Today’s interview features Cassie Margraf, a Sonoma, California resident and one of the most natural beauties I know. Cassie has a knack for looking ultra-feminine even without makeup or fancy adornments. She not only looks natural; she truly lives this lifestyle. Since so many people want to look healthy and radiant without turning to toxic face and body products, I asked Cassie if she’d mind sharing some of her secrets. Most of my clients also have furry friends and want the same healthy goodness for them as well. She shares tips for animals and for men, too. Cassie has her 27th birthday coming up on May 20, 2009 so please join me in wishing her a happy one!
You’ve had quite a journey into raw foods! How and when did you first discover this diet and lifestyle and what convinced you to make the switch?
Yes, it really has been a journey, difficult at times, but also magical and amazingly rewarding! I first discovered this lifestyle about a year and a half ago. I was in the process of awakening to the power of the body to self heal, the majesty of the mind in facilitating that process, and the truths about what we, as a society, consider food. I had been suffering debilitating symptoms for about two years prior to that. Frequent tension headaches accompanied by severe facial flushing, skin rashes and blisters on a daily basis, insomnia, severe food sensitivities, mild depression, anxiety and instability with my emotions in general were just a handful of the symptoms that plagued me. I found some relief with alternative methods, such as acupuncture, herbs and chiropractic care, but I was still suffering a great deal.
In the world of alternative health, medical mysteries often go hand in hand with the diagnosis of “toxicity.” This was the only footing I had at understanding a root cause to my symptoms, so I was vigilantly trying to undertake cleansing. At this point in my journey I was trying my best to eat an organic, whole foods diet, so a cleanse to me was eating fruits, salads, steamed veggies, etc. for a week. At the time eating that way felt incredibly difficult to me, but I would have done anything to feel better.
I went to Copperfield’s Books one night in search of a cleanse and happened upon The Miracle Detox Diet, by Robert Norse, N.D. When I got the book home I devoured the information. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and all the research and facts to support why a raw lifestyle is the healthiest diet for any living animal.
More than all the scientific data though, it just really resonated with me as such an obvious truth. It felt like information I had always known deep down, but had long forgotten. I thought, “Animals in nature don’t cook their food? Why do we cook, pasteurize, steam and heat everything?”
When I read about domesticated animals getting the same degenerative diseases as humans, yet wild animals not encountering these illnesses, a light bulb went off for me. I remember reading an article about animals at the zoo and how if they are fed cooked food, they die. That was shocking to me and I really began to educate myself, study and read scientific literature regarding our bodies and raw foods. The funny thing about my introduction to raw foods, is it was the day before Thanksgiving!
At this point in my journey I was very familiar with the Law of Attraction and manifestation, so the information I was absorbing coupled with the fact that I had “stumbled” upon this book, was enough to empower me to try this lifestyle starting the very next day, Thanksgiving! All the research I was doing really kept me going with raw foods because, although some experience major benefits right away, I didn’t feel better right off the bat.
What I did experience very quickly, though, was an unfolding and opening of my spirituality. I always considered myself a spiritual person, but the first week of going raw my third eye just burst open :). I was lying in bed and could feel this incredible energy in what felt like tingly, pleasant, pressure between my eyebrows/forehead area. I was laying there in utter amazement because I had never felt anything like that before. I soon began to feel energy movement in my body very easily and would put myself to sleep meditating, breathing deep and feeling energy flow within me. It was so peaceful and made me feel so connected to myself, all beings and the planet. I never wanted to lose that. My spirituality really began to flourish and deepen.
Raw foods are an amazing tool that allowed me to access parts of myself I was not in touch with before. As my journey progressed I became much more intuitive and that allowed me to be in “the flow” so I could make connections I needed to, get help and answers when needed and really dig deep and face myself exactly where I was and am at, with all my complexity and gifts :).
These tools, coupled with my diet have really facilitated a metamorphosis in my life on all levels; physical, emotional, and spiritual.
What are your favorite beauty tips for face care? Body care?
Personally, it doesn’t matter what I do or put on my skin if I am putting foods that cause inflammation into my body. The appearance of your skin can be affected by various factors, but one main contributor to skin appearance is the state of your gut. When I eat foods my body regards as toxic or irritating, I see it!
That being said, there are many tools I use to really take care of and nourish my skin, from the inside as well as out. I’ll start with the inside. Green juice is the best beauty drink of all time! I try to drink about 16 oz. of green juice a day. I’m not fanatical about it and there are days where I don’t get it in, but it’s difficult not to drink it when the results are so astounding. My skin takes on a glow it just doesn’t get when I have gone periods without it. Drinking green juice gives the body mineral rich vegetation in a completely absorbable form. My favorite green juice is apple, celery, cucumber, kale, sun choke.
MSM is my favorite beauty supplement. It works wonders on itching, rashes and other skin blemishes. Lately I have been taking a heaping teaspoon full a day. I mix it into my green smoothies after blending, as it is very heat sensitive and can easily be compromised by churning blades of a blender.
For my outer body and skin, my main beauty secret is exfoliation. As we age, our skin cell renewal slows down. Exfoliation helps skin to shed old, dying cells and reveals new skin cells to the surface. Exfoliation also increases blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to the skin. The skin is our largest organ, but it is on the periphery of the body. Our bodies are extremely intelligent and when we have imbalance, blood flow and oxygen are sent to the most vital inner organs and tissues. Our skin, hair and nails are last on the list.
This is why you see patients in chemotherapy lose their hair. The body is working so hard at keeping that person’s system functioning that it stops sending nutrients, blood and oxygen to the hair. It’s not needed for survival. By exfoliating, we increase blood flow to the skin, enabling this organ to get extra care and nourishment. The best way to exfoliate is to brush your body when the skin is dry. I use a natural bristle body brush from Whole Foods called Yerba Prima. I brush my entire body every morning before I shower.
Many people who do body brush forget their face! The face loves exfoliation too. You just need to use a bit of a softer bristle and work up to a comfortable pressure. I was using a synthetic brush for some time, then I read a great tip from raw author Tanya Zavasta. She recommends a 100% horse hair shoe brush. This works amazingly well for me and my skin is very soft. You will notice a pretty pink warm your cheeks as blood flows to the skin after face brushing. My particular brush brand is Kiwi.
I also brush my face every morning and often at night if I am not wearing any makeup. You don’t want to brush skin that has makeup on because you will be pushing makeup and other debris that has accumulated on your face throughout the day into your pores.
I love exfoliation so much I also often use a face scrub by Sumbody in the shower. I love the Russet Polishing Grains scrub. It’s mineral rich and has soy milk for soothing and softening the skin. Some other great options for gentle exfoliation are hemp or bamboo wash cloths and I also really like Tanya Zavasta’s face mask. She includes a face brush to help remove the mask, which provides some exfoliation as well. Nothing tops the dry brushing though.
I will say, I have been exfoliating for a long time and people should work up to facial exfoliation slowly and use very gentle pressure to start. Maybe start out 2-3 times a week and see how your skin feels. If you know you have very sensitive skin, opt for a very gentle scrub, like Go JoJo Facial Cleanser from Sumbody and start out slowly to see how you feel with the stimulation.
If you have inflamed acne, never use scrub! You will only irritate and inflame your skin more. Acne can be complicated and I would first focus on what you put in your body, as well as your spiritual development before looking to the external for a cure. When things mellow with your skin, proceed with incorporating a scrub slowly. A great tip for those with acne, as well as everyone else, is to use a gentle toner. I’m not a fan of astringent toners, especially with any amount of alcohol as I feel they strip the skin of vital oils and harm the Ph balance, but Sumbody has some great flower water toners that are alcohol free and Raw Gaia has a great toner as well with essential oils. Toners are great for bringing skin Ph back into balance, removing residue from cleansers, cleaning the skin in general (I often just cleanse with toner if I’m not wearing makeup) and removing dead skin cells that are ready to be sloughed off once you’ve loosened them with brushing :).
Of all the products I use, I don’t use anything on my skin that I would be afraid to eat! Your skin absorbs 60% of what goes on it: that’s how patch medications work, like the birth control patch.
Do you have any favorite beauty products?
The ones I mentioned above are favorites, as well as coconut butter for a body moisturizer and shea butter for lip balm and face cream. I really like Tanya Zavasta’s products and her skin cream smells like marshmallows, yummy! Pure aloe is also a great moisturizer and skin soother. Just make sure it doesn’t have other questionable ingredients. You can add a few drops of jojoba oil for added moisture as well.
Another favorite product is my ionic toothbrush. I alternate between the ionic toothbrush and my Sonicare, but the ionic one is the best in my opinion at getting plaque completely off teeth so they feel silky smooth even in hard to reach places. I spend a good 3 minutes every time I brush too, really running over my teeth with my tongue to make sure I don’t feel any “fuzzyness”.
I just saw my family this weekend and I got compliments on how white my teeth are. They asked if I whiten my teeth and I had to tell them the truth, I don’t use whitening products! 🙂
You and your husband are such a beautiful couple. Do you have him on any special program or products?
My husband Steven is so cute; he uses whatever I get him! Besides a couple years in his teens, Steven has always had really easy skin. Before going raw he would get the once in a blue moon blemish, but I don’t even remember the last time I saw him with the smallest spot! He did ask me recently though about how often he should be exfoliating, because even guys want to prevent aging! He uses a face scrub from Sumbody in the shower and For Her Sons Living Moisturizer from Raw Gaia. He also just started to body brush on occasion…. so we’ll see how that goes! He uses coconut oil as a hair gel. We both also use Toothsoap and Oralive from Ascended Health for brushing our teeth and keeping them nice and white!
What services do you offer?
I’m certified in Reiki 1 and 2 and offer this healing technique in person as well as at a distance. I have a deep connection to crystals and their energies and offer intuitive crystal healing as well. I also offer wellness coaching, including incorporating and transitioning more raw foods into one’s diet.
I have my B.A. in psychology and I always knew I wanted to help people on an emotional and spiritual level. My experience in holistic health has allowed me to merge the emotional, physical, and spiritual in terms of looking at holistic ways of helping people to heal. All spheres of our lives are connected. One part cannot be altered or changed without affecting all the other facets of our lives.
For this reason I like to look at health and wellness as a web and incorporate different aspects depending on a particular person’s needs and desires. Our home environment and the energy we surround ourselves with is another sphere that I enjoy exploring with others. Feng Shui is a beautiful technique for creating balance in one’s external world.
You have two adorable dogs and one cat. Please share a bit about them. Do they follow a raw diet, too?
My husband and I have two Alaskan Klee Kais (AKK) named Malachi and Maikoda and an adopted cat named Milo. AKKs are a rare breed and are basically a miniature Alaskan Husky, although they often look more like little Siberian Huskies. They are similar to other breeds of northern decent and have double coats, LOTS of energy (so they need lots of exercise), and love to run! They differ in that they are extremely pack oriented and remind me often of a wild pack. They are very cautious with strangers, yet very loving and attached to their human companions. They are usually docile in nature and do well with owners who have the time to give these little dogs the exercise, attention and love they need. They would not do well being at home all day without their human companion.
Milo is a sweet natured cuddlebug we adopted from a local shelter. He was labeled as semi feral when we chose him and he often hides when we have visitors :). He loves basking in the sun and bird watching from windows. He gets along great with the dogs and is king of our home. He often plays with the puppy, Maikoda, and he is totally in charge! Sometimes I catch him in the sweetest moment grooming Malachi.
They are a playful bunch and I often refer to them as our little gremlins. All our pets do follow a raw diet. I recently wrote a blog post with details on what we feed them, as well as supplements they take and other pet musings 🙂 You can check it out here.
How do you keep a balance between inner and outer beauty?
I keep a balance by remembering to give gratitude for all the beautiful gifts in my life. I am so grateful for all that I have learned about health and well-being, for all the love and support that surrounds me in my husband, family and friends. For awakening to my true self and having the courage to work on my spirit. Being grateful puts us in a high vibration.
Inner and outer beauty, although seemingly polarities, are actually one and the same. It is now scientifically proven that we are primarily energetic beings. Our thoughts, and more importantly, our feelings become our realities. It is said within every seven years every cell in our body has been replaced with new cells. In essence, we have a completely new body every seven years. These new cells that are constantly being created are directly influenced by our thoughts and feelings.
Do you wish to see beauty in the mirror? Then DO a beautiful act of kindness, think beautiful thoughts of love and compassion, feel gratitude for the things you actually like about yourself. The world you create within influences and eventually mirrors your external world. I feel a key strategy to shifting your feelings in this regard is understanding the power of the media and to not fully immerse yourself in television and magazines.
My husband and I stopped getting cable about a year ago and it was the best decision we ever made! You have no idea how much power these sources have until you go on a media diet! Without all the plastic, airbrushed, artificially enhanced, brainwashing in your face day after day, you may start to appreciate the things about yourself that are unique to only you.
I know it sounds cliché, but we are all truly beautiful in our own ways. Finding aspects about ourselves we can celebrate for their natural beauty is an amazing gift to give yourself and others. When we accept and can see the beauty we posses, we give permission to others to see their unique beauty as well.
As someone who once would not leave the house without makeup on, I understand the guilt and shame our society projects onto women and men alike in regards to natural, authentic beauty. Despite my past history, I can honestly say I now feel more comfortable in my own skin then I ever have in my life. I actually like my skin, and most days don’t want to cover up what I have worked so hard to reflect health of body and mind.
Treat your body with love and care; it is your vehicle for conscious expansion. By loving our bodies, feeding ourselves fresh, organic, whole foods, getting enough sleep, getting sunshine, experiencing joy and laughter, we increase the beauty factor in our lives, and our cells literally illuminate this truth for all to see.
What do crystals and moon cycles have to do with beauty?
The lunar cycles are a powerful, magical force that affect all living beings, plants and our planet. Just as lunar energy affects the oceans and plants in cycles, it too affects our bodies, even if we are unaware of this force. Hair is affected by the lunar cycles similarly to plants. Farmers and cultivators of our earth from times of old knew of these cycles, revered and respected them, and therefore cultivated their crops in accordance with nature to yield the best food and healthiest plants. This ancient knowledge has been passed on, and although in our society it has been long forgotten, it is remembered in some older farming methods and the newer traditions of biodynamic gardening.
You can even find the moon cycles in farmer’s almanacs with tips of when to grow, plant, and prune plants. With certain phases of lunar cycles, energy is pulled into the root, or out of the root. Cutting one’s hair at certain times actually can send a signal to the hair shaft to stop growing, just as with plants! For this reason, it is beneficial to know about the moon cycles and to cut one’s hair only on auspicious days for hair growth.
If you actually want to hinder hair growth, such as with shaving, plucking or waxing, it would be beneficial to do this on days that correlate with stunting growth.
I have read beautiful, insightful works regarding our hair as our spiritual antenna. It is said that areas on the body where hair thickens, is to further facilitate spiritual energy to these chakras. For instance, the two major sites of hair growth on the body are at the groin, or root chakra, and on the head, crown chakra. The eyebrows are also of a thick, concentrated hair growth pattern, which would facilitate the third eye chakra and intuition.
This personally resonates with me and has allowed me to really honor my hair in a way I never did before. I always thought of hair as dead, not really considering dying, blow drying on high heat, and frying with curling irons to be something to give a second though to. Now I regard my hair with care and don’t artificially process it.
Henna is a natural plant that can be used if one wants to naturally color or give shine to the hair. Henna has been used safely for centuries to enhance beauty and was a favorite in ancient Egypt. Cleopatra was known to color her hair and adorn herself with henna. I sometimes still blow dry my hair, but I never use high heat, only cool or warm air, and I always keep the blow dryer several inches from the hair shaft. My hair is naturally wavy, but if I want a bit more uniform curl, steam curlers are not damaging to the hair and are a great option for a more styled look.
Crystals and beauty, like the lunar cycles, are as ancient as myths and legends passed on through the ages. Crystals have been used throughout the ages to adorn oneself with beauty. Cultivated by the energies of mother earth, crystals can be thought of as precious jewels that are concentrated energetic stones, gifts from mother earth to remind us of our own unique variety and beauty.
Symbolically, crystals are very much like people, each with unique gifts to share with the world, each possessing a unique beauty that cannot be replicated by another. They remind us our connection to the earth, and our own inherent value, with gifts and treasures to share. The infinite diversity of crystals lends beautiful variety to their uses.
Crystals often take on the surrounding vibrations of the environment in which they were cultivated, naturally synchronizing with the patters of the earth and this can help one in choosing the right stone to wear. Crystals can be embedded with energy and thought patters of their wearer and can even purposely be embedded to enhance beauty. This can be used to help enhance one’s beauty if one is embedding kind and loving thoughts about themselves.
Just as crystals naturally synchronize with earth patterns, they do so with their wearer. There are many stones that help to balance and uplift one’s thoughts and emotions and this can be helpful if one is experiencing low self esteem.
Amethyst and citrine are wonderful crystals for dissipating negative energy and balancing the emotional and physical body. Amethyst’s properties lie in the realm of spirituality, contentment and healing. Citrine helps to activate and increase personal power. This in turn can affect one’s self confidence.
Moss Agate is another stone that can be used for beauty. Of many of its properties, it helps to strengthen positive personal traits, brings emotional balance and allows you to see the beauty in all things, including yourself :).
Turquoise is a holy stone to American Indians, which symbolizes beauty. They believe it is a magical stone that aids in protection and is said to make women content and men powerful and successful. Some properties of turquoise linked to beauty are giving confidence and lifting depression.
What are some of your favorite raw treats?
I try to be pretty simple with my eating because that’s the way my body likes it! But, I have to admit, I love to eat! I grew up in an Italian family and eating for pleasure was ingrained in me since I was very young. I know most people can relate. It’s easy for me to be tempted and I allow myself to eat for pleasure, not just health. I just need to keep it balanced because I have a history of VERY severe food sensitivities.
I love “Orange Julius”’ that I make with orange juice, banana and raw vanilla powder. They taste just like those drinks I used to get at the mall as a kid! I also love raw olives, figs and almond butter fudge made with carob powder.
If I really want a special treat, or it’s a special occasion, Seed is my favorite raw restaurant here in the North San Francisco Bay Area. The owner, Jerri Hastey, is so kind and if given a day’s notice, will make foods for anyone with special needs, like sensitivities. I am sensitive to tomatoes and peppers and they are very common in raw recipes at restaurants, so it’s wonderful to be able to have someone make my favorite foods without these items. Her broccoli quiche is amazing!
Thanks so much, Cassie! You can find Cassie at http://www.luminouslivingraw.blogspot.com/.
www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com For more information on crystals and the moon, please stay tuned for Schizandra and the Gates of Mu.