- got ordained through Universal Life Church so that I can perform weddings (and then I performed my first one on March 5th)
- found out I was going to become a grandmother this fall
- realized that my long-term relationship, after years of wimpily limping along without really being anything, was FINALLY. REALLY. OVER.
- turned 45 and, largely because of items 2 and 3, was faced squarely with the fact that I am entering "middle age," and will never have more babies; thus, my long-held dream of a specific domestic bliss in which I raise a child in a loving marriage to the child's father is gone forever. Forever.
This year, rather than give one thing up for the entire period of Lent, I did a three-week cleanse in its second half. A cleanse is something I had considered doing for years, but never could find the resolve. Most of the ones I had looked at were juice fasts, and seemed too extreme. But this one is different. The first week is mostly vegetables with some fruit and nuts/seeds; some of it is juices, but it also has soups, salads, and some cooked dishes. The second week, you add back fish and legumes, and the third week you add back gluten-free grains and eggs. It's available on the Whole Living website, and all the recipes are provided, which makes it very user-friendly. A friend of mine does it about twice a year, and seeing how well it affects her was a big selling point for me.
Amazingly enough, I made it through the entire three weeks without cheating (and I was surprised to find that my biggest temptation was not coffee but macaroni and cheese). The first week was hell, especially with the caffeine withdrawal, and I briefly considered switching to a juice fast just to get it over with sooner, but I'm very glad I didn't, because it opened me up to a whole new way of eating and has had a permanent effect on how I shop, cook, and eat. Some of the recipes were actually gourmet-level delectable, and I will continue to cook them on a regular basis. I tried foods I thought I didn't like, and learned that I actually do. I lost weight, which was an unanticipated but welcome side effect, especially losing that nasty belly bloat. I firmed my lagging resolve to consistently avoid wheat and dairy; in fact, I haven't even much wanted those things since finishing the cleanse.
|Grilled Salmon and Bok Choy with Orange-Avocado Salsa. My absolute favorite recipe from the cleanse. Get it here|
And the effects were not just on the physical level; the ultimate value of doing the cleanse was in the very deliberate act and enduring commitment to care for myself. It was a demonstration of self-love that has moved me into a new way of being. This change actually began a year ago when I started doing weekly yoga and meditating on a daily basis, but the cleanse was a quantum leap in this direction. I feel a greater acceptance, appreciation and gentleness toward myself now. And then there's that wonderful feeling of accomplishment that I did it!, and the sense of strength and confidence that comes with that.
I planned the last day of the cleanse to coincide with my son's birthday on the 26th, and with a truly monumental event that was planned for the 27th, on the full moon: a ceremonial photo shoot that I did with three amazing women in the wee hours of the morning. It involved a labyrinth, an ordination ceremony, and lots and lots and lots of gold.
But I'll tell (and show) you all about that next time.