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Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Big (to me) Adventure


Live, Love, Laugh... It seems like I haven't been doing much of those lately. Oh yes, I'm Living. Yes, I'm Loved (and love) and yes, I do Laugh.  But not like I used to. I can't exactly pinpoint why. I blame a good deal of it on work and a great deal of it on the state of the world today. Unkindness to each other and abuse to animals, war, politics, destroying the planet little by little - it's all getting to me big time. I do my small part, but I still feel hopeless and sad, like I want to do more. I have a pretty good job, but I just feel so unfulfilled. For those that don't know, my dirty little secret is that I work at a big pharma company which is kind of a joke when I don't even believe in using allopathic or western medicine except in a dire emergency. When I meet people at various natural food / green / organic / good-for-the-earth type gatherings, I'm always met with a questioning head-tilt and raised-eyebrow (just one, sometimes both) when asked what I do for a living. With that said, I do earn decent moolah which has allowed me to pursue special interests such as becoming a Certified Holistic Health Counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC and  also enabled me to complete a month-long training at the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts to become a Level 1 Macrobiotic Counselor. Being at the Kushi Institute was one of the best experiences of my life thus far. Located on 600 acres of serene beauty in the Berkshires, it's a place that just feels right every time I go back. Lucky for me it's an easy and beautiful 2-hour car ride.

I remember feeling such a sense of accomplishment the first time I took the train to NYC by myself to go to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (I would walk the 2 miles from Grand Central to the school).  And I remember sitting on the deck of the Kushi Institute looking over the vast beauty of the Berkshires thinking I have never been so far from home for such a long time...

And in less than 24 hours, I'm about to embark on my next Big Adventure... as I've evolved over the years, my interest in health and nutrition has never wavered. I still believe in the power of Macrobiotics, and now the more I read about the Raw Food Diet, the more sense it makes to me as well. The testimonials are compelling and I can attest that during the times that I adhere closely to a diet comprised of whole, raw foods, green juices and wheatgrass shots, I feel so amazingly healthy,vibrant and alive. It's difficult to maintain though when stress at work makes me reach for pretzels and candy and I find it hard to resist lunch dates at a local gourmet pizzeria. It's even difficult when I brown-bag it because for some reason, my co-workers can't deal with my healthy lunches and are quite vocal in their ridicule and disdain of my sea veggie snacks, green juices and even cucumbers! Yes cucumbers. Alas.

As a health counselor and with all the reading I do, I know better than to reach for those unhealthy snacks and I know better than to allow the words of others to influence me. Not that their words hold meaning, but I don't need to spend 20 minutes of my 30-minute lunch time defending my food choices. It's just easier to eat by myself in my cubicle. As a health counselor I should also be able to maintain a healthy weight, but frankly that too, is out of control. I know what I need to do, but for whatever reason, I'm not able to do it and my health is suffering. I know I should exercise more and complain less, but I don't. Maybe the hormonal upheaval thanks to menopause is creating all this disruption in my life but I'm broken and I'm not able to fix this on my own. And so now I'm reaching out for help. Through the grace of a very understanding boss, I will be attending a 3-week health transformation at the Hippocrates Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. I had wanted to go there for quite some time, but held off because of the cost and because I'm terrified of flying. But then the ball was set in motion after a particularly stressful day at work last February; not willing and not able to accept this feeling of just existing anymore, I finally picked up the phone and made the tearful call. It wasn't a question of IF I would attend, but rather WHEN I would attend; I could save up for this, but the major thing holding me back was my fear of flying. But I made the commitment then and would deal with the transportation issue later.

As often is the case, serendipity performed its magic when a co-worker invited me to have lunch one day. We had passed each other in the hall often and chatted frequently, but we never had lunch together and didn't really know each other that well. She was due to go out on medical leave and so the topic of surgery came up. I could totally relate to her concerns as I had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor several years ago. Consider yourself fortunate if you have never had to go through something like that (even the most routine surgeries involve some measure of risk, but imagine having your skull opened up and your brain tampered with)! It was by far the most frightening experience of my life. And so, when the topic changed from surgery to vacations, I told her about my plan to go to the Hippocrates Institute by train. It's a 23 hour trip, fine by me but not for my job (three weeks is a long time and I'm glad to have gotten that, so to ask for an additional two days was out of the question). Her words, "Ali, if you can go through brain surgery, you can fly on a plane - it's a piece of cake in comparison" really hit home. So, now I'm really leaving my comfort zone behind and flying and going further from home than I ever have before!

I'm relying on Hippocrates to help me heal and find some peace and balance within myself. When I look in the mirror, I almost don't recognize the person I've become. I'm going to list some symptoms now before my trip to see how many of them I can cross off by the end of my three weeks:

Hot flashes
Weight gain
Irritability
Intolerance
Frustration
Brittle/split nails
Painful walking
Cuts taking a long time to heal
Difficulty concentrating
Fatigue
Anxiety
Bloating
Feel stuck/hopeless

I plan to come back a whole lot wholer than I am now. I want to be able to actually show people that this works by using myself as an example. I plan to return as a happier, clearer, lighter and more radiant version of my current self ready to have the courage and confidence to change the things in my life that don't serve me and to show people that it can be done. I want to come back to live not just exist. I do know it works thanks to the many people I admire including Dave Conrardy - The Raw Food Trucker, Dan McDonald, Cherie Soria and Lisa Wilson of the Raw Food Institute, Philip McCluskey (I had the pleasure of meeting all this year!!) and all the online friends that I follow, such as Angela Stokes-Monarch, Diana Stobo and Rev. George Malkmus (The Hallelujah Diet), not to mention the many real-life friends I have met through a local raw food cafe in Fairfield - real people who have overcome real health challenges. I want to add myself to the growing list of people who are changing lives (their own and others) through the power of whole, raw living foods.

Wheat grass shots and healing, here I come! I'm anxious about leaving family, friends and pet behind but I can't wait to just BE. To not have to be "on" eight hours a day everyday, to just let go, take care of only myself, to not have to deal with traffic and rude drivers, noisy neighbors and cigarette smoke, to go on a news fast, to detox and cleanse both body and soul. Drama, I'm putting you on hold for a while - I've had enough. I'm looking forward to learning and living among like-minded people. I plan to chronicle my journey on this blog, so I can have a record for myself and share what I've learned and experienced with others, so please feel free to check back.

Green Juice & Peace!

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