plant foods will feel nourishing for my body, just like juicing does?

Should I get started on my research study grant application? Or do you think someone has already looked into this?

Maybe this guy already beet me to it:

Captainvegetable

I am I – Captain Vegetable! With my carrots and my celery.

A big black box

There’s a blockage. I’m hiding something and I know it.

I don’t want to write. How can I write if I don’t want to hear what I have to say?  I don’t want to pick up the pen or open my heart because I know what is sitting there waiting to come out. I’ve done so much hard work to heal myself but there is one more dusty corner in my heart that’s starting to clog my arteries. I’ve ignored it for long enough. It’s shouting to be heard.

It’s a sad story. I haven’t told this story yet.  I haven’t even told it to myself. It’s a story about a little girl who was always left all alone without any food. She would shut off her body and her mind until someone would come to tell her it was time to raise the curtain and act alive for a bit. Then repeat. It’s my story. (this is hard to admit). I guess it’s my truth.

Those who were there know the basics. I was alone often and didn’t eat much. It’s true. But the shame, the blockage, the days, the part that I’m hiding because it hurts too much. The truth is that the duration and extent of the deprivation was more profound than anyone realized. And if I allowed myself to feel at those times, I would have been consumed by loneliness and hunger. I shut off to survive. And I am ashamed of all of this.

Growing up, I learned a valuable survival lesson that would have been helpful in a concentration camp: Convince yourself that you don’t really need food or love and you will be able to survive the deprivation. The problem was, I didn’t grow up in the war (and neither did my parents or grandparents). I grew up in a nice suburban neighborhood where our bank account was as full as everyone else’s fridge.

There is a lot more to say here but I’m not ready to peel it back right now. These wounds and secrets are buried deep and they are going to bleed when I take them out. So I’ll put the bandaid back on for today and take another quick look tomorrow.

Much love,

xoxo Lyla.

If you fall, I will be there. - floor.

You are here

I’m not feeling great today. Just a bit anxious and a bit depressed. Really, today is what I would have called a good day a few months ago. But now it’s kinda a bad day. Being even a bit depressed doesn’t feel very good. It doesn’t feel good to walk around wanting to die, wishing you’d never been born. I think it will pass soon. But there is always that big fat question mark of doom. Lately, I’ve started to forget that it’s there.

I’ve been drinking about a pint (16oz)(a starbucks grande) of fresh raw vegetable juice each day. I go to a one hour yoga class 2-3 times a week and do ballet once a week and I never get less than 7 hours of sleep a night (I aim for 9-10 hours a night). I eat homemade lunch and dinner at regular times. I take my medicine religiously. I don’t ever drink any alcohol. I don’t smoke anything. I avoid all conflict. And I’m starting to feel somewhat happy to be alive.

Lately, I’ve been saying “yes” to more and more social commitments, helping people with stuff, caring for my kids alone. But then I feel overwhelmed and I’m not sure I can chew all that I bit off.  I have to remember that as good and competent as I might feel today, the confidence is temporary. I mean, I suppose everything is temporary anyways.

Life is a journey with no map. There is no “you are here” button. You are where you are and that is where you are. Just hold on and try to enjoy the ride. Have you got something better to do?

I am the vampire of vegetables

I’m always surprised and a bit concerned when someone takes my advice. I guess I should be flattered, but usually I’m just like, “What’s wrong with them that they are actually listening to the shit I say. Should I even be friends with someone who is taking advice from me?”

So, call me crazy (ok) but today I look around and suddenly everyone is wearing their baby in a sling and talking about the many uses of baking soda and using mason jars on their blenders and not washing their hair…. weird. Maybe I’m more brilliant than I had previously imagined. I think I’m actually a bit like Jesus. Here I am just doing my thing, trying to make sense of my suffering and I end up shining a beam of inspiration into the lives of my people…. Wow. I’m awesome.

Anyway, if you are going to be inspired by anything I do, you should copy this one: Juicing (=drinking the juice of raw vegetables). It’s kinda like being a vampire of vegetables. Like I’m sucking the juice/blood out of the vegetables. And then I sparkle in the sunlight. (sorta)

I became enlightened to the pleasures of green juice a few months ago through a store in my new neighborhood. At The Raw Juice Company, I drank amazing delicious juices and learned so much from the owner Tony and all the helpful staff.

Once I had spent about $500 buying their juices daily, Tony (the owner) told me that I should probably start juicing at home. This is how much he believes in his business. He is a really nice guy. I still buy from him but now I’m not relying on him for my daily fix.

Once I started feeling the benefits of juicing, I fell in love. Personally, I feel much more energy, able to think much more clearly, happier (which is a lot for me to say), healthier, my skin is nicer and my joints don’t hurt anymore (I was having carpal tunnel and symptoms of arthritis). And…. I’ve finally lost weight. I feel so great when I drink the juice that I just don’t have the appetite for the unhealthy stuff (except for the chocolate… I’ll never give up the chocolate.). I actually emotionally miss my coffee but some days my taste buds just don’t want it.

Remember Jack Lalanne? The really old guy jumping around in the infomercials making all these crazy claims about how juicing keeps him young and strong and healthy. Well… I think he was right.

Juice is not a smoothie. When you juice a vegetable or fruit, you are extracting the vitamins and minerals without the fiber. (You will still get your fiber from your regular healthy diet.) This is important because your body can easily absorb all of the good stuff without having to work so hard to pull it out of the fiber.

Juicing is also amazing because in addition to making the vegetables more easily absorbed, you are consuming much more than you would otherwise. While it is possible to eat an entire raw kale plant, half a celery, a bunch of spinach, three raw beets and two large raw carrots in a day, I sure as hell wasn’t going to do it every single day.

But juicing is wasteful. Isn’t it? I had to come to terms with this one. When I thought of the idea of throwing away so much of a perfectly good vegetable, I felt really uncomfortable. But then I read that it takes almost 3 litres of water to make 1 litre of coca cola. That’s a lot of waste for something really unhealthy. But we (well, not me, I’m perfect) drink it without considering the water wastage. Also, Tropicana seems to be doing pretty well juicing all those oranges. eh?

So, I throw the pulp in my backyard compost and hope that I’m not hurting anyone by getting really healthy. My extreme privilege to be able to get all these extra nutrients is not lost on me. But I enjoy a lot of privileges, as a middle class North American, of having an excess food supply, so why not enjoy it in a way that is healthy?

But juicing is so expensive. Not really, my juicer works very well and is easy to clean. It cost us $100. The produce we buy at No Frills (I choose not to feel shame for not buying organic). A typical juice will use about .75cents of produce. Less than a cup of coffee.

But the juicer is so hard to clean. So are the pots and pans but you still cook dinner. Once you understand the pieces of your juicer (mine has 5), you can quickly clean it. I try to clean mine as soon as I’m done juicing but sometimes I leave it and clean it the next day before I juice. Like anything, with practice, you get better. I can now make a quick juice in the morning for myself and my husband and quickly clean the juicer and not be later than usual for work.

More questions:

There is a lot of helpful information about juicing on the Raw Juice Company website. Here:

http://www.therawjuicecompany.com/whyraw.html

http://www.therawjuicecompany.com/userguide.html

Getting started

Now that you’re committed to being just like me and juicing. What do you actually have to do?

Step 1: Buy a juicer. Any old juicer will do. Once you get into it, you’ll decide how much you want to invest in a high quality machine. But it’s okay to start with a cheap one (because I’m still using mine).

Step 2: Open your fridge and make some juice.

Part of making the juice taste really amazing is figuring out combinations of fruits and (mostly) veggies that you like. You can google ideas or look at the menus of other juice bars- the recipes are really just written on the bottle. Making your juice taste good is a matter of playing around with mixology and finding the right proportions of each.

But, really, as Tony said when I didn’t like the cabbage and carrot juice, “It’s healthy, just drink it.”

Here is the menu for the Raw Juice Company.

Below are some recipes that I like.

I try to think in terms of green juices (with primarily leafy greens), red juices (beets) and orange juices (carrots). I aim for one green and one other each day. This is an ideal. I also tend to keep it to 3 or less ingredients because I find it simpler. It’s also fun to name drinks.

Bloody mess  beets, strawberries, apple
ABC  apples, beets, carrots
#pound beets, apple, lemon (peeled)
Chicken soup  carrot, celery (equal parts)
The carrot standard carrot, lemon, apple, ginger
Carrot bliss carrot, lemon, apple, ginger, tumeric root
Cabbage soup  carrot, cabbage, green apple, orange
My Evergreen  spinach, celery, lemon, Himalayan salt
My other Evergreen romaine, celery, lemon, Himalayan salt
The Barney  kale, grapes
Morning nourish  pear, kale, apple, celery
Green giant celery, any leafy green (kale or spinach or romaine), apple
Elphaba 1 bunch spinach, 1 green apple
v8 reboot tomato, celery, cucumber, carrot, parsley, green pepper, spinach
Wake me up before you go go celery, apple, lemon
Wellness shot (This is really gross… but it works) garlic, ginger, carrot, tumeric *juice the garlic and ginger first to let the carrot pull them through the juicer. stir in the tumeric powder after. warning: you won’t be able to kiss anyone for three days.
Fire shot cayenne pepper, orange juice
Tay Zatar (this isn’t juice but I swear by it. This tea will soothe your stomach, fight a cold, help with menstrual cramps and help bring on your period so don’t drink when you are pregnant) Put oregano in a tea ball. let steep in boiling water 3 mins.  drink.