Open letter to God


buddha-jesus

Dear God,
It’s hard to believe this is the first official letter I have ever written to you. I’m sorry it took me so long to pen one until now, it’s just that I’ve been a little busy. No excuse, I know, and don’t worry, my mother didn’t put me up to it. I figured you were pretty busy anyway being God, and reading all your other fan mail. It’s the one year anniversary of my liver transplant on September 26th, so it seemed like a fitting time to write. After all, I have written to everyone else in my life as a sign of gratitude and respect, why not you? While I have revered you, thanked you, bowed down to you on multiple occasions and in your many forms, writing an open letter is a little different.

In any event , this is how I’ve chosen to express myself on this most auspicious, wonderful, blessed day of my life. You see, until the time I was diagnosed with my potentially life-terminating disease, I thought a lot of things in life weren’t fair. I thought there was a lot of injustice, and I had tremendous anger and sadness about that. It wasn’t all about me, either. On most days I just looked around me and chose to see the shadow side of the truth. The truth is, God, it’s pretty much like You’ve told me, out there. Life is dirty, and you’re either a spectator, isolated on the sidelines, keeping clean, but alone, or you gotta roll your sleeves up and jump into the shit (Your words, not mine). My disease became my shit pit, to do with what I chose.

The process of being told I was ill, then believing it, then becoming my illness, and eventually overcoming it has been the most transformational, heart-breaking and faith-making experience I’ve ever been through. I guess you knew it was exactly the kind of long-term assignment someone stubborn as myself would need to agree to jumping into the poop of life; to truly see the beauty, the play along with the sadness–to have faith in You.

I want to thank you for giving me this gift. The new organ is fabulous, but what I really mean is the gift of living with an illness, observing my physical demise, and the body’s miraculous ability to renew itself. It has given me a lifetime of reflection and perspective, an understanding about love, and a new respect for the temporality of all living creatures. This day and the scar I’ve been blessed with represent a potent reminder of the grace, as well as the terror of life; the delight and sadness, the abundance, the vibrancy, the loss, limitation and potential. It is reminder that life is something we are all a part of, and choosing to deny ourselves of the interdependence, to not roll our sleeves up and dive into the proverbial mud, is not only not sustainable as individuals or as a collective whole, it is suicide.

As difficult as moments in this year have been, I’m genuine in telling You that the darkest moments have been just as valuable as the most joyful. The reflection of both have been cast onto a mirror of vigilant awareness. While I’m continuing to learn and grow from the old experiences, new and unexpected experiences are bestowed on me each day. To be honest, even the distant past still seems fresh. My life appears jumbled as I seek chronology and definition to fading memories. I suppose when one teeters on the edge of death, the boundaries of time become blurred; time is, after all, a mere figment of our imagination. Without it, we are free! When time returns to frame our daily experience, I suppose the mind’s relationship with time itself can change.

The biggest lesson you have given me this year is the enormity of my own contribution in the life I lead. At my darkest moments, I can now identify the role I have played in making it so. Normally, it’s due to my own expectations of self and other, my insecurities; my inability to truly be present and patient in each moment. Even in times of discomfort, pain, and physical limitation, when my focus was to do the best I could to see the positive, to do the best I could for others and then for myself, those times were not as difficult as other times when seemingly nothing was awry except my fixation on a negative mindset towards something rather mundane.

The moments when I have surrendered, when I have given in to your Grace, whatever the circumstances may have been, are the moments that have been the sweetest. In these moments, I have been able to drop my own selfish needs and see you in everything. That’s when I have truly served some greater good, by connecting to something so much more than my individual limitation; by connecting to You.

Well God, I sure feel blessed and humbled and amazed at this whole process of life in a physical body with a limitless soul. I guess you know how easy it is for us embodied souls to get caught up in all the silly, day-to-day stuff. I am in the process of integration: integrating the mundane things with the bigger, Divine Plan, melding the past with the present, being of service while serving others. I can assure you, it will keep me happily busy for a while. You told me once that if you want someone to stay in your life, ask them. God, I love you. Please stay in my life*.

Loving Blessings of Gratitude to You* in all your many textured and colorful,( and less colorful) forms,

Your faithful, humble servant, Lizzie

*That means you. Yes, YOU!

______________________

My Year In Pictures:

Oct, 2 2013 One week after transplant. In critical condition.

IMG_2657

Oct 2, 2013. My 200+ abdominal staples. What you don’t see is the many more layers of stitching under the skin.

IMG_2675

Oct 10, 2013 My first received mail at the hospital.

IMG_2665IMG_2690

November, 2013 Stir Crazy, but unready to leave hospital due to a virus in the blood.

IMG_2760

December, 2013. Christmas Eve. Time to Celebrate.

IMG_2918

August, 2014. Joy-filled to be at home after two years of waiting.

Image

Footprints


IMG_0121-0.JPGFrom an early age, well before we are born into our physical body, each of us begins making our mark in the world, our imprint. As we develop, we find our feet and intuitively understand the sensation of movement, and also our relationship with gravity. We learn to fall, and to get up. Sometimes it is easy to regain our balance after a stumble; sometimes it is more challenging. This pattern of falling down and picking ourselves back up remains a thread in the tapestry throughout our physical and also our emotional lives.

Over time, our brain evolves and involves us in numerous and increasingly complex concepts and activities, and falling down and getting up become almost as automatic as a reflex. Most of the time we don’t think about it, unless there is a particular instance that is cause to slow down, evaluate and even change how we approach being in our body, or being in our life.

When we take a tumble, either physically or emotionally, it can sometimes be painful, even traumatic. It can also be seen as a wonderful opportunity to titrate past experiences, to break habit patterns that may not be serving us, and to re-establish a simple, steady foundation and to affirm the path beneath our feet.

The path is important, because beyond the up and downs of our lives, there is also the potential to traverse and transform. The process of bridging, whether it be connecting two physical places or two seemingly disparate moments in our lives, is an powerful aspect of integrating our life’s story. After all, being truly present in a moment, stabile and grounded yet alert and up-lifted, includes not only how we stay in the moment, but also how we span; how we journey through hardship and joy to incorporate an expansive landscape of life as one rich experience.

In today’s world where the motto of moving ‘onwards and upwards’ is celebrated as a mark of success, all too often the obsession with making, meeting and surpassing goals overtakes the importance of simply staying still and finding the joy and the beauty in the sameness, in the quiet of a forest or in the journey we have taken. Reflecting on the past enables us to acknowledge where we have come from and informs where we are now; it can also provide guidance to where we may be headed.

Recently, I have travelled back to a place important to me; a place rich with family history, and a place where I grew up. It had been a few years since my last visit, and during that time I went through a period of life threatening illness resulting in a successful liver transplantation. While I had been excited to return to family and friends, I had no idea how emotional and reflective it would be to be back in a location imbued with such meaning, in the presence of beings whom I love so dearly. At every sign post memories emerged, and I was forced to dive deep into the reflection of who I was from an early age, to who I have become today. The result has felt like both heartbreak and celebration. I have observed past footprints dissolving into deep waters while standing in my present reality, and have given pause to allow a path to unfold for my future.

Like the oceanic tides, we must fall to rise again. All of us will eventually but inevitably witness the passage of time and the transience of all of life. May each of us learn to appreciate each and every moment, for these are the imprints we leave across the diverse landscape of our lives that makes each of us unique and complete.

Raw Fairies: The Story behind the Mini B Cleanse


10291694_10152074708161791_2897529945003820036_nRead the Raw Fairies full review
I’ve got to be honest. As a general rule, I don’t subscribe to detoxes or cleanses, having experimented with many ways of cleansing the body from the inside out, both naturopathic, and prescribed. When I was younger, I enjoyed the challenge, the observation of the mental shifts and changes, and the body’s ability to adapt and transform. I still am fascinated with the ladder two aspects, which is why, perhaps, I’ve stuck with this week’s ‘accidental’ cleanse.

It all started with my increasing frustration and impatience in getting to know my new body since my liver transplant. The liver is an amazing and important organ that performs over 500 daily functions, and is the master of digestion. Having spent my entire life with a digestive disease, by the time I was 40 I had gotten used to the feeling of being bloated, being asked regularly if I was ‘expecting’, and the daily shifts of clothes being a size too big or a size too small. When I went into liver failure, however, my digestive system shut down and nothing worked anymore. Effectively, my body went into starvation mode. Because of my friend Rhian Stephenson, I started juicing and using supplements to keep my weight up, and I believe it was this that enabled me to continue to function in the world, and to continue practicing and teaching yoga. At the same time, I cut gluten from my diet and was doing the best I could to maintain and ethical diet, despite my doctor’s insistence on eating meat.

After the transplant, the first weeks were spent chewing on ice and vomiting. Anything put in my mouth was too dry to eat (I had to literally remove the uneaten food by hand, there was just no saliva to help start the digestion process), and anything that went into my stomach was forced out very quickly due to the medications. Needless to say, I lost a lot of weight in those first weeks, even having gained 15 kilos of water weight overnight after the surgery. My body was like a sponge, spewing out water from its pours but not able to ingest any nutrition.

After three or four weeks, I started on Soyade Blueberry Yogurt. It saved my life. Despite my mother’s efforts to stuff me with anything she could, it was actually the Soyade and Elderflower water taken in copious amounts that slowly brought me back. From then on it was daily deliveries from the local Thai and Italian restaurants (many thanks to Ellen Walsh Moorman and Emma Henry who were both delivery girls and mealtime companions) that gave me the strength to get up out of bed and start walking the stairs everyday, and throughout the night.

By the time December came (three months after the transplant), I was back at home, practicing yoga, and even teaching a few classes. In January, I was back to teaching and practicing. Ambitious and perhaps premature, but this is the way it went.

Slowly I was transitioning from being underweight on a diet of white bread, peanut butter Kit Kats-anything I could stomach, to my old diet of juicing, blending and eating a primarily plant based diet. Every week in clinic, I weighed in and was given accolades for each kilo gained. It was too easy.

By March I had made a full transition, and was feeling, once again, that my weight was out of my control as I continued to watch the scales climb. I was eating a plant-based diet, juicing every morning and afternoon, and practicing yoga, yet my body continued to morph into its new shape. While my primary concern is to be healthy, which in the western world of medicine is gaged by bloodwork, blood pressure and weight, in all honestly, I began to feel a bit hopeless.

I enlisted my friend Jaro to help me by coming around once a week for personal training. I had tried going running a few times, but realized my liver and the stent inside my body still felt a bit raw when shaken up. With Jaro’s help, we are now getting my cardiovascular system and muscle memory in some kind of order, and it feels very good to use my body in a different way. Long gone are the days when I ran marathons, but I envision a day when I might participate in the transplant olympics, and even encourage them to bring yoga to the games, not as a competition, but as an exhibition. It gives me inspiration to run, skip and do press ups on the bench.

Nonetheless, my weight has stayed the same, and my clothes still don’t fit. I began to wonder if I would do a week of raw, vegan food controlled in portions, I would feel better in my body. Perhaps there would be a discovery in the portions of the meals or the combinations of foods within a given day.

Finally, I come to the part about Raw Fairies. A friend had mentioned to me she used this service from time to time to get back on track when she felt she’d been eating the wrong things or too much, and I decided to give myself a little treat by taking the guess work out of my meals for a week. I went to their website and found it a little complicated, but signed up for a week of food deliveries.

10384460_10152070253516791_7187113262191912401_nOn Monday, the doorbell rang at 7:30am and a kind man handed me a bag. I took it inside, and was pleasantly surprised with an array of juices, smoothies and salads. Even though I had hesitated in choosing the cleanse, I made the decision that morning to take it seriously and to follow the cleanse to the best of my ability.

I’m on day four, and while exhausted and achy, I am surviving. I have had a flew blips, indulging in coconut water on day two, and on day three treating myself to a few raw vegan tacos at Triyoga, but then, I have been teaching yoga classes and Rolfing people all week. I think on a cleanse one generally takes it easy, and I felt if I didn’t give myself a bit more to eat, it would both be unhealthy and unwise. Afterall, it wasn’t my intention to do a cleanse, but to see how much a normal, healthy portion is, and in what combinations the food are prepared and presented so that I might incorporate it into a sustainable daily diet. It was my hope that this in turn, would help me to come to terms with my new metabolism, which currently still seems like a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, it has been a very interesting psychological process so far, which I will go into more in my full review of Raw Fairies. One more day on the cleanse, but a lifetime of exploration and discovery.

Raw Fairies: The Mini B Cleanse Review


For the background on why Raw Fairies, why the Mini B Cleanse, check this out

On Monday I started the Raw Fairies Mini B Cleanse, five days of raw, vegan juices and food to help the body ‘detox’. While not a huge fan of the concept of detoxing (I am more inclined to champion a sustainable, daily diet for life) I nevertheless decided to give this one a try.

10384460_10152070253516791_7187113262191912401_nThe first day was a combination of juices, smoothies and food, and to be honest, I felt energized and full throughout the day. Raw Fairies’ sweet spot is in their sauces and dressings. They excel in putting exactly the right amount of each flavour to truly make the food and drink a delight. In addition to the plant nourishment, each day there are a number of large capsules to take at each mealtime, which I suppose is a part of the detox and nutrients needed to sustain oneself on so little. I also learned on day one that each day would be a bit less food, and a bit more juice.

 

10410555_10152073199726791_2973382044328269723_nDay two featured a delicious cacoa and banana breakfast shake, a large lunch salad of beetroot and red pepper, and a smaller dinnertime salad, with juices for mid-afternoon and late-evening snacks. After day two, I felt a bit hungry, but it was my headache that really got my attention.

 

 

10291694_10152074708161791_2897529945003820036_nBy day three, I felt exhausted. I did have a particularly long day ahead of me, starting with a 7:30am private yoga client, with a further three open level classes taught, finishing at 7:30pm in the evening, and it was because of all this activity that I felt a need to supplement the six 200ml containers provided by Raw Fairies with a supergreen juice at Triyoga (who in my opinion, offer delicious raw, vegan food if overpriced) and a number of Raw Vegan Tacos. By nighttime, I was passed out with an enormous headache by 9:30pm.

 

10409489_10152076550756791_1468600473617466168_n I awoke this morning feeling tired, but the headache was gone. Suprisingly, there was more food in my delivery bag, with two green smoothies for breakfast. The lunch salad looks delicious and while the fennel salad looks a little meager, I don’t have a need to be rigid, so long as I stay raw and vegan.

Day five will be another juice and smoothie day, which will complete the ‘cleanse’. I have to admit, I am surprised that I have stuck with it. It hasn’t been too difficult, though the fatigue has been the most unbearable aspect. However, the essence of the food is very good, and I would like to continue with a week of the normal menu, to see if it is shedding a light on a more sustainable way of living and eating on a plant based, raw diet. We all have individual needs, and it would be my hope that any food delivery service would attempt to personalize their service to the best of their ability. Afterall, the meager amount of food received doesn’t come cheap, and my primary interest is in educating myself. It is one thing to dine out at raw vegan cafes and make myself salads, raw hummous sandwiches on store-bought raw bread, but another to concoct delicious and nutritive meals day after day in my own kitchen. Any company that could educate through example would be doing the world a huge service.

Integration: Post Transplant Life Eight Months On


It’s hard to believe it has been eight months since my life changing operation; on September 26, 2013 I was given a second chance at life after receiving a liver transplant. Every day I thank God to have another day on this planet to explore, to grow and to provoke positive change in myself and others.

In a sense, the journey post-transplant has been the most challenging, but also perhaps the most interesting. While organ transplant in itself is a miracle that relies on the most cutting edge technology and highest standards of healthcare, in some ways, the healing has felt like a rather crude process. No one at the hospital mentioned the word ‘trauma‘ or the ramifications of putting the body and mind through such an invasive surgery, not to mention the time spent in hospital in some extreme situations with its repeated invasive procedures. It isn’t until the body recovers and is back at home that the mind can begin to process what has transpired, understand the transition in relationships, and move on to being in the present without fearing the future or fixating on the past.

At first, I was eager to escape as quickly as I could back to my old life, as if nothing had changed. Luckily, I quickly realized this was not sustainable, and as sadness, frustration and confusion set in after a month or two of being out of hospital, I could not understand why I wasn’t feeling grateful and positive every morning just to wake up alive?

Several months have passed since this time of deep sadness. It was a time of guilt over what I put my loved ones through, guilt for not feeling wonderful to simply be alive. These days I am working on arriving at a place of acceptance. I have accepted that I did the best I could for my son given the circumstances, and I am actively listening to my own needs and to the needs of those around me, working to find a balance in my life. I have a new internal system that is working out its kinks, but it takes time. I am learning to live with a partial numbness in my torso under the remaining scar, and learning to let go of controlling my changing metabolism without holding judgments against my body.*

I’m exploring how to be in the world and with myself, as a human being rather than a human doing. How can I integrate my roles as a mother, wife, yogi and Rolfer, etc? Every day is a challenge and a joy.

We all are living with various containers: time, our bodies, our mental constructs. The more we can understand the nature of these containers, the more we can simplify and break down the divisions of the mind that no longer serve us. We can differentiate content versus container; we can clarify structure versus function; we can challenge what is fixed and what is changing. The more we can separate, the more we can integrate. When we integrate, we find unity in ourself, in others, in the world. Sounds well worth the journey to me.

*Only last week I learned from my doctor that every transplant patient gains weight. Apparently when one is in liver failure the body starves itself and as a survival mechanism after this experience the body clings to every calorie it can. This, in addition to my 67 year old liver means that my digestive process is wise, if not a little slow. Stay tuned for my upcoming week with Raw Fairies, a raw, vegan delivery service. I’ve been doing pretty well to eat healthfully on my own, but decided to give myself a gift and a little kick…It starts tomorrow!

%d bloggers like this: