Clay, the easy, natural & free cure for a spider bite

The night before I’m to give a presentation (that would be Saturday) I feel an aching, then swelling, then itching in the center of my foot. I itch. It grows. I ice. It grows. I whine. It continues to grow. By midnight, I’m losing my mind–actually, that had already begun when I used calendula ointment and then arnica gel (both purchased at the local health food store, and have been using both since I was a teen). Both actually worked to a degree, but I can’t tell you definitely which one was the best, since I was in a mad rush of solutions, and slathered both on, one after another. I also tried a few other natural treatments I found on the bastion of all information, WebMD.

The next morning I wake, don on my nylons and heels and get going. Mid-presentation, I’m talking about overcoming and I stop, raise my foot and give an object lesson.

“Like now,” I say, retelling my spider bite story. “All I want to do is itch the center of my swollen foot but I’ve made it through nearly fifty minutes.” I get head nods of affirmation (which makes me feel good and strong), but afterward, a woman whom I know to be naturopath comes up to me and says this:

“Don’t lance it.” (in the presentation, I’d said my husband, Rog, has a singular solution for everything from a bad relationship to a zip and spider bites. “Lance it!” he always suggests.

“Lancing will make it worse,” she says, grateful I ignored him (just this once). “Do you have mud?”

“Mud, as in, in my backyard?” She affirms the very same. “About ten acres of it.”

spider-bite

This is a spider bite taken from this helpful article

“Go put wet mud on your spider bite. Clay draws out the venom.”

Sure enough, I got home, walk ten feet, get a handful of dirt, add water and apply. It was only a matter of minutes before my foot felt better. The swelling reduced, the itching stopped almost immediately. Today (Monday) I woke with barely an evidential point of the bite. By 3 this afternoon, it’s completely healed. No itching, soreness or residual effects.

I’m glad I used the calendula (good for itching) and arnica (which is normally for pain), because I’m sure they both tempered the issue. But the mud? That was the ticket.

*sorry, no pictures. I wasn’t thinking clearly. it was the spider bite:-

Writing to get published – the sure fire way to fail. Write for self & self only

Every so often, a brave soul asks me a bonified, legitimate question about writing, publisher, or some business aspect that relates to my former (mostly) life of deal marketing and partnerships. Perhaps a half-dozen come across my desk every year, which I attribute to fear or skepticism I’ll actually offer a reply. This was one of them.

This last month, I was asked the following question.

Q: (asked via Instagram): how do you write? For yourself, or for the publisher, or for the reader?

This required a longer response than I was willing to put in Instagram, so I asked for, and received, an email. Turns out the writer is a man from France, an EVP for a telecommunications company who is writing a fiction novel in his spare time. I was just speaking about this topic with another prospective author (e.g. unpublished, not- agent represented), so I thought the universe was giving me a hint to respond. Here is my answer, verbatim.

admiral-ackbar-ole-miss-bigger

Be authentic. People like authentic, no matter how strange it is.

A: Ok, so I was just answering your latest question for another new-author. To write for the reader or write for self. The answer, unequivocally, is write for self. Early on, I knew I had an audience to write for—but that was non-fiction, business/trade, and all about making money and success. In that world, it was/is easier to write for the audience—because the readers had a mutual, self-identified/selected topic—success in business. In that respect, yes, I did consider the reader—but that was based on common denominators (age group, entrepreneurs etc).

Fiction is entirely different. For fiction, the audience is so broad and varied—my action adventure is read by 18-35 yr old males, but then a ton of girls/women internationally—it’s a complete grab bag. When writing the first version, I had to scrap my first two (fully complete) versions and write what interested me. It was that book that was accepted and is being turned into a movie franchise series.

That said, I suffered the same issue when I started writing in another genre—and found once again, that writing for self (me) was the only way to go. In fact, I struggled with this particular genre (general interest fiction) for years, because I was always writing for some demographic I had in my head. Turns out, my agent said the books were always sub-par and he declined to submit them to publishers. Three years ago, that changed when I went through some personal issues (death/destruction) and emerged just wanting beach reading. I churned that novel out in 3 months, my agent said it was the best thing I’d ever written.

The moral to the story is this: write a book you yourself want to read. If a paragraph or chapter drags and is boring for you, then it’s going to be boring to someone else. Ultimately, your favorite book to read should be the one that you, yourself, have written. That’s the ultimate test.

Note: all the comments on my blog are automatically deleted. I get spammed to the tune of 20K per day, which is awful. If you want my attention, hit me up on Instagram or facebook, and at least you have a chance. my Instagram  is Sarah_j_Gerdes and facebook is Sarah Gerdes author

 

 

 

Blissful blindness

Last night, elevenish. I should be in bed, enjoying the raptures that come with a nearly two-decade long marriage (or is that an oxymoron). Instead, I’m sitting on the couch, playing ’80’s Fun Factory (those clubbers of you know what I’m talking about), and Rog has one arm around my shoulders, the other on my waist. I feel a disturbance in the force. Something’s awry. I look down. I have a sliver of white belly fat poking out between my shirt and pants. Well, really, it’s more like an albino hotdog lying on its side, making an unscheduled appearance.

I subtly take the material between my thumb and forefinger, covering the kosher meat product. He notices. “If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist,” I say with a laugh.

Rog roars. Full body-shaking, shoulder-collapsing movement that shows just how mortifying a horizontal hot-dog on one’s stomach can be. The moment passes, I make a mental note to do more sit-ups the following morning and that program-from-Dante’s 7th ring of hell on the elyptical and forget it.

This morning, I’m at the kitchen counter writing. I’ve finished making breakfast for a legion of girls, cleaned the counters and shunted the bodies downstairs to play for two hours so I can write. Rog mosies out from his office/den, searching around like a puppy sniffing hydrants.

His random motions distract, then disturbs me. I can’t concentrate. I sense he’s nearing the sink, going to do the dishes.

“No,” I tell him. You will make noise. I’ve just gotten the kids occupied. You must leave.” He scowls.

if you don't see me being a) mad and b) freezing, it doesn't exist

this image makes my point. I’m a) mad at Rog because he wouldn’t take me to the restaurant I wanted in St. Moritz, Switzerland (we’ve come all that way, and really, I can’t eat on the lake?!) and b) I’m mad because he then made fun of me for being a spoiled brat and making me take pics while it’s freezing. I grimace, this image forever capturing the notion that if you can’t see it (my fury) it never existed.

 

“I can’t take stuff in the sink,” he replies, the grumpiness associated with me not doing my job.

I lift my fingers from the keypad, debating my response. I could fight irritation with irritation, but I am supposed to be writing something akin to romance, not reality. The next option is a reasonable conversation about the timing of acts, such as writing during the precious and the ever-elusive quiet I seek as an author, but I set that aside. I don’t have that kind of time in my life. I go for the third, most reasonable choice.

“It’s like my belly fat. If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” He pauses, on the edge of laughing and being irate. “Or, if you don’t like that option, you can just build me a bigger house where you don’t emerge from the office and see the dishes.”

Eyes narrow. Hands twitch with a frustration born of 18 yrs together, knowing that a little tiff like this will have negative consequences in the bedroom when he least wants it.

“I’ll take option number one,” he says with a painful smile. As he turns, he casts me a backward glance. “I’m not angry, because if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.”

My thoughts exactly.

New skin overnight

When one finds a solution that is transformative to the skin- especially the face- one is obligated by the moral compass of the universe to share. As it’s Saturday night, the loneliest night of the week (name the movie) Little did I know this is a well-known fact among 2 groups in my circle that to this point, haven’t seen fit to share: movie studio make-up people and plastic surgeons.

Auqafor. One word that is the nearest thing to a miracle cure for less than $10 US in jug and less than $5 in a tube. I also now have small vials that I carry in my purse.

give your skin some love

give your skin some love

Plastic surgeons swear by this after any treatments involving lasers, as do estheticians who use it for healing of many types of skin damage. At the movie studio, the lead makeup artists give it as take-home ointments for celebs who have dry or damaged skin.

Me? I discovered it for my face after using it for two years on my feet. During an appointment for a pedicure, when the pedicurist politely suggested I apply a thick coating on my heels, slip on socks and let it sit for several hours. I did it, and was thrilled to see the thick lines start to mend and the small cracks go nearly invisible. I took it one step further, and started applying it before workouts, and then at night-leaving it on all night long. The result is my forty-something feet look like my 10-year old daughters, for which I, and my husband are very grateful.

Now, for the face. After moving to a high-desert area known as Coeur d’Alene, I have struggled with this back and forth dry, mostly dry, very dry then cracking phenomenon. It’s not pretty. It’s been depressing. My particular areas of affliction is the area on crease areas on either side of my lips. I’ve been told this skin is particularly thin and sensitive.

I found this to be true. I’d be going along with my normal routine and then wake up one day with my left side completely dry and cracking. This would last for two to four days, ensuring any type of make-up impossible- including the moistest of foundations. After months of trying everything (more moisturizer, then less) I said screw it- I’m going to apply Aquafor to my face even if I clog my pores (which hasn’t happened since high school).

As an aside, one of the eternal no-no’s youthful teens are told is to never, EVER, put Vaseline-like ointment on the face, because it will clog the pores spawning a strawberry patch worth of red bumps. Perhaps. But as an adult, I can tell you, I am well beyond the zit-growing stage and into the ‘let’s preserve my youthful appearance stage.’

Back to the Aquafor. When I woke the following morning, the skin was still rough, but the red and the dry were reduced by 50%. That day, I put on yet another coat of the stuff, applied my foundation and it stayed without peeling, flaking or cracking (bonus!). That night and the following morning, I did the same thing. What happened was this: the dry skin started sloughing offe- and it was easily removed with my finger. I then used my soft luffa pad (made for the face) and it just washed off. Then—perfect skin!

It’s a miracle, seriously. After this little experiment, I thought- huh. What if I applied it to me entire face–another no-no. For three days, I put it everywhere except my eyelids, because I don’t want stickiness. I even put it on my jaw and neck. The proof was when I went to my 20-year young hairdresser who isn’t known for holding her tongue. First she said I lost weight (which I had, thank you very much) but then she commented on my skin. She’d noticed the dry skin previously (but had not said a word) and proclaimed my skin looks five years younger. Rog agrees.

So there it is. You can get it almost anywhere- Walgreens, RiteAid, you name it. But I will say once again, the Vaseline doesn’t have the same effect- because I tried. For some reason, known only to the chemists in white coats, Aquafor is the bomb. Needless to say, I have a case in my garage, because if the zombie apocalypse breaks out, I’m going to go down with great skin.

 

 

 

Gym’s, Gerry’s and the petri dish of life

Going to my gym is like experiencing a cornucopia of life. A mixture of people, sizes and persuasions along with contradictions and for me, curiosity.

kroc center

Who gets a gym that looks like it belongs in Aspen? Me and 14,000 other people, that’s who

Maybe it’s because this place is a multi-purpose center as opposed to a strictly iron and class oriented gym. This place is rock climbing and swimming, theatre and basketball courts. I’m sure there is more, but my curiosity taps out where the day care center stops. It starts back up as I approach mile three on thick rubber bottom-treadmill and the sweat is dripping in my, blurring the letters on my Kindle. My mind starts to wander and I look around. Out of my left eye, I spy an older man two treadmills down about 5’7 who has a crunched right hand. At first I only sense this, because he’s having extraordinary difficulty pushing the buttons. In front of me is a younger couple that are engaged in the type of back and forth that only occurs in the dating phase. Married couples, FYI, go separate directions, or if they stay together, move with military-style precision. They are here to get things done, not flirt.

I move on from the young couple. They are boring me and honestly, if I have to watch people flirt on the treadmill, my only recourse is to give myself more pain as a distraction.

Downstairs, over the railing, I see a late-twenties man rolling his wheelchair. He works here. Once I overhead him talking to a group of elderly patrons. He said a snowboarding accident left him in his present state. He wheels everywhere with vigor, being much more helpful to the senior citizens who occupy this place than I would normally expect a late-twenties employee to be. (Nothing against late twenties, mind you. It’s just that a person who is half the height of a granny tends to be a) non-threatening, b) interested in what life’s lessons are all about and c) funny. If you have lost the use of your legs, along the path, I believe a decision is made whether or not to become bitter. And if that’s not the choice, happiness usually is. Have you ever noticed how happy disabled people are? It’s like it was a blessing. But I digress.)

Then comes the group of big, bald and…(no, not bloaty, I know you thought I was going there), but hard. How can that be? You ask. I can answer because in my alter life, I am the quizat haderachk. These men are mostly forties to sixties, and own their bigness and baldness. As I ramp up my treadmill to 7% and then 11%, I’m in awe of how these men own it. Actually, I have to give credit to my friend from LA, Mark S., a snowboarding, surfing CEO of not one but two companies (he’s single, but has attachment issues, sorry ladies). In any case, he will look at you when you completely err (e.g. fart in a closed-windowed car) and say “Claim it, bro.”

These men, I watch them and then claim it. Claim their bigness that is so big, their tummies is one, enormous round entity that stretches the t-shirt like a balloon ready to go into the stratosphere. They strut. They laugh. They do the man-bro hug and pat each other’s back twice with a bap-bap. I must say, I applaud it. They are so full of confidence it almost makes them appealing. Almost.

Then we have another group of Gerries (what I call older women, Gerries—with a j–) is short for geriatric. Rog thinks it’s insulting but in my posse of grandmas who I hang with (thing church and service-based activities), a Gerry is really an affectionate term, one of endearment. (e.g. oh that Gerry si so cute driving her scooter, oh, that’s a hot Gerry, she’s working that lace skirt).

In any case, these place has the female equivalent of the balding, big men. They are the not-so-well preserved women who are trying really, REALLY, hard. (yes, I shouted, but more of a nice emphasis cuz I like these women). This area, in Northern Idaho, isn’t about pretense, plastic surgery or make-up. When I’m talking try hard, I’m referring to a completely different try, one that requires my complete respect and more than a little bit of awe.

To wit (invoking my high school English lit class), one woman in her late sixties, her face an unfolded piece of parchment paper that attests to her a lifetime in the northern Idaho sun, has poured her skinny self into a pair of stretchy leggings and a skin tight halter top. Rock climbing shoes without sock are the only other piece of clothing she puts on before scrambling her little superhero butt into the harness. She shimmies up the rock wall, putting the out of shape fourteen year-old male’s to shame.

That girl has claimed it. Dang. I look around wanting to claim something of my own.

As I get off the stationary walking apparatus of pain, I head directly to the weight section. There I run into a wall of Gerries who have commandeered the machines, many with their personal trainer (compliments of the center). They have their small white pieces of paper, attached to a clipboard and their minder. (I’m borrowing that from the Scientologists. I like it. It fits. I hope I don’t get sued. If the government of the US doesn’t have the funds or gumption to sue the Scientologists, I’m pretty sure I don’t). In any case, the minder keeps tabs on very push and press, pull and dip. Nary a sweat drop in sight, but I tell you what I do see. A lot of looking around. Gazing—at the opposite sex!

I ponder this as I continue into the free weight section where I’m in the company of only one other woman (who is definitely not a Gerry) and a whole lot of maleness under thirty. I’m okay with this, but as I mention to my husband later than evening, I’m confused as to what to do and how to be. My natural, nice, talkative self creates the impression that I want to talk, instead of working out, and that my talking is a forward to getting into bed. So after realizing I was creating a legion of potential stalkers who would follow me around from bench to pole, I tried the other approach. I stared straight ahead, barely making eye contact, and only doing so when I needed to verify bench or item was available. I’m terribly conflicted about this, because I think avoiding someone’s gaze is rude and I run this risk of thinking I’m all that (which, if you saw me at the gym, would know I’m very little of all that).

I’m reminded of what Rog told me earlier in the week. “Who cares if they look or talk to you? Why are you even thinking about this? Enjoy a younger man talking to you. It’s not going to last forever.”

What the…? Laughing while foreseeing my old-age Gerry-ness coming into play, I continue working out, trying to find a balance between being focused and polite but distant and not-b—chy. The good news is I have better things to focus on, like the man who has been burned on half of his body, and the woman plastered with so many tattoos I can barely see the skin. She doesn’t look very happy but has an amazing body. This then makes me wonder if I have to be grumpy and focused to have a great body.

Closing the locker on my things, I wipe some sweat off and head out. The meanderings of my time at the gym. I came. I exercised. I pondered. I realized I don’t know half of what I need to be wise, but if the Gerry’s around me are any example, I’m going to have a lot of time to figure it out.

The new four letter words

It’s a Monday. That means lots of calls w/vendors, clients, friends, relatives. Some good, some tiresome. Some loud. Others obnoxious. The last part only became so when the person I was talking to kept repeating the same words, overandoverandover, to the point I wondered if the individual actually had more than five words in (his/her) vocabulary (we must keep this anonymous)…

Seriously. Really. Right? and the mother of all phrases, are you kidding me?

At one time, these words were used in the context of happy and light, excitement and genuine need-to-know-interest. I’m finding that more often than not, each one is said sarcastically, rhetorically, many times when nothing should be said at all. The worst offense is right.

Right?

Know those people who say something, and immediately follow-it up with “right?” It’s the amateur’s way of eeking out an agreement from the listener, except the speaker using the word keeps talking right on through/over/under, the potential responder. Even well-spoken, multi-degreed CEO’s fall into the trap of using this one word to gain a confirmation that what has been said is in fact, accurate. Sadly, there is rarely the pause following this word that actually would give the desired affirmation.

Remember the good old days, when it was only the F-word that had the kind of flexibility embodied by these impersonators? It was intentionally used in place of a coma, a space, of course, an exclamation point.

This whole-bad-Engligh, bad/irritating grammar has got to stop. The next time someone says “Really?” and they aren’t being genuine, you could say, ‘Seriously‘ right back. They’ll respond by saying ‘Are you kidding me?’ and you can end this enlightening conversation with a ‘Right‘!

A hint…

Other options with 6 words or less meant to gain an affirmation include:

  1. Are we on the right track?
  2. Are we aligned on this?
  3. Does that make sense?
  4. Sound good?
  5. How does that sound?
  6. Fair enough?

If you actually want to move the conversation forward, go the extra mile and provide a statement.

“Now that we are on the same page, let’s discuss the details…” It elevates the level of discussion, it’s focused and strong. The way a leader should be.

Perfect eyebrow secret

When it comes to eyebrows, ask yourself, do you want to have eyebrows like Eva Mendez without paying someone a few hundred bucks every few months? Do you want to get rid of the thin-looking patches in the brow that resemble an oceanic deadzone? If so, then you need the Ssecret I learned from my professional make-up artists friends, who use this on movie sets and for commercials.
JUST FOR MEN mustache and beard dye. At sub- $8.00 and 5 minutes, the results make me cry from joy, and weep for the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent for 20 years getting my fine, blond eyelashes and eyebrows dyed. (let’s see, $15-30 every 6 wks for 20 yrs??) stop…i’m crying again.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when I woke up with no eyebrows! Well, there were present, just barely visible. So I descended into my husbands man-cave bathroom, got out his Just for Men beard and mustache dye, and wallah, 4 minutes later, perfect eyebrows.
Here’s why it works (from the Just for Men site)
Why should I use Just For Men instead of women’s hair color?
Women’s products change the color of every hair on your head – whether it is gray or not – providing a less natural look. They also come in a variety of fashion colors, which are not appropriate for men who don’t want obvious color changes. Further, Just For Men only takes about 5 minutes to apply versus 30 to 45 minutes. And finally, it’s safer and non-damaging since it’s 100% ammonia-free, unlike most women’s color brands. Bottom line: Just For Men was developed by men for men to match men’s specific needs.

Proof that not only do women look less natural, but we pay MORE!!

5-steps to perfect eyebrows

  1. Once you have your color (soft brown is my fav), mix abt a pinky fingernail size dollops of both the color and the neutralizer together.
  2. Using either an eyebrow brush, or the little brush inside, apply on the eyebrow.
  3. If you want thicker brows (which generally make people look younger) brush onto the fine hairs.
  4. Leave on for 3-4 minutes. Less than 3 doesn’t make a visible difference, and more than 5 is super dark.
  5. Remove first with tissue, starting from the inside of the eye outward. Then wash off with water. Don’t scrub the heck out of it either. You want some color to stay on!
If you have some errant hairs, DON’T PLUCK!!! Over time, this kills the ability for the hair folicle to produce more hair. Instead, take a cuticle scissors (the small, fine scissors) and cut at the base of the hair folicle. Then you retain the ability to have hair, which is an important consideration as we age (and no eyebrow deadzones).

Ancestor’s in the vault

Ouray

Ouray, Colorado- 5 hrs drive from Denver, 30 min from Montrose airport

Three years ago, I’m in Ouray, Colorado, a place fondly known as the “little Switzerland of America,” due to it being in the center of high mountains, itself a teeny, 500 person town (give or take in the summer). The hills are riddled with closed down mine shafts, once upon a time producing streams of gold that eventually ran dry. On the other side of the hill adjacent to Rog’s parent’s (my in-laws) home sits Telluride, thirty minutes by car (right past Ralph Lauren’s 3,000 acre farm), but 12 min my truck if one takes the internal mountain road available to the miners.

An idea for a book struck me: what if all the records of the citizens of the United States were plunked right in the mountain caverns, and through some dastardly deeds of the government (who else), that information was used to hurt the population (I’ve already written the book so don’t go stealing my plot).vault pics

Well, imagine my surprise when two days ago, I learn that a cavernous warehouse of sorts actually does exist, but the location is in Utah, and the creators of the repository isn’t the government, but the Mormon church. Furthermore, the data doesn’t include just citizens of the US, but of over 150 countries–and alas, no misdeeds or ill intent. It’s all available and free, provided on-line through Familysearch.org.

You see, anyone who does research on family members, ancestors or also in my case, people I want to know more about for my books, ends up in ancestry.com which now has partnered with familysearch.org. When I came across this video on Youtube talking about Granite Mountain Vault, I was impressed, slightly awed and sort-of pissy that my idea was, oh, 30+ years out of date/taken.

Now, if you are wondering what this means to you- other than peace of mind, you can actually go, for free, to any one of the 4,000 family history centers built by the LDS (Mormon) church around the world. Some are stand-alone buildings, others are within a church building. The volunteers are all LDS geneology-trained-range in ages and are not allowed to preach to you about the faith. If you ask, you will be referred to a missionary, so you can go in, ask your questions and get started.

Granite Mt. Vault

Granite Mt Vault

The good news here (and I’m always in search of good news) is that if the world falls apart, trillions of records will be saved on microfiche, and I’ll always be able to find my ancestor’s records in a vault.

 

Thanksgiving mishaps creating thanks

IMG_6443

No fingertips in the pie

The day before Thanksgiving was a busy one–three pies, the stuffing, four types of dishes…there I am, talking along with my father-in-law, slicing an onion when the bottom slips out from and bam, off goes the tip of my left pinky.

I never realized how important the tip of my left pinky is. Tying my shoe (it always presses against my foot), typing (I can barely type at all now) washing my hair…in fact, I now have an appreciation for the littlest piece of skin on my entire body that, quite frankly, I’ve always taken for granted.

You can imagine how this is yet one more metaphor for life, and I am tempted to dive down a philosophical rabbit hole that would make Alice in Wonderland proud, but I don’t have that kind of typing capability (for I am using my fourth finger as a substitute and it’s painfully slow & error-filled). Suffice it to say that I’ve given more thanks for the littlest of things during the last 72 hours that have always escaped me. Furthermore, this unfortunate mishap has further instilled in me a desire to cut everything out that’s non essential–thankfully, bathing made the list, but I’m telling you it was easier to get in and out of the tub while I had my foot and leg all broken up than to keep my bandaged up hand dry while doing my hair and toweling off. Pinkies are essential digits.

As an aside, I cut this same pinky two months ago, also while cutting an onion, but that time, I had glanced up and out the window to admire the lake beyond. A noble act, I think. My family called it stupidity, but whatever. That one went to the bone, but being the pioneer woman I’m quickly becoming, I cleaned it out, Rog lined it with superglue and I put on a bandage. The end. This time around, no such luck- its bloody, oozy and requiring jedi-like skills to clean the end before I put on more salve and bandages.

But the good news is the stuffing turned out perfectly–which was helpful, since it was the reason for the onions in the first place. The bad news was that my father-in-law asked me where the tip of the finger went (for it was on the cutting board–somewhere). I blinked, blinked again, and had to admit I had no idea. It either remained on the knife (which had been removed from my hand and cleaned), into the trash along with that batch of onions, or…gulp, made it into the stuffing.

“Oh well,” said my father-in-law in response to the thought a bit of my flesh was a part of the meal. “Tasted great to me.”

And for that, I was thankful.

Enlightenment & fasting

S teve Jobs has been on my mind; not for his fame, fortune or black mock turtlenecks, but for his use of fasting for the goal of enlightenment.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Fasting has been used for thousands of years for a whole multitude of reasons. Inspiration (think the original Buddha), mental and physical strength (athletes) enlightenment (yogi’s, Jesus) rendering the mind & heart humble and pure (Saint Augustine)  cleansing of the body and soul (millions of unnamed people). The length inspirational quoteand means are as varied as the people and the times. Jobs tended to use the fasting that skipped everything but juices (not to be confused with a cleanse, which is about losing weight but not enlightenment). A fast is generally considered eliminating all food and living on water, although I know people modify this to address dietary and health requirements and/or restrictions.

Whatever the form and function, a “fast” has a purpose, and end-goal if you will, that is ever-present and top-of-mind throughout. Then, when the goal is achieved—vis a vis the sought after enlightenment has occurred, then the fast ends.

Let’s go back to Jobs. Carrot juice being his fasting method of choice, if he had a problem to solve, he’d go on a juice fast until he received the answer (or enlightenment) he sought. (As a side-note, I’ve read and experienced that those who don’t believe in a God tend to use the word enlightenment versus received an answer- which denotes an answer from ‘someone.’ Perhaps this is why fasting itself is so universal—because a universal response is being given at the individual level, and thereby the promise of the fast is achieved).

I love the yoga teachers that throughout my twenty-year study have often gone full-on fasting—not even water—which of course means it has very physical limitations. So too have the martial arts instructors I’ve worked with over the years. The parallel experiences and stories have mirrored those who have removed certain foods from their diets-the difference, I might emphasize, was speed and clarity.

The voice of clarity

Now, I made this promise not to get too personal with this blog, but I have no issue telling the world what I have personally fasted about, because it’s pretty much anything important. For inspiration before a business meeting, college exam, plot ideas, who to date and/or marry, whether or not I should move, accept a client or job, to have or not have a baby. Those are personal. I’ve fasted for others, parents, siblings, even strangers, like those suffering from miscarriages of justice, the survivors or victims of attacks or accidents.

Why, you might ask. It’s because as a person who believes in the power of fasting for others and self, I also believe in the power of positive energy. At the subatomic level, our bodies are composed of energy (as identified in 1951). We can send out this to others regardless of distance. At the simple level, our heart pushes out an energy field 12 feet from our bodies.

It goes like this

  1. Start with the intention. Every self-help guru, yoga instructor, pastor, sales executive and even Oprah, will tell you it starts with the verbalization and visualization of the intent or goal. What is it? What do you desire? What do you need? This is what you are putting out there to the universe if you will, and if you believe in Deity, it’s that entity. Visualize and verbalize. State it and be clear.
  2. Prepare to fast and make the commitment to a timeframe. This is the optimal way to do it…as in, three meals, a dinner, overnight and then breakfast and lunch the following day. Twenty-four hours is a good starting point and there is a methodology. As said by one of my martial arts instructors (an 8th degree who was as agile as a mountain lion but as peaceful as a cool breeze), the goal is to bring the body to submission of the mind, and the mind itself to a place where it stops making noise. Depriving the body of food physically weakens it. Only when this occurs does the mind become quiet. Once the mind is quiet, then inspiration can occur.Now, that said, sometimes it takes some of us (ahem) more time to physically and mentally settle down than others. Honestly, I’ve witnessed that vegans who refrain from caffeine are simply a lot more chill than the average adrenaline junkie (self include). So, when I say that one sometimes needs to prepare for a fast, I’m being serious. If I’ve had a lot of chocolate lately (which has caffeine) I have to ease off so I won’t go through withdrawals. Then I have to clean out my body (by further eliminating bad stuff like sugar) and then I’m ready to be clean physically.For those that live a cleaner diet than I do, fasting is probably easier and produces quicker or stronger efforts.
  3. Constantly reiterate and repeat the intention throughout the fast. Think about it. Consider it. Roll it over and over in your mind. The more you think about the problem you are wanting to solve or outcome you desire, the greater the expansion of your thoughts. This is where the ideas suddenly come from—or the enlightenment. Many have referred to this as a sudden burst of light. For writers, many times this comes in dreams. Others have the ‘a-ha’ moment that seemingly comes from nowhere.

 

Does it last forever?

What if you fast for a day, even two, are weak and weary, and have received nothing. Nada. No answer. No inspiration. You are frustrated and think the whole notion is bunk.

Actually, a phrase exists for this condition, and it’s called a stupor of thought. That, in fact, is the answer. The answer “no” comes in many forms, and this “blackness” as it’s sometimes called, is the clearest form of answer possible. Should I go out with this person—stupor of thought—is a no. If it were a yes, then it would be a warm, peaceful feeling.

A yoga instructor told me about sending her child to a school that had been recommended, but she wasn’t feeling good about it. She fasted for a day or so and spent concentrated time in meditation (for additional clarity). While she didn’t receive an answer of what school to go to (she hadn’t asked that), she received a strong feeling—described as a sickness in her stomach—every time she thought about sending her child to that school. The longer she fasted and meditated, and thought about this option, the more acute her feelings became. Once she visualized not sending her child to this school, she felt peace she described as a complete calm. That was a validation of her prior answer.

As with anything—exercise or a new job, fasting becomes easier with practice, to the point of becoming second nature. Many people I know fast on a regular basis, either once a month, once a week (usually on a particular day where they can plan a day free from a business meeting luncheon or skipping a workout).

I’d like to end this with a flippant line, such as–the worst case is you have freed your body of toxins, but the reality is that flippancy reduces the power of the fast and the answers that come along with it. We have been put here to learn and grow, and that requires us to push, achieve and fully live to our potential. Fasting is one tool for us to reach the heights awaiting us. All we have to do is take the initiative and jump.

Page 3 of 5912345...102030...Last »