Another metaphoric lesson in gardening: preventing abusive environments

So I was driving home from one of the school gardens I work in, deep in thought about “Figaro,” a certain Fig tree we transplanted last week (The kids gave him that name). I’m often deep in thought after leaving this particular garden because it needs so much work. Since I only visit it once a week, I hate to leave because it’s like my child that I can’t see every day. I can only hope the children and teachers are treating it right in my absence.

When I came to this garden a little over a month ago, I was super overwhelmed by the overgrown grass, weeds, and dead plants. When we started removing the plants and checking out the soil to plant new things, we discovered root maggots! It has definitely been a challenge working with these bugs, to say the least.

I started thinking about soil, how it’s the most important element for all life forms to grow in. Everything starts in the soil and if it’s infected with harmful pests, it can really stunt growth.

I thought of Figaro and wondered if he was experiencing root shock because he came from a very nice garden and the Garden Ranger there only pulled him out to make room for new stuff to grow since they already had two large fig trees growing. Instead of throwing him away, I decided to re-plant him in this particular garden of mine that’s in much need of anything to grow in it.

I imagined Figaro’s tiny roots in new soil and hoped that he wasn’t too scared in this environment. I hoped that I removed enough of the root maggots in previous weeks so that they wouldn’t hurt him. I imagined him like an orphan or foster kid who might get placed in a new home with possibly strange, maggot-like parents/forces that might eat away at his roots/essence.

I began to wonder how many children are born or placed into infested soil and what effect this has on their development.

It’s not their fault. A root maggot didn’t ask to be born, same way as an abuser didn’t ask to be born into a poor home environment.  Everything starts in the soil/home, and if the home is jacked up, can you really expect something healthy to grow?

I began to think of the ways in which we can prevent abusive homes a.k.a. infested/damaging soil so that damaging pests and creatures do not grow and harm our future growing youth. This is what I really stand for, what I really aim to accomplish in my life here on this planet. I want to created places for all living things to grow in healthy, nourishing soil.

It was clear to me today that the solution is in prevention when possible. If the soil is not healthy, we must fix it. It’s never too late. The best way is to prevent conditions in which pests can be born. After doing some research on how to deal with root maggots, it is recommended /suggested that we remove dead plants and rotate them in and out with every changing season. I think this idea of constantly creating/constantly recycling every season, planting certain things like Marigolds and onions that discourage the growth of these pests, is the best way to go.

Pesticide and harmful chemicals is the easy way to deal with problems, much like what this country has done to many of its perpetrators by throwing people in jail or sending them to the electric chair. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem, doesn’t begin to get to the root cause. That’s what our society really needs.

Nobody had been in my garden for many many months and so many things were dead and not growing. When things don’t grow and are not removed, that’s when the flies come and lay their eggs and create the ugly pests that make sure no life can ever grow.

Neglect, lack of knowledge, create these problems. Same things in abusive homes.

Gardening has always shown me so much. Lessons that I need to learn exactly when I need to learn them.

I was a basic gardener early this year, but now that I’m a Garden Ranger, I am the one in charge, the one who decides what we do with our gardens, what we teach our children. I’m the one who has to fix the problems and bring the solutions, rallying the children, teachers, and the community to make this group effort sustainable, flourishing, beautiful. It’s a learning/teaching experience for us all.

The key is to never stop creating, never stop growing. To always keep the cycle of life flowing, we must spend every day caring because who else will?  It’s not a simple solution that can be fixed with one operation, one pill, one treatment of pesticide, with a jail sentence.

Our society needs to care. It’s just as simple as that. This is what we need to be teaching children. This is what children respond to.


Praising the life of the man who started it all

I haven’t written in a while because I have been dealing with a life changing event: the death of my uncle, two days before Christmas.

You ever meet people who are so out there and full of life? Well, he was one of those vibrant, high energy kind of people and to imagine someone like that passing is just surreal. You almost never think people like that die. I guess I don’t really think he’s passed. He was the kind of person who believed that we are more than just bodies and I have to believe he’s still thriving, free, at peace.

I knew he battled demons every day, but he was the man who started it all for me–the idea of healing through creation, eating healthy to prolong your life, and that meditation worked.

I admired my uncle throughout my youth because I saw him as a fighter. My uncle was an artist and an openly gay man, who was HIV positive for nearly twenty years. The HIV was not the cause of his death though. Growing up, I witnessed him juicing fruits and vegetables daily, growing wheatgrass in his backyard, cooking with miso, tofu, and vegetables at every meal. He meditated daily and was always giving. This is what I grew up with. This is how I know you can heal yourself alternatively. But I also know from his death, that it takes work to keep yourself alive.

As strong as my uncle was, he battled demons that took him out of his healthy state of mind and into drug abuse. I never understood how someone like him would turn to drugs. I know he battled with the demons. He even wanted to get better. All anyone in my family wanted was to have the old him back. His death still remains a mystery. They aren’t sure how it happened. Anyway, that person is gone now, but all I want to do is praise his memory. All I want to do is fight for my health and keep it going.

I feel very changed and moved by his passing. I can’t say that I am even the same person because all I want to do is things that matter. I am very positive but it takes a lot of work to battle demons that exist within all of us. I was watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and some preacher was saying that we can’t look at evil as existing out there, it is within us. I always thought this was such religious rhetoric when I heard people say that we are born evil, but we all have that capability. Really, it takes a lot to stay in the present moment. Being anywhere else, in the past, in the future, could be potentially evil, distracting. The only place that keeps us positive is our present moment.

This is something I have to do every day, seriously, every single day, or else demons can take over. My uncle was living proof of that.
And in his memory, I’m starting the Course in Miracles workbook that I’ll be writing about in the blog. I’ve wanted to do that for some time, why not now?

Kombucha family growth and 2nd brew

I don’t have kids yet (other than my five-year-old cat), but brewing Kombucha feels like being a mother because I have been keeping a sensitive life form alive and as a result, I have become very protective of my SCOBYs. I don’t think I’ve cared about many things more than I care about the health and well being of my SCOBYs. I just think creation is key to life, whether you are having children, painting pictures, writing computer code or brewing Kombucha. Creation changes everything and can really make you feel alive and full of purpose. Well, ever since the first Scoby grew, I’ve just become so proud and excited to have them in my life, growing safely.

Last night my mom tried the Kombucha and loved it. We went out to buy another glass jar and I brewed some more tea last night for my second batch. I’ve learned some things along the way after brewing the first batch.

One of the biggest thing I learned was patience. The instructions my SCOBY came with said to keep your jar in a dark, quiet place where it won’t be disturbed. That really helped because since it was in my closet, I didn’t get tempted to look at it all the time. I mean, I thought about it every day but I didn’t obsess over it. I always knew it was there and I made a very conscious effort not to touch it. Another thing that helped was setting ticking clock goals or things to look forward to so as not to only think of the Kombucha.

One of my ticking clock goals was learning the “Thriller” dance and keeping busy with my writing. I thought to myself, by the time I participate in “Thrill the World,” my Kombucha will be done. So I just practiced dancing and looked forward to my event but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, my Kombucha will be done on “Thrill Day” weekend. This time around for the second batch, I’m looking to be ready to drink around Thanksgiving time, so that’s my ticking clock.

Now for some more technical tips.  For the tasting element, my instructions said to use a glass straw to taste the Kombucha daily after day 7. I didn’t have a glass straw so I just dipped a wooden ladle into the jar and tasted a little bit of the brew that way. I would like to get a glass straw but I would need to order one online because I couldn’t find one in any store around here.

As for the tasting itself, I tasted my brew on day 10 and it was still too sweet so I didn’t even bother tasting it until day 14. Even by then, it wasn’t as tart as I would have liked so I left it alone until day 21 and I bottled it. After I bottled the brew, I let it sit for about six days before I tasted it. I thought it was decent but not nearly as carbonated so I only refrigerated two bottles. I left my remaining three bottles out for another two days and they were a little more carbonated. The suggestion is, to leave the bottles out for at least seven days before refrigerating and consuming, that way the carbonation will be stronger. My first brew tastes great but it’s really not as carbonated as I would have liked. The carbonation is what I really missed.

Lastly, in regard to the carbonation, I think I might not have gotten as much of a carbonated brew because when decanting and bottling, I ladled the brew into my bottles rather than pouring the whole thing into the bottles. The instructions said to remove the SCOBY and put it in a glass bowl with some of the kombucha liquid, but I didn’t do that because I was nervous about touching the SCOBY. Instead, I ladled the kombucha into the bottles. As a result, they didn’t have as much sediment to react with, which is why I think they weren’t as carbonated.

This time I’m going to follow the instructions to a T. 1) I’m going to use a glass straw to taste the Kombucha, given that I can find one within 2 weeks. 2) I’m going to bottle on day 21 at least and 3) refrigerate and consume after at least 7 days after bottling.

I want a carbonated brew. I want to show my mom that kombucha carbonation kicks the ass of diet soda any day and it’s so much healthier for you. She still likes buying diet soda and I just think….you haven’t tried a good Kombucha yet. Patience is key.

First Batch of Kombucha

SDC11713Over the past three weeks I’ve been brewing my own Kombucha. I tried to grow my own SCOBY from a GT’s bottle of original Kombucha about a month ago, but it didn’t work. I told myself that I would try to brew it that way and if it didn’t work then I would buy a SCOBY. So I bought this medium sized SCOBY  on Amazon for around $10. It came in a little package with some starter liquid and detailed directions. I was so grateful to have directions because it really helped to ease my mind and keep me focused so I didn’t feel so out in the dark. One thing the directions said was that once you have the mixture in the jar, you have to put it in a dark place where it won’t be disturbed. I heard different things about where you are to put your Kombucha while it was cultivating, but these directions that I essentially paid to get, said to put it in the dark, undisturbed.

So that’s what I did and it had just been sitting in my closet for three weeks until a few days ago, when I removed the cloth and rubber band to have a taste of it. To my surprise I found a freshly grown SCOBY at the top. It was beautiful, thick, and white. I was so happy, like a proud mother. It was so strong and clean, just the way I’d seen so many successful SCOBY offspring look in pictures and in video.

I think its an awesome thing to make your own Kombucha because it’s expensive per bottle. I used to think it was worth the price because of the health benefits and it is, but isn’t it so much more gratifying to make something all on your own? It feels good to create something from nothing essentially and keep it alive, like a baby.

There’s just something about making Kombucha that fills me with life and wonder. I think it’s amazing that a new baby SCOBY grows every time you brew a new batch of Kombucha. That’s beautiful. You feed the Kombucha to keep it alive and it keeps you alive.

So I bottled my first batch of Kombucha last night. My instructions say to let the Kombucha go through a second fermentation process which involves leaving the bottled Kombucha out at room temperature for 5-7 days before refrigerating and consuming. It is said during this time that the sharp acidity mellows and the liquid becomes naturally carbonated. Can’t wait. We’ll see how the first brew tastes in a few days.


Releasing the Need

Earlier this year I met Louise Hay in the form of books and audio recordings. She has quickly become the most influential spiritual guide in my life. She’s not too ethereal and mystic or preachy and badgering. She’s just straightforward and funny without trying. My kind of lady. Anyway, this past weekend I was thinking about old habits because I was in situations where some old habits didn’t resurface but deep, guttural ones did.

Louise Hay talks about “Releasing the Need,” which refers to how we hang onto certain ideas, beliefs, behavior patterns, disease, weight, all because we have a need for them. I found that to be completely fascinating. How could I need to be fat? Or need to be pissed all the time? Or need to be sick with cold and infection?

I don’t buy books anymore because I like to travel light. I don’t plan on buying books until I’m completely settled but I did buy Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body
It’s a small little book that has all these ailments, the causes of them and affirmations to overcome them. Last week I started to get post nasal drip symptoms, which I  used to get a lot a few years ago. I used to think it was because I worked a job I didn’t like. In all actuality, I liked my job, I just didn’t like the company I worked for, so I quit.  I thought I would never get post nasal drip again, but last week I had it full on.

Immediately I pulled out the Louise Hay book, and looked up post nasal drip. It said: Inner crying, childish tears, victim. The affirmations were: I acknowledge and accept that I am the creative power in my world. I now choose to enjoy my life.

Powerful stuff, right?

When I read the affirmation to combat Post nasal drip, I immediately felt something within me that said, yes, this is you, this is what you need to release. Affirmations are such powerful things. You say them and read them so much that they become part of your thinking and then the physical changes happen. Just seeing this affirmation felt awkward to me because I guess choosing to enjoy my life or be the creative power in my world just wasn’t something I was used to thinking.

On a more positive note, my intention with writing this entry was to say that I have released the need to eat bad food since my boyfriend did end up visiting me this weekend but I found I couldn’t pig out with him like I used to because I just didn’t want to and my stomach couldn’t handle it. Having sugary boba drinks and rice pudding just didn’t sound appealing to me anymore. Releasing the need for one thing allowed me to go deeper to release other things that have been brewing up in me. I guess that’s why I like Louise Hay so much because she’s someone who has been through many hardships and has overcame them and is healthy enough to share what has worked for her so that it can work for others.

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 5

It’s the halfway point and things are good for the most part, but last night I started to get really hungry and I started to think of freshman year in high school when I kinda starved myself for around a month. You know, little girls (and many boys) growing up in America, and even more so in Los Angeles, are heavily influenced by warped depictions of women (and men) in the media, so I think a lot of us go through stuff like this at least once in their lives.

I wasn’t alone in my starvation either. My friend Lena joined me on the quest. We both had attended private intermediate schools and were all of the sudden thrown into a public school setting where we didn’t feel like we fit in, but we had each other. We were two naïve little fourteen year olds that didn’t know any better.

She was nearly six feet and gorgeous, Armenian, and totally normal in body weight. I was pretty normal too and only about 5’4″ but I had been told I was chubby a great deal of my life because I came from a narcissistic and vain family. I don’t remember whose idea it was to stop eating, but we started doing it and loved it for a while because we were losing weight. I would basically just eat a little bit of fruit and maybe white rice here and there. I didn’t know jack about health. All I knew was that whatever I was doing was working and I was losing weight. And then one day Lena told me that her parents got so upset with her for starving herself that they made her sit down and eat steak and she nearly threw up. It was then that I realized that maybe what I was doing was wrong. My family wasn’t going to tell me what I was doing was wrong because they were weight obsessed and anything that worked was fair game. After that, Lena stopped starving herself and so did I. Eventually my weight stabilized and I accepted myself for who I was, somehow. I thank Lena and her family for reminding me that starvation is stupid.

I think the lemonade cleanse can be viewed as a deprivation diet because you aren’t eating, but you aren’t essentially starving yourself unless you don’t drink enough lemonade. And that’s what happened to me last night. After some reflection, I realized I only drank about six glasses throughout the day when you can have up to twelve. I’ve gotten to this point where I’m not really into the lemonade as much. It’s really tasty but I find myself not even feeling like drinking it but I have to remind myself that it’s the way I get the nutrients and if I don’t drink enough, I’ll get hungry like last night.

So I made myself go to bed early and I slept in today since it’s my day off. After having enough lemonade today, I feel way better. My energy has restored and I rejoice in knowing I only have five more days to go. That’s really not that long. I feel strong and I know I am doing something to benefit my insides.

I don’t view the lemonade cleanse as a means to losing weight because it’s not recommended to drink only lemonade forever. For me there’s there’s a whole lot more to it and it’s mostly about cleansing.

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 4

This morning I took the saltwater flush like a champ. I had to wake up earlier than normal for work, which meant having to wake up even earlier to flush. My mentality has made this entire cleanse easier this time around. I just look at it like it just has to be done. There’s no way around it and no use in complaining.

And seeing stuff still come out of me after eating no solid food makes me feel like this whole thing is so worth it. You gotta wonder, what is all that stuff coming out? Crap that’s been lodged inside my body. I don’t want it in there.
I want it out and that’s what’s happening so it is reassuring.
It’s all about better health and the way I look at it is that this cleanse is really not for that long. Stanley Burroughs suggests doing a minimum of ten days, but it is safe to do forty. I probably wouldn’t do forty days or even more than ten because I just don’t want to. Stanley Burroughs also mentions in his book that it is recommended to do a 10-day cleanse four times a year for optimal health rather than doing a month long or 60-day cleanse, which would really shock the hell out of the body.

I also read about how you can judge the appropriate duration one should cleanse for and it depends on the tongue.
During detoxification, the tongue becomes fuzzy and coated. When it’s a healthy, clean pink color, the coast is clear. This usually occurs around the tenth day, but if it doesn’t, you can continue the diet a few more days.

Last time I did the cleanse, my tongue was still a bit fuzzy and coated on the tenth day and I thought to myself that I should continue the cleanse but I didn’t. My boyfriend couldn’t wait for me to eat again so we could go to our favorite restaurants. And I kept thinking…yea, I’m going to be clogging my intestines up again. So looking forward to doing that.

This time around, I want it to be different and I have a few more days to think about how it will be.

And to fix my chapped lips, I’m drinking extra water and lathering up my lips with plenty of lip balm. I guess I hadn’t been thinking to drink extra water since I basically drink lemonade all day and use the restroom so much, but the water is important especially since I’m still exercising and losing water via sweat and from flushing.

Anyway, one more day down. About six more to go.

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 2

I thought my post from yesterday went through but I guess it didn’t. Hrmm..which is why I posted it today and will now have two posts for the same day, but my actual cleanse started yesterday.

Man, this time around is tough, or at least it was up until about an hour ago. I was hungry and real lethargic yesterday and today, but once I got home, I made myself take a nap. After I woke up, I did an Insanity workout. Crazy, right? I thought I was going to be too tired to do it but I surprisingly wasn’t. I feel like a million bucks right now. I know it’s cheesy to say that and I can’t believe I said that, but I do feel so much better than I did before. I think I was just tired since I’ve been rising hours before my normal time to do the saltwater flush so I don’t crap myself at work.

I can feel my stomach lighter already. I’m taking it a little easier with my workouts, not doubling up on yoga and cardio on the same day because that just seems nutso.

This cleanse is definitely worth it. My endorphins are shooting through the roof right now as I write this. I think exercise definitely helps because you feel better and it takes your mind off eating. I was really hungry yesterday and today. After I worked out, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I just drank a grip of water and had some lemonade. I read something interesting in an article I found on the Scottsdale Public library website, “MASTERING the master cleanse” by Tina Rubin from Better Nutrition, Sep 01, 2010; Vol. 72, No. 9, p. 22-25.

Tina Rubin mentions that the Master cleanse is worth it because it hits the body’s reset button by resetting our insulin receptor site and clearing all saturated fat on the cellular level. Having the receptor sites open takes the level of insulin resistance — a key factor in weight gain — down. And the cleanse promotes absolute detoxification on the cellular level.

And it’s not only about weight loss. Yea, weight loss is awesome there are just so many other benefits. This is from the article by Tina Rubin: “The Master Cleanse is a catalyst for healing mucus diseases, from asthma and hay fever to sinus and bronchial problems. Diseases that accompany calcium deposits in joints, muscles, cells, and glands, as well as cholesterol in the veins and arteries, are dissolved and flushed away. Skin disorders disappear. As toxins are eliminated, every type of infection goes with them — and so do cravings for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. The cleanse brings down blood pressure, reduces the risk of coronary artery disease, and can even improve mental illness.

Another thing I read in the article is that one can think of the lemonade as an intravenous drip and sip it — “not gulp it” — every 15 minutes throughout the day to stabilize the blood glucose level.

Ha. I gulp that stuff in the morning after the saltwater flush because I get so dehydrated after drinking freaking saltwater. It just sucks all the juice out of me and I feel like I have the flu for about an hour, but then I get over it and I’m good for the rest of the day.

So I learned three new things so far: get enough sleep, exercise to boost your endorphins so you don’t think about food, and sip the lemonade drink all day. I love learning new things.
Now I’m going to make sure I hit Publish so it goes through!

The Lemonade Cleanse Day 1

Today has been decent but I find myself being tired, probably because I didn’t sleep much due to the fact that I woke up really early so I could flush myself out completely before work.

On day 1, the first thing you do in the morning is flush yourself out with the saltwater solution, which consists of 1 tbs sea salt to 1 quart of warm water. You drink that and within an hour you get the intense sensation of needing to use the restroom. Honestly, one of the most exciting things about the cleanse is feeling and watching crap come out of you. There will be a lot and you’ll feel gross at first because you’ll essentially be peeing out of your butt, but you will get used to it. It only lasts about an hour so make sure you wake up early enough to let it all come out if you have to go to work or have errands to run. It won’t smell after the first few days either so you can let loose anywhere and not be afraid that people will think it’s anything other than pee.

I know I’m being graphic but if you are really interested in the lemonade cleanse and what it consists of, this is what happens. Cleansing isn’t always pleasant. This cleanse is so spiritual in that it reminds you that cleansing is about cleaning the junk in your body that needs to come out and the salt water flush is a great alternative to getting a colonoscopy because you are basically doing the same thing, and you don’t need to be sedated, squirt water up your ass, or pay a large fee to get the same effect.

Oh, and my little saltwater mind trick worked. I thought about being in the ocean and it made the saltwater solution more pleasant to get down.

Last night when I was getting ready for the cleanse I was doing some reading about the cleanse. It’s useful to share information about the lemonade solution itself that its function as well as nutritional properties.

The ingredients in the lemonade form a complete balance of nutrients that work together. The lemon juice begins to break down layers of waste in the colon. The maple syrup contains not only the sugar needed for energy but also a wide variety of minerals — sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorus, sulfur, and silicon — and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and pantothenic acid (B5). Cayenne pepper breaks down mucus, contains B and C vitamins, and dilates the blood vessels, which warms the body.

As for the other elements, the laxative tea each night prompts the intestines to contract, causing elimination. The quart of salt water first thing in the morning flushes out the waste that’s been loosened during the night. Finally, the chlorophyll in that occasional cup of mint tea neutralizes body odors released during the cleansing process.

I’m going to sleep early tonight because I have to go to work even earlier tomorrow so I have to get up at least an hour earlier than normal.

Master Cleanse a.k.a. Lemonade Cleanse Preparation

It is Lemonade Cleanse eve for me tonight as I just finished a cup of laxative tea in preparation for the storm tomorrow. The night before you start the lemonade cleanse, you drink an herbal laxative tea and as I drank my tea, I had some thoughts.

I have sort of been dreading this day but also looking forward to it for many reasons, which will become clearer to me as I embark on my second stab at this long overdue cleanse. The Master Cleanse is one of the most spiritual things I’ve ever done because it helps you get really clean in the body and as a result, other parts of your being involuntarily become clean.

If it hadn’t been for my Bikram Yoga community in Los Angeles, I wouldn’t know about the Master Cleanse, the benefits, and that there are other people who do this and don’t die. The reason I am doing a documentary is because when I first did the Lemonade Cleanse back in February, I was searching for anything I could get my hands on that would give me support, guidance, and advice about the cleanse and there wasn’t much other than a few articles and the Stanley Burroughs little pamphlet book, “The Master Cleanse with special needs and problems.” The book serves as the guide for the cleanse but it’s such a small book that I found myself reading it over and over again every day during the cleanse to make sure I was doing it right but I think what I was really looking for was something to read, a testimony of what it would be like. So this is my testimony of what this cleanse is, why I do it, and how it feels every single day for nearly 10 days. I might go a little longer depending on how I feel.

So these are just some of the thoughts I am having tonight but in all, I am looking forward to cleaning myself out again. It’s a great way to reset the body and just in time for my birthday at the end of the month.

I don’t have enough lemons at this time, but I’ll go shopping for them first thing tomorrow after I do my first dreaded salt water flush. Ahhhh. I got chills just thinking of it. I gotta look at it differently. Maybe I can pretend I am surfing back in California and I swallowed too much saltwater while getting wiped out in the ocean. I don’t mind getting wiped out at all because I love the ocean and surfing, so it’s definitely better to associate the saltwater solution with these elements rather than just drinking hot saltwater alone. I’ll give that a try tomorrow.