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Giving Thanks for Both the Blessings and the Crap Storm

Wozniak-8

Learning to give thanks for the storms of life…

It was three years ago this Thanksgiving season that I suffered one of the most significant losses that I have ever experienced. November 2011 was when my brother, Matt and his wife, Teresa experienced the loss of their 4 month old baby boy, Axel, to a genetic mitochondrial disease. The sudden on-set condition ended up rooting itself into every single cell in my baby nephew’s body, leaving it incapable of converting food or oxygen into life-sustaining energy.

Honestly, the whole experience is a teary blur at this point in time. I faintly remember tubes and beeping monitors, piles of stuffed animals at the foot of Ax’s bed, faces drained of color, icy cold hands, and long silent drives to and from Children’s Hospital.  Contrastingly, I also remember the love and support of family and friends in the midst of nearly impenetrable sadness.

Interestingly enough the backdrop to this traumatic experience just happened to be my most favorite holiday of the year – Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving and I always have. I mean really? An entire holiday based on the premise of giving thanks, eating and relaxation? Count me in. I’ve always loved the smells, the sounds, the chilly weather and the promise of Christmas around the corner…that and eating so much that it’s perfectly acceptable to lay comatose most of the day…now that’s a pretty primo holiday in my book.

Needless to say Thanksgiving has been forever changed for me. It’s still my favorite holiday…no actually it’s been downgraded to my 3rd favorite Holiday, if I must rank them. The details of this holiday are pretty much the same as they always were – wake up, drink coffee, chat, snack, play, eat, chat, drink coffee, nap, eat, play, snack, sleep, etc. However since that fateful Thanksgiving 3 years ago, the essence has forever changed… interestingly enough in a very valuable way.

Rather than celebrating blessings of abundance and gluttony, I also see Thanksgiving as an opportunity to be thankful, not just for the warm fuzzy aspects of my life of which I have many, but also for the shitty, catastrophic, uncomfortable, life-altering, world-colliding situations that compose the individual texture and hue of each of our lives. Regardless of if it’s pleasant…and lots of times it’s not…this is the stuff that makes our lives the intricately crafted narratives that they are… and truly worth living.

I wrote a blog post shortly after Ax’s death, found here, in which I recounted my struggle to find valuable lessons and takeaways from this horrible situation.

As conveyed in my original post,

“While there are no winners or silver linings when it comes to encountering the death of a young loved one, there are often valuable, even cryptic takeaways that can assist in the recovery process and help to regain perspective.”

 

….at least that’s what I was looking for.

After much thought, procrastination, internal conflict, and bowls of cereal I was able to find a couple. However, several years later one of the most important lessons that has remained is gratitude even especially in the midst of tragedy.

I’m not grateful that this situation happened. It still absolutely stuns me to the core when I think about it. However, it was a catalyst that continues to help me realize that life is composed of light and dark, good and bad, yin and yang and only when experiencing this contrast and tasting the sour can we appreciate the harmony and enjoy the sweet.

Here’s a quote from my new favorite book, The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte.

“To be whole is to make space for the full range of human emotion.”

Only by truly living and feeling the dark can we make space for and appreciate the light.

sarah at lake

It’s the tough stuff that color our lives with the beauty of living…

It’s these scars on our souls, the big gnarly blisters on our feet and the pockmarks on our skin that really tell our stories and teach us lessons like nothing else can. Like the small dent in my forehead that reminds me to not squeeze that zit next time but to just be patient and it will go away. Or the small scar on my index finger that reminds me to chop garlic with a bit more precision next time, but also in a weird and beautiful way makes my hand different than anybody else’s.

These flaws and war wounds help illustrate our tragedies which often overpower our triumphs when it comes to creating our unique and individual stories. They make us beautiful and define who we are.  They help us remember what we could do better next time and remind us how beautiful things really are once the swelling goes down.

And I think Ax would be happy with the part he played in this profound deduction.

So this Thanksgiving, in the midst of turkey overdose and light family banter, there will be sadness in the fact that a certain little guy won’t be joining us. But there will also be thanks in the fact that I knew him if even for a short time and the indelible mark he and his story had on the masterpiece that is my life.

I’d love to hear from you…Is there a crap storm or pockmark that you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving that has helped to shape your life?

 

NEXT – Chia Salmonella Lawsuit

Chia Salmonella Lawsuit

mila 6-20-14I came across this headline this morning…actually my husband has a morning radio show and it came across his AP Feed and he forwarded over to me. Like the good hubby that he is, he got in touch with me right away to get my take on this newest and unfortunate chia development. And I wanted to address it right away.

My response?

This is exactly why I only purchase and consume Mila, a premium chia seed blend grown to exact specifications by Genesis Pure. Our quality control and dedication to the product will ensure that this does NOT happen to this or any of our products.

Chia can grow anywhere, thus the popularity of ch-chi-ch- chia pets a decade ago. This is also why there are many unscrupulous and unsafe practices that go on with other brands. Simply put, chia is easy to grow and people love it. But as I’ve said on a number of occasions, not all chia is created equally. There’s premium-priced quality chia and then there’s junk chia that costs $10 a bag.

Details of why Mila is head and shoulders above ANY other type of chia out there can be found in a couple of my previous blog posts:

http://theblissfulseed.com/getting-back-to-the-basics-why-you-just-gotta-have-chia-seeds/

http://theblissfulseed.com/getting-back-to-the-basics-mila-vs-chia/

Here’s what happened this morning:

According to the AP News Feed, a Colorado woman has filed suit against Navitas Naturals of California, saying that she contracted salmonella from the company’s chia powder. The suit says that she was diagnosed with salmonella after getting sick in March after starting to consume Navita’s chia powder in December 2013.

Sheknows.com reports multiple recalls of different brands of chia powder and seeds issued by a number of companies in the U.S. and Canada. According to this article, these are a few of the brands on the list of recalled chia products.

  • Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder
  • Green Smoothie Girl Sprouted Ground TriOmega Superfood (silver pouch)
  • Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia and Flax Seed Powder

For a full list of recalled products, click here.

You can also check out the FDA Recall Press Release Here

mila-bagI was saddened to hear of this recall because I believe it may have some negative ramifications when it comes to public perception of this amazing super food. However, it just goes to show that you get what you pay for and I’ve never been more proud to be a part of the Genesis Pure naturopathic health food team.

As I’ve previously reported,

“Mila is an exclusive scientific blend of the finest and most potent strains of chia, grown to Genesis Pure’s exact specifications. Cheaper brands that can be found on store shelves near you merely consist of the rejected seeds that Genesis Pure won’t take.

Mila is micro-sliced for greater bioavailability than whole seeds or other cheaper chia seed brands you can purchase at the store and yes, that includes seeds that can be found at reputable, organic markets like Whole Foods. Just because you buy it at the organic store doesn’t make it the best.”

I’d love to hear from you! Will this affect your perception of chia seed? Are you more likely to purchase from a premium trusted chia source?

NEXT – Mila Vs. Chia

Progress Report: Zest for Life Revisited

Della pic

Does this actually count as being “crafty”?

So a while back after enduring another semi-depressing New Year’s Day I created something called my Zest for Life Project. I remember the day quite well actually. Not only was I under the proverbial weather it was also an overcast afternoon with a tinge of gloom in the air, the Christmas tree was still sparkling green and red which was only making me feel even more like a deadbeat, and marathon watching HGTV just wasn’t hitting the spot.

Rather than reveling in the idea of a fresh new year, I was re-living the past twelve months and quickly coming to the realization that if I didn’t take action….any action, I’d more than likely be doing the same exact thing next New Years Day.

Thus the Zest for Life Project was born.

After mulling and re-mulling everything that I just hadn’t gotten to during the previous year, I created a list of things I wanted to do and experiences that I wanted to have that I believed would elevate me as a person and enhance my life in general.  A self-conscious worry wart with a tendency to shy away from new experiences, these natural tendencies left me wanting more out of life but not quite sure how to do so without getting too uncomfortable.

While muddling through my list of life-enhancing items, I quickly learned that uncomfortable is the name of the game when it comes to creating a life you love. Quite surprisingly, I’ve learned to lean into that sinking feeling of horror in the pit of my stomach and that all-too-familiar sweaty upper lip when faced with an uncomfortable situation. I’ve even become somewhat fond of it and if I haven’t felt it in a while I know that it’s time to put myself out there again.

When it came to my Zest for Life list there was really no timeline or structure, it was just a list. Little did I know that with that little list came a profound shift in my life. With each item, no matter how weird a la “sit in a sauna” I was breaking out of my comfort zone, living my life and creating my own story.

“With each item, no matter how weird a la “sit in a sauna” I was breaking out of my comfort zone, living my life and creating my own story.”

So I thought I’d re-visit my Zest for Life list and see how it’s coming along. On a scale of check (yes), nope (nope), or meh (kinda)…here’s my progress.

Go places by myself – check. I regularly go out for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee by myself and even to the movies. It’s actually quite liberating and not nearly as scary as I thought. Now I’m working on venturing out without any books, devices, or other safety nets.

I love getting coffee by myself with a book these days...

I love getting coffee by myself with a book these days…

Join a women’s golf league – nope

Play the cello at an open mic night – nope, but I did take a few cello lessons with local cello extraordinaire, Amy Marie of Post Paradise fame and came to the realization that I need more than a few cello lessons to play at an open mic night. A work in progress.

Get my motorcycle license – nope

Get crafty – meh.  I ordered a few soap and candle making books that are currently gathering dust. I also took a few wine/painting classes but it was mostly for the wine. We also now have a hand-painted headshot of our dog.

Make a Cake Boss cake – nope

Get involved in Network Marketing – check. Genesis Pure has completely changed my life, my health, how I make my living, how I interact and respond to people, I’ve gained confidence and love organic foods and leafy greens more than I ever thought possible.

Get organized…whatever that means – meh. It’s a work in progress.

Learn how to knit – meh. I bought a book and all the necessary items. Tried it a few times and then proceeded to toss out said book and necessary items.

Talk to random people – check. Still working on it though, luckily my network marketing career makes me get out there and talk to people…whether I feel like it or not.

Take a fashion risk – nope but I bought a cute hat that is still waiting to see the light of day.

This is my "fashion risk" ...a hat that I have yet to wear in public.

This is my “fashion risk” hat that I have yet to wear in public….hats are hard to pull off, right?

Start a gratitude journalcheck!

Sit in a sauna – check, and I hated every minute of it. Not only do I get very uncomfortable in close proximity to naked people but intense heat and humidity makes me squirmy, nauseous and grumpy.

Be in a flash mob – check! I was sooooo excited to be a part of a flash mob during a Genesis Pure event last October. I definitely want to be in more flash mobs. Group-based choreographed moves really seem to get me off. I think I must have been a back-up dancer in a previous life.

Write and publish a book – check…ish. I’ve got my concept all lined out, it’s just getting over the mental hurdle of writing an entire book. It seems a bit daunting but doable, definitely doable. However, I did start a blog!

Not only creating but looking back at this list has been a game-changer for me. No matter how silly or weird these actionable items seem to be, they were all significant to me in one way or another. And whether I tried and succeeded, tried and failed or didn’t even try, putting this out there was the first step toward actually living out my life. Now when I’m presented with an opportunity, rather than automatically retreating, I add it to my Zest for Life list and forge ahead.

I encourage anybody and everybody to create their own Zest for Life list and start plowing through. I guarantee that you’ll have a few aha moments of your own. It might even change your life.

I’d love to hear from you! What items would you put on your Zest for Life list?

NEXT – Have Allergies? How About An Organic Solution?

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