Love, Light, and the Sour Puss Part 1

There is no better feeling than being in front of my audiences. I know I've said it before but they bring such joy and light to my life. Yes it's hard work and yes I sweat like a pig. I'm actually not much of a sweater but get me in front of a group and it is Niagara falls. Holy goodness! My sweat is not the point, however. The point is that for all the love, energy and effort I give out, my audience throws it back ten fold. It just might be that the efforts we put out in our lives are generously mirror back. When we smile at neighbors, make friendly conversation in the gym, or help a co-worker, we not only create deeper connections with our environment and communities but also greater insight into a deeper personal self. Whoa! That's deep.

Just FYI, I have not always been a beacon of light and smiles, just ask my family and a few ex-boyfriends. This whole "smile and the world smiles back at you" thing is pretty new. In college I was renowned for my sullen expression and icy glares. I was certainly NOT the girl to ask for directions. I was overly selfish and primarily concerned with how the end result of any interaction affected me. They say we learn from our parents and though I believe nature and nurture both foot the bill, I just have to say this. From my perspective as a child, my parents' interactions were such that one always gave and the other always took. I was certainly not a stupid kid and quickly decided that taking was the path for me. And so it was, and it worked for me. Until it didn't. The problem with being selfish and negative is the underlying pulse of dissatisfaction. I'd experience moments of joy, love, thoughtfulness, but they soon dissipated leaving me with myself, my "grass is always greener" and "everyone has what they want but me" self. May I just say, that self sucked!

The turning point in my life came in 2000 with my diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. It was certainly a dark period and looking back, no wonder I became ill. At the time, I lived in a cubicle-sized dorm room and had scheduled my life down to the minute with classes, studying, and working out. Three to four times a week I'd call home, crying to my mother about my misery. Thinking back though, I can't remember why I was so upset. I didn't like school, fine. I didn't connect well with my friends, OK. I was driving myself crazy with restrictions, fair enough. But why the pain and desperation??? Because I had no conscious awareness of peace and gratitude.

Well, ask and you shall receive! Up came a huge dose of reality with my UC diagnosis and a lovely family label, "Girl with the butt disease" that has yet to wear off. The startling prognosis and realization that if you don't have your health, you really don't have anything, was quite a lot to take in for a 20 year old. And so I attacked my disease with the same aggression that permeated my life. I was going to make that UC regret the day it inhabited my little colon. I was going to make it beg for mercy with brown rice and broccoli, and when it had cried enough, I would kick it's ass to the curb. I became a strict macrobiotic, cutting meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, eggs, and anything processed out of my diet. And it worked, until it didn't. (Part 2 on the way)

Here is one of my favorite macrobiotic recipes. It is delicious and mineral rich dish to warm you up on a cold winter's night.

Adzuki Beans with Winter Squash

Serves 2

1 cup adzuki beans 1 piece kombu (a seaweed very high in minerals) 2 cups butternut or kabocha squash, peeled and chopped water 2 teaspoons unrefined toasted sesame oil 1-2 tablespoons tamari (wheat free soy sauce), add more or less to taste 3 scallions, chopped

Rinse and soak beans with the kombu for at least 5 hours or overnight. Drain the beans and chop the kombu into bite sized pieces.

Place the kombu and squash in the bottom of a medium sized pot. Top with the beans and cover with water (about 1 inch past the top of the beans). Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Check half way to add more water if need be.

When the beans are done, stir in sesame oil and tamari. Top with scallions and enjoy.

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