I’m starting to learn a few things about myself and this life. I’m learning that life’s mysteries need not be so scary; that when I become still and listen, I can tune in to a stillness inside myself that guides and comforts me and I now know that my sensitive spirit needs space to nurture itself and feed my soul. I’ve also learned that this term Ahimsa, one I started intimately knowing many years ago- means way more than I ever knew possible and is more relevant now than ever. I’m not sure how I first stumbled upon the term Ahimsa; it feels like it’s been a part of me my whole life, but growing up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family, I know Ahimsa somehow found its way to me, and it stuck.
In its simplest sense, ahimsa is a yogic term meaning to live your life causing the least amount of harm to others as possible. As a vegan, I relate to the concept of ahimsa in a very intimate and profound way. Ahimsa is the foundational concept of living a compassionate life, to seeing the inherent worth in all beings and believing that all beings are sacred and divine. Ahimsa influences what I eat, how I spend my free time, how I treat both friends and strangers, and what I buy.
I was called to create this space to share how this thread of ahimsa inspires me each day and connects me to you and all of us together as one. In a world that sometimes feels like divisiveness and insults are becoming the norm, the warmth and love from living a life guided by Ahimsa is a call back to my own heart.
I’ve learned a lot about who I am through my journey to veganism.
When I first became vegetarian 29 years ago it was a crystal clear and empowering decision. I became keenly aware that I could no longer eat animals and vowed to make a difference. I was still young at the time and my newly found vegetarianism was not received in a supportive way. There was no guidance or words of encouragement from my family. I found PETA and other animal advocacy groups and began learning. Through reading their newsletters, I became aware of how animals were being used in other ways; through animal testing, entertainment, and for fashion. This was eye-opening! My life had changed. When I was 18, I put my animal advocacy stickers on my car. I knew I wanted to make the world a better place for the animals and hoped to change the opinions of those who I was closest with along the way.
Then something unexpected happened. My passion for the animal rights movement faded into the background. It just shrunk. While I was proud of my actions, I learned to be quiet and not share information with others so I wouldn’t offend anyone or sound “preachy”. Being vegetarian simply became a part of me, like having brown eyes or being female. It was just a fact.
I went to college, studied well, began my career, went back to school for my M.A., bought my first house and kept checking things off my goal list. But what about my passion for saving the animals? Was it silent, gone? Sure I still sought out vegan cosmetics and non-leather shoes, but those decisions had become second-nature. I had yet to meet another vegetarian.
In 2015 I became vegan. I saw a shocking image shared on Facebook by my former yoga teacher turned vegan lifestyle coach. It wasn’t graphic, but it helped me connect the dots in a way that I had never done before. On the spot, I was vegan! I removed dairy and eggs from my diet and even joined a vegan activist group and for the first time in my life, I sat in a room surrounded by other vegans! Then I returned to my life. I focused on building up my small business and gave my energy away to everything else. Feeling depleted and unhappy, I began some deep inner work. For the first time, I listened and realized I was not living in alignment with my truth.
The truth is that the vegan movement is really exciting to me, that meeting and talking with other vegans is supportive and nourishing to my spirit, that the food can be incredibly inventive and delicious and that spreading the vegan message is really important for both the animals and planet. I had learned to stifle this enthusiasm and pursued all the things in life I thought I was “supposed to” pursue, but was not fulfilled. I began the process of reclaiming this lost part of myself.
So, what did I do as a 40 year old re-awakened vegan? I learned, I engaged, I shared, and I became active! There was a new-found celebration of veganism arising from my spirit! I no longer pushed my vegan identity off to the side, but invited it along for the ride- front and center! I found incredible vegan podcasts to listen to, watched documentaries, read books, and created a grass roots support group right in my little neighborhood. My inner young vegan self became so joyful now that she was recognized!
I am living a more joyful life than ever before. I know I am making a difference for the animals who I made a promise to those 29 years ago. I am enthusiastic, alert and energetic. I have come full circle.
Some people refer to this as the “call of Spirit” and it very well feels that way to me. I just needed to learn to listen and watch how it all begins to unfold for me.
How much thought do you give to the food you eat? What about the type of water you drink? Skin products? Cookware? All of these things have an impact on our health and well-being. I’ve been carefully working on cleaning up my act these last few years. I switched out my skin and personal care products, became really conscious of my food and drink choices, but cookware? No, I didn’t really even think about it. As I discovered though, the type of pots and pans we are using can actually make us sick. It really got me thinking, with all the care I give to eating really healthy and detoxing my body, why would I cook my food in potentially harmful cookware? I began researching right away. I quickly became overwhelmed by all of the buzz words out there, “green”, “clean”, and “healthy” were used in a general sense to describe cookware that for me didn’t really seem that healthy at all. Below I outline some of the most popular types of cookware used and the potential health risks they pose.
Teflon (PTFE) Coated– PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is a chemical used in the process of making Teflon and is toxic to our bodies and the environment. This chemical has been linked to some cancers. Teflon coatings can flake off and contaminate the food being cooked. Cooking in Teflon coated pans can also release toxins into the air that are particularly harmful to pets. A lot of cookware is now being advertised as “PFOA free”.
Stainless Steel- Stainless steel cookware contains other metals (such as nickel and chromium). If pans become pitted or scratched, these metals can leach into the food as it cooks. When choosing stainless steel, opt for high quality/pharmaceutical grade stainless steel to reduce your risk of exposure to heavy metals.
Cast Iron- While a common fixture in many kitchens (including mine until recently), cast iron pans leach iron into the food as it cooks. Iron encourages the formation of free radicals and has been associated with increase cancer risk. While we need small amounts of iron to produce red blood cells, we often have too much iron in our bodies which we have no way of ridding ourselves of. Excess iron in tissues and organs has also been linked to infertility.
Ceramic Coated- Ceramic cookware has gained popularity recently because it conducts heat well and metal does not come into direct contact with the food as it cooks. The ceramic coating is typically applied to an aluminum pan for better heat conduction. If the coating becomes scratched or chipped, aluminum from these pans can leach into the food. Aluminum has been found in the plaques on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is known to be associated with the disease. In addition, ceramic coated cookware is commonly glazed with a nonstick substance that may contain traces of lead or cadmium. It is best to do a thorough amount of research if you are considering ceramic coated cookware.
Solid Ceramic (no coating)- This cookware is less popular and contains no applied coatings. It is aluminum free and contains no chemicals. There is no coating to chip or peel off. While they are durable, food can stick to the surface.
Glass- Visionware is still on the market and a good option for those concerned about heavy metals and chemicals leaching into food. Some of the reviews caution about the cookware shattering, but with proper care, glass cookware can be a healthy alternative.
So how to decide? After weeks of researching I narrowed it down to 2 options. Saladmaster, a pharmaceutical grade titanium/stainless steel was at the top of my list. I had seen a cooking demonstration on the HHAS cruise this past February and was impressed with the product. In addition to the quality of the material, this cookware is meant to cook on low heat with no oil to optimize the flavor in vegetables. The downside? Saladmaster cookware is very pricey. For me, it was cost prohibitive.
My second option was Xtrema Ceramcor ceramic cookware. I love how transparent the company is- putting toxicity and health front and center. All of their cookware has been through leaching tests and results are posted on their website. The cookware is 100% ceramic, no polymers, metals or chemicals. In addition, the cookware is in adherence to the stringent California Prop 65 testing by the FDA. I was surprised to find that this product was in such close alignment with what I was looking for and have been extremely happy with it so far. Most importantly, I have the peace of mind knowing that the food I’m cooking is clean.
How a Vegan Cruise opened my heart and nourished my soul!
It’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged, but I had to share my experience of The Holistic Holiday At Sea, Vegan Cruise aboard the MSC Divina. Living a plant based lifestyle, I’m always very careful about how I travel and it normally means a tremendous amount of preparation, packing and research. I had heard about this cruise for years, but this year just seemed right. For me, this cruise worked on so many levels. Gifting me with the most up to date and scientifically proven knowledge from speakers like Drs. T Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, Michael Greger and more- these are the superstars of the plant based movement!!! Then there were the animal advocacy speakers and researchers like Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, James Aspey, Gene Bauer, and Ingrid Newkirk. I know I’m doing a lot of name dropping here, but being in their presence was an absolute inspiration! On top of all of this, we got fed the most delicious, clean and nourishing food (without any of the prep work)- oh and did I mention we were in the Caribbean with 2000 other vegans!!
I am now signed up to do this vegan cruise again next year (yippee). The support, love and encouragement of community was beyond what I ever expected. It was 10 days of self care and life giving expansion.
Last week I explained how I found myself on this path to the 28 day Healing Cleanse by the Medical Medium, Anthony William. I just completed week 2 and still feeling pretty great.
I experienced some detox symptoms at the start of my second week (irritability, impatience, and a lot of mind chatter). As this is a very deep level of cleansing, the symptoms were not a surprise and I listened carefully to my body to see if there was anything I should change. I realized I was pushing myself a bit too hard in my everyday life and decided to slow down, breathe, and create more opportunities for ease. I also began doing some dry brushing to help move the lymph and release the toxins faster.
Today is my wedding anniversary. Each year we celebrate with a fantastic dinner out and a very nice bottle of wine, so this year is different for us. I am fortunate that my husband is doing the cleanse with me, he’s a tremendous support and I’d recommend anyone doing the cleanse to find someone (or a group of people) to do the cleanse with- it makes it a lot easier! Anyhow, tonight we will celebrate with loads of veggies, fresh guacamole (with plenty of cilantro), and fruit for dessert. Sounds like a good night to me, after all, it’s not about the food- although it sometimes feels as though it is.
Healing infertility through nutrition and gentle detox
I’m so excited to write this blog today. One week ago I began the Medical Medium 28 day Healing Cleanse and felt called to share my experience. I’ve been following the Medical Medium (Anthony William) for some time now. I’ve worked closely with gifted teachers and practitioners who are skilled in his work and have guided me through supplements and herb selection and supported me through viral flares and symptoms of detoxing. For those of you unfamiliar with Anthony’s work, his books, The Medical Medium and Life Changing Foods, are game changers in every sense of the word. The overall message is that: 1. We are surrounded by environmental toxins which can build up over our lifetime. 2. We carry viral loads and heavy metals which along with environmental toxins, can make us sick. 3. Thebody can REVERSE disease and heal itself. That’s a really oversimplified version, but the basic premise.
I am very lucky in that I haven’t been diagnosed with any serious disease. That said, there is the issue of what hasn’t exactly been diagnosed. I am one of those women who falls into the category of having “unexplained infertility”. It’s a horribly befuddling term that left me full of questions and despair. Four years ago my husband and I began trying to have a baby. After an unsuccessful year and a half, we turned to the medical model for help. Nobody had answers. My husband was healthy, I was healthy. All the numbers looked really good, tests couldn’t find anything wrong. They suggested IUI (intrauterine insemination) and medication. Not knowing what else to do, we went for it. It failed- four times. I was devastated and vowed to focus on our health and find another path.
In April 2016, I started seeing an acupuncturist and began taking chinese herbs. In addition, we started working with a homeopathic doctor specializing in removing heavy metals from the body in a safe and systematic way. He explained that my husband was loaded with heavy metals and that I had them too, mainly in my ovaries. We detoxed and followed his protocols for 5 months. We were both mostly clear and ready to start trying again. I felt that I needed to go further though, and in October 2016 began working with a new healer who introduced me to Anthony’s work. This healing path has consisted of nutritional support and a lot of really good self care (ahimsa at its finest!). For months I’ve been clearing out viral debris, improving my immune and nervous system, detoxing my liver, and removing any residual heavy metals. I feel really, really great and probably the healthiest I’ve ever been.
Back to present day, I am doing the 28 day Healing Cleanse as described in the Medical Medium book 1 to do a final really deep detox before attempting to try to conceive again. This cleanse is really simple (one thing I love about it) and all natural (the other thing I really love). For 28 days, eat only raw fruit and vegetables. That’s it. I was reluctant to give up olive oil, potatoes, and seeds/nuts at first. Even though I knew I could get incredible amounts of macronutrients and dense amount of nutrition from these foods, it was still a big shift. After a week, I feel amazing. My energy is really great, I feel calm, grounded and radiant. I am practicing listening to my body for any signals that things are moving too fast, but so far, it’s been extremely positive.
Now…on to week 2!!!!
Below are some references for support in this work:
Part 1- Simple holistic ways to reduce toxin exposure and improve overall health.
Welcome Spring! I’ve found that focusing my energy on strengthening my body and detoxing has been a beautiful spiritual practice and want to share with you what I’ve learned on this path (so far).
The new life energy coming forth from the earth creates an inspiring time of year to purge our bodies of its heavy toxic load. The toxic load we carry comes from both what we absorb from our environment every day and what has been passed down to us through our parents and those before them. These toxins can build up in our system and cause chronic health conditions such as anxiety, headaches, dizziness, weight gain etc.
If you are interested in improving your health and state of wellness, this is a great place to begin. Nothing harsh, just a few simple changes that when combined, can have a tremendous impact. It’s also a good practice in changing routines, nourishing your body and truly listening to what it is telling you. I found that in the beginning, some of the changes in diet and lifestyle brought up all kinds of emotions and resistance inside me. It felt challenging to follow this path when society was telling me to eat, drink and be merry because I “deserved” it. So this is a very different perspective, eat well, avoid things that can increase your toxic load, and be kind and gracious to yourself- because my dear ones, this is what we deserve.
Things to avoid or eliminate from your routines:
Plastics– We have been wrapping ourselves in plastic since the 70’s and it has leached into everything;our food, our water supply, and our bodies. Plastics are particularly harmful to our reproductive systems, they may contain the chemicals bisphenol A (BPA) and phythalates.
plastic wrap & baggies- avoid wrapping your food in plastic at all costs, use reusable containers when possible.
plastic containers- I find that glass containers such as pyrex work great! Never reheat food in plastic.
shower curtain liner ( these contain phythalates which can damage sperm)
EMF’s– Electromagnetic frequencies are everywhere. They are emitted from anything electronic ( computers, cell phones, cars, airplanes, appliances etc). The problem with EMFs is that they interfere with our body’s own electrical frequencies which can prevent our body from letting go off toxic heavy metals and can cause adverse health conditions, both neurological and otherwise (i.e. cancer, insomnia, anxiety, headaches). Since EMFs are everywhere, you may want to take precautions. One product I use is made by Memon. I wear a memonizerBody on my wrist and have a memorizerMobile on my cell phone. I also have organite throughout each room in my home and on my desk at work where I sit with my computer throughout the day. You can also remove electronics from your bedroom, run appliances such as the dishwasher or dryer when you are out of the room, and turn off your wifi at night. For all men out there, never carry your cell phone in your front pants pocket.
Chemicals– This is a fairly broad category. As a guideline, I only buy products that are cruelty free, plant based, environmentally friendly, and free of dyes, fragrances and preservatives. The fewer ingredients, the better.
Household- Think of your home environment as a sacred space. We need to take extra care not to pollute this space with toxins. Nothing works better than good old vinegar, lemons, baking soda and peroxide and there are many websites devoted to cleaning with these items. If you can’t part with the convenience of a bottled cleaner, I like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and my newest fave, Ecos.
Beauty products & nail polish- This is a tough one for a lot of people, but we really need to be looking at what we are putting on our body. Many products out there are laden with harsh ingredients, parabens, toxic fumes and dyes. If possible, opt for using food grade products on your body. Some that I love include Lux shea butter for my face, and coconut oil for my body. I am also loving this oil based facial cleanser.
Toxic/Heavy Metal Exposure– These metals include lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and aluminum. They can be found everywhere, but especially in fish and processed cheese, vaccines, nasal sprays, fertilizers, plastics and antiperspirants. A great first step to reduce toxic metal exposure is to ditch the antiperspirant! It took me quite a while to find a really good deodorant that I love, but you will not be disappointed in Primal Pit Paste.
Pesticides/ Herbicides– I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but eating organic dramatically reduces your exposure to toxins. If you can’t afford or find organic produce in your area, try to avid the dirty dozen as much as possible. When I first started out, I would keep a list on my phone and reference it whenever I went to the grocery store. The dirty dozen includes the following foods listed from most to least contaminated:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Meat and Dairy Products– This list could not be complete without mentioning meat and dairy products. From a toxicity standpoint, the fat and protein compounds in these products clog the liver causing it to be sluggish and reducing its ability to do it’s job of filtering the blood and removing toxins from the body. Simply said, if your liver is sluggish (or fatty), the toxins stay put! in addition, meat and dairy contain high amounts of growth hormones (there is no such thing as hormone free, all animals in the industry have been exposed), antibiotics and adrenal compounds (from the slaughtering process). Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption will improve overall liver function and go a long way in detoxing your body.
Added Sugar– Yes, it’s really bad for us. It’s corrosive to our system and damaging to our organs (and dairy is liquid sugar meant to grow a baby calf/goat/lamb). If you feel a sweet craving coming on, grab a piece of fruit or use some maple syrup or dates in your baking- you won’t be disappointed. The glucose from fruit is extremely important for brain health and body functioning, so indulge as often as possible. For more information on the healing powers of fruit (and vegetables) check out Anthony William’s latest book, Life Changing Foods.
How a daily spiritual practice helped heal both me and my cat.
Like many other people, I love animals and find comfort in their presence in my household. That said, I have 3 cats who are each special in their own way. When I decided to create my meditation/yoga room, I converted an unused space adjacent to a room inhabited by my oldest and most skittish feline friend. My intention for this space was to begin a daily sadhana (spiritual practice) which would consist of chanting, prayer, meditation, and kriyas (specific movements in Kundalini yoga). I was committed and ready to begin.
It’s been over 2 years now since I began my first sadhana and my husband now joins me most mornings when he isn’t up earlier for his own personal sadhana. It’s become a beautiful practice that creates a sacred stillness to the start of my day. We both feel the changes within us and the connection to our true, higher Self. For me, I also have witnessed a decrease in physical pain that, at times in the past, had been intolerable. There is wisdom in the body but there is also residual emotional pain that lives on as well and can become lodged and create physical discomfort. When the pain is healed, relief can truly come.
So, I am a believer. I have faith that devoting to a spiritual practice can calm the mind and heal the body. You know what else I’ve come to realize? It helps heal those in the space around us as well, even pets. Remember that skittish cat I mentioned? Since being part of my practice, he has become calmer, more relaxed and his episodes of nerves that would have him running in circles and climbing the walls dramatically decreased. He felt the healing energy too- what a gift!
Every morning, I am encouraged that my sadhana feeds my soul, heals my body and calms my mind. And every morning, there’s a little cat eagerly waiting to join me, who instinctively knows that he is experiencing something sacred, divine, and healing as well.