Saturday, September 26, 2009

this is what i came for

consumed. what does it mean to be consumed by love, by work or perhaps by work you love? for for now and for the next 22 months i am consumed by graduate school. that's the general outline, but the details of the story are more interesting, rich with ideas and sprinkled with gems.

really, i am consumed by learning -in the best way, like how with a new love you want to spend every second together.

yes, i am busy, with a plate fuller than it's been in some time. reading, research, writing, learning, teaching. i don't select the items on the plate for the most part, i accepted the invitation to this banquet after all. in times past, this dictated order and structure might have had me chaffing and restless.

everything feels different in my life now. i am happy, contented even. how novel!

education, equity, social justice, motivation all is so fascinating that i find i am engaged fully, every waking moment. it all feels right, walking this path, earning this particular degree and entering this field. what i have learned in the first three weeks of school is that the field of school counseling is both wide and open. it's current model is a significant departure from the guidance counselor model we all grew up with, it is called transformative school counseling. the model is less than a decade old and there is much growth ahead. over the course of my career, i could choose to contribute on many levels, from hands-on in the schools to research and writing, all the way to advocacy on a national level.

already, i am in love with the research. oh, and the students. the students!

i started one of my placements this week, the year-long teaching practicum i am doing at an alternative high school. it is an amazing program that welcomed me with open arms, excited to have extra help. i am working with two humanities teachers, so i get the opportunity to observe different teaching styles. the students all have overcome huge personal obstacles and were not successful in traditional high school. these are the youth that have been thrown away by schools, society and often their own parents. yet they come to this program with a commitment to make a new life and a future they are proud to direct. hearing their stories this week renewed my deeply held belief that anything is possible. it is so easy to feel hopeless these days, with the economy, the health care crises and all the negative spin around us. but when i spend time with the raw power of the human spirit and see the hunger these young adults have to make a life, a good life -then it's hard to feel anything but awed, humbled, amazed, inspired, grateful.

this is what i came for.

to be witness to transformation. (and occasionally a guide.) to sit at the crossroads with young people and support moving their life in a positive, new direction. you can smell the fear in the room, but you can also feel a strong swelling of hope and purpose, as they are discovering strength, finding confidence and showing up for themselves.

Friday, September 11, 2009

change, all the way to my cells

ten days into my radical shift in diet and i have both triumphs and struggles to report. following my ALCAT diet has had wonderful effects on my health already. I've lost five pounds, my energy has increased significantly and i don't have that constant feeling of craving something sweet.

i think my cells are happy. i am not feeding my body anything that is toxic to me specifically, nothing that causes stress to process. since my body isn't preoccupied reacting to food particles it sees as enemies, it can use all of the fuel to create energy for living!

what a radical concept to experience, not just read about as theory.

i am so grateful to my creative nature and my nerdy interest in food & cooking. without that passion, making meals that satisfy out of my list of approved foods would be overwhelming and frustrating. of course, i have those moments of frustration, moments when i feel deprived and stuck. but each day i figure out another piece of the menu puzzle and that part of the journey is an exciting challenge.

how can i feed myself well with all these restrictions?

one way is simply by discovering new foods. foods i haven't eaten in years. a small bowl of bean sprouts is a perfect crunchy snack on a warm afternoon. i ventured out to the countryside with a dear friend and went organic fruit picking, coming home with armloads of juicy blackberries and the most exquisite italian plums. i had so much energy last week, i canned the fruit immediately. one thing led to another and i just kept on canning, also making yummy bread & butter style pickles with zucchini instead of cucumbers. i adapted my grandmother's recipe and they are delicious!

snack foods are the most difficult, as i don't want to rely too much on nuts. today i am making crackers in my dehydrator, subbing almond meal & hemp powder for the flax and hoping for great results. since garlic is out, i am learning what flavors i can achieve with different kinds of onions.

it is hard to describe, but even my connective tissue feels different. perhaps the inflammation is going down and that explains the sense that my muscles and tissues are not "sticky" anymore. frankly, i don't think i even realized how much fatigue and "icky all over" feeling i had in my body until it began to change this past week.

and now for the bad news. *sigh*

i have not been sleeping well at all. starting school has upped my anxiety. my brain suddenly has way too much to hold and it feels like 100 monkeys are tap dancing in there in a mosh pit. changing my entire diet while dealing with some stressful final jewelry orders, starting the term and the general anxiety i always have leading up to my birthday...well, you see the picture. it's not so pretty.

but i know this will pass, everything does. yet in the middle of the night, somehow that is not comforting. sleep feels like a guardian angel that has abandoned her post.

and i am coping as best i can. cooking up a birthday plan for next week that feels like a sweet celebration, but not adding to the stress mess. i am making massive lists to try to get some of that jumble out of my head. i am drinking calming tea and taking supplements, all my tricks are out of the box and in play.

thanks for your continuous support my friends. it's humbling and uplifting.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

finally, an abundance of answers!

the results of my ALCAT blood test for food intolerance are finally in my hands. i had a two hour meeting with my new natropath doctor yesterday and learned so much. in addition to the list of 86 foods i show a reaction too, i also learned my body is not breaking down and processing proteins very well.

today is the beginning of a new approach to eating and digesting.

i'm now taking a supplement to increase the stomach acids to break down those proteins. for the next months, i will strictly avoid the foods on my list that show reactions. i am sure this will take new creative cooking efforts, as many of the foods i depend on are those that i am actually intolerant to!

of the 86 forbidden foods, 23 are staples in my diet: banana, cucumber, fennel, garlic, ginger, lime, soybean, spinach, tomato, basil, blueberry, celery, chicken, cinnamon, coconut, corn, egg white, fig, flax seed, lemon, mushroom, nutmeg, salmon, vanilla.

oh, and all gluten, all dairy. *deep sigh*

no more homemade yogurt, which is what i am mourning as i write this post at breakfast time. however, i now recall that every time i have gone off dairy (and i don't eat much, just homemade yogurt, sheep's milk romano and some goat cheese) i have lost weight. with so many health issues to address, i know it is worth it to make these changes. i need to finally, after 4 years, heal my chronic inflammation problems in my arms and heel. i don't ever want to re-visit the vertigo and arthritis pain in my back from the last few months. and then there is the general intestinal distress i've dealt with for, let's see...oh, about 25 years.

and cancer. i certainly don't ever want to see his face again. cancer is directly tied to inflammation in the body. anything i can do to bring down inflammation will benefit every cell i have.

i was pretty deflated yesterday after meeting the doctor, but this morning i am feeling up to the task of overhauling my food plan.

some good news in my results include favorite staple foods that i have no adverse reaction to at all: chocolate, cabbage, sardines, quinoa, olive, almonds, sesame, lentils, onion, swiss chard...and since chicken is out, i will turn to the approved meats...turkey, lamb, beef, plus a large variety of fish and seafood is ok. I don't eat much meat and when i do it's always organic, pasture-raised. which is expensive and that factor naturally limits my intake.

the loss i feel most keenly is coconut, lemons, egg white & dairy. but i will survive and i am sure, start eating other foods that are just as yummy. after a month, i can re-introduce a food from the mild reactive list, like coconut, and see how i do. so there is hope that some of my favorites might come back in rotation in a few months. i am guessing the dairy is gone for good, however.

i will have to find someone to eat my beautiful tomatoes on the plants i have been lovingly growing for months on my little patio...i guess i will just have to enjoy them visually!

i also learned from the results of my colonoscopy & endoscopy that i don't have any gluten damage in my intestines, which means my year off gluten has healed the system. i'm very happy to know my body's natural healing process is working.

i start my graduate program fall classes next week, so life is about to get pretty busy. but i will be updating the blog with my progress on this new eating protocol, so stay tuned for what i hope will be all good news!