Archive for July, 2010

Interview with Chef Mia Dalene (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of an Interview with raw food chef Mia Dalene. For Part 1, please click here.

Raw Food Chef Mia Dalene

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.

I enjoy…
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?

Yes.

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:

Meetup.com/Seasonal-Raw-Vegan-Cuisine

SmartRawFood.com (under construction)

DavidHempseed.com (quality Transformational Superfood ingredients)

Where:
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

Transformational Superfoods

Water Wisdom

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.

David and Mia

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

Seduction
Mia Dalene’s chocolate sauce

Ingredients

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)

Preparation

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.”

Enjoy.

(Believe it or not, we still have more to this interview, so stay tuned for the third installment. In the meantime, please check out Mia’s wonderful offerings here and especially here.)

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!

Door Number 10: Hopi/Jewel in the Lotus

Someone commissioned Door Number 10 from me, and I finished it about a week and a half ago. The photos are posted on Facebook, but I’ve had some requests for a more complete write-up here. Ask and you shall receive. 🙂

Door Number 10 by Laura Bruno

Back of Door Number 10 by Laura Bruno

I really enjoyed painting this door! As my first commissioned door, it gave me a chance to code and design a portal to someone else’s intentions and dreams. This part of the process was as fun and rewarding as I anticipated. Once we decided on a theme — The Sun tarot card— I started asking her questions about quotes, mantras and important symbols in her life. By spending time in her home, I got a feel for her decorating style, and I also noticed that she happened to have a sun tattooed on her upper back. I decided to incorporate her tattoo into the door design, but at her request added some extra rays to make it look more like an alchemical sun from old texts.

The other symbols are also near and dear to her heart: replicas of some Hopi jewelry she showed me, a Hopi Kachina, and the Jewel in the Lotus Mantra on the inside of the door. Not only does she love this mantra, but it’s one she actually says, so the door resonates very closely with her interior life, just as the Jewel in the Lotus now graces the interior of her bedroom. Some synchronicities led to the inclusion of the four aspects of the Om Mani Padme Hum path, which are placed around the four edges of the inner door. (More explanation of that later.)

Overall, she wanted something bright and cheerful, but not overwhelmingly so. The door needed to fit within her surroundings. I got the idea to paint it quite vibrant and then “brown down” the colors, giving the suggestion of a faded deck of cards or a rare book. I used mountain colors because she feels a particular draw to the Pagosa Springs region of Colorado. Each of the colors suggests something naturally found in this area so special to her and her family.

Door number 10 also marks my first “functional” door, in that it leads in and out of the master bedroom. When she crosses this threshold, she actually moves through the energies of the door. We decided to work with the molding, too, creating even more of a 3D “portal” effect by using a contrasting color around the door itself.

As you may remember, doors 1-9 are standalone, discarded panel doors. By contrast, the tenth door offered a blank canvas, with no predetermined layers or frames. I initially found this challenging, because I enjoy the inherent guidelines forced upon me by panels. As corny as it sounds, I spent about a day tuning in to this panel-less door, so that I could learn its character. I walked through the threshold, lay down in front of it, stared at it from down the hallway, until I had a real sense of what the door itself wanted to express. Once I felt that, I combined all of the patron’s intentions and requests with the door’s energy and the surrounding colors and a clear image came to mind. The colors divided the door instead of panels.

That’s a bit of the background. I find it difficult to explain my entire process, since it mostly comes from a right-brain, intuitive and spiritually channeled, synchronous place. Music plays an important role as well. This door is most infused with two albums: U2’s The Unforgettable Fire and Krishna Das’ Heart as Wide and the World. Although I listened to other music, those albums wanted to repeat themselves most often, and I probably listened to each of them at least 6 times.

I’ll show some close-up shots below, with a little more explanation. Because this is a commissioned piece, I am grateful for the opportunity to share any photos and explanation here. Some of the intentions are quite private, and they are encoded in Runes as texture and words. I am only describing those elements she has given me permission to share publicly. The door is actually much more complex and layered than I’m letting on here, but out of respect for her privacy and gratitude for her willingness to share, I’m only focusing on the more universal elements.

Although the doors look like artwork, the use of Runes, Sanskrit, Sacred Geometry and ancient symbols directly speaks to the subconscious mind. In this way, the doors do act as portals, because they intentionally program the subconscious mind to accept and embrace desired experiences or states of being. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am using ALL of my education and all of my brain — melding right with left, major nerdy book learning with intuitive flashes, and language with art. Many thanks to my anonymous patron for allowing me to share so much with you!

Doorway Number 10 by Laura Bruno (open)

Doorway Number 10 by Laura Bruno

The woman’s teenage sons were so cute, too. They said the squiggly lines around the sun were “male” and thus represented them being added to their mom’s tattoo. They were really excited to find themselves in the painting.

Closeup of Kokopelli and the Hopi Starblower

Close-up of the Doorway Number 10, Kokopelli, Starblower, Crow Mother Kachina and many, many Runes! As a side note, one reason the water seems to move is that I coded its texture with a Rune that subconsciously corresponds to “flow.”

Buddha Door Quote and Crow Mother Kachini

Out of focus BlackBerry shot of the bottom of Doorway Number 10. It shows the bottom of a Hopi “Starblower” along with a Crow Mother Kachina. The background texture is coded with Runes specific to the owner’s intentions with this portal. The quote says, “There are two mistakes one can make on the road to truth … not going all the way and not starting.”–Buddha

Threshold Coding

Threshold of Doorway Number 10, showing part of the Runic coding, which runs from top to bottom. It spells out the Hopi elder saying, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” The photo is a bit misleading as the inner room is white and the threshold is cinchilla blue.

Jewel in the Lotus by Laura Bruno

The back side of Doorway Number 10, which is in the master bedroom. It features the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra, which the owner says on a regular basis. The Sanskrit on the sides (and on top and bottom not shown in this photo) lists the four aspects of this path: karuna (compassion), maitri (loving kindness), upaika (equanimity) and mudika (joy).

Thanks for sharing the journey with us! I’ve had some other tentative requests for doors, too — some of them with the possibility of painting Dutch doors. (Those are the ones that split in half and swing separately.) Door number 11 is also a blank canvas (no panels) already planned and set to start painting later next week. Each door reminds me that portals are so unique. They involve not just one element, but so many possible functions, energies, intentions, love and desires. I truly feel blessed to have stumbled upon such a powerful and unusual means of expression.

Many Blessings and if you’d like your own portal door, please contact me privately for details. Cost varies according to travel, complexity, size and style of each door. I would love to create something for you or teach you how to create your own.

Namaste.

Premonitions and Affirmations

This is another email turned blog post. I decided to share it here because it addresses several questions I get asked a lot. In no particular order:

1) Why did I stop traveling to Reno/Tahoe when I have so many friends, clients and students there?

2) How do premonitions present themselves and how do we know they’re “real”?

3) Do I have any intentions of returning to Reno/Tahoe, at least for a visit?

4) Can we have any flexibility with premonitions or are we slaves to that perceived information?

5) Do I (as in me, Laura) only have blissful, amazing dreams all night long?

The original question was just about why I felt I had some sort of “cosmic block” about me returning to Reno. Here’s the message, with a few things added for clarity:

“The story of the block is that before my last class there in January 2008 I had two weeks of awful nightmares and would have cancelled the trip except I had so many people registered for the classes. It’s not like me to have nightmares so I asked for a solution. Solution was not to take a cab and to be very careful about where I went on that trip, listening to and following my intuition w/o deviating at all.

I did and had some very specific instructions and near misses of not-good stuff happening to me. On the last morning there, I needed to go to the ATM in order to get enough cash to pay for the classroom rental. I use Bank of America, and there was a BofA right next to my hotel. I remember I was lying in bed, mentally timing out my morning before the class. I suddenly heard in my head a very firm voice that said, “Do NOT go to the Bank of America ATM today. You have long hair and you look like a teenager today. That makes you a target. Do NOT go to the Bank of America ATM this morning.” I don’t normally operate from a fear place, so this felt like a random and cryptic message. I almost argued, but then a goosebumpy, creepy feeling crept over me. I opted to get cash from the hotel’s ATM and just pay the $2 surcharge.

I checked out of the hotel and realized I had left my carefully selected and much anticipated lunch in the room’s refrigerator. I started to turn back, as I stayed at this hotel regularly and figured I could get them to let me back in my room to get it. Again, I heard this same unexpected instruction, “Do NOT go back to the hotel. You are done with the hotel. You are done with this area. Get on the bus, go to class and leave. Do NOT go back.”

By this time, I felt quite weirded out, as my little intuitive instructions usually arrive as positive nudges, i.e. “Say hi to that person” or “Why don’t you peek in that shop window?” I am always pleasantly surprised by synchronicities when I follow those hits. These instructions felt ominous and I needed to work hard to stay in a high vibe state to teach the day’s class. As I got off the bus and walked to center, I realized I would not be back in Reno for a long, long time. This saddened me greatly, but the moment I agreed to that, everything shifted and I felt like my usual light and airy self. I taught the class, got a ride to the airport and exhaled when the plane took off.

When I got back home to Sedona, I had a bunch of emails from people who had been very concerned about me all weekend, even though they knew no details. I told Stephen I had never been so relieved to get home. Five minutes later we got a fax from the Reno police department with a photograph of Brianna (I think that was her name–the one who was missing and eventually found murdered).

We had never before received anything from the Reno police dept and have no idea how they even got our fax number, but the photo they sent of her as a missing person looked a lot like me. Strikingly so. Several people even commented to that effect. Then we learned a cab driver was “a person of interest.” Then a few weeks later we got another fax from the Reno PD, saying she had been found murdered and I think it was the cab driver who did it? I don’t remember all the details but every time I plan a trip to Reno something happens with the reservations to make it very clear that they’re not going to go through. Either the internet locks up, or I can’t stay where I planned or the credit card won’t work or blah, blah, blah, it’s just uncanny.

Anyway, that happened the first time we moved to Tahoe, too. We had intended to move to Reno, but when we got there it was just not right. I could feel really aggressive energy towards me that was just intolerable, like being raped. We moved to Tahoe instead and a couple weeks later, that energy passed and I felt fine about hanging out in Reno. I researched it and the area we had planned to move there had had a string of rapes right after we would have moved there–again, with victims that looked like me.

In 2007, Stephen and I had plans to move back to Reno. We even got ourselves prequalified for a beautiful rental house on the Truckee River. The day before we left Monterey, the realtor called with news that she could barely process herself: the rental had fallen through. Some bizarre series of events had forced the current residents not to move out, and the owner was allowing them to extend their lease without notice.

We wondered if this might be a sign, but continued with our plans. On the way to Reno, our Uhaul trailer began swerving uncontrollably. Accidents on the other side of the highway prevented us from turning around, so I called Uhaul’s 1-800 number to find the nearest center that could repair the issue. They sent us right instead of left, away from Reno, but indicated we would not go too far out of our way. Well, two hours and several near accidents and flips later, we found ourselves in Paso Robles, CA, just north of San Luis Obispo. We found an open Uhaul center and they examined the trailer, thinking it would just need some minor tweaking.

Um, no. Their faces turned white. We had no brake fluid and the chains were so loose that they could not figure out how we had survived a two hour journey. When we told them we would have been driving on the windy Sierra Mountains, they all but screamed. We needed to have everything unloaded and then reloaded, at Uhaul’s expense and discretion, so they put us up in a nearby hotel. By the time they found loaders and reloaders, several days had passed and we felt clear we were NOT meant to go back to Reno at that time. We opted to move locally, since we had considered the SLO area many times before but never moved there.

Meanwhile, I still really loved Reno and kept wanting to return to my friends and clients there. And of course the beauty of Lake Tahoe. We tried once more in May 2009, with equally bizarre and synchronous redirection.

So … I love, love, love Reno and all my friends and students there, but I also listen if there’s a perceived block because I’ve had some uncanniness with it. Something about that area is just make or break with me. When it’s good, it’s awesome; when it’s not, it’s blocked for me to go. Very much anticipating a green light time. 🙂

… [end of email]

What does all this say about premonitions and free will? A few thoughts:

In determining if a dream or feeling is a premonition, it’s important to know your usual experiences with intuition. If you live from a fear-based place most of the time, then it makes sense to question nightmares and scary thoughts because they are likely symbolic. They may have a component of truth to them, but if they do not jump way out of your normal state, then they are less apt to be something foreboding.

In my own, personal dream and intuitive life, I happen to know that negative dreams and nudges tend to correspond to real events. When I dream of “bad stuff” and call whoever was in the dream, I very often learn that they either just had that happen to them that night, or they are going on the trip or making the decision that leads to the situation in the dream. I can give them a timely warning, and they tend to listen because, again, this is unusual for me. I do not normally have nightmares.

Another important discernment technique is to question your actual emotions about a place or event. Do you secretly want to avoid it, but don’t feel you can without an otherworldly excuse? If that’s the case, you will benefit from being honest with yourself, because it helps you learn to trust your intuition and know its subtleties. Premonitions don’t always mean imminent disaster. They might simply indicate a subconscious longing for something else. And that’s OK!

I find that prayer helps greatly. You can ask for clarity. You can also keep yourself in a high vibe state, or raise yourself into a high vibe state with sacred chants, more raw foods, yoga, deep relaxation, and time in nature. If your intuition starts screaming louder when you do these things, then it likely does require your attention.

Journaling about your questions often brings hidden things to light. Talking with a trusted friend can also help. I also receive many requests for sessions from people who feel inexplicable, “irrational” nudges and just want an uninvolved person to tune in and cut through the swarm of competing channels and information. The important thing is to realize that you can make the most of everything that comes your way.

Jean-Paul Sarte says, “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” I would add, that Freedom is also what you do with what’s slightly down the road. Your trajectory does not need to remain fixed. If you catch hints of things you’d like to avoid, you can respond. We live more than once, but why waste a lifetime? Or even a moment? 😉

Namaste.

Tips for Tastier Green Smoothies

I’ve been painting Doorway Number 10 all week and will post photos soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d post some quick tips to make green smoothies more interesting. Summer offers wonderful fresh produce, especially greens and fruit — perfect for this little health food staple. If you’re like me, though, you might feel a little tired of green smoothies, even with your farmer’s market stash. I’ve drunk some form of green smoothie on most days for the past five years. Sometimes even varied fruit and greens seem … boring. Even superfoods, fruit and greens … dull.

I realized while talking with some friends about this dilemma that I’ve found easy ways around it with essential oils, teas and unusual flavor combinations. You can dramatically alter your smoothie experience with a little knowledge and experimentation. Here are some of my favorite combos:

Acai-cacao-blueberry-peppermint

Acai tastes like a combination of blueberries and chocolate, so when you add those flavors in with the acai, the flavors really pop! I like to use fresh mint as the green in these smoothies, but I’ve also used Romaine or spinach and just added 3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Adding some cinnamon powder or essential oil brings out even more flavor dimensions in this combo.

cilantro-anise
I am drinking this right now, actually. Many people find cilantro a difficult green to drink, but it chelates Mercury and other heavy metals, so it’s worth the effort. I’ve found that cilantro tastes good with frozen pineapples or frozen mangos, and it tastes good with pretty much anything if you add 3 drops of anise essential oil. Something about the licorice flavor of the anise brings out depths of flavor in the cilantro for a total wow experience. I just have frozen bananas as my base today, along with a hint of acai, anise, and even some maca. Normally, maca-cilantro would taste disgusting as a sweet smoothie, but the anise cuts the flavor and makes it seem complexly sweet. Anise also has a side benefit of helping with bloating or gas that some people experience with too much liquid or poor food combining.

maca-cacao

On its own, maca is not the most smoothie-friendly ingredient because it tastes like radish. Put too much of it in your kale smoothie and you risk a total blech reaction. But maca-combined with cacao creates an almost magical experience.

maca-spirulina-cinnamon

Another example of combining flavors in order to transform the yuck factor into an amazing “yum!”

schizandra berries

These things are totally tart. I can put one, possibly two into a smoothie, but no more unless I’ve made a tea and sweetened it with stevia. The cool thing about schizandra (other than the fact that I wrote a novel about Schizandra Ginger Parker) is that it is known as the “5-flavored berry.” This means that it can amplify or adjust whatever flavors you combine with it. If your green smoothie were wine, you could say schizandra would enhance the “bouquet.”

cinnamon

This spice deserves its own little blurb. Not only does it add depth, sweetness and spiciness to just about any flavor combination, but it also helps to regulate blood sugar. If you use essential oil, a couple drops will give good flavor. If you use the spice itself, 1 tsp-1 tbsp will transform your smoothie. Err on the side of caution first and add as desired. Cinnamon works best as a subtle flavor but can easily become the dominant one if used too heavily.

chai tea

I’ve written on this before as a way of transforming dandelion greens, figs and apples into a cider-like concoction. The rich flavors of chai tea also make a nice, chilled background to tropical fruit based smoothies. Because cilantro is used sometimes in Indian cooking, chai tea also works well in making that one more palatable to the unitiated. 😉

zucchini

I learned about this from Melissa Mango. If you want to create a creamy consistency without the heavy fats or adding tons of bananas, you can peel (or not peel) a zucchini and add it into your blender. It has very little flavor on its own but will bulk up your drink into a thicker experience.

cucumber

One of my favorite smoothie add-ons, especially in summer for its cooling effects. Cucumber also has lots of silica in the peel, so buy organic and use unpeeled if possible.

frozen bananas

This one seems obvious but it’s a godsend on a hot summer afternoon without air conditioning. Freezing bananas also ensures you always have some fruit on hand for those “forgot to go produce shopping” moments. Peel and break them into pieces first! They are a staple, but I find that ANY smoothie tastes much better cold.

Other Random Tips

A few other superfast things I’ve been doing lately:

spirulina pudding: 1 avocado mashed together with 1-2 TBSP spirulina powder, and a sweetener of your choice (agave, stevia, xylitol). Bliss out!

maca-cacao-goji pudding: 1 avocado mashed together with 1-2 TBSP maca powder and 1-2 TBSP cacao powder, plus sweetener of your choice. I usually just use 1 packet of stevia. Top with optional goji berries.

fruit salad on bitter greens: if you hate the bitterness of uber-healthy dandelion greens or arugula, try topping them with fresh strawberries, peaches and raspberries. You won’t even need a dressing.

dandelion pesto: a healthier take on the basil version and a good way to get these supergreens into your system. I make mine with an entire bunch of dandelion greens, a tablespoon of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a hint of walnut oil if available, some raw walnuts, pinch of himalyan sea salt and either a bit of cinnamon honey, or just the tiniest dusting of cinnamon and a packet of xylitol. Process in a food processor until reasonably smooth, but still a little crunchy. Serve on portabella mushrooms topped with tomato and parsley, or as a sauce for zucchini or brown rice pasta.

kim chee guacamole

Add your own or store bought kim chee to an avocado and eat with a salad or tortilla chips. You won’t even need to spice it because the tangy, spicy kim chee makes it taste a bit like salsa guacamole (with the advantage of probiotics). This one is more hard core than the other recipes, but I’m sharing it for those people who, like me, really love fermented foods — or at least wish they did!

For more super-easy tips from me, as well as lots of awesome raw chefs, please see The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide. Enjoy Summer’s bounty!

Last Day for the Schizandra Special

Happy Bastille Day! Just a reminder that today is the last day for the $111 Soul Readings. You don’t need to schedule by today, but the $64 savings for an hour session expires today. You can order yours here.

Quick Reviews and Updates

Over the past year, I’ve stumbled upon some terrific products that deserve some mention here. Today’s post offers a hodge podge of updates and quick reviews of things I use, read and love. I’m not affiliated with any of these books or products in any way other than enjoying them for myself. Just sharing what I’ve found …

Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powders and Toothpaste

I love, love, love Uncle Harry’s! So much, in fact, that I got Bonne Sante to start carrying their line in Hyde Park. Warning: the flavors and textures are different than typical pastes. Some people find these too intense, but they work well for me. I especially like the Toothpowder for Sensitive Teeth if I’ve been grinding. Yes, sometimes I do grind, but Uncle Harry takes away the pain!

For everyday use I love the Miracle Alkaline Toothpaste in peppermint flavor. It’s messy. I’m not sure why, but it is … however, it gets my teeth so clean and strong that my dentist started recommending it to her patients. She even made me bring in the little glass container so she could inspect the ingredients herself. She could not believe that my teeth stayed this hard without flouride.

I also love Ascended Health oral care products, but Uncle Harry’s are much easier on the wallet. When I’ve suggested $50 toothpastes to clients they always ask for an alternative. I love the vibe, the superfoods and the Lemurian crystals in Ascended Health, but I’ve also been very happy with Uncle Harry’s at 1/5-1/10 the cost.

Sumbody Mineral Makeup and Lip Tint
Cassie Margraf turned me onto this company before I left California. They offer an extremely natural line of scrumptious bath potions, lotions and pure mineral makeup. (Their products are not entirely vegan, so check individual items for beeswax or goat milk if you want to avoid those.) I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I like the slight UVA/UVB skin protection from some of the minerals. My fair skin stays softer and less freckled if I use a slight dust of minerals on it before going outside.

My favorite thing in the Sumbody line is actually their First Kiss Lip Tint. It has a yummy flavor, which I can’t quite place, and it goes on so sheer you almost don’t see it, providing non-gloppy lip moisture for hours. (A note for strict vegans, I discovered after purchase that the lip tint does contain a small amount of beeswax, although this little pot has already lasted me eight months with about 1/3 left to spare.)

Cleansing

I decided to do a month-long cleanse in July. I’ve tried many methods before, including juice feasting, colonics and other packaged cleanses, but when I want a system overhaul, I tend to go for Dr. Natura’s Colonix. This time I also added Toxinout, for extra liver cleansing.

Even though I eat a relatively clean, mostly raw diet free of animal products (except for the occasional touch of raw honey in a raw food treat), I find my body responds well to regular cleansing. With all the changes in my life since New Year’s Eve, it felt like the right time. (Many of you know I filed for divorce on December 31, 2009, relocated to Chicago, started a door/portal painting journey and new life, and as of July 1, 2010, I am officially divorced. “Out with the old to make room for the new” works on all levels.)

Dr. Natura’s Colonix is not raw, but it does get rid of parasites and old intestinal crud. I have taken this cleanse before with, um, dramatic results. Without getting graphic, let’s just say that I know this stuff works well. A lot of my clients have taken it for two to three months and noticed major lifts in mood, weight loss, more creativity, and a greater sense of clarity and peace. I like this product because it does not require fasting or even a raw food diet, and people find it gentle enough for everyday use. Many of my clients travel for work, and they cannot afford “the runs” or other issues associated with colon cleansing.

I also like that Colonix provides a strong defense against parasites. Most people don’t realize that when we have parasites (and pretty much everyone does!), these little beasties have their own agendas and energy. Sometimes irrational fears, anger, aggression or other “personality traits” are really “parasite traits.” For example, I have found that pin worms resonate with anxiety (especially about finances). Round worms resonate with negativity, anger and aggression, while Candida resonates with “victim,” especially the kind of victim who feels walked on by everyone else. I often recognize Candida overgrowth just by the corresponding “poor me” mentality. Removing such unwanted guests can bring back our natural, joyful state. Other people notice relief from skin conditions, back aches and/or chronic illness.

Some raw foodists want to know why I choose Dr. Natura over the Ejuva cleanse. For me, the main factor is price. Dr. Natura is quite reasonable, and it gets the job done. I don’t have any major health crises where I feel I need to invest in the extra, extra effective cleansing of the Ejuva. If I did, I would likely give it a try, though, and I’ve had clients and friends heal themselves of severe digestive and other issues with Ejuva.

VOC-free paint

Those of you who’ve followed my portal painting know that after door number 4, I switched from primarily acrylics to VOC-free wall paint. I found the fumes from acrylics bothered me when painting such large surface areas.

My local Ace Hardware offers a Natura line with hundreds of gorgeous, vibrant colors that they will custom blend. Having access to these transformed my painting process and allowed me to color the backgrounds of the doors without suffocating myself! Because the paints are water based, clean up is very easy–just rinse under warm water. I highly, highly recommend the Natura brand for anyone painting walls, doors or furniture. I have a small apartment and for about 6 weeks there, I was painting for 8 or more hours per day. Once I switched to the VOC-free Natura line for large surface areas, I experienced zero side effects from fumes.

Ecstatic Beings

“144,000 ways to eternal ecstatic bliss”: the subtitle promises a lot from Shazzie and Kate Magic. As a Lazy Raw Foodist, I’ve not counted to 144,000, but the book does provide a ton of health, vibe and bliss-raising tips from recipes to kundalini yoga to poetry to numerology and doorways. How can a portal painter not appreciate a book that actually lists doorways to bliss? (page 106)

Brilliantly colored and full of love, this magazine-style book shares the kooky, awareness-opening consciousness and humor that are trademark Shazzie and Kate. Some parts may shock the squeamish or easily offended. In fact, I heard some UK book stores had banned Ecstatic Beings, which just makes me giggle. How can anyone ban an ecstatic being? I love this book because it pushes boundaries, goes beyond the normal and acceptable and encourages readers to do the same.

You don’t need to take urine therapy (111-113) in order to benefit from reading Ecstatic Beings. You can simply choose to celebrate the Revolution holidays they list (pages 104-5), or learn new vocabulary words like “Braw: A raw person with a big ego who takes themselves too seriously and puts their own success above the realvolution.”

“It’s a funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” –Somerset Maugham

Kate and Shazzie not only quote Somerset Maugham, but they offer tools to “build your own ecstatic bliss bubble,” helping readers to imagine beyond what they used to imagine, expecting and bringing in better and better bests. As a Life Coach and Medical Intuitive who practices “Reiki for Rockstars” (pages 42-3), I wholeheartedly approve of “cacalchemists” (people who “create alchemical delights using cacao”) and Visionaries in Paradise (people “committed to creating their own reality in the guise of heaven on earth.”) If you love these things or think you might, you will find Ecstatic Beings a strange and delightful read.

Independence and Liberation Celebration 2010

I just decided to run this special again for 2010. This is last year’s Independence Day Post, but please feel free to take advantage of the $111 sale until July 14, 2010. Happy Freedom Day!

July features two holidays with a focus on Independence and Liberation: the US’s Fourth of July and France’s Bastille Day. As a child, I celebrated both days with great fanfare — holding the entire ten day period as a mystical tribute to the idea of Liberation. This mostly involved fireworks, a series of quirky red-white-blue-and-black outfits, and singing the French National Anthem several times per day. No, I’m not French and yeah, I was kind of a weird kid. 😉

As I grew older I realized this fascination with Liberation resonated deep inside my soul to the point of aligning itself with my life purpose. It wasn’t about the fireworks and kooky costumes! It was about shaking off shackles that society and our own souls lock onto us at an early age.

I never in a million years expected to offer past life readings or workshops, but the concept nagged me since 1998. Even as a practicing medical intuitive, I avoided the topic unless absolutely necessary in a session. I just felt like we could never prove the existence of past lives, and even if we could, who cared? Didn’t this life matter much more than what happened long ago?

Fast forward to November 2006: I needed to wear glasses and desperately wanted to get rid of them by year’s end. If I failed to wear them, I suffered severe migraine headaches and sometimes vertigo, and contacts were not an option for this particular vision problem. I meditated on how to get rid of the glasses by January 1, 2007, and the following message came: “Embrace All Past Lives.”

“Fine,” I thought, “I have past lives. Great, I embrace them. Let’s move on.”

But no, the message continued that I needed to bring this awareness into my medical intuitive and coaching sessions. “Oh, man!” I thought. “Come on! These people will think I’ve lost it.” But the message remained firm, and I REALLY wanted to get rid of those glasses!

As an experiment, that afternoon, I let myself tune into my clients’ past life issues, shared the information, put multiple lifetimes into context, and thought little more of it. Later that day, I got a terrible headache. It throbbed like migraines from the old days of my head injury. I took off my glasses, and the pain immediately subsided. I noticed that I could read without strain without my glasses, and I have never worn them since!

The next week, I asked those clients if they wanted to discuss the usual issues we’d been working on. They all said, “Oh, I’m done with that. After you put things into context, I realized I could move on.” These were people who had done counseling on such issues for 10 years or more, plus coaching with me for several months. Poof! No more issue.

While not everyone drops patterns quite so quickly, over the years, I have seen enough dramatic and fast shifts through past life work to recognize the value of exploring these alternate realities.

My new novel, Schizandra and the Gates of Mu shares these and many other things I’ve learned in a fun, fictional form. Schizandra should go live on Amazon and in catalogs for bookstore orders sometime this week. I have a limited number of autographed copies available beginning next week, too.

The Schizandra Special is a July 2009 and July 2010 promotion running in honor of the Independence and Liberation themes of Schizandra and the Gates of Mu. Receive a one-hour Soul Reading for only $111.

This special runs from July 4, 2010-July 14,2010. All sessions must be paid and scheduled by July 14, 2010. You can do so by emailing brunoleaf @ yahoo.com or clicking here.

The Schizandra Special is a one-hour Soul Reading designed to help you receive greater understanding and/or closure regarding stuck relationships and past life patterns. A $64 savings from my regular hourly rate. Anyone who reads Schizandra and the Gates of Mu will realize the significance of $111 and the dates. (One per person.)

Blessings and Joy!
Laura