This is Part 2 of an Interview with raw food chef Mia Dalene. For Part 1, please click here.
Mia is not only a chef and instructor, but also a fellow brain injury survivor and all-around inspirational leader. I love supporting other people who have turned tragedy into triumph, so please check out her links and services below. This portion of the interview addresses two of my favorite topics in the world: the spiritual side of brain injuries and … you guessed it! Raw cacao. 🙂
How did your concept of Self change after your brain injury?
Before I found the nutritional difference with raw vegan cuisine.:
With the injury I switched from Type A to Type B personality in that instant, but I was not aware of what had happened and so was figuring it out as I went along. I found this a painful experience at the time. As well, I was no longer able to do tasks that before the injury were things I defined myself by and had taken my ability to complete them for granted. It was a very difficult time for me as I saw myself as someone that I and others could no longer count on.
It took some time but in the years that have followed, I have come to see my Self as more than the job title, the amount of pay I once commanded, and the number of times I was interrupted during the day to fix problems. (and in 2009 have been experiencing more of the essence of Self.)
I had liked being counted on in those days but I let it define me, along with being a single mother of two rambunctious boys. I defined myself and assigned my value to my abilities to behave in certain ways. With the injuries I could no longer allow my children to climb on me like a human jungle gym and rough house play with them, or allow them to jump into my arms as had been our normal greeting to that point. It wasn’t just a brain injury, my neck, back, and left shoulder were also injured. These injuries affected my children’s concept of what they meant to me as well.
In conversations I would forget their names. Miles, the youngest, caught me and commented, “How can you love me anymore if you forgot my name?” He was 6 at the time of the injury and it made no sense to him or to me, although I did know that I loved him – I was having difficulty conveying it in the terms we had been doing so to this point. It took a year for me to figure out holding him in my arms while I sat down was our new way of expressing affection beyond the words.
His older brother, Tony, was 9 and was able to assist me in caring for his younger brother. I now needed absolute quiet and sometimes the solitude of a dark room (or coat over my head) when I would get neurologically over stimulated. Something my very vocal Miles could not immediately understand. Tony could assist me to get Miles to be quiet during those times in the car when I needed immediate quiet so I could bring myself back down to calm.
During those early years, I often hated my new life and myself for not being able to do the things I once had. It took me some time to adjust and I find myself still in this daily adjustment process. It has helped to release expectations and be open to what is in each moment.
Two things happened that were pivotal points:
1) I read a book, Choosing Joy in the Midst of Chaos, by Dorothy Mae
My choice was to live a joy-filled life and so I decided that even though this tragic thing had occurred, it was still my life and no matter what… I wanted to live that Joy Filled life. So I did.
Not knowing what I could do, I wrote down a list of things I could focus on, keeping this list on a piece of paper in my pocket so I could refer to it often and remember. As I read through it, I would feeling the Love bliss consciousness that comes through me when I do these things. Looking back, I see that I included all my senses in my remembering moments.
spending time in nature among the plants,
smelling scents of fragrant plants
seeing colorful flowers
feeling the different texture of plants under my feet and on my fingertips,
hearing the stillness
experiencing beauty all around me
2) I started doing some things that I had always wanted to do. One was to learn tap dancing. I soon found that the symptoms of TBI followed me everywhere. I was not able to remember the dance steps … but I did find joy in the movement and the clicking of the taps on the toes of my shoes.
So I reframed my definition of success. In the corporate world, my personal success mantra was “exceeding excellence”. Now, it transmuted to, “if I am enjoying what I am doing in this moment… that is success.” And so my new job became finding joy in each and every moment.
At this point, I was redeemed in my eyes and I became successful again. And my perception of myself shifted toward more positive aspects. My abilities were no longer found in the Doing but in the BE-ing. And I began to see the gift of being different; both amongst people and different from who I was before.
Would you consider your injury a spiritual experience? If so, in what ways?
It provided the freedom from focus on doing and into the experience of BE-ing. It allowed (forced) me to slow down and experience the world in a different way- calm and ultimately peaceful.
I was able to see and experience a different definition of who I was. My value came from the simple fact of being alive instead of having to do something, become someone in order to have value; the job title, the amount I received in my paycheck. There is something magical and liberating about living in the flow.
I learned that I can still have a positive impact on society, even with an injured brain and its symptoms. Providing information and teaching skills that others can use to better their lives, health. I am a catalyst for joy- something I wanted to be since I was a child. And definitely making a positive impact in the lives of others.
Please list five things you do or know better now than you did before your injury.
1. Take time to focus on and experience a joy centered life
2. Connect with people around me in real and profound ways
3. BE as opposed to DO
4. Consciously create
5. Type about as fast as a person can talk
What kind of classes and services do you offer, and where do you offer them?
For a listing of our calendar of events:
SmartRawFood.com (under construction)
DavidHempseed.com (quality Transformational Superfood ingredients)
1) all around the Puget Sound region of Washington state. I have spoken and food demo’s in Oregon & California as well. I will travel.
2) Online. We are planning some classes online to reach a wider audience. I will have information on that as it unfolds. There will be Live stream online preparing Live food. Showcasing recipes and SmartRaw Food Prep techniques and will be archived for those not able to make it to the live event.
(SmartRaw Food is a way of preparing food that saves money, time and energy. I created these techniques as a response to the myths I was hearing from people that this type of food is expensive and takes too much time)
What: *Recipes *Classes *Products *Quality Ingredients *Lifestyle Coaching & Raw Business Consulting
Some classes we teach include;
dalene’s Certified Raw Food Chef Course
SmartRawFood Prep Course; Phase 1, 2 & 3
I developed SmartRaw food Prep techniques that are efficient with time, money and energy.
Cacao (Raw Chocolate) Party class
Entertaining with seasonal Raw Vegan Cuisine
Live Cuisine Series: Italian, Mexican, Thai, Asian.
I co-teach with my partner, David Hempseed. We have teaching styles and personalities that complement each other. Our students often report that we “make a great team!” While I am more creative and less analytical than before the injury, I find I perform best with assistance from David’s gentle guidance as he assists me with organizing and staying on task.
What’s your favorite thing about living in the Pacific Northwest?
Nature! -The beautiful outdoors.
Cacao or not cacao?
Raw Cacao has the three major minerals that most Americans are lacking; Iron, Magnesium and Chromium.
I definitely Cacao! And make no judgments for those who choose to abstain. While I love raw chocolate, I have noticed a decrease in the amount my body desires lately.
An important note: As with any ingredients, the purer the better. Not all Cacao is equal and so may affect the body differently. As with any ingredients, the better the quality, the better the recipe turns out. My body has a radar for pure vs. adulterated raw cacao. I can tell if it has been tampered with. Some raw cacao companies may cut their ingredients (or get it unknowingly from a supplier who does) – cuts it with Guarana (sp?) or Kola seed powder. All three powders look similar: Guarana, Kola, and Cacao. But each act differently on the body.
**Raw cacao affects the cardiovascular system (not the nervous system) so if you are feeling jittery or anxious after eating what you think is pure raw cacao… it might actually be cut with another substance that affects the nervous system. Also, when cacao is roasted, toasted or otherwise cooked, it will affect the body in adverse ways.
I LOVE raw cacao so much so that I developed several recipes. Many of them are featured in my upcoming ebook, dalene’s Easy Raw Chocolate Recipes. Two examples of what you can expect from the book are Seduction, a chocolate sauce (one bite and you know why this is its name!), and Raw Ecstasy, a chocolate bar.
Seduction has been praised for its contribution to many who report “it helps [them] stay raw.”
My partner, David Hempseed, and I developed a chocolate bar we named, Raw Ecstasy. When we teach people how to make this, we caution, “When you tell people you were at a party and were eating ecstasy, make sure you put the Raw in front of it… we don’t want any misunderstandings here..” usually gets a laugh or two. And then they taste it. Eyes roll to the back of the head. A quiet hush falls over the group as they go inward and enjoy the experience. Raw Ecstasy, our raw chocolate bar.
Recipe for Seduction here
Mia Dalene’s chocolate sauce
1 ¼ Cups Agave nectar (I prefer Ultimate brand, clear)
¼ – 3/4 Cup raw Cacao powder (depending on how dark you like it)
2 Tablespoons Coconut oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla (I use non alcohol flavoring)
1) Place all ingredients into high speed blender (put agave nectar in first so the cacao doesn’t stick to the blades) and process until silky smooth. It should have a shean to the top of the mixture.
2) Adjust ingredients to taste. *after it settles it may harden slightly. If this happens, simply use a spoon, fork or chopstick and mix vigorously until it becomes viscous.
3) store in glass jar with sealed lid. This will keep out of refrigerator for over 2 months.
**This makes a great quick and tasty gift. Simply pour out into several small decorative jars, attach lid and affix your homemade label.
Tastes great drizzled over everything! For quick chocolate milk; add some to your nutmilk (or dairy) beverage. Even coffee can be transformed.
One woman told me she “takes a teaspoonful every morning, like medicine.”
And if you need some extra support on your traumatic brain injury journey, please feel free to check out If I Only Had a Brain Injury. Many Blessings and Much Love to Mia and all of you!