February 17th Is A Year

Mickey & boys dirt biking - fisheye

It’s exactly 1 year since my brother Mickey passed away from cancer at age 42. I can’t believe the time has flown by so quickly.

It seems quite surreal, and my emotions are a bit high. Vulnerability is my friend today. In a way, I’m better prepared than I planned because my mom’s death spurred a lot of hidden grief for my brother. Gifts can be found in any situation.

The morning was spent in a lovely way, talking with a fantastic friend here in Seattle. I came back to get my pickup. After a “private concert” of his fantastic singing & songs on the guitar, a lengthy yoga & mediation session proceeded. I was deeply relaxed after the yoga & dosed off a bit in “corpse pose”. Then I sat for 25 minutes in mediation, longer than I usually do at home. It was hard, and my mind drifted a lot. But bringing my awareness back to my breath was comforting somehow. It reminded me the mind plays tricks all the time.

Belly Reprieve

Today also marks the first 12 hours of my Master Cleanse. It is a fast that involves distilled water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, grade B maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne. My gut emptied itself out this morning, and it wasn’t pleasant, but was a relief. I’m now craving the act of chewing.

The meditation helped me to recognize my mind’s propensity to end something that it deems unpleasant. I really grappled with my mind this morning to fulfill the full 25 minutes of sitting mediation practice. It kept trying to convince me that the alarm I set malfunctioned, and really I should stop meditating now. It was quite a convincing and seductive voice.

I decided to begin this cleanse while driving back to Chicago from Seattle because my gut has been unhappy for some time. It’s a culmination of many years of suffering, resulting in a pretty restrictive diet. Although I’ve been off dairy and wheat for almost 5 years, still my belly suffers, sometimes in an IBS format. The emotional stress of losing Mom hasn’t helped this situation. I’m trying to really listen to what my body is telling me. Right now it says it wants cookies…

The Paleo Diet

My goal is to really clean out my whole system, and then start back up with an extremely clean diet. It turns out two pals here in the Seattle area have gone on the “Paleo Diet”, which is short for paleolithic. The diet is based on anthropological and medical information dating to the era 40,000 years ago when humankind had just evolved to its’ modern form. Researchers determined the nature of human hunter-gatherers at the time, and created a diet that mimicked what humans ate back then. Vegetables, fruit, and meat. That’s it. And not only just that, but no processed meat. The diet is about as “back-to-basics” you can possibly get.

With all that I’ve tried, my numerous failures to stay “clean” from wheat (not from lack of effort, but from unknown exposure), it’s time to really go the distance with a massive nutrition change.

What this means is I’ll probably be farting a lot, even more than usual (sorry friends & family!), because the portions of the diet are 1/3 meat to 2/3 vegetables. Fruit for “dessert”. It means I’ll have to be doing a lot of cooking. But, that’s ok. I can cook large portions then freeze or refrigerate them, and have leftovers for many meals to come. When I used to do this back in Oakland, it saved me a lot of money.

Results So Far

This fast is quite a challenge. Already I can feel the clinging ache my mind has on food, which foods it wants, the idea & pleasure of chewing, swallowing, and the feeling of the food in my stomach. It’s whining pretty loudly. As the hours tick on, my mind is descending further in age, and will likely throw a temper tantrum at me, much like a 2 year old. Oh, well.

I feel sleepy and a bit loopy, yet more aware of sensations in my body. Yoga practice this morning was kind of hard from an endurance perspective, yet I felt quite strong. Each wave of emotion, hormone, mind-state, etc. is just really intense. The hot water in the shower today felt really hot.

Strangely, I thought about my mom in her final weeks and days. She said “ow” every time people touched her, even softly. No amount of care in moving her or assisting her didn’t hurt somehow. Maybe as a person’s spirit begins to prepare for passing on, the body becomes very sensitive to all sensations. Certainly I’m not planning to “pass on” my spirit through this fast, but it is creating a heightened state of awareness that may be similar.

Mentally, I feel pretty sharp, yet my words were scattered and staccato last night. Typing right now is harder to focus on, and I’m making more mistakes.

But, already my skin looks a lot healthier, and with a bit more glow. I forgot to weigh myself yesterday, but knowing my average, I’ll check in about it when I get back to Chicago. In addition, I can feel tension begin to release in many areas of my abdomen, hips, buttocks, and pelvis. This is incredible because I had no awareness of all the tension an inflamed and unhappy gut was causing me. What a relief!

Surreal Seattle

Picking up my truck & going on a run, seeing all the people I knew in the area these last days, has really been surreal. It’s not like I left at all, yet I’m a completely different person meeting this area again.

It’s challenging to put this experience in words. Sometimes I wonder if my time here ever really existed. When I saw my pickup, it was without attachment. For the first time ever, I looked at it as the object that it is, without calling it a pet name, or needing to decorate it (although I might anyway because it’s fun!). This was amazing to me.

So much has happened in my life since I was here last Summer. I’ve changed and grown in ways unimaginable. Even so, I know my time here was real, and it happened. Maybe it’s the lack of eating that’s making this so strange. The biggest difference has been in my sense of calm and peace approaching everything. Just as my mom had to actively and consciously let go of her body, so do I have to let go of all that occurs beyond my control, which is about 99.99% of everything. It takes effort to relax into this state, which is ironic and paradoxical. But, the more I do it, the better I feel.

To be sure though, I’m not working a steady job yet. This is a huge factor in my feeling so calm. If I was working an office job, it may be a lot harder, and my attitude much different. But then again, after changing so much, maybe not?

***

A new year really can start at any time, and I plan to make the next anniversary of Mickey’s death one where I can look back in marvel & wonder at the glorious positive changes in my life. Today feels that way, but I know even more wonderful things are in store for me, and all those that I know. Happy New Year!

 

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