How Plant Based Eating Heals the Heart

One of the first things I noticed after engaging in a plant based way of eating was the shift in my mood. I'm sure my digestion and energy improved, but these things come and go and are influenced by more than just what we ingest. But my mood, I felt lighter, happier, more even, less mood swings, less pms, less cranky, more easy going, and I'd like to think I was nicer, because I was definitely less bitchy!! This was an interesting observation, because I was expecting things like more energy, weight loss, etc. Well, expectation leads to suffering, and usually what we expect is not at all what we get. So I went with these noticeable changes, as I really enjoyed what was shifting in my life because I was eating more plants and less animal products.

That was about 7 years ago, and since then I have become completely plant based/animal free, eating as many whole foods as possible, and staying away from processed grains, mock meats and other highly fabricated food items. Of course in the last few years I really noticed the difference in digestion, energy, sleep, as well as my ability to be motivated and just get through the day. And I can confidently say that the early changes I noticed in my mood have held strong, and are probably even stronger now. Yes the mind and body are powerful drivers to influence the current mood state as well, yet it's been amazing to see just the positive changes that eating clean, whole plant foods have brought to my mood, emotions and well being. 

Not to say that my emotions are always even. They are most definitely not. I don't think I'd be human if they were smooth and steady! What I feel is more resilience, more softening, easier to come to compassion, less judgement, less harshness. Yes I can get stressed out and need to scream into a pillow. Yes I can get really down and sad and mopey. It's the resilience that I notice the most. I could throw down a ton of links to point you to studies and other articles that give evidence to a plant based diet helping with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and more. But you have access to google as easily as I go, so you can GTS any time. I'm more interested in sharing my experience, because I believe that to be more powerful than charts, graphs and statistics. 

Our body is a complex machine that most of science and research still does not understand. Even my doctor, who has been a practicing OB for decades, admits that the more he learns about the human body, the less he feels he knows and the more mystified he is. I believe we are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I believe what happens in our body when we eat is a lot more spiritual than we realize, and exchanges take place that, at this time, cannot be seen or measured by science. 

With that as my disclaimer, I do believe that something happens in our body when we eat meat or other animal products vs when we eat plants. I don't think it's outlandish to speculate that when our body takes on the DNA of another animal, changes can happen that are not so favorable. Not just the physiological occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol that have all been linked to eating a diet of animal products, but also mental, emotional and spiritual shifts can take place that can't be detected.

What do I mean? Quite frankly, that we take on the energy of the animal when we eat it. For example, eggs are a product of a hen's menstrual cycle. And when eggs are consumed, they carry the energetic vibration of reproduction and life, for a hen. And when a human consumes that, we take it on in our body. It can throw off our own system in countless ways through the endocrine and digestive system. What about cow milk, you know, meant for a baby cow, that is consumed by millions of people worldwide? What do the hormones and building blocks, for a baby cow, do to us mentally, emotionally and spiritually when it's consumed? And then the meat, cow meat, pig meat, poultry meat, how can that affect the body, mind and spirit? Animals taken to slaughter are in a state of fear, panic and distress. Their body holds on to that vibration and energy when they are killed. I firmly believe that's implanted into the meat, and we take that on ourselves when it's consumed. And please don't think that animals are not aware of what's happening to them when they are slaughtered. They are acutely aware and show all the signs of fear and panic. 

In my early 20's I was in Moscow, Russia, volunteering with a program teaching English to Russian students. Our large group of very loud, unaccustomed to Russian culture, American girls were riding the escalator down to the metro. We were giggly, boisterous and probably incredibly annoying!! Standing in front of us was a man with a black leather jacket and a ponytail, probably in his 30's. He turned around and said to us loudly in English, "American girls sound like chickens!!" and then turned his back to us again. We all shut up, giggling silently through pressed lips, and didn't say another word. I don't think it's just because we were young, excitable girls that we were talking like that. You are what you eat. You eat chicken, you sound like chickens. 

It's almost been a year since I gave birth to our twin sons at 20 weeks. They were born too early to survive so we said hello and goodbye to them in a manner of hours. It is still to this day the most heart-wrenching experience of my life. Not a moment goes by where I don't think of them. I still see myself holding them in the hospital, my husband leaning over me, as we said our final goodbyes. My heart is etched with these memories that can never be erased. It has almost been a year, and although I'm still sad and I miss them like crazy, I'm ok. We're ok. We really are. It's not that life goes on. Life is just different and I can think of them without being overcome with sadness and grief. I can think of them with feelings of joy and gratitude that because of them, I am a mother. I can marvel in the miracle of their short lives. 

I believe I am able to do this because of my commitment to a plant based diet and holistic way of living. Sure meditation and yoga can be amazing tools of healing as well. But I'm not very disciplined about meditation and I don't do yoga every day either. What can, and absolutely does, make a difference, is what I chose to put on my plate, in my bowl, in my glass, every single day. You truly are what you eat. The food you eat becomes your cells, your blood, your organs, even your thoughts, your moods and your actions. Yes, you are what you eat. And by choosing compassion every day, by choosing to save animals lives and to not contribute to their suffering, I am choosing what aligns with my morals and values. And this not only feels good, it helps me live a better life. Helps me be my best self. I don't believe I'd be this far into my healing from grief, loss, and anxiety if it wasn't for my plant based diet. Our cells become what we eat.

How could I be a grieving mother, suffering and in pain, and contribute to another's suffering and pain, and expect to heal?

Animals suffer in pain and agony when they die. There is no humane way to kill a sentient being who wants to live. And by choosing to let the animals live, by choosing to eat only a whole foods, plant based diet, I have contributed to my healing. My mind, body and spirit are free because I allow animals to live. I don't take in the energy of their suffering and pain, and in turn, my body is able to heal in it's own way, without the disruptions of the cells and DNA of another living being. 

I thank our sons every day for helping me to live a life that shows compassion to all beings. I try my best. I believe my plant based, vegan lifestyle is a huge step in this directions. By practicing the values I believe in, I have a stronger connection to myself, to animals, to the planet, to other human beings, and to the etheric realm as well. 

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

 

Forging My Own Path

Fish out of water. Odd one out. Outsider. Lone wolf. 

Yep, that's me. I might prefer "Bohemian Non-Conformist". Or just no label at all because feeling this way is part of being human. There is something about each and every one of us that is so beautifully unique, but for some reason being uniquely amazing can make us feel alone, isolated, and like an outsider, weirdo or freak. The attributes that make us and our life's journey unique can also lead us to feeling isolated and like we don't belong. 

For 10 years I have been on a path, a quest, a search, a journey, to seek reproductive health in order to have a successful pregnancy and birth a beautiful baby or two to grow our family. Each step along the path has been forged by foot, through the thick brush, through the thorns and fog, through the gnarly branches and swarms of insects. Each step has been my own that has never been taken before. And it has left me feeling, at times, incredibly alone. But if I look back, I can see the massive winding path that has been cleared because of my persistence, my determination, my motivation, my hope and faith to never give up.

And I have finally entered the clearing. And up ahead is a beautiful open meadow with a clear path moving forward. 

I finally found the last puzzle piece to my mystery after all these years. So now, I can truly say that I am just beginning. Because even though everything that has happened throughout my experience has been a stepping stone that has led me to where I am now, I needed to walk into the clearing and bask in the light to finally have clarity, understanding, and grace. And this clearing is the new, fresh place I need to be in order to start. This is the clearing that opens up to a new path of truth that is laid out ahead for me.

Instead of looking back at the long path and lamenting about how long it took me to get to where I am now, I am choosing to see the gift in the moment. And this gift is that I am now in a new place and starting an entirely new journey, and it has just begun. I have the fine tuned protocol that my body actually needs. I have the tools and knowledge to support my body. I have the truth. And this is my first time embarking forward with the full truth and all the pieces so divinely put into place. 

It doesn't matter to me anymore what anyone else things about my choices, or if I'm the only one on the planet who's choosing this for myself. I know I am not alone. I have had divine help in the form of earthly angels who have come to my aid. They may not be many, but they are all that I need. This is my experience for a reason. This experience is a gift and I have a feeling that over time, life will show me just how much of a gift this is, over and over.

We all have unique gifts that make us special and stand out. I no longer see my being an "outsider" as a burden. I am meant to do this. Just as you are meant to go along your own journey. And eventually, those who have similar, parallel paths, will keep going until the paths converge. In our differences we are all more similar than we realize. We are all fighting a fight and forging on with an experience that feels like it's never been done before. So I will continue to share mine with you, in hopes that if we end up on the same path one day, we will recognize, honor, and support each other. 

Until then, I am moving forward on my path of truth and light that has so recently been revealed to me. It calls to me so deeply that my soul knows there is no other way.  

 

 

 

Rising From The Ashes

Well 2 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and it's also felt like I've lived multiple lifetimes in the last 2 years. This will not be brief, because brevity is not my style. So get cozy so I can catch you up on a story of love, loss, and rising from the ashes. 

In 2016 I enrolled in yoga teacher training and completed the 5 month program at the end of May. I had already started teaching in April before finishing my certification. I took off teaching yoga, taking anything I could get and subbing like crazy. With the help of a generous mentor, I found myself teaching all over the place, working at a yoga studio, even offering corporate classes. Everything was going tremendously well. At the height of my teaching at the beginning of 2017, I was teaching 13 classes a week.

Also in the fall of 2016, my husband and I got accepted into a fertility study at UCSF. There were some supplements to be taken by him for a few months, and then if I wasn't pregnant, we'd go on to IUI (intrauterine inseminations) for up to 3 times, hopefully getting pregnant within that time frame. While this was to study the effect of a supplement on male fertility, I wanted to make sure it wasn't in vain that we did the IUI's. I was checked out and everything seemed good. Still, the ghost of "unexplained infertility" was haunting me and I was extremely skeptical of the whole situation. As the months went on, our first IUI was to take place in January 2017. And it worked, almost "two" good. I became pregnant with twins.

We found out when I was 6 weeks along that we were having twins. The feelings of having 2 lives growing inside of me when there had been nothing and I had felt completely barren for 10 years was incredibly overwhelming and indescribable! We wanted to keep things to just family for a little while. I continued to teach my classes but was extremely nauseous and getting exhausted so quickly. I told my classes around 7 weeks that I was pregnant, and I dropped about 4-5 of them because I just couldn't hang. The exhaustion was out of this world. All I could do was drag myself to my classes and then just sit on the couch, Netflix and chill style, for the rest of the day.

At 9 weeks we ran in to some complications of subchorionic bleeding that, I was assured, was very normal. But just to be sure, I was ordered to go on bedrest, which I did immediately. A check up about 1.5 weeks later showed the bleeding clot to have almost completely dissolved. I didn't think I'd go back to teaching, I was terrified and thought I should still continue to rest. Another, oh, maybe 1.5-2 weeks later I had another scan that showed something completely different had happened. Our babies had lost their amniotic fluid. We had no idea how, no answers. Their hearts were beating strong and we could see their tiny movements fluttering on the screen. Yet without fluid, they would not have proper development. We were told they may survive for a few more weeks, oh, and termination was an option. Those are the most crushing words that a mother who has been desperate for children for over 10 years never wants to hear. But here we were, and this was our reality.

This is where it can get really long, so to save you from skipping making a meal for your family or getting ready for work on time because you're here reading this, I'll summarize. I contacted my holistic healers and we got to work. I did everything, literally everything, I possibly could to usher in a miracle for our babies. I went on a basically raw diet, took supplements, drank healing teas, meditated, visualized, talked to my babies, and so much more. To say that I was determined is a vast understatement. I made it not just my full time job but my 24/7 job to take care of our unborn children. We still knew something could happen, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. 

Yet something did happen, I went in to labor on May 30, 2017 and delivered our first son at home before midnight. We then called 911 and the ambulance took us to Lucille Packard children's hospital where it took over an hour before I delivered our second son on May 31, 2017, who was breach. What happened in those 14 hours or so was such a whirlwind yet I can remember it all in vivid detail at the same time. I have shared this story and all the ins and outs of it with many. But some of it is still so sacred to me to share on a wide scale. We got to hold our precious boys and we had to say goodbye at the same time. I was only 20 weeks along and they were too underdeveloped to live outside the womb. But I can tell you, they were perfect. They had all their fingers and toes and the tiniest resemblance of eye lashes starting to bud. We held them for a long time, even though their hearts had stopped beating, until we finally decided it was time to say goodbye. We have their footprints and their photos. Ryan and I are the only ones who will see their photos. It's just too much to show them to others, even the closest of family. Maybe one day ...

What happened next was the biggest outpouring of love we have ever received in our lives. Friends, family, even those we barely knew came to our aid with meals, gifts, flowers, I was even gifted remembrance jewelry and massage gift cards. Grief has been my biggest teacher in life thus far. I found myself very judgmental against people who I thought should be reaching out to us but didn't. And then I realized that grief is very personal and often awakens us to our own sorrow and pain in life. So I try to have compassion and send them love, even if they don't know it. I have journaled my heart out and found solace in the writings of spiritual teachers and spiritual mediums. I even found my spiritual mentor through this experience. My life's goal is to now live in a way to honor our sons and develop a deep spiritual path that leads me to them. What this looks like I still don't know, but I feel them guiding me along the way. I miss them every minute and probably always will.

A few months went by and we started to slowly come alive again. I have never experienced so much anxiety, so many tears shed, so much true wallowing in pain and sorrow. But I have also never experienced something so beautiful, to be pregnant with two perfect souls, even if it was for a short time. I never understood the word "bittersweet" until this experience in life. When I didn't feel like it, I went back to teaching yoga. Because I really was ready, I just didn't know it. This was in August 2017. And what I found was exactly what I needed. The community that I came to in my new classes fully embraced me, as I fully embraced them knowing that we all have pain, weaknesses, suffering and have experienced loss in some way, shape or form. I found myself teaching with so much more compassion and with so much more awe of the fragility of the human experience.

Again months went by and we were hoping I would be pregnant with a rainbow baby by this time. The holidays came and were absolutely awful. They may never be the same to me again, and I'm ok with that. I tend to question everything anyways, always have, so I really question why we don't just do the holidays in a way that's not so fabricated and generic. Anyhow, I digress. I decided to make an appointment with my OB just to follow up and see if he had any insights. This whole time I'd been seeing my holistic health practitioner as well, and she had been helping me immensely. Also, months before I became pregnant I started following the health advice of the "medical medium", a man named Anthony William, who is gifted to receive health information from an angelic being known as "Spirit of the most High". Yeah, I'm in to hippie stuff like this. You can stop reading anytime if it bugs you ;) Still, I didn't really know what we were dealing with. All these years our infertility was "unexplained", until now.

Here's what I believe happened. I have had an underlying virus called Epstein Barr virus that became heavily aggravated during my pregnancy because of the rush of hormones, and possibly the IUI medications (although they were minimal, they could have been a trigger). After losing the pregnancy due to what is still a medical mystery (yes the boys lost their fluid but we don't know how or why), this Epstein Barr flared up big time. And has never been able to be detected in my reproductive system until now. This is a whole other blog post, or series of posts, but basically after mono, which is EBV, dies down, it lodged in the liver and then makes its way to the reproductive sytem and/or the thyroid in it's next stage. And it can be completely undetected. BUT, it manifests as PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and pelvic inflammation. Guess what my OB diagnosed me with, for the first time ever in my fertility journey? Yep, all of the above I just mentioned. 

Now that I have been arming myself with knowledge over the last year on how to truly combat these somewhat mysterious fertility issues, I have such an immense amount of hope that it is bursting out of my chest! This means that my diet is 100% plant based and gluten free, but it goes beyond that, as I consume foods that truly help to dissolve the fibroids and take down the inflammation like papaya, asparagus, mango, and even potatoes. And I'm taking supplements that are targeted at removing EBV like lemonbalm extract, ester-c, methylfolate, l-lysine  and ashwagandha. Herbal teas are also in my arsenal, as well as certain meditations and breathing exercises. Please don't be mistaken though, I am no longer naive. I am well aware that I can do all of these things and it's possible that I may not become pregnant again. But I am NOT letting that stop me. I feel a deep call from within my soul to live my life by this holistic protocol. It has given me so much joy to actually care for my body in a kind, loving way. Having the knowledge that our bodies don't attack themselves, that they are always fighting for us, makes me want to join the battle and warrior on right along with my body.

This experience is and will continue to deeply affect me and Ryan for the rest of our lives. I am finding more desire to live in the moment. I am finding myself letting go of beliefs that no longer serve me and being ok in sitting in the unknown. But mostly, it has given me a fierce love for humanity that I have never known before.

And for all of this, I can honestly say that our sons have been my greatest teachers and will continue to be.

They have truly helped me rise out of the ashes.