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, orange (peeled)
ABC  apples, beets, carrots
#pound beets, apple, lemon (peeled)

 

Chicken soup  carrot, celery (equal parts)
Carrot bliss  carrot, apple, ginger
Carrot sunrise carrot, apple, orange, lemon, ginger
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.

This year I will be alive

I suppose some sort of New Years reflective post would be in order this week.

I’m not really sure where to begin. A year is just a number. But maybe it means more.

2014. How did the year go? The year began with some joy – taking my kids ice skating. The year ended with some joy – playing lego with my kids in our new house. In between, there has been more joy. I think that’s a good thing. I hesitate to admit this because I’m sure I’ve had very low points this year that may have marred someone else’s year. But for me, even my low points were higher than some of my higher points in recent years. The clouds are still dark and heavy but they are starting to let some light through and I’m getting stronger.

Highlights of 2014 include:

  • Becoming friends with my husband
  • Becoming a reliable source of comfort for my son
  • Enjoying playing with my children- remembering how to be silly
  • Getting reacquainted with my yoga mat
  • Succeeding at work and being offered a permanent job (as opposed to contract)
  • Banishing some of the guilt of not having a relationship with my parents
  • Finding a combination of medication that seems to work better
  • Buying a house and making it a home.
  • Mostly feeling confident that I exist.

As nice as it is to reflect on the good, it’s important to reflect on the bad as well. I need to be open about the bad to give context to the good. 2012 was my worst year. It was the year of crashing to the bottom in the dark – a year of feeling terribly alone, out of control and in pain. The year began with a near suicide attempt, a cry for help that no one heard, and ended with the last time I saw my parents and siblings in one room.

Highlights of 2012 included:

  • battling daily debilitating anxiety, (and still having to care for my children)
  • getting fired,
  • having several hypomanic episodes,
  • being sedated on antipsychotic meds
  • getting evicted,
  • having my pain ignored by my mother,
  • witnessing my mother break apart our family and my father stand by,
  • adding the suicide crisis hotline to my speed-dial.
  • realizing the extent of how unwell I truly was.

Yes. 2012 was definitely my worst year. I wanted so badly to be a proper mother but there was so much repression, fear and confusion in my brain.

My husband might think that 2013 was our worst year. 2013 was the year we uncovered all the muck and really faced the demons that I had to deal with. For me, this was a relief because I could understand what was going on. But for him, I think that it was terrifying because the demons were pretty fuckin scary.  I was also bouncing around between too high insanity and depression, trying new meds, unable to really care for the kids, obsessed with my thoughts and generally not very nice. I know he struggled to stick around that year but I am so very grateful that he did.

I think 2013 was his worst year. But I’d been living with those demons a long time, 2013 was actually my hardest year. I worked so so hard every single day. I could (sometimes) see a hint of light at the end and I understood that I had to get there to save my kids. Sometimes it was more steps back than forward but at least I was on a path as opposed to free-falling. I understood what I was dealing with and what kind of mountain I had to climb. Unfortunately, I can’t really make a list of the highlights of 2013, because I can’t remember much of that year. But I know that I am here today because of the work I did that year.

2012, 2013, 2014. Numbers that represent something. Progress in my understanding what it means to truly be alive.

In yoga class today, the instructor spoke about articulating an intention for the hour and even for the year. She said that her intention was to be free.  In constricting postures, like eagle pose, she asked us to find the freedom and space. My intention for this year is also to be free. I will try to be free in my body and in my life. I will allow myself to cut shackles and relationships that don’t work for me. I will strengthen my core, both physically and emotionally. I will trust my feet to hold me up and trust my right to a space in this world.

I will breath deeply and fluidly. I will stretch. I will love. In 2015, I will be alive.

May this be a year of shiny, healthy boundaries. Less guilt, more love!

Black clouding with style

And so here I am… again. Back where I started. Sitting on the floor. Exhausted for no reason. Tears brewing. Eyes closing.

I felt so great last week. Now, I feel depressed. Nothing. Sad. Black. Cloud. Symptoms of depression that are straight from a 90’s movie, with an introspective and depressed teenage Claire Danes playing me.

Last week I was raw juicing. I was yoga-ing. I was parenting. I was doing it. I was living! I was smiling. Laughing. Washing my hair. Putting on makeup.  And now…. I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like any of it.

Now I’m black-clouding. There is no reason, I just can’t seem to get at the joy under this big pile of nothingness. At least I remember it’s there. for now.

I read somewhere that people with Bipolar, can have symptom remission for years at a time.  Maybe this is an urban myth. I had a fleeting thought that maybe the feeling of last week could hold for the next 20 years. Then, when I’m 50 and lose my mind again then, my kids will be older and I’ll have had 20 great years and I can call it a wrap.  But no. This is not how it will be.

Maybe this is what my remission looks like? This sorta up and sorta down.

I had a great week or two where I felt mostly strong and capable and happy. And then I just wake up one morning and my head feels heavier and I’m confused and suddenly the lights are too bright and the kids voices are too loud and I never want to open my eyes again. Only I do… I’m sure this will pass. It just feels so horrible. Forcing a smile is too much effort. Knowing what I’m missing makes the pain all the more profound.

Do the meds work? Does the yoga and juicing even matter? Would it make any difference if I stayed up late, smoked pot and drank alcohol? I think it would. I think it matters.

I think that if despite all the good work that I’m doing to try to stay stable, I’m this unstable, I would probably be really really unstable without it. Without all my hard work, I would not have had two great weeks. I probably wouldn’t even have two good days. The medication that I take is called an anti-psychotic for a reason. It keeps me from being psychotic. And for that, my kids are grateful.

So, I’m happy. I’m depressed today. But I’m happy.

painting on carved wood of a woman on a swing with two smaller versions of herself in the background.

This beautiful art is by Peter Schacht.

She is not me

“Dear Diary, Have you ever had a day when you feel like you were never born? Well that’s sort of what I felt like.” -This is an excerpt from a diary I kept when I was 8 years old. (8 years old!)

My daughter is almost 6 years old. That’s dangerously close to 8 years old. …but she is not me.

I remember when she was 3 days old, I left her in the living room with my mother because I was forced to take a nap in my bedroom. I remember lying there alone and wondering if I still existed or if maybe I was my baby daughter now.  That little baby who I put on my bare chest the moment she came out of my body- so that she wouldn’t feel lost. That little baby who I was scared to take out of my sling, to let out of my sight – lest she feel abandoned. I was so scared that if I was not touching her, we would both cease to exist. I actually convinced myself that she could somehow hear my heartbeat through the walls. It was the only way for me to tolerate being in the other room. If I had to pinpoint when I should have noticed that something was ‘off’, I think it was this moment, when she was 3 days old. (I didn’t get help for another 11 months…)

I still struggle with feeling like my daughter and I are somehow telepathically connected. Last night I was reminded that my daughter has her own secrets, her own internal life that she keeps to herself, as she should.

Last night I realized that she has been asking me to tuck her in with her blanket over her nose and not calling me in after I say goodnight – because she is secretly sucking her thumb. *shocking*. Not really shocking. It actually makes lots of sense. She is almost 6 years old. Of course she is an individual with her own internal private world.  But feeling so tied to my daughter, it’s hard to understand that her secret world could be anything other than one of confusion, fear and pain.

The fears I had when I was her age are not her fears. I know that this is true. This must be true. The family I lived in, the world I knew, it is not her world. I have worked too hard to make sure that life is different for her. But then, I see that her fears include one of my daily deepest fears. The fear of “getting caught”. She probably doesn’t feel it as strongly as I did- I felt it every moment of every day. Maybe she isn’t even afraid, she was just being clever. I really don’t know.

I say my daughter.  She is not me and she is not mine, she is her own. She needs to continue to separate from me and I need to enable her do that. My role is to keep my arms open to catch her when she needs it and let her take reasonable and safe risks as she explores the world for herself.

6 years old. 6 years old is time for more independent activities, more space for herself, more unsupervised playtime. It’s time for summer camp.

But I fear. I fear that if I am not watching, if the teenage camp counselors are not paying attention, she may cease to exist. I have to clarify this. The fear is not only that she will die, it’s that she will cease to exist. I will drop her off one morning and when I come to pick her up the counselors will say “Soni? Soni who?” and that will be that. I will have to go home without her and try to understand that she was never real.

This is my own annihilation anxiety. I am projecting it onto her and I need to stop. It comes from a very real place where I used to live and feel that I would randomly become invisible. This is not my daughter’s world and it is no longer my world either.

I am not her. She is not me.

photo from my diary

This is not okay #dontshoot

I’ve always known that I was very privileged. I grew up in a nice house, we spent summers at a cottage on a lake, I lived in a nice neighborhood and went to private school. I understood the because of my education and financial security, I was lucky to be seen differently by authority figures and such. I take advantage of that all the time.

What I didn’t realize growing up was the most fundamental way that I was privileged. I didn’t realize that all this financial and educational privilege would not have been enough to open opportunities for me if my skin had been a different colour.

The other night, when I heard of the appalling and unjust verdict in the Michael Brown case, I became so upset. What kind of society have we created that lets this happen again and again?

I was walking home from work thinking about this. It was dark out and getting cold. I wasn’t having a very good day and I’m sure it showed in my body language and the way I walked. I was grumpy and wanted to disappear so I pulled my scarf up high and pulled up my jacket hood over so just my eyes peaked out. As people passed me and smiled at my blue/green eyes, I thought about Michael Brown and I thought about my son.

It’s terrifying that a boy just like my son, only black, might be walking down the street feeling tired and upset, trying to hide in his coat and he could be murdered – not harassed or beaten (though that would be bad as well), actually killed on the spot!

As a mother, I worry for my children. I worry about them every day. But the fear that my sweet son would be murdered on the street for being a moody teenager and the murderer will walk free, that’s not high on my list of fears. No mother should ever need to know that fear. But too many do.

I appreciate Kristen at Rage against the Minivan for writing openly about the subtle and overt racism and prejudice that she experiences against her sons. She opens my eyes to barriers that I may not pay much attention to from up in Canada (although they exist here too). I found her post explaining white privilege illuminating.

She also said some powerful words in this recent post:
“The world is watching as Ferguson reacts, and we are seeing a community of people who are angry. Do not let the criminal acts of a small number of protesters distract from the real issues going on in our country. While some may express anger in ways we find inappropriate, the anger is still valid. If my husband cheated on me and I burned his belongings in front of my house, that would be wrong. But it wouldn’t invalidate my anger. It wouldn’t cancel out the fact that what he did wrong.”

There is an enormous problem in what is happening. Children are dying and a people’s right to be angry at this betrayal is being minimized. So I feel obliged to write about this. I owe it to my fellow mothers to speak up. I must add my voice to the rage of those in Ferguson and across the United States. Maybe I have to recognize my privilege and use it to speak out so that those who won’t hear a black mother’s anger will hear mine.

I am angry. I am furious.

Too many children are being murdered by men who are quick to judge and shoot to kill.

The victims are all our sons.

I cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege I am a part of.

*If you are not quite sure what I mean by white privilege, please read this article by Peggy McIntosh.

Swirling storm inside

Remember the scene where Anna goes to visit Elsa in the ice castle and Elsa learns that by trying to protect the world from herself, she actually froze the entire town and she starts to swirl in fear.  (I’m obvs talking about the Frozen movie.)

“I’m such a fool I can’t be free. No escape from the storm inside of me. I can’t control the curse… There’s so much fear. You’re not safe here.”

It’s snowing here in Canada. So it seemed appropriate for my kids to watch Frozen three times this weekend.

I remember when I first saw the movie last winter there were so many parts of the film that resonated strongly with me. I especially remember feeling that this scene really captured my internal struggle at the time. And my external struggle of trying to push everyone away so that I wouldn’t hurt them with my pain.

It was only a year ago but I realized watching it this week that I don’t really feel like that anymore. I feel other screwed up things. But today (because today is actually all I can be sure that I remember), I don’t feel a “swirling storm inside of me”. I think that must be a good thing.

There a new feeling that I’ve been having but it’s scaring me a lot. I think it’s called HOPE. I’ve spent a long time without this feeling. I’m very wary…

photo from the frozen movie of elsa in fear with anna in the background.

p.s. I have lots of other things I want to write about this but I can’t seem to get any words out… so we’ll just leave it at that for now.