Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank U

What is resonating within my heart and coming out of my speakers right now is Thank U by Alanis Morissette. Alanis is one of my favorite artists. Her lyrics are so real to me. When I listen to her music, I can feel how she feels and I really identify with her songs. One of my favorites of hers is Thank U, a song about gratitude, wherein it almost seems that she is thanking God and all of the beautiful places, painful experiences, and other things that have taught her deep lessons, helped her grow, and brought her to new realizations about herself and life. 

To me, it appears that these experiences are referred to in the song lyrics within the lines that begin with "How about..." For example, "How about how good it feels to finally forgive you." I think that this is referring to the fact that she learned just how important forgiveness is and she has finally achieved the ability to find it for someone when it was obviously difficult for her.

This song reminds me of the pivotal experiences I have had that led me to really feel the deeper meaning underneath everything and within my life. It also helps me to surrender to whatever I happen to be feeling in my life during the moment I am listening to it, as well as let go of whatever may holding me back. I really need music like this; Who doesn't? 

Friday, April 29, 2011

My artwork

Untitled (Circa 1995)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sometimes people just want to be seen

Whenever I want to cry late at night, all I have to do is watch some Britain's Got Talent audition clips. There are several that bring tears to my eyes and make me think that sometimes people just need to be seen for the beautiful beings that they are. They come on this show, scared and insecure, and then the love that is within them emerges in their art, and finally they are truly recognized. It's so beautiful. 

In this particular clip, Paul Potts goes after his dream. I can identify with him when he says that he wants to do what he feels he "was always meant to do." Sometimes there is just something in your life that makes your heart sing and you know that it was meant for you because it just feels so deeply right. I encourage everyone to follow their heart's desire because it is what you are meant to do. Life is for experiencing joy, and not for just getting by within the boundaries that our society tries to place on us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elias's dream

What's coming out of my heart and my speakers right now is Elias by the band Dispatch. It's an amazing song about a man named Elias and his family who live in Zimbabwe, where people are rapidly contracting and dying of HIV/AIDS. As quoted from AVERT's website (AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity), "As many as 1 in 4 children in Zimbabwe are orphaned as a result of parents dying from AIDS."

Elias's dream is that his sons would be able to get an education in order to have a better life. The lyrics are incredibly moving. As a result of knowing Elias and his story, Dispatch inspired the creation of the Elias Fund which helps young people in Zimbabwe to get an education. It's amazing what we have the power to do, if we try. Thank you for the inspiration, Dispatch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Almost two is better than none

I started off the day strong with a glass of purified water and apple cider vinegar. I knew I had to have my wheatgrass juice on an empty stomach, so about an hour and a half later, I headed out and got a shot of it. I returned home and sure enough, about a half hour later, I started to feel nauseous. I figured it would be just like yesterday - that it would soon pass and I would be okay. I took a little walk outside and couldn't handle it. When I got back home, I threw up. It was seriously awful. My head was pounding harder than it ever has before and I wasn't sure if my body was rejecting the wheatgrass, if I was allergic to it, or if it had done its job of detoxifying me so much that I needed to get all the toxins out. Either way, I was on the couch for another hour trying to recover.

As the afternoon went on, I began to feel a little better, but not much. I drank a watered down cup of apple and pear juice and tried to relax. Then, I started to feel worse. In the early evening, I tried to drink some pressed kale, beet, and cucumber juice, but just couldn't get it down. I couldn't even bring myself to drink water and I was feeling more and more ill. I realized that perhaps with the wheatgrass incident, two days of a juice cleanse was going have to be it this time around. I felt nervous to end the juice cleanse because I didn't want to stop the valuable cleansing process, and I also wanted to keep my commitment, but realized that my best is good enough for now. Something seemed wrong with the fact that I couldn't even get down the juice, that I was throwing up, and that I felt that ill. I know that many sources say that these side effects are part of what occurs during the healing crisis of a cleanse, but I didn't want to hurt myself or put myself through something so violent, even if it was healing. I figured I could work on healing myself at a slower pace. Besides, almost two days is better than none!

However, if you are thinking of doing a 3-day juice cleanse, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. You may want to consider if it will be more economical for you to either buy a juicer and your own fresh organic produce or to purchase fresh, on-the-spot pressed juices at your local organic juice bar for the duration of the cleanse. Organic groceries are expensive (I spent about $55!) and a juicer will cost you around $50 and up, so be sure that you will make good use of your juicer if you decide to purchase one. Otherwise, it may be wise to just purchase your juices as you go from a local establishment (just make sure they do not add any sugar to your juice and that they use only organic produce).

2. Spend a few days before and after your juice cleanse on a non-dairy, non-toxic, all-natural, organic diet. This includes brown rice, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, etc., and does not include caffeine, nicotine, pasta, bread, meat, eggs, dairy, etc. This will help your body start to detox on its own, and begin to clean itself out before you get even more serious with the juice cleanse. It will also make the juice cleanse less of a shock on your body. (I really wish I had done this!)

3. Don't make the same mistake I did by trying to do everything at once and to the extreme. If you are new to juice cleansing, it might be in your best interest to not do wheatgrass shots, or anything else that has a serious and fast detoxing effect on the body. It could be too much for your body to handle and you could become overwhelmed, physically and mentally. I think that if I hadn't tried to do those wheatgrass shots, then I would have probably gotten through another day.

Overall, juice cleansing is pretty cool, but I think I need to take a more gentle approach with myself next time. In fact, while I was researching information on the juice cleanse, I came across several sources of information for general eating guidelines that would help cleanse the body. These diets basically consist of a light, vegan, organic diet. Perhaps I will try to do that sometime soon, as it is, after all, the ideal lifestyle I'd like to lead. For now though, I am still definitely sticking with my goal of eating organic produce whenever possible, never ingesting artificial sweeteners, and reducing my intake of dairy. Here's to our health!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day one was not so fun

Day one, the first day of my three-day juice cleanse, was pretty hard. I woke up late (at 9:30am) and lounged around the house until I started to feel a little hungry, which was around noon. At that point, I headed out to pick up some supplies for my juice cleanse. I had already purchased a juicer on Saturday, so I walked to the organic grocery store to buy a bunch of organic vegetables and fruit. I also purchased some spirulina powder and a ton of purified water. Before leaving the store, I took a shot of wheatgrass juice - a total superfood - to kick off my cleanse. Thankfully, my closest friend was with me and helped me carry all of the supplies home.

When we arrived, I started to drink a glass of purified water with lemon and some Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (which helps clean the body along with a bunch of other benefits!) I was still feeling alright, but about halfway through the glass, I started to feel a wave of nausea come over me. It seemed that at this point the detox had begun! Silly me (or awesome me) starting it off with that shot of wheatgrass which caused me to really feel the detox. Wheatgrass is super powerful at helping to clean the body. It causes a rapid amount of detoxification in the body and so side effects are common, but don't be fooled - the negative side effects actually mean that it is working! (Just make sure you take it on an empty stomach because supposedly it interacts with food poorly and that can also cause nausea.)

We put together my new juicer and I juiced an apple and a cucumber, but unfortunately couldn't even drink it because I needed to go lay down. My friend was kind enough to clean up everything for me while I rested on the couch. After an hour, the nausea passed and I was left with a low grade headache. I went out for a long walk and drank the rest of the juice and a lot of water and felt much better. My upper arms developed a bit of an itchy red bumpy rash around 4pm - probably from my skin releasing toxins, as that never happens to me!

By 6pm, I was really craving food and I felt a bit weak. I slowly drank two cups of strained vegan vegetable broth that had been boiled with garlic and parsley. I drank another watered down pressed juice made of kale, parsley, carrot, bean sprouts, and a dash of spirulina powder. By 7:30pm, my head was aching, and I felt weak. I seriously wanted food and was thinking of ice cream and cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers! I hadn't eaten one of those in three years! I ended the evening with a cup of Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move tea (so that I could release toxins in the morning through a bowel movement even though I have not been eating food, which is what normally moves things along in our colon) and went to sleep.

I had originally anticipated that I would have trouble falling asleep, however, I passed out immediately. I felt so weak and exhausted that my body seemed to just want to rest. In the middle of the night, I awoke twice with an aching belly, but I drank some water which helped, and fell back asleep. I have to say that I was dreading the next two days, but I had dedicated myself to better health! Stay tuned for details on day two!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

3-day juice cleanse

Lately, every time I eat dairy, my allergies seem to kick up. I have also been feeling tired and have been having very unhealthy cravings (like wanting to eat a block of cheddar cheese - yikes!) I decided that I really need a clean slate. After my 29 years on this planet living the American lifestyle, it's time to clean up my body and get out any toxins and junk that it might have built up over that time. Although I have never been one to eat in an extremely poor manner, I still have too many vices: The decaf coffee that upsets my stomach every time I drink it. The occasional sweet-n-low I use to avoid calories. The indulgence in far too much cheese. The overeating every single time I have Indian food. The fact that I rarely buy anything but lettuce organically and therefore probably take in a large amount of chemicals... You get the picture.

I started getting the inspiration and longing to take better care of myself a few years ago and subsequently decided to become a pescetarian. (Meat just wasn't for me anymore, but that's a story for another blog entry!) Recently, within the last few months, I have, for the most part, moved on to a mostly ovo-lacto vegetarian lifestyle. However, now I feel like the time has come to change my diet even more.

No more artificial junk! What possibly made me ignore the fact that something artificial (like a chemical sweetener) probably isn't that great for me? Why would I put something like that into my body? In addition, the dairy is going to be cut way back. There is a large amount of evidence to suggest that dairy is not processed well by the human body and has negative effects on one's health. I will also try to purchase more organic vegetables and fruit even though they are more expensive. What could be worth investing in more than my health? Finally, I am going to kick off my new lifestyle changes with a 3-day juice cleanse that begins today. It's time to give my body some time to heal and recharge. Stay tuned for my experience. (I'm a newbie at this, so it could get ugly!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chunk ♥

Who doesn't love Chunk? First of all, if you've never seen The Goonies, you absolutely must crawl out from under your rock and rent it immediately. If you have seen it, then I'm sure you will agree with me that Chunk is one of the most lovable characters in cinema history (along with Data). 

Yesterday, I happened to see a video about where Jeff Cohen (AKA: Chunk) is now and what he is doing. In the video, he talked about how his look as a child actor really allowed him to have a niche in the acting world, and that when puberty struck, it was really the downfall of his acting career. He decided he needed to pursue another path and he had to come to terms with that. I loved hearing his experience of acceptance, enjoying the past, and moving forward. Click here to watch the video and again, if you haven't watched The Goonies, get on it!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Late at night

Sometimes, late at night, if I'm feeling a little lonely (or sometimes, even if I'm not), I'll just find myself listening to old sappy love songs. Peter Cetera. Journey. Heart. Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warren. Starship. Paul Young. Air Supply. The Pretenders. Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville. REO Speedwagon. Meatloaf. Glenn Medeiros. Debbie Gibson. Peabo Bryson. Chicago... Chicago had so many hits! And Lionel Richie. Gosh, I love Lionel Richie...

Clearly, tonight I am on an 80s kick. I can't help it! Once I get wrapped up in the music, I'm as good as gone until I drag myself into bed to go to sleep. The last number I listened to was one of my favorites of all time. How can you not get teary-eyed when listening to Against All Odds by Phil Collins? Maybe it's just me, but I certainly do, and pretty much without fail. I'm such a romantic.

If this song makes you emotional, like me, and if you are annoyed that I've sucked you into the vortex of feeling, feel free to listen to a modern cover of it by The Postal Service which is sure to shift your mood. Please keep in mind that if you decide to listen to it, you MUST listen to it beyond the 1 minute and 22 second mark, or else you will just think it stinks and holds no merit whatsoever. Although it doesn't compare to the original, it is still quite an interesting take.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I ate too many lychees

Lychees are so scrumptious. Let's face it - they are amazingly delicious. As my old roommate from Ireland would say with her lovely accent, they are gorgeous. They are like a peach, pear, pineapple, and mango all wrapped up into one little, tropical, refreshing, succulent, bite-sized ball. However, that doesn't even come close to describing their flavor, which is totally unique. 

Unfortunately, because I haven't been to Chinatown lately (or Jackson Heights ever), I have had to resort to satisfying my craving for lychees through the chilled, canned variety. Although still yummy, they're obviously not quite the same as peeling the fruit and eating them immediately while they are fresh.

Tonight, after a dinner of whole wheat pasta and basil tomato sauce, I decided to have lychees for dessert. I had only planned on eating half a can, but ended up eating the whole darn thing. I'm full, but that's how (once again) seriously wonderful they are.

P.S. I know it's only April, but you must know that at any Halloween party, lychees make the best eyeballs! Just stuff them with blueberries, grapes, or cranberries. They look very creepy while still being enjoyable to eat. Fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A little piece of heaven for your Tuesday

I hope you enjoy this day. If it's nice out where you are, then smile at the sky. If it's rainy, then dance under the clouds to Just Like Heaven by The Cure. Seriously, do you know anyone who doesn't like this song?

Monday, April 18, 2011

She makes music for your ears

In the new Rolling Stone cover story, Adele was interviewed. During the interview, they asked her about her weight. In response, she said:

"My life is full of drama and I won't have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like. I don't like going to the gym... I like eating fine foods and drinking nice wine. Even if I had a really good figure, I don't think I'd get my tits and ass out for no one... I love seeing Lady Gaga's boobs and bum... I love seeing Katy Perry's boobs and bum. Love it. But that's not what my music is about. I don't make music for eyes. I make music for ears."

In a world where so many people focus to the extreme on looks, I really admire the way that Adele so bluntly responded to an inquiry about her weight, seemingly without shame or apology. I hope she also believes that she is gorgeous, because she is. I love you, Adele. Rock on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I fell in love with Caruso

What's in my heart and coming out of my speakers (at a very high volume) lately is Luciano Pavarotti's version of Caruso. At yoga the other day, sweating in the position of downward dog, this song started to play. At first I thought it was just instrumental music, but then the first line came pouring out of the speakers, and immediately my heart turned inside my chest. 

Sometimes a song just gets you and bonds with you within moments. This song connected with my soul in that way. I had no idea what he was singing about, although I guessed it was love and heartbreak, but as the song intensified, and grew louder and more powerful, my movements became more purposeful and energy seemed to manifest within me from nowhere. My breathing became more full and my heart swelled up with emotion. I felt like I just wanted to disappear into the emotions being provoked from within me.

I recently read the book 90 Minutes in Heaven, which talks about a man who was declared deceased, went to heaven, and returned. In his account, he talks about the incredible music he heard there. This is believable to me because I have heard (or perhaps "felt" is a better word) heavenly music here in our world, and its spiritual origin and powerful impact can't be denied. 

Before this experience, I had never fallen in love with a piece of opera and, actually, had not been very exposed to that genre of music. The next day I set a date to see the Metropolitan Opera. If a song can do that to me via stereo speakers, I cannot imagine what power it has when experienced live. Thank God for music. It reminds me of our divinity.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You're amazing, just the way you are

Who doesn't want to be told that they are amazing just the way they are, right now, in this moment, and no matter what? What's coming out of my heart and my speakers, and making me smile today is Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm averaging a lemon per day

Water is amazing and drinking a lot of it always makes me feel good. I feel lighter, have more energy, it helps food move through my body, it keeps headaches at bay, I experience reduced occurrence of allergies, and I know it does a whole heck of a lot more! Overall, water is awesome. And it's no surprise that we need to drink a lot of it in order to feel great since our bodies are composed of at least 55% water. (Different sources gave different percentages, but the point is - it's a lot!)

Although I'm a cheerleader for water, I have found recently that no matter how hard I try, I still feel dehydrated. It could be that I think I'm drinking a lot of water, but it really isn't enough. Or, more likely, the sodium level in the food I eat is high and so the amount I'm drinking, although it's large, is not doing the trick. Either way, after recently purchasing Powerade Zero and Vitaminwater Zero to quench my thirst when I was bored of water on several occasions, I got to thinking: These artificial sweeteners really aren't good for me - especially the type in Powerade Zero, since it is sweetened with sucralose, which is Splenda. (No bueno!) Vitaminwater Zero claims to be sweetened with non-artificial sweeteners, but I don't know if I really trust that they are healthy for me either. Upon contemplating this for a moment or two, I realized the solution: lemon water.

I know, I know. That is no revelation or brilliant revolution in the beverage department. However, for me, lemon water was just something I had at restaurants or the spa, not a beverage I made for myself on a day to day basis. So, I went into my nearby market, bought a bunch of lemons and proceeded to make the most refreshing, natural beverage (at a cost of 33 cents a pitcher, mind you). I cut the ends off one lemon, cut it in half, squeezed each piece into a pitcher before throwing the lemon pieces in, filled the pitcher up with cool water and some ice cubes, and voila! I drank the whole pitcher. That's right. I drank the whole pitcher in about fifteen minutes (give or take a few). The point is, I slammed it.

Yes, water is amazing, but lemon water is super amazing. And, what's more, after falling in love with it, I googled it to see if anyone else was in love with it too, and what did I find? A whole slew of sites touting its health benefits! So, read up, drink up, and enjoy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One of my favorite passages

When I was a young girl, my parents introduced me to Desiderata, a piece of prose offering certain bits of wisdom about how to live and how to view yourself and the world. It has always given me clarity and comfort, so I wanted to share it with you. 


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 
(Written by Max Ehrmann in 1927.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A significant gesture

What's in my heart and coming out of my speakers right now is "World on Fire" by Sarah McLachlan. Instead of making a music video with all the typical production bells and whistles for this beautiful song, Sarah decided to use a simple video camera, shoot the video herself, and donate the money she would have spent - nearly $150,000 - to charities around the world.

The video explains exactly where the money went and how it helped people. What a moving and significant gesture; I get emotional just thinking about it (and the video brings tears to my eyes). Maybe we all don't have a whole lot of money to give to those in need, but the choice to extend a hand to another, no matter how small the hand, has the same type of positive effect on the world. Thank you for the inspiration, Sarah.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More earthquakes

With the occurrence of another significant earthquake yesterday, it's hard to really understand what the people of Japan must be going through. According to the U.S. Government Earthquake Hazards Program, yesterday's earthquake, along with 58 other earthquakes in that region (from March 11-April 7), are all considered to be part of the aftershock sequence occurring as a result of the March 11th earthquake. Also, the March 11th earthquake was the fourth largest earthquake that has ever occurred since 1900. Wow. I keep reminding myself to pray and send positive, healing energy to Japan (and the whole world). They still need our help.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today's quote

"Where you begin doesn't matter. Your willingness to start is what counts." - Rhonda Britten

Whatever you want to do that you have been putting off, just do it. Stop the debating. Stop the planning. Stop wondering if you have what it takes. Stop telling yourself you can't for whatever reason, and just go do it. Trust me, it will all work out.

Whether it's engaging in some sort of creative pursuit, looking for a new job, asking someone out on a date, or cleaning out your closet, don't think, just do. Life is too short. We only have the present moment. Live your life now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Say no to animal testing

Over the years, I have slowly become more animal "friendly." I am not perfect, but I became a pescetarian a few years ago (haven't quite been able to give up seafood yet, though I have reduced my intake considerably), and after an encounter with someone who works in a field that tests on animals, I decided to try and be more conscious about the products I use. If you are also interested in reducing or eliminating the products you use that have been tested on animals, here are some tips:

1. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a database that allows you to search for cruelty-free companies and products.

2. Request PETA's free Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide to help you make more informed decisions.

3. Watch out. Companies may say that their "finished product" has not been tested on animals. This does not mean that their ingredients were not! Here is another list of companies that do not test the finished product or any of its ingredients on animals. The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) published it to help consumers make smart, cruelty-free choices.

4. Look for the bunny! Products who have committed to being cruelty-free will have CCIC's bunny logo on them.

Let's all try to live a more peaceful, cruelty-free life by not testing on animals who have no say in the matter.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prayers for Japan

In the article, Crack leaks radioactive water into sea off Japan, how can they say that radioactive water leaking into the sea will probably not cause any health hazard? What about marine life? Japan still desperately needs our prayers and love.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to be alone, or maybe just how to be

Thank you to my friend who sent me this beautiful video entitled "How To Be Alone." Sure, it's about how to be alone, but it also seems to be about how to just "be." I have heard of the idea that some people are human doings as opposed to human beings. There have been times in my life where I feel like I am just going, going, going, doing, doing, doing, and I can't seem to stop. My mother has called it "burning the candle at both ends."

There have even been moments where I try to rest or relax, but I don't know how, and my nervous energy is engaged with thinking, worrying, planning, or somehow avoiding sitting with myself while I am supposedly "relaxing." Learning how to just be and enjoy just being has been a process for me and has actually taken some work and practice, but it is something that is super beneficial to learn.

Being able and content to just be alone with ourselves at times is so important because it allows us to tap in to our inner being and reconnect with the fact that just being is enough.