Day One Of My Four Day Detox

Day one was all about easing into it which was nice. I got up early and journaled some feelings, didn’t some homework then went to the kitchen for my 8 ounce glass of water and to make breakfast. I also read the 4-Day Detox Plan I printed while I prepared my food so that I could see the focus for the day and read the material provided for the first day.

This included making sure to:

-Eat in a quiet environment. I was able to do that as I was up earlier than everyone else in the house and I ate alone at the table. I was instructed to leave the TV off.

-Find one thing to give away. It was a great coincidence that I had planned to go to the thrift store that day with Mando to donate some clothes. I accomplished this and it felt great.

-Try dry brushing. I began dry brushing and I just love the way it makes my skin look and feel. I didn’t realize how dry it was and just how much I needed it. I was beginning to get little pimples on my chest and this is helping. Ideally you want to do it for 6-8 minutes before showering in a circular motion toward your heart. Do this gently for a internal massage and to stimulate digestion. It also helps with circulation.

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Breakfast-Apples, blueberries, blackberries that I picked, spirulina, ground flaxseed, lemon juice

While preparing my food, I realized that I didn’t make enough food after I used all of my apples for that first breakfast. But I didn’t panic, luckily I’m not working right now and hiccups like this don’t affect me as they would’ve while at work. I’m really grateful for that. Not many people have the time, place and support to focus on their health as I do in this moment in time. It must be noted because I’m extremely blessed.

After I prepared my breakfast, because I like my apples cut fresh, and my lunch so that I could eat right away when I got home, Mando and I went to two grocery stores to get more food. We first went to Ray’s, a chain grocer out here with a decent organic section, and Grocery Outlet. I highly recommend going to one if you have one in your are because they have great products at great deals.

But I don’t recommend shopping during the detox. There’s just so much stuff that you can’t have, it’s too tempting and the images stay with you. Having said that, I tried my best to avoid even looking at products I couldn’t have and just bee-lining to the things I could. I’ve found that now more than ever, surrounding myself with the things that I can enjoy that are good for me are vital to keeping me on track, health and happy.

For instance, I’ve come to really like tea. At, fist I’m not even sure that I liked it. But after all the research I did on the link between caffeine, specifically coffee and ovarian cysts, I needed to find something else to get into. You can stop a bad habit without replacing it with something. We all need joys in our lives and I know how important coffee is for many of you like it used to be for me. A way to treat myself. To wake up. I deserved it. But more on ending my relationship with coffee in a later post.

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Lunch-Wild Salmon, brown rice tossed with flaxseed, ‘liver cleansing melody’ see recipe below. Also, a little sautéed purple cabbage

The reason having enough food and having the things you like that are good for you, is so important is so that you literally don’t have it there to eat. Except when your partner gets one of your favorite snacks, kale chips, and proceeds to eat them in the car outside of the sort, parked with no intention of moving and the smell of them has filled the car. This time though, it wasn’t about being prepared. There were apples in the car if I wanted them. But it wasn’t the apples I wanted. By the time we got back to the Navarro house, my hunger had subsided. I reminded myself of what the meal plan had said about asking yourself if you were really hungry or was it something deeper?

In this case, I knew that I wasn’t really hungry, just wanting the food because it smelled good. This has been a good lesson about what I wasn’t to surround myself with during the cleanse and to sustain me for life. Let’s just say I’ve learned that I shouldn’t spend the rest of my life going to carnivals without eating first lest I dive into the candy corn and god knows what else. Or continue going to bars when I don’t drink anymore so why do it?

Day one meal plan
Here’s a peak at my eating plan for the detox on day one. I like to mark things as I eat them so that I don’t forget what to eat when.

Breakfast-Something cleansing for the liver is great in the morning as it has worked all night to detox and could use the boost with cleansing.

Apples-Fiji and Granny Smith, Blueberries, Lemon juice, 1tbl. ground flaxseed, blackberries

Snack-Usually this is the hardest part for me because I like to snack HARD. Sometimes, I just snack all day instead of eating meals. But this can lead to low blood sugar and my MD pointed out that during my fasting glucose test, I dropped a bit low so I’m working on keeping it balanced.

Grapes, tea (Numi caffeine-free Turmeric Root), water

Lunch-this should typically big the biggest meal of the day, even if you have seconds, because digestion is best at this time and it keeps you from eating more during the other two meals.

Wild salmon seasoned with turmeric, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Liver cleansing melody-massaged kale, red onion, av oil, a little himalayan sea salt and apple cider vinegar

Dinner-I could choose between Quick Veggies Soup of Mung Bean or Lentil soup. I had lentils so lentil soup it was. It came out so delicious and was easy to make so I’ll share it below. It did cross my mind that I would love a chunky piece of sourdough to go with it but when I felt that hunger between bowls I remembered to fill that craving with something else, a second bowl of soup.

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Vegan Lentil Minestrone as taken from the 4-Day Detox Plan by Flo Living 

Recipe for Minestron Soup

Lentils, cooked separately and added at the end, I used green and cooked them in my rice cooker, 1 part lentils to 2 parts water

1 quart water or vegetable broth I used Pacific Organic Vegetable broth it’s seriously the best, just veggies and water

Carrots

2 Zucchini & squash, I only had zuc

Frozen green beans I used fresh

1 can crushed tomatoes make sure the can is BPA-free

pink himalayan sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

onion

garlic

 

Sauté onion, garlic, salt and pepper in large pot with avocado oil for a few minutes. Then add the sliced carrots for a few more minutes.

Add water or broth and cook until carrots are softened a little.

Add zuc and squash if you have it, crushed tomatoes & string beans.

Add lentils when finished.

****Tell me, are you on the Flo Living detox too? Have you ever considered doing one to help symptoms you’re having? Check out more here and take a quiz to find out your v-sign.

4 Day Detox Preparation

In order to prepare for the 4 day detox as discussed in the book Woman Code I have prepared some, but not all, of the foods listed.

Why am I doing this? Well, the first time that I read Woman Code it was before I knew what was wrong with me. Before I was diagnosed with cysts. I liked the plan but I wasn’t following it as closely as I could have. Now that I have something specifically that I want to cure I am dedicated to the plan in these ways;

  • Doing the 4 Day Detox as mentioned in the book and online
  • Cycle synching with food as well as exercise, social life, lifestyle and career. Doing these requires following advice given for each cycle a woman goes through follicular phase, ovulatory phase, lutel phase and menstrual phase.

The purpose of doing the 4 day detox is to regulate blood sugar and flush out toxins specifically in my case, excess estrogen via the liver. Following woman code protocol, AKA cycle synching should also help do this as well as balance my hormones and has been proven to reduce the size and existence of cysts for women who follow the protocol.

 

What I Got and Prepared…

  • Kale-salad called the ‘liver cleansing melody’ in the program.
  • Also, sautéed kale with onions, garlic and himalayan sea salt in avocado oil
  • Cabbage green and sautéed with onions, garlic, himalayan sea salt in avocado oil (cruciferous veggies, both kale and cabbage, are known to get rid of cysts)
  • Wild Salmon-garlic powder, turmeric, himalayan salt, cayenne pepper
  • Canned Beans-navy, cannellini beans- protein especially important for me because I eat mostly vegetarian. I try to make sure to get BPA-free cans because this can affect hormones and health as well. More on that in a later post.
  • Ground flaxseed-the fiber helps move estrogen out of the liver
  • Apples & pears– the fruits (especially pears) are excellent for getting rid of cysts because of the fiber that flushes out excess estrogen
  • Blackberries-great for women’s health
  • Lemons-great for detoxing the liver
  • Avocado-great for any female issues whether it be fertility, cysts, etc.
  • Brown rice-this one wasn’t really exciting for me because I don’t love brown rice but I soaked some and got out my little rice cooker and I’m glad I did. It adds bulk to my meal and keeps me full. Rice is great for its fiber which helps flush out extra estrogen
  • Radish & radish leaves sautéed-radish leaves are incredibly detoxifying for the liver, even more so than cilantro
  • Garlic-for flavor, duh and immune benefits
  • Onion-red, yellow and green
  • Oatmeal-GF-not a huge fan but it’s listed and I need something warm for these cold northern California mornings
  • Quinoa-great source of protein and fiber

Beyond food…

  • Dry brushing-using a dry brush to brush my skin in a circular motion for about 15 minutes before showering. This helps with the detoxification process
  • Journaling-I like doing this regularly but more importantly during a detox as it may bring up some emotions for me
  • Feeling feelings and releasing them-Allow myself to feel upset, in pain or moody and working on not letting it upset the rest of my day
  • Healing my relationships-for me this means having tough conversations, having to face some negative things I’ve done and attending couples counseling. When I feel like I can’t work on a relationship immediately, I write a letter to that person to help get things off my chest until I can address the issue with that particular person
  • Addressing my relationship with alcohol-because the liver has the important job of flushing estrogen out of the body which can be the cause of many female ailments, drinking any form of alcohol interrupts that process and keeps you from getting better. I’ve gone from having a few alcoholic drinks per day to almost zero. When I was first told I had cysts, I didn’t know about the relation between the two so I didn’t think twice and kept drinking. Sometimes it even numbed my pain which I found helpful. But pain is always trying to tell you something and I’ve stopped drinking altogether now. But more on that in another post…
  • Other forms of self care such as baths, face masks, acupuncture or massages (just a few of my favorites but everyone has something that they like but these also help your body process the detox by riding of toxins

If you feel inclined to join me check out floliving.com for more info or get the book Woman Code. I first checked it out at the library then purchased it because I found so much rich information in it.

Anyone out there suffering from ovarian cysts and have holistic remedies that they’re using? Other advice and thoughts are welcome as well 🙂 

Sources:

Woman Code and the site Floliving.com

Medical Medium, by Anthony William the book and the also, also, Life-Changing Foods 

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christianne Northrup

Mother Daughter Wisdom by Dr. Christianne Northrup

Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal

 

 

Adapting To A Diagnosis

Over the last month I’ve been picked and prodded at during various doctors appointments. I’ve had my kidney and liver function checked, bladder and thyroid function. I’ve had a fasting blood glucose test, a regular ultra sound and a vaginal ultra sound before I finally got an answer.

When the gynecologist walked into the office she immediately handed me a brochure for ovarian cysts. An ovarian cyst is a solid or fluid filled sac that is on that ovary. They are actually pretty common in women and only cause concern when they grow or create a significant amount of pain.

“So, I have a cyst?” I asked a little shocked.

“Yes, you have two,” she said pulling out a sheet with the size and location of each cyst. She explained the cyst on the right ovary as being a larger, functional cyst and most likely benign. The other, a smaller cyst on my left ovary, could possibly be a dermoid cyst which may need to be removed, possibly taking my ovary along with it.

The next step for me is to get an MRI to see exactly what kind of cyst it is in order to make a plan of action. I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself in case I don’t need my ovary removed but I was a little scared after hearing this. When I asked about alternatives to surgery like lifestyle changes she said that surgery would be her recommended option and reassured me that living life with one ovary would be fine. Also, I could opt for a more invasive surgery and on the up side, keep my ovary. She didn’t have any recommendations for lifestyle changes and told me to speak with an acupuncturist.

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Berry stuffed into a kite hill yogurt container. I’m trying to find more ways to get berries into my diet. 

It was the quickest doctor appointment that I’ve had yet and certainly the heaviest. When I left the office I sat in my car stunned. I was seconds away from either bursting into tears or running to the store to buy all the fruit that I could to remedy my situation. I decided to call Mando and let him know. I was calm as I told him the first details but then broke down when I mentioned the possibility of surgery. He didn’t really understand all the lingo at first but was very positive from the start. He reminded me of my own knowledge I had on the subject and that just because conventional medicine didn’t offer it, there were other solutions.

I was a little surprised at how upset I was at the news. I mean, I ‘d been studying and reading about this stuff for the past few years and figured I was ahead of the game in this department-that if I ever had a client as a health coach who had cysts, I would know to stay positive for them and feel that it was a natural thing to do. I also naively thought that I could cure nearly anything through holistic health. Maybe that’s why the whole thing stunned me so much. I’m healthy! I thought. Why, then, had this happened to me? How was it possible that I ended up with this condition?

I left the hospital parking lot and headed for the grocery store not really wanting to go anywhere else. I didn’t have my Mom to call and cry to about this but when I thought about it further I realized that I was glad. I wouldn’t want to worry her with yet another thing. I knew what she would say and in a way, can feel her strength more now. I’ve realized she feels closer to me in moments like this.

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I bought myself these flowers at Berryvale Grocery to feel better and more positive about my cyst diagnosis. 

I thought of all of this as I speedily searched the small aisles of Berryvale Grocery in Mt. Shasta for…I don’t know what. Berries, maybe, the only thing I could remember off the top of my head Medical Medium recommending for cysts. But I paused-I didn’t want to come home with, especially since it’s not my home, bundles full of berries. I wanted to think first and make a good plan.

But when I got home and searched for the foods that helped with ovarian cysts, I regretted not getting the berries and cherries that I had wanted to at the store and made plans in my mind to go back. Once home I jumped online to google terms, phrases and my favorite female doctor Christianne Northrup’s recommendations for ovarian cysts, immediately closing my WordPress tab with a long un-posted blog thinking it wasn’t as important.

It was no coincidence that I had taken a break from reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and that my bookmark was wedged in between pages with the topic marked Ovarian Cysts. The irony didn’t go unnoticed especially as I did more research on the emotional reasons that women develop cysts.

What I found was that cysts represent blocks in creativity and the lack thereof. I thought back to clicking out of my blog tab, to all of the un-posted blogs I’m sitting on. To the book that I’ve written that sits unedited. To all of my stuck creativity. The creativity that now wasn’t just stuck between my ears but onto each one of my ovaries.

I also checked online for Dr. Northrup’s recommendations on healing cysts and came across a video that I found inspiring and helpful along with the comments left by women who suffer from cysts and Dr. Northrup’s responses to those comments. If anyone reading has ovarian cysts, fibroids, trouble with infertility or any other female issues under the sun, I highly recommend her books, listed below.

Depending on what you read and who you talk to, the causes of cysts can range widely. Below are reasons given to me by doctors and found in the research I’ve done and what I’ve learned from school.

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal imbalances (specifically too much estrogen)
  • Diet, Lifestyle
  • Toxins from cosmetics, household cleaners, plastics, pesticides
  • Emotional reasons-carrying on something from my maternal lineage (more on this later), stuck creatively in life

These are the symptoms I had that led to my diagnosis-

  • aching in ovaries and hips, especially on left side
  • heavy, painful periods
  • frequent urination
  • back pain
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • mood swings

My ‘Do’s’-

  1. Get the MRI-I will go from there and remain positive until then 🙂
  2. Eat foods that can help- Blackberries, strawberries, figs, raspberries, blueberries, wild blueberries (if I can get my hands of them again), cherries, asparagus & avocado. All of these recommendations come from Medical Medium specifically for ovarian cysts and or ovarian cancer. Many are also good for general vaginal health. The following recommendations come from Woman Code and this article by Alisa Vitti, the author of Woman Code cruciferous vegetables; brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, collards. broccoli & cauliflower to balance out estrogen because the overabundance of estrogen may be the cause of cysts. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles are also known to help with cysts. Fiber-filled foods such as pears and flax seeds are also listed in the above article.
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It hasn’t been easy to stick to a particular way of eating especially while eating out. We were out bowling and I just wanted deep fried anything bad but decided to hold out. We went to the HiLo in Weed after and there is a salad bar so I made it work. Mando had a slice of pie and had a stomach ache afterward. I felt great after eating! 😉
  1. Supplement with Red Root-More on the benefits of red root against ovarian cysts can be found here.
  2. Be creative-I would have to agree when I read about stagnant creativity, I understood what it meant. The truth is, I have been really stuck. and other creative endeavors I’ve been too scared or lazy to unveil or really sink my teeth into. But not just writing I want to paint and find other ways to tap into my creative spirit.
  3. Relax-Not so much physically as mentally. I would to implement more self care in order to stay calm and positive about my health.
  4. Affirmations-There are a few that are specific to women’s health issues such as cysts and other female issues. One I love and I have used before is, “I love being a woman. I love my body and I enjoy being female.” Another is, “I dissolve old angers,” and “I am balanced in my creative flow.” A powerful one that resonates with me is, “The movies of my mind are beautiful because i choose to make them so. I love me.” These are can all be found in the book You Can Heal Your Life by the late Louise Hay.
  5. Use my resources such as…the new hormone health class I’m taking through IIN the timing couldn’t be better! I can also use my curriculum and referrals and recommendations from my previous health course with IIN. I will also absolutely continue to speak with my Dr. about her recommendations and not take conventional medicine for granted. Even if I don’t agree, it’s important to look into options on both sides. Follow the Woman Code protocol which can be found online here as well as the book which is what I’m using. I also downloaded the ‘Flo’ application on my phone for $1.99. This will help me track my menstruation, list symptoms and get recommendations.
  6. Acupuncture-It can alleviate symptoms of cysts such as throbbing and aching. It’s also been proven to make them smaller in some women. I will also take my acupuncturists recommendations.
  7. Possibly see a functional medicine doctor. This type of doctor may better be able to get to the issues of my cysts as well as any other health concerns. They have the time to be more thorough and use techniques and treatments that are of Eastern medicine which is preferable for me as I prefer natural remedies.
  8. Use Medicinal Marijuana-Although I prefer not to get a prescription for medications from my gyno for cramps, pot helps with cramping pain and now the pain that my cysts cause. Indica helps with the pain but I would only recommend this in a combination with other recommendations listed above and not solely rely on this for easing pain as it can’t do that alone. I want to also get to the root cause of my cysts and not just cover up the pain.

My ‘Don’ts’

1.Caffeine-I wasn’t surprised to find out that caffeine isn’t good for cysts because any time I have too much, I’m achy. Mostly in the form of coffee but I’m going to lessen my intake of caffeine in all forms in hopes to help with my pain. This won’t be easy. I’ve enjoyed coffee on and off, sometimes on it hard like five cups a day and sometimes off like haven’t had a cup in months. I’m not sure it’s knowing that I can’t have it that makes it worse or not. All I know is that I need to listen to my body regardless of what my brain wants. I’ll be busy making drink concoctions that are good for me and don’t leave me feeling like I can’t participate in all the beverage fun so stay tuned! 🙂

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I brought my own caffeine-free tea to sushi date night. The staff were really nice about bringing me refills of hot water 🙂

2. Alcohol -Unfortunately, another one added to the list of bummers courtesy of my cysts. Alcohol, in any form, exacerbates the symptoms of cysts. This won’t be easy for me because I love to go beer tasting and have recently gotten more into kombucha as well which has naturally occurring alcohol. I’m choosing to consume less alcohol because I’ve physically noticed that my cysts ache more when I drink.

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Fresh water Mando got for us from the headwaters at Mt. Shasta City Park. Check out the fancy lid 😉 Drinking a lot of water, especially with lemon, helps ease cramping. 

3. Worry-It’s usually my favorite thing to do, not really I just do it too often. I’m going to try a combination of things to help myself worry less and still enjoy life. My therapist helps as well as continuing as much as possible with my favorite activities; hiking, traveling, trying new places for food, searching thrift for good music tapes and clothes, watching old movies, dates with Mando, catching up with friends, writing, painting again, cooking and planning meals, playing with dogs that aren’t mind but I’m lucky to have in my life and more I’m excited to explore.

It hasn’t be an easy road to easing the symptoms of my cysts but I truly believe that I can get rid of them with a combination of eastern and western medicine.

Mando said something since this all began a week ago that has stuck with me and helped motivate me to stay positive. What he said was that it couldn’t have happened to a better person because of my strength and all of my resources. He was positive that I would be able to remain positive as well and decide what would be right for me.

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I stopped my car and got out to watch the sun go down over the hill. It was beautiful and uplifting. 

One last thing…..All of you women out there- our menstrual health tells us everything else we need to know about our health and bodies! If you have any symptoms like the ones I’ve shared, go to the doctor and get checked out. Don’t ignore your pain like I did! 

If any of you have ovarian cysts and want to share your experience or have recommendations to share please do!!! I don’t know it all when it comes to ovarian cysts and different things work for different women and I love to learn 🙂

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Adapting To Minimalism

Really this story goes way back, back to my early teens when frustrated with my situation, I went to my Mom for a solution to my messy room. Back then I’d never heard of anything like minimalism, the idea of living with less, but certainly heard more on the subject of organizing your junk. So that’s what my Mom and I tried to do. It was a start in the right direction but without truly understanding the concept behind why we had some much stuff, we were doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Looking back I recall watching my Mom spend a lifetime rearranging, organizing, downsizing but never really truly minimizing. The desire was there and I’m so glad it was because it lead me to be able to accomplish what I never thought I would have the strength to do-minimize my Mom’s belongings without her.

Flash-forward a few years from the first time my Mom and I embarked on organizing and I’m back to being a complete mess in my room and have also began to hoard things, movie ticket stubs, old mail, old toys, stained clothes or clothes that didn’t fit just in case it did again some day. I’d cry if my Mom threatened to give something away. If I saw anything from childhood in the garage I’d find a way to sneak it back into the house. Eventually, my Mom wouldn’t even let me go in there for fear I’d stuff the whole house with the past.

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I put together two zip-lock bags for my Sister and I to separate photos and momentos between the both of us. This prior organization helped me to quickly find a place for things as opposed to putting them back where they were or not having a place for them.

Oddly enough, just this year, a couple of months before my Mom died, knowing that I would be moving out of San Francisco and also fresh from watching Minimalism the documentary, I decided to get ride of some stuff.

When it comes to action for me, I tend to do things to the extreme so after a glass of wine and fueled by an intense desire to start fresh, I purged. I even went as far as to, unknowingly, through out my college diploma. I also, knowingly, throughout a cardboard frame for my college photo that my Mom and other people at my graduation party had signed. It was difficult to do but I kept asking myself, Do I really need this? Where will I put it while I’m gone? Will I put it up someday in my home? It was a tough decision but I knew if I waffled like this on every tiny thing, I wouldn’t really be accomplishing much. And I didn’t need that cardboard signature of my Mom’s when I had her just across the bay.

Today, and a few days after throwing out that signed frame I have felt regretful. But when I stop to think about it, I realize that I’m just sad to lose my Mom. It made me think back to my attachment to things like movie ticket stubs and tickets from baseball games. Was it really the faded and bent cardboard paper that I wanted and needed to keep close to my heart and pinned and covered in dust on a cork board above my desk? Or was it the people I went to those movies and games with? Was it the experience I waned to hold? Of course the answer was yes, that was easy.

The harder part was deciding how to hold those memories without holding things as place markers for those memories. What can we do and why is it easier to hold on to a thing as a reminder instead of saying to the person you experienced it with, “I love you! I had a wonderful time. I’ll never forget it. Please, let’s do it again. ”

In the book The More of Less, the author discusses a few different items that people tend to have a lot of. My Mom and I are no different in this department. Although, it may have been easier for me to give away things of hers as I don’t have as much of a sentimental attachment. Or is it? I may now have a sentimental attachment to meaningless things of hers because she’s gone and I want to have something of hers to remember her by. But sitting on her bedroom floor surrounded by her things I realize that the memories are so much better.

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A letter to Santa from my Sister and I. When I came across things like this that I wanted to remember but not keep, I made sure to take a photo of it before letting it go.

Here are some of the items listed people seem to have a lot of:

  • Papers-And boy does my Mom have them. I can’t talk, I do too. I threw out a stretched out envelope full of receipts from who knows when for purchasing I don’t know what. Further proof that things don’t always stick around…
  • Books-It was easier for me to donate my Mom’s books than mine. I’ve done several ’rounds’ of donations as I like to call them because sometimes you aren’t ready to give something away the first time around. It’s also easier these days because there are nooks and other electronic reading devices to store stories on.
  • Clothes-My Mom did have a lot of clothes but more like several pairs of one thing she liked that she liked to wear like long-sleeved T-shirts, cotton shirts, beautiful vests, earth-toned tops and brightly colored and white T-shirts. We’re pretty similar in this department. I still can’t bring myself to give away one of my brown Banana Republic sweaters even though I have four and barely wear one. But some people actually need a certain amount of clothes for work and other lifestyle reasons. Still, I think most people have too much in their closet. Check out project 333 to see what people learn from wearing just 33 items for three months.
  • Momentos-This includes anything that conjure up a memory-a baseball ticket, my Mom had plenty of those, letters, cards, notes and post cards from Spain.
  • Photos-My Mom had so many courtesy of me and other family members as well, that I couldn’t even get to them. When I do, I know I’ll have a good system; if there are repeat photos or photos of people we don’t know, they get tossed. If we adore them, we pick a frame album, or scan them and toss them.

So how did my Mom and I end up with so much stuff anyway? I believe my Mom was a good person with good intentions- and so am I. It just goes to show that anyone can end up with too much stuff. When I think back on my life and my relationship with my Mom I realize something about my her specifically and things- as a single mother she always wanted to make sure that my Sister and I had enough. I think in an effort to do this she ended up with a lot of things. Extras of things, just in case.

Don’t get me wrong, if you knew my Mom she wasn’t what you would call materialistic. I think this is important to note because most people think of those who have a lot of stuff as people who flaunt things and make extraordinary purchases. She never really did that, that wasn’t the Mom I knew. But I did know the Mom that had hundreds of pens and post-it notes, mints, pairs of reading glasses and a box full of old magnets my sister and I had gifted her from over the years.

 

She also spoiled my Sister and I buying us whatever was on our Christmas and birthday lists and then some. So it’s not just her stuff. And that’s OK. Everyone has their ‘stuff.’ What I’m trying to accomplish is to see the similarities in myself in order to learn and improve my life and to share this with others in the hopes of improving theirs.

Purging my Mom’s stuff felt weirdly good. As hard as it was to do, I knew is was an important part of my healing process. It feels good to know her stuff will be used by others and my sister and I. It made me realize that it’s all just stuff-meaningless. Time spent is better, so much better, than stuff. What’s the point of working to the bone just to acquire stuff? 

Theres a sense of freedom that comes from letting go. Maybe because letting go of the old and unused is a weight lifted making more room for the new to come in. Shedding old things is like shedding old habits and behavior and the realization that stuff isn’t what really matters because it doesn’t fill my heart makes me appreciate and love the things I do have so much more. This realization was fitting for the time as I was embarking on going through my Mom’s lifelong belongings.

Something else I noticed while doing my own minimizing over the last couple of months was just how much money I must have spent on all of this stuff. Relating this to my financial stress that I’ve had on and off throughout my life I can see where it’s a total win-win to not only reduce your amount of stuff but to keep it this way. AKA, not buy more stuff. Therein lies the difficulty for some. Because it’s all well and good to empty out your nest but not if you’re just going to run out and refill it. Aside from something you put good money into that is a quality products which you use daily and it brings joy to your life. Refer to The More of Less to make decisions about what to keep and use my tips below.

Tips for minimizing-

  1. Always give from a place of love-This is a great way to look at donating your things when you’re finding it hard to let go. Always remember that someone else will be using your item which would otherwise go unused in your home. It’s really a gift that you are sharing it with the world.
  2. Take pics if it really means that much to you and is hard to let go like with my signed frame. You can do with letters, cards even clothes so you’ll always have a reminder although a pic of you in clothes might be even better. You can also scan things and upload them to iCloud, Google docs or an online photo album service like Shutterfly.
  3. Reconnect with friends & family by writing a letter if you are feeling that it’s really hard to let go. Sometimes, and most of the time, it’s not even the stuff that you are wanting to hold on to, it’s the memories and the people with whom you shared those memories that you don’t want to let go. Try reconnecting with these people and work on nurturing these relationships as opposed to hanging on to old items that remind you of them. The reality is always better than the place marker.
  4. Try Project 33-I mentioned this project earlier that challenges you to pick 33 times in your wardrobe to wear for 3 months to see what you really wear and love.
  5. Turn your hanger over-Try turning all your clothes one way. When you wear an item and return it, turn the hanger indicating that it’s been worn. At the end of the month see what wasn’t turned over. Consider donating because if you didn’t wear it in 30 days, you might not really like it.
  6. Ask yourself- Do you really, really love it? Does it make you life better? Does it make an impact on your life? Do you use it everyday?
  7. Don’t Throw Out Other People’s Stuff-As tempting as it may be to toss someone else’s belongings in the midst of your newfound minimalism, it’s better to lead by example. I learned this the hard way and then some after repeatedly putting my boyfriend Mando’s things in my ‘pile’ to be donated or sold. (He really loved those elephant pants, apparently; oops.). My way of thinking was that if I was minimizing and he thought it was a good idea, then he should as well. It didn’t go over well the first, second, third or fourth time, did we make it to a fifth? I have finally realized not to do it. Which brings me to my next point…once you rid it becomes addicting so….
  8. Make Sure you don’t give away things you still need and use everyday! Mando and I got a little carried away making space on his computer that we both erased some pictures and a downloaded cookbook that we both still got enjoyment and use out of.
  9. Feng Shui-You can apply this ancient Asian practice to your home more thoroughly or apartment to as much degree as you’d like. Has ideas like clearing negative energies with a sage stick.
  10. Make Money-See what value your things have before you toss it or give it away incase it’s worth selling. BUUUT…
  11. Don’t Hang On To Things Because You Think You Can Make Money From It. Be honest with yourself, some things just aren’t worth selling so donate them and don’t waste your time.
  12. Trade, Donate With Friends-One of the best ways to get rid of your stuff is to offer it to friends and loved ones. You can even trade for something that you might need or really like. Win-win.
  13. Take A Photo Of Things You Want To Remember But Also Give Away Or Toss-One of the reasons I didn’t feel too bad about getting rid of things that held memories for me was because I made sure to take pictures of things I wanted to remember like my college gradation frame I mentioned above.

The day I went to clean out my Mom’s room, over the course of about 6 hours, I minimized it from a full closet to a quarter of a closet or less with my old brownie uniform I can’t part with just yet, a mink coat of my grandmothers for my Sister, a beautiful poncho of my Mom’s and some cozy shoes I insisted Al take. By the end, the only thing I didn’t get to was under her bed or through family photos which there are plenty of.

In the morning when I woke up I journaled my feelings. My goals for the day, what I hoped to achieve and the fact that this was all a healing process, it would be sad and simultaneously enjoyable and that’s ok. My to-do list is laughable now but it was..

  • Clean out, minimize, donate and recycle and decide what to keep, take them with me give to Al (Mom’s room)
  • Garage-go through what’s mine and begin to go through what’s Mom’s and decide what to keep, throw away, donate and sell

I only got to her room but I’m not beating myself up about it. It was a long emotional process but I prepped with a salad jar, smoothie and some kombucha. I think it’s important to have the things you need especially in an emotional situation. And good things because I didn’t take many breaks during the day and it was really nice to have these.

Poppy, my Mom’s dog, was there to not help and lay around like a lazy bum. Maybe she was sad. She mostly waited at the window for something, anything. Maybe my Mom to come home. I whispered in her hear that I was waiting too.

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My Mom’s dog Poppy and I taking a break from letting go.

My Sister popped in every once in a while to look over some things, laugh and reminisce. She decided on some things she wanted for herself and we discussed further plans to clean the garage out. It’s all so ironic but fitting because the last time I was with my Mom we talked about cleaning out the garage. I know it’s something she wanted and needed to do. Although I’m sad that I can’t give her the gift of doing it while she was alive, I know she’d be happy that we are doing it now.

Among the things I found among  my Mom’s things were letters and journals, some I read, some I let be; I’m not sure I need to know everything. I found endless amount of cards from Allison and I. I’m so glad to have some of them but was once again reminded of our carbon footprint and its impact. I must have thrown out over five garbage bags of things. I also had about ten donation bags that I had to drive back to the city with because when I went to drop them off at Goodwill for donation, they were closed.

In the process of deciding what to keep, I tried to be very diplomatic about things but also enjoy the moment for what it was. I was saying goodbye to my Mom while also helping keep her memory alive in the best of what she loved and treasured.

Some of my favorite things that I kept of hers are two rings that my Dad gave her. Allison has her other two. A guitar pin that I have yet to find out the story about but am sure I soon will. A pin that says, ‘I’m neat.’ It looks pretty old, I love it. I kept some of her tops, pants, old red gloves that I remember her wearing years back. I’d always steal them. I also kept a spool of yarn from my grandmother’s sewing machine, some of my favorite magnets I gave her and schoolwork she kept. I know that some of it I will throw away but I wanted to take pictures of some or just look over them one more time.

When I was done for the day, I sagged her room and cried a bit. I asked the angel of air to clear it and cleanse it and allow her spirit to be free. I’ve done this before and it’s a practice I like that makes the whole process feel more spiritual and makes me feel more connected to my Mom.

Today, I can’t necessarily call myself a minimalist. I would still have a long way to go if that were my goal. But it’s learning the basics of living with less has helped when a time in my life when I needed it the most. I know that throughout my life they will continue to serve me as I journey my nomadic adventures. 

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A photo of my Mom and her high school friend that I found amongst her things. Also, this poem, I like to think it was a message from my Mom that was much needed at the very moment I found it.

Resources

Minimalism; A Documentary About the Important Things (it’s also a book which I have not read)

“The More Of Less, Finding The Life You Want Under Everything You Own,” by Joshua Becker

The Minimalists blog 

Adapting To Death And The Woods

To be honest, I don’t really know what I was thinking packing up all of my shit in San Francisco and to head to the woods. Well, not the woods exactly but for this suburban/city girl, Weed, California is as ‘in the woods’ as I get.

It’s not that I don’t like it here, actually the contrary, I love it. It’s just that every transition has its adjustments. For one, I don’t think I’ll ever get use to leaving my car unlocked. But it’s just the norm here because people are trusting of each other.

People are to be trusted but not animals. This I learned the hard way the night I left several snacks in my car from the drive up. I also left my window down just enough for a raccoon to sneak inside and enjoy said snacks.

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Something else that I’ve noticed immediately is that you can’t really hide anywhere in a smaller town. You’re almost forced to interact with people, or in the very least, say hello. Which I do now often as well as wave to people passing by on the road. It’s an intimacy that initially made me uncomfortable like that feeling you get as a kid standing in a wet bathing suit in the cold. But after the initial discomfort and general get-to-know-you questions, there’s genuine interaction and compassion. And always a promise to see them again, because here, it’s likely that you will.

One of these fist interactions occurred when I accompanied Mando and his Mom to their newly built catholic church this past Sunday. After the service at a special breakfast for the new Father, Mando and I got into a conversation with a stranger from San Diego who approached us. His smile was warm and gentle and he was complimentary to our lifestyle after we told him what had brought us to Weed, which I didn’t even realize myself until I heard us say the words.

“We don’t really know what we’re doing,” I heard Mando say aloud, “Maybe we’ll teach out of the country or even stay here for a bit. We really like it.”

I could feel myself agree and for the first time I settled into those words, and the idea that, no, we didn’t really have an idea what we were doing and I wasn’t going to let it freak me out. You see, it’s not always easy being adventurous, being a free spirit. Sometimes, you can scare even yourself with your ideas and moments of uncertainty.

I keep reminding myself that this is why it’s good to have some sort of foundation so that you’re not flailing aimlessly through the universe. I try not to be too hard on myself though if I don’t stick to everything daily. Things that I consider part of my foundation lately are….

  • Yoga or stretching
  • Smoothies in the morning
  • Cooking
  • starting up therapy again
  • Journaling
  • Exploring my new home for the summer 🙂

And Mando reminds me too,”You lost your Mom and close friend, it’s OK to feel…. lost.” I’m not sure that I can say I feel this way because I lost my Mom or that the feeling is intensified by her loss, either way, it’s there for interpretation.

It doesn’t help that matters surrounding her estate are unfinished and that most people have a difficult time talking about death. Either just completely freezing up or ignoring the subject entirely. But who could blame them? Death is an uncomfortable subject only forcing itself to the surface when the unthinkable has happened. It’s not a fun water cooler topic. If people even still use water coolers.

I can’t expect everyone to be catapulted into wanting to address the subject every time I catch a glimpse of my Mom in the mirror or whiff of my Dad’s cologne passing a man in a bar. I just believe there’s so much to learn from it, so many places to go, be them dark or not, and that to turn away from them is to live in pain and fear for the future and death itself.

It reminds me of something that happened to me two Septembers ago when I was up here with Mando visiting his family. It was The Blackberry Festival at Mt. Shasta City Park where I was helping pick blackberries with Mando’s sister Dolores and my goddaughter Rocklyn. The band was playing and kids were swarming the blackberry bushes, running in and out claiming secret bush tunnels and caves. One of these little girls stopped me mid-play and asked if I wanted to join. She told me all about the game and the bushes before abruptly stopping to say, “And my Mom is dead.”

Her words threw me off, further, they shook me to my core and sent shivers up my spine. Sure, I’d gone through the pain of death in my life, even my own Father’s, but there was just something so wrong about hearing that this little girl’s Mother had died. I didn’t know what to say to her, I was stumped.

I wish I could go back and hug that little girl. I wish I could tell her that if she wanted to talk about her Mom to me that she could, all day if she wanted. That it didn’t make me uncomfortable or scared and she shouldn’t be either. I’d tell her that her Mom loved her for sure and was still with her. Maybe even there, then as we picked blackberries and she ran through the bushes giggling with other kids. I wish a lot of things.

But mostly I’m just fascinated how something that once made me so uncomfortable to hear now rolls of my own tongue so easily, almost daily. Fascinated and grateful that I was able to share many more years with my Mom than, sadly, that little girl got to with hers.

Fascinated and grateful for the small changes I see just by making the move up here  and for the warm welcome and open hearts I’ve received already so far. At least from the people, the raccoons, that might take some time…

 

My first Acupuncture Experience

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For various reasons I decided to try acupuncture, the practice of placing thin, solid, sterile stainless-steele needles into specific point of your body in order to activate or inhibit the flow of Qi and blood. It’s a comprehensive health practice as it involves the emotional as well as the physical connecting specific organs to certain emotional issues.

I’ve listed the specifics about what I was hopping to help with acupuncture below. I was really excited to go and intrigued by the whole process but it  wasn’t always this way. It took me a while to open up to the idea of it. You see, things like acupuncture always seemed like ‘treating myself’ and too much money so I shied away from them even though I was intrigued in the idea of them. I also shied away from it because the people in my life at the time made fun of it or saw it as a silly, hippy idea to heal.

There’s nothing like a huge life a event to make you start doing the things you know are good for you and stop caring about what other people think and stop feeling guilty about healing. My Mom’s death in particular has lead me to want to take care of myself in ways that speak to me. Maybe that’s why I finally decided to try acupuncture. It helped that I work at a Juice Shop downstairs from the office where I made the appointment. I guess  I had just heard one to many good things about Stillpoint Wellness in San Francisco to put it off any longer.

After doing some brief research on acupuncture and buying myself a used book, Between Heaven and Earth-A Guide To Chinese Medicine, I though acupuncture would help me for the following reasons;

  • Frequent urination
  • Heavy, painful menstruation
  • Pain in my left side groin and left buttock area
  • Pain in hips
  • Fatigue even after full night’s sleep
  • Emotional healing from big life events
  • Stress

Questions asked during visit and on the form I filled out beforehand (I won’t include them all but one that stood out)…

  • Do I enjoy work?-The last couple months have been a transition period for me and the last one in particular hasn’t been enjoyable which has spurred a change in position, really a while in the making, to teach English abroad and write which really excites me.
  • Diet-Mostly vegetarian recently putting fish and meat back in, sometimes eggs, dairy and coffee upset me, trying to avoid
  • Lose or solid bowl movements?-Both, mostly solid
  • Amount of alcoholic drinks per week -2-4. In recent years though a lot more maybe ten or more in a week.
  • Current symptoms & complaints (listed above) and which was the most pressing to me at the time to which I answered the pain on my left side.
  • What helps symptoms? Stretching, walking, exercise.
  • Do I sit a lot at work? Yes. More recently though I’ve had to be up and about at work. But after my day job I write and am sitting more when I do that.
  • Any recent life changing events? Death of my Mom and stress relating to that. She also mentioned that my Dad’s death was significant although he died over five years ago.

 

Things that stood out during questioning…

  • She asked about my parents and grandparents deaths on both sides, how old they were and what happen to each of them and their medical history. It was really interesting recapping it and learning from their lives. Maybe when I feel a little stronger and better about sharing I will write a blogpost geared a little more toward what I learned specifically.
  • Fact that she asked if I was close to said family members.
  • She told me that it was better that I didn’t take pill form birth control as it disrupts hormones.
  • She also told me that it was good that I use pads as there are toxins in tampons and it could be the reasons of urinary problems. She also advised against using plastic cups for menstruation as she was advised by a fellow colleague. I was happy to get this information as I was considering using these cups. I’ll stick to pads.
  • This actually was asked during acupuncture but she gently asked if I was comfortable with my weight to which I replied no, that 120, I’m 111, was better. She agreed. I thought it was a nice way to suggest that I put on some more pounds.

Her diagnosis which is given before the acupuncture session

  • May be low in iron, anemic. This came after questioning of my heavy periods.
  • May have some gut, digestion issues because of lose stool.
  • Kidney is weak and is trying to be helped my my liver but my liver is also weak. In her words, the liver is like a mother to the kidney and tries to help even though her reserves are low which actually just worsen the liver. This may be causing my frequent urination.
  • Have symptoms of adrenal fatigue, (I will address this in a future post as I have guessed that I have had this since reading Medical Medium and noticing symptoms myself). Some of the symptoms are sweating without much effort, under eye circles, fatigue after full nights sleep, sporadic energy at night. Some of the causes include stressful life events, dehydration, bad diet specifically not eating enough or eating sugary things as well as too much caffeine and alcohol.

 

Recommendations-

  • Get blood work done to find out specific deficiencies -she mentioned that I may be deficient in iron and B12 which may be why I’m low on energy and having trouble with my periods. This made me realize that I had run out of B12 months ago and never replaced it. She recommended the blood work specifically as she said it’s better to know exactly what I’m deficient in and taking supplements is better than just guessing. I was happy to get this much needed advice because sometimes try things without all of the information first and this reminded me that sometimes we need to have all of the information before we can make a good decision. My plan to move out of the country also helps motivate me to get the proper supplementation before I go abroad so I’m at my best for this big life change.
  • Drink less cold beverages and more hot drinks. As I work at a Juice Shop, she suggested the juices with ginger to counteract the cold. I also told her that I like to pull the juices out of the fridge a half hour to an hour before to drinking to let get to room temperature. In Chinese medicine the belief is that cold beverages
  • Drink bone broth for more nutrients and minerals as she said she guesses I am low. We discussed the influence of my vegan diet which may have had an influence but honestly, I think it’s because I haven’t been making sure to eat a well rounded diet, vegan or otherwise for a period of time of the past five years. In recent years, although I’ve gotten better at eating a more nutritious diet, my habits of waiting to eat, not preparing ahead of time and drinking too much caffeine or alcohol before eating have followed me. Stressful life events and being unhappy at my job have encouraged these habits and it’s continual work for me everyday to stay on track. Getting this diagnosis is just another step in moving toward better, comprehensive health that doesn’t involve just what I eat.

 

The acupuncture experience…

I undressed and laid on a table much like a massage. When she reentered the room she discussed the diagnosis with me and inserted the pins, mostly in my left hand and when she inserted the pin in my left hand between the thumb and forefinger, I felt a surge of pressure. She asked me if it was tender to which  I answered yes as it is most of the time always tender.

As she worked she explained that my issues were my kidneys and the importance of strengthening it to help my bladder. At this point I was laying on my back. She left for room for a period of time with a heat lamp at my feet which felt nice. I drifted off for a short time but not too long as I was a little too excited to relax. As I laid there I felt read painted message surround the top of the walls one in particular that stood out to me, “I am always safe.” It spoke to me and I repeated it softly aloud and began to feel relaxed. During the acupuncture I felt as though I could feel sublet pressure and pulsing throughout my body that felt nice.

When I moved the pins didn’t bother me much other than a slight tugging when I hit one pin in particular while moving my hand. I was nervous, naturally, but as the she explained to me, nothing would happen if I bent or moved one. Still, I mostly tried to stay still but relaxed.When I turned over she mostly put pins in my lower back, couple in each arm and feet and she asked if I wasted an herb mixture or to see how the acupuncture worked first. I decided on the latter mostly because of money, why do I always hesitate on health? Still, because of moving, it was the better decision for me at the time. But I will take her other recommendations such as getting blood work done.

As I was dressing I felt relaxed like after as massage. I sat down to pay and when I did she mentioned something I’ll never forget.

“When I was putting pins in your back, on the left side, there were red marks.”

I asked what it meant.

“It signifies a lot of pain held in your heart. If you can, come back for another appointment before you leave the city you should.”

I think I will.

Resources…

‘Between Heaven And Earth-A Guide To Chinese Medicine’ by Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac. and Efrem Korngold, L.Ac.,O.M.D. 

Stillpoint Wellnes Center, San Francisco. I saw Dr. Mimi.

Other reasons people seek acupuncture…

  • fertility
  • headaches
  • eczema
  • rashes
  • bloating
  • muscle tention, stiffness
  • heart, kidney, liver, lung problems

and more!

I know I’m missing some so if you are suffering, do some research and see if acupuncture is right for you.

Adaptable Ashley-A Name Change For An Ever-changing Person

I used to avoid change like bill collectors, and well, actual bill collectors. But all that has changed now. Not necessarily by choice, but by pure force of the universe I have had to change and basically learn to adapt to things out of my control so many times and in so many ways.

Once upon a time the girl afraid to leave home who pinky-swore her childhood best friend that she never would, is moving again, for the third time in the last five years. Needless to say, I have become an adaptable person. But it wasn’t always this way and it wasn’t easy to let go, move on from things no longer serving me or accept life as it is.

Many times in my life I’ve been stuck in the comfort of familiarity unwilling to go with the flow of things and have faith, all things that for so long felt inherently against my nature.

If you’ve ever felt the same, then maybe you understand my need for change and a name change. On the contrary if you’re annoyed with my ever-changing name, you’re not alone. I often annoy myself with my constant need for change. But recently I’ve been feeling like I am OK with being an ever-changing person. I saw a meme the other day that really hit home for me…..

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Meme reminding us it’s OK to change

The figure on the left kind of highlights our inability to accept change in society. Which makes perfect sense. Change challenges our once held beliefs and pulls people out of their comfort zones. Sometimes it’s the reaction of others to the changes we are making in our lives that can’t disrupt the changes necessary for us to grow. I know because I’ve often been that person as well, the one who can’t let things or allow other people the growth and change they need to become their best selves. I’ve also kept myself from growing and change because of discomfort.

Having things stay the same feels so comfortable until you begin to feel like a hamster on a wheel. The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. Sometimes you’re lucky enough for this to occur to you out of nowhere and other times you’re unlucky enough to have something that turns your world upside down to remind you of this.

For me, it has been many things. Most recently my Mom’s death that has once again been a reminder from the universe the need to adapt to change, this time a life, without my Mom.

This new chapter will certainly bring significant change to my life and for me in particular, it’s imperative that I get on top of this change, build a solid foundation for myself and ride the waves, as pissed, hurt, guilty, angry and sad as I may feel, I know what it’s like to do the opposite and get carried away in the tide. It’s not a pretty thing.

Here are some things I’ve found helpful in the process of adapting and an adapted recipe as well…..

  • The Book, “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay
  • The Book, “The Art of Possibility,” by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
  • Therapy
  • Meditation, although I still find it hard, bee watching and other things can serve as meditation practices

How do you adapt to changed circumstances in your life?

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Adapted recipe from a dish my Mom love-Stuffed Bell Pepper

 

Adapted, Dairy-Free Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe (serves 2)

*use all organic ingredients if possible

1 pound grass-fed ground beef, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have great options

2 large bell peppers

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 onion, chopped

Kite Hill Garlic and Chive cheese cream cheese (nut based)

3 cloves garlic

1/2-1 teaspoon ground Turmeric

1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder

sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

parsley or cilantro for topping

  1. Mix meat with salt, pepper, turmeric and garlic powder in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat small pot to steam bell peppers. Add steam basket and turn sliced bell peppers upside down and cooked until fork pierces somewhat easily through. Be sure not to overcook or they’ll be soggy. Once cooked through, remove from pot and set aside in a covered dish to keep warm.
  3. Back to the meat…Make sure to use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the meat up. Add the chopped onions and garlic and let cook a bit longer, or add later raw if you prefer. Once completely browned, the meat is done. You have the option to  cook it longer or shorter according to preference.
  4. Drain fat and add cooked quinoa long enough just to warm it through.
  5. Stuff cooked bell peppers with meat and top with Kite Hill ‘cheese’ and minced parsley or cilantro.

 

Tip: Avoid green bell peppers. Green bell peppers are actually red bell peppers that have never ripened and can be hard on your digestive system. See more here about the benefits of bell peppers.