tea Archives - Vitanova

Staring Down Cancer – Lesley Draper’s Rebirth

Lesley Draper was just going about her everyday life as an escrow officer for a title company when she felt a breast lump while doing her usual self-exam in the shower one day. After going through surgery, chemo and radiation, she appreciates life on a level she never did before. Now, she lives for today and takes much better care of herself because she has seen how fragile life can be.

In 2013, I was in the shower and I felt a lump while doing my breast exam, which I wasn’t good about doing regularly. I felt a lump and I thought it felt weird. I tried to ignore it, but then I thought it was best to get it checked out, so I went to my doc. She thought it just felt like a cyst, which relieved me a little bit, but she set me up for a mammogram to be sure. When nothing showed up on the mammogram, it was an eye-opening experience for me because I learned that about 50% of women have tumors that do not show up because they have very dense breast tissue. Everyone thinks the mammogram is the end-all-be-all of tests, but it’s really not.

Since my doctor knew something was there because she could feel it, she scheduled an MRI, which showed several spots, so I was scheduled for a biopsy. From the biopsy, they determined the spots were cancerous—which really threw me for a loop because it’s really one of those things I just never really thought about. Other people get that, not me. I was on the overweight side, but I felt I was really active and I didn’t eat a lot of junk food, didn’t drink a lot, didn’t smoke, and felt like I was doing all the right things. But, I had to face that I actually had cancer.

Within three weeks after the biopsy, my doctor and I went through all of the options and decided that since there were a couple of tumors that were pretty deep into the tissue, it was obvious we were going to have to remove the breast. I had really large breasts, and I didn’t want to just get rid of one, so I decided to have a full double mastectomy and then have my breasts reconstructed. They also found that the cancer was in one of my lymph nodes, so I also had to go through chemo every three weeks for six or seven sessions.

The chemo was worse than the surgery itself. I didn’t want to eat because everything tasted terrible, so I wouldn’t eat, and I’d lose 10 pounds. Then, I’d finally feel better and start to eat again, which made me gain the 10 back plus five more. So, it was this frustrating back-and-forth game of weight loss and gain, which was hard on me, too. Just when I started feeling normal again, I’d have to go back and do it again. I now have a lot of sympathy for people who have to go through chemo because that was the worst part of the whole experience.

After the chemo, I had to do radiation treatments, which was every day for five weeks. That wasn’t as bad as the surgery and chemo, though. They say that if you go through chemo, radiation is easy, but if you don’t go through chemo, radiation will be much harder. I needed some other surgeries after that for reconstruction, so it wasn’t just smooth sailing after that. It was still a process.

Though it was a difficult process for me, I think it’s even harder on the family and friends who are caring for those with cancer. I gained a deep appreciation and understanding for the caretakers. It’s very hard on them. My significant other at the time and my sister helped with so many things throughout the process. Linda, my ex, helped me sit up and get out of bed after surgery, emptied my breast drains, changed bandages, brought me food and drinks when I didn’t want to eat and kept track of a multitude of meds, just to name a few. Both Lisa and Linda went to every chemo treatment,  all the doctor’s appointments and  provided me with much needed emotional support and so much more. I’m extremely grateful for their support and love. The person going through the cancer is getting all of the attention, and the caretakers—who are working so hard to help their loved ones heal—don’t have that same emotional support, even though they are also going through a huge ordeal.

My friends and family really didn’t want to share with me how scared they were, how concerned. My sister, Lisa, said that the day I had the mastectomy, she walked outside of the hospital and was just screaming and crying outside all by herself and yelling at God. When she was with me, she was always strong and supportive and didn’t show that fear to me. You really find out who the true friends and supporters are in your life. I found some important friends through this process, and it made me appreciate my friends and family so much more.

I have a story that so far, I’ve only told Lisa. When I came out of my mastectomy surgery, and I was in the recovery room and semi-conscious, it looked like fairy dust was floating around me. I remember trying to reach at it. I wondered if I was dreaming it, but it felt real. And right then it hit me: The fairy dust was everyone’s prayers around me. I could feel everyone around me, supporting me, encircling me, and it was such a great feeling. I felt so safe and so protected. I really didn’t feel any fear.

After going through this, I knew I needed to live my life differently. I looked at areas of my life that I could improve on. Doing things differently daily. A lot of it was about alleviating stress in my life. I still have a stressful job, but never again am I going to go back to what I was doing before and working the super long hours. I just told myself that I wouldn’t do that to myself again. Stress was the only factor that I could think of that caused the cancer. I know there are genetic factors, but I didn’t have any history of it in my family. It just came down to stress—working too much, taking on too much, eating crappy because I was tired and overworked. The majority of the time, I tried to eat pretty well, but that didn’t always happen with the hours I was working.

Today, I look at life more positively. Lisa is big into this, too, so she pushes me to be positive. She doesn’t like to allow negativity into her life. I try to alleviate stress, walk my dogs, and relax as much as possible. My daily routines have shifted. Even before I put my feet on the ground in the morning, I say, “Thank you God for this day.” And my days are filled with the “I ams.” “I am strong.” “I am courageous.” “I am healthy.” I even say my mantras on my way to the bathroom at work, and I constantly look for new ones to say to myself. That’s really helping me.

I also look at other aspects of my life that I can improve on, not just exercise. I’m working on eliminating sugar and I don’t eat meat. I’m more consistent with walking and being healthy. I take vitamin D and vitamin E because that really helps my bones. But, I’m not obsessive about taking or doing any one thing. I just try to keep balance in my life now.

I noticed I was really starting to beat myself up, telling myself I was weak and I should be this or that. But, I’m still building my strength. The surgeries took a lot out of me. I still have a lot of numbness, and everything feels strange. Even just exercising feels strange. It’s like starting over with everything, and I have to not beat myself because I’m not able to do certain things and I’m not as strong as I was. Now, I just don’t go there. So what if I can’t do it perfectly? Just start and go slowly. And that’s hard when you’re a competitive person like I am. I felt I needed to keep up. I liked being the older person in the workout class who was keeping up with the younger kids. That always felt good. But now, I just have to accept that I really am the older person! It’s just a matter of getting over what people think of me. That’s a huge part of it. Just do what you can do. Be who you are. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Gradually, I just started to feel better about everything through this process.

I don’t feel like I’ve done anything really special. I see all the women who go through this all of the time, and I feel I just had to get through it and do what I had to do. I don’t feel like it was anything great. But, my sister told me it really was a huge thing I went through. Growing up, she used to tell me I was a wimp and make fun of me (teasingly) because even brushing my hair would hurt. But when I went through this, she told me that even though she used to make fun of me, she thinks I’m the strongest person she knows. That blew my mind. I don’t necessarily think that about myself, but hearing her say that really makes me appreciate what I’ve been through. Maybe I really am stronger than I think I am.

Just recently, I had yet another PET scan. It was clear, so I’m now three years out—from stage three cancer to cancer free!

Changing Course – How Pepique Stout Cleaned Up His Act

Pepique Stout embodies the typical American male. He ate mostly fast food and a lot of meat, drank too much, smoked pot and cigarettes, and his life and health were spiraling out of control. Then, one day, he decided to quit drinking and smoking, and that led to a path of eliminating all “crap” and becoming a vegan. Now, he’s healthier and happier than he’s ever been, and he has the blood tests to prove it.

My story of how I changed my life began with drinking. The first major health change I made was five years ago. I quit drinking, smoking pot and cigarettes all on the same day. That was intense. I went through intense biological changes after that. It proved to be too much to handle all at once, and I fell into a depression. I went to a Western medicine doctor who put me on antidepressants, which I stayed on for about six to seven months. As I progressed through AA and really started to find myself and find my spiritual strength and become more aware of what was important to me, I realized I didn’t need the antidepressants anymore. And furthermore, they scared me. The side effects caused me to get cravings that made me want to up my dosage. And I was getting brain zaps in my eyes every time I moved my eyes. So, I stopped the drug. I wanted it out of my body. At that point, I was freaked out by anything foreign in my body, and I took a very firm stance to not do anything like that at all. When I was going through my first divorce, I went back to smoking cigarettes, which was after about six months of not smoking, and that lasted for about six months. I quit cigarettes again on the same day I quit alcohol a year earlier. So now, my alcohol quit date and cigarette quit date are exactly one year apart on the same day. I now have four years without cigarettes and five without alcohol.

I was also eating a lot of fast food back then. I was driving a truck for my job and eating badly. I was a carnivore of the highest sort. I never really anticipated making any changes in that area. I didn’t feel I needed to make any dietary changes. I just accepted all the health risks of eating that way. It was just the way I was. After pushing forward with this clean quest (no drugs, alcohol or smoking), I started watching documentaries here and there, and gaining knowledge about the health industry and started taking a little better care of myself. But really, I didn’t change a whole lot as far as diet and exercise. I had a physical job, so I just put effort into that.

Somewhere along the way, before I met my second wife, I started smoking pot again. And since I’m an addict by nature (and I accept that about myself), I can’t do these things in moderation. I eventually become self-destructive. So, I decided to be totally sober all the time after my wife and I got married. Then, we decided to have a child, but we ran into infertility issues that were rooted in endometriosis. Through surgeries and miscarriages, it ultimately led us to find that there was no cure for our problem other than a dietary cure, which led us to investigate a vegan diet—no sugar, gluten or soy. That lifestyle was going to prove to be really difficult because a lot of the known vegan products on the market are soy based.

 

We were faced with a dilemma; does my wife cook three meals, for my wife, her daughter, and me, or do we all change and adopt a vegan diet? Prior to these changes, I had already decided to quit fast food. That was probably one of the more impactful changes that I made. I didn’t really feel that sluggish when the meat was from a good source, but I did feel bad when I ate fast food. But even eating meat from a good source, I still felt like I just wanted to take a nap or sit around and not do anything. It was kind of like a food coma. Once we took meat out of our diet and went headlong into the vegan diet, we did a lot of research to motivate us because her daughter and I didn’t want to make the change at first. We were just doing it for my wife. But then, the guilt factor kicked in because she was cooking the majority of our meals. I didn’t want to ask her to cook meat for us when she couldn’t eat it, so we made the decision as a family to go vegan. As it progressed, we really started to enjoy it and we began to educate ourselves. We’d watch food movies as a family, Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., Farmageddon, and more. There is a wealth of knowledge on how to eat vegan, and it’s easily accessible these days. The Beautiful Truth was the most impactful of all the movies we watched. It’s amazing to see how deceived we’ve been by the FDA and the cancer drug societies and the like. Everything we need is already here. We don’t need to process it. It grows in the ground. Just go and find it. It’s a basic thing that we’ve all forgotten. We’ve been so deceived by the lies of the dairy industries and the meat industries that are trying to just make money, but they’re no better than the cigarette industry. They’re lying to us and telling us these things are necessary.

The vegetarian food industry is stuck on soy as the easy way to get protein. There’s a common misconception that you need some sort of protein source like processed soy or meat product to be healthy, which is just absolutely not true. There is more absorbable protein in some vegetables than there is in some steaks. Yes, granted, the meat products contain more protein when they’re sitting on your plate than the broccoli does, but when it goes through your body and you digest it, what come into your body and what goes out as waste, you will wind up with more absorbable protein from some of the vegetables than you ever will from eating meat. That’s the thing that the meat industry doesn’t tell you. They aren’t lying; you just aren’t absorbing much of the protein. When I eat a full plate of broccoli and kale and all these other intensely deep-green vegetables, the amount of nutrient that my body absorbs is above and beyond anything else I can get from dairy or meat or processed soy.

In addition to eating a vegan diet, supplements are a big deal to me. I eat a full breakfast and then I take supplements with a vegan shake. I have to make the exception when I eat out that I won’t always find non-GMO, but I do insist on organic whenever possible and vegan. Animal rights were not what drove me to become vegan. It’s the health factor. I tried it, I put it in my body, and I feel the difference, and that’s my marker…how I feel. I’m a big advocate of spices, too. They are therapy in your food, too. Turmeric and cayenne pepper I put into just about everything. There are a ton of good spices. Most of the Indian spices are really powerful. The spices themselves are almost more healthy than the food they’re on. And that’s also really overlooked by Americans. We’re a salt and pepper society. I’ve been exploring the culinary aspect of creating something that is not only delicious but also nourishes my body, and when I’m done eating it, I feel great.

I went to the doctor recently, thinking there was something wrong with me. It turned out that it was my recent second divorce that was causing my anxiety. The doctor ran all kinds of tests: heart, blood, lung x-rays—everything—trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Turns out, I’m the epitome of health! I didn’t have any deficiencies. Again, my diet was all I need to be healthy. Vitamin B12 and iron, which are common deficiencies in under-educated vegans, were perfect. When I first went into the doctor for the antidepressant, I was anemic and the doc put me on an iron supplement. And that’s when I was eating meat almost exclusively. So, that was an aha moment for me. Now, as a vegan, I have more iron absorption and I’m not anemic. I also do a lot of probiotics and supplementing to fill in the gaps, definitely, but they are all organic, seed-based for protein, and none of it is soy based. That’s what I find works best with my body. Western medicine, and my tests, proved that it’s working for me. Hydration is also a huge factor. I carry around a water bottle at all times.

This is a full-body growth experience that has led me to feeling healthy and stable and not depressed. All of that depression and anxiety was because I had too many of the things that shouldn’t be in my body and not enough of the things that should be there. By cleansing my body of all foreign crap and poisons (as I refer to alcohol and tobacco now) and sugar, I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been before.

Tara Marlow’s Story – Life is Short. Make It Matter!

Tara Marlow is the travel blogger behind the site Travel Far Enough, where she and her husband inspire others to quit their corporate cubicles and live the lives they dream of. But her own life and dreams weren’t always aligned: until 2011, Tara worked 70-hour weeks and envied those whose lives revolved around traveling and writing about it. A road trip with her preteen daughter brought Tara’s priorities into focus, challenged her to drastically reorient her life around them, and compelled her to live her dreams. 

I grew up in Australia and took my first overseas trip as an 18-year-old. I was immediately bitten by the travel bug! At age 22, I moved to America, where my former husband and I thought we’d stay five years before moving on. The marriage didn’t stick, unlike the travel bug, but a beautiful daughter came from that marriage.

Five years turned into 20; I met my wonderful husband Rich and built a career in Texas. Before I realized it, I was drinking the Kool-Aid of corporate America and found myself working 70 hours a week. I got up each day to rush out the door, work at a frenetic pace, and come home only to work more while throwing dinner together before sitting down in front of the TV to work on my laptop. I had migraines a few times a month from the weight of it all.

Work was costing me my health and my relationships with family and friends. However, I stuck to my promise to my daughter that we would take a mother-daughter trip every year. In 2010, I knew I needed to get away from the craziness for a while and that our annual girly getaway would slip through my fingers if I didn’t make a plan. So, I asked her if she wanted to take a road trip. Without any hesitation, she said, “Let’s go to Mount Rushmore.”

I laughed because Mount Rushmore had never been on my list! But she’d learned about it in school. I thought, “Why not?” We agreed that we’d make it an epic two-week road trip and visit some other cool places along the way. We researched the stops to make, created road-trip playlists, downloaded audiobooks, found a questionnaire we could talk through, and came up with a mantra: “Try something new every day.” Little did I know that this wouldn’t just become a fun road trip; it would change my life.

My daughter and I reconnected as we traveled. Our reconnection on the road made me realize that I was missing out on her life when we were at home. I wondered what I had missed over the years of 70-hour weeks.

A year later, both my father and Rich’s father passed away. Around the same time, my daughter came to me while I was working and asked if she could talk to me for a few minutes. I replied, “Yes, but give me five minutes.” Three hours later, I finally went to her bedroom to find her sobbing on her bed. She said, “Mum, you said five minutes. It’s been three hours.” This was not a proud parental moment.

That was the absolute turning point for me. It was time to listen to what was happening in my life. I talked with my husband, and he said, “You know, yes. You are spiraling. You’re not in a good place. You should consider what else you can do.”

In mid-2011, I got my ducks in a row at work and gave notice. I rediscovered my passions for travel, writing, and photography and researched them like crazy. For the next year, I took online courses and sold my photography at local markets. Life was good. I could breathe again.

In 2012, our life changed again. My husband had his own “aha” moment after watching my transformation and decided to join my quest. After a family discussion, we decided to move to Australia. Even with the stress of an overseas move, my migraines stopped.

For our family of three, moving to Australia was the right decision. Now, I can spend three hours deliberating John Donne poetry with my daughter, take hikes with my family, and go camping or explore epic snorkeling spots in the middle of the week. And when my daughter graduates, Rich and I will be traveling full time. Life is open to us now.

We have a daily routine focused on family, health, and following our bliss. Over coffee and our daily vitamin D each morning, we plan our day. It may be writing, working on marketing, or exploring a new spot. When my daughter returns from school, we talk about her day at length. We make healthy meals together with the abundance that Australia’s farmers’ markets have to offer. Our evenings are like most families’, with a key difference: we ditched the TV when we left America. We love it. Life is healthier for us in every way.

I’ve thought about what drives me to make each day better than the last, and it’s simple. It’s what we talk about on our website: Life is short. Make your life matter.

Eleuthero Helps us Adapt to Daily Stress

Stressed out on high adrenaline? Wiped out from too much on your to-do list? Modern living can have many of us feeling that rollercoaster of energy levels––the highs, the lows, the sharp turns––when what we’re trying to achieve in our lives is balance.

Luckily, we can look to the past to help with contemporary life. Siberian ginseng, more recently referred to by its scientific name Eleutherococcus senticosus (or eleuthero, for short), is one of the five most important herbal adaptogens. Functionally, when we’re too revved up with stress, or too slowed down with fatigue, adaptogens help our bodies adapt and rebalance, regardless of which rollercoaster loop we’re on.

Eleuthero’s use dates back 2,000 years in Chinese medicine. Not to be confused with Chinese or Korean ginseng, eleuthero produces somewhat different effects on the human body. Pronounced eh-LOO-thero, it is one of the most widely researched herbs in the world, proving its efficacy not only through scientific studies but also through the empirical evidence of thousands of years of application.

So, how does an adaptogen work?

According to an article by Jill Stansbury, ND, in the Journal of Restorative Medicine, “Adaptogens are plant-derived compounds that normalize endocrine function and promote adaptation to environmental stress. Adaptogenic herbs modulate stress responses, enhancing energy production and sleep quality and improving immune function.”

The Natural Medicine Journal includes, “Siberian ginseng is used to invigorate qi; strengthen the spleen; nourish the kidney; provide energy and vitality… In traditional Russian medicine, Siberian ginseng is used to stimulate the immune system. Siberian ginseng is among the five adaptogens most commonly used by Western herbalists.” Siberian ginseng also maintains blood pressure already within normal limits, promotes a healthy inflammation response, and supports respiratory, heart, and liver health.*

In my own experience, having used eleuthero on and off for more than a decade, I can attest to my body’s response when taking this particular adaptogen. When I’ve been pushing too hard, I’ll find myself recovering in a deep sleep. When I’m dragging, it seems to revitalize me.

HerbWisdom.com says, “Unlike many herbs with a medicinal use, it [eleuthero] is more useful for maintaining good health rather than treating ill health. Research has shown that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure.”*

Can anyone out there in the modern age not relate to this?

Sources:

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/aarm/jrm/2012/00000001/00000001/art00008

http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-03/siberian-ginseng-review-literature

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-ginseng-russian.html

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/REM00049/Eleuthero-or-Siberian-Ginseng-Dr-Weils-Herbal-Remedies.html

Chasing the American Dream – A Story of Rebirth

Chip DeClue had pursued and won the American Dream, with a long-time executive position at a major rental-car company, a beautiful wife, and two daughters—yet he still felt unhappy. He lacked a sense of security and peace. When he learned to pursue his calling, instead, security, health, and happiness followed. 

I came of age in the 80s. My friends and I all knew we would be CEOs one day. I met the woman of my dreams, a wonderful, preppy woman with similar aspirations, and told her when I proposed that I would really have to be married to my job for the next several years so I could make partner. I worked 80 hours a week for a while, then “took it easy” working 70 hours a week at my next job. My life was measured by my financial success.

And I had the success—but my life was all about my work. I was obsessed with driving performance; I looked at the people in my life and evaluated what extrinsic value they provided. This came to define not just my work relationships but also my home life. I expected my wife, Karla, to perform a certain way, and I looked at my daughters through the same lens. Karla told me one night that our daughters actually dreaded when I came home because the fun would stop and everyone would have to get in line.

By most measures, I was successful. I had a beautiful family who had fun. We took great vacations, lived in a nice house, and had a membership at the country club. But I didn’t have security or happiness. Everyone in my life was a constant disappointment to me, including myself. In fact, the more money I made, the less secure I felt, like everything could come tumbling down at any moment. And it did.

In the 2008–2009 recession, I saw my income, which was based on commissions, drop so steeply that the company told me they’d front me 40% of my old pay on the condition that I would pay it back when I started making money again. Karla and I had to very suddenly learn how to live on a budget.

In this time of steep financial decline, we started looking at how to establish new priorities. We started going to church for the first time since high school, and I read a book called Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob P. Buford. The idea of moving into the second half of my life and defining it by my significance to the world spoke powerfully to me, as did the message of selflessness and service I was learning through my faith. I wanted to change internally and make a difference in the world.

I decided to reorient myself toward putting others first and asking not what they could do for me, but what I could do for them, in every area of my life. I went from being someone who put the process before the people, who rode my employees hard so they’d produce, to wanting to invest in people’s lives—and everything changed. My employees, whom I’d pressured so hard, performed better because I was managing them by putting them first instead of managing through fear. My marriage developed new meaning and intimacy. My daughters and I became closer. And I found my own heart healing because I was serving others.

As I reoriented myself in my relationships, I also reconsidered my activities. It started when I was practicing Guitar Hero because my daughter and I played it together. I looked down at the little plastic guitar and its multicolored buttons and I thought, “Chip, you have an American Standard in your basement. What is wrong with this picture?” I put that Guitar Hero controller down and never picked it back up. Instead, I started playing my old guitar again—not because it would give me peace (though it did) but because I could use it to help other people. Now, I play at church.

I had always rewarded myself for hard work with activities that entertained me, but as I considered moving from success to significance, I wanted my activities to help other people or improve my relationships. The things that emerged as a waste of time, like the country club membership and my video games, got kicked out of my life. The Red Wings season tickets I’d used to get away from my family with the guys became my way to get one-on-one time with my daughters. And I started volunteering with the middle-school youth group.

Karla and I also looked at our physical health. We don’t see becoming healthy as a goal unto itself, but as a means to an end. That end is being able to help others. We envisioned our perfect life ten years from now and knew that if we wanted to serve others effectively, we had to be healthy. It’s an interesting truth that to serve others, you have to take care of your own needs or your needs will consume you. We committed to follow a book called The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas this January to get our eating habits on track and are recommitting to yoga. Cooking and exercising together is an amazing way to stay motivated and strengthen our marriage. And we already feel healthier.

If there’s one word I can emphasize, it’s intention: Being intentional and purposeful with my time and resources has made my life meaningful. I set my intention every day with meditation, prayer, and nutritional supplements. I listen for what my purpose is, where I can best serve the world, and what makes me tick. And in this halftime of my life, I am going to create a second half that allows me to be involved with and passionate about the people I’m serving for the rest of my life.

Turning Adversity Into Inspiration -Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer Babcock Bernardo spent two years subjecting her body to medical interventions that didn’t help her psoriasis. When she chose to pursue plant-based interventions instead, her life was transformed. 

Between high school and college, I found out that I had psoriasis. It was a very irritating case, linked with arthritis, and it felt like I saw every doctor under the sun in an attempt to find the right treatment. They treated me with the best medical intervention they could come up with, cortisone injections, but it felt like they were only treating the symptoms. I would go in, get dozens of little doses of cortisone injected into my scalp and all over my body, and experience two weeks of improvement. Then my symptoms would return worse than before.

I felt like I looked like a monster. I didn’t want to leave my house, and I stopped going to school. I couldn’t deal with how they were treating me—I felt like a monkey, a test subject. And I was dealing with all of this for something that did not work for my body.

I finally reached the point of pulling away from all the doctors and Western medicine. I decided not to put my body through more until I had figured out what I truly needed. I started changing the way I approached my disease; I began eating better and looking into alternative medicines and treatments. One night, I met with a woman who knew about the healing properties of botanicals and herbs. She talked me through the function of herbs and their interactions with each other. We then put them into a big pot to stew all night. The next morning, I ended up with a little jar of a disgusting salve. I began using the salve, and it immediately improved my skin and the way I felt. And it was not with cortisone needles or chemicals. My healing was created from the goodness of the earth.

After that day, I took the wisdom shared with me and I started refining it. Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with the recipe to make jars of salve that are better with each batch and have researched the ingredients to make it as effective as possible. I started giving away my salve to people with health issues similar to mine. Like me, they saw improvements and wanted more. It even helped them with other ailments besides psoriasis.

I started making bigger batches and kept refining the recipe to where it is today. Now, I have a business license. I sell to places around the state of California, bulk customers, and people around the country. When I faced my illness and embraced a new approach to medicine, I found not only my own healing through botanicals but I also became an entrepreneur determined to help others access inner healing from that which comes from the earth.

I’m continually amazed at what herbs and botanicals can do for us. I think that much of what Western medicine has done has gotten away from the healing of plant derivatives. Of course, even Western medicine has derived some things from plants, but their cures are removed from the source. True botanical cures are all organic and in nature.

Embracing the healing power of the earth has involved not just my salve, but how I approach everything I put in and on my body. I start every day by drinking an all-organic, vegan, plant-based smoothie product with banana and almond milk. Then I take my shower, which has become very ritualized for me. It’s not about comfort so much as letting it take care of me. I sense the water, pay attention to it, and acknowledge it against my skin. Then I apply my balms to the areas of my body that are still affected, even though my condition has nearly eliminated.

Throughout the day, I’m conscious of what my family puts into their bodies, as well. I didn’t used to think that way; I didn’t realize there was such a strong connection between the foods I put into my body and what was happening on my skin. I used to put so much junk in my mouth. Now, I’m so careful to choose foods, herbs, and teas that will support my family’s wellness, including that of my two-year-old daughter.

Jennifer’s balms are only available in certain states. They can be viewed at http://www.babsbalms.com/

Daily Rituals

Rituals are fundamental to the human experience. 40,000 years ago, Neanderthal humans were already engaging in rituals, and the wisdom of ritual has permeated cultures all around the world today. You can create your personal transformation by starting your day with a ritual of affirmation and nutrition.

Ritual is so powerful because it is a place where research, respect, and rebirth converge: its positive impacts are proven by research, it expresses respect for the self and the wisdom traditions of the world, and it facilitates our rebirth.

We are grounded in research when we partake in ritual. A 2010 article in the Journal of Psychological Science describes how repeating a positive phrase or carrying a good luck charm concretely improves not only our belief in ourselves, but our performance! And in 2013, Scientific American confirmed that rituals powerfully impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They build our confidence, help us get better results, and heal our grief. Ritual can truly help us succeed.

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/05/27/0956797610372631

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

Research also supports the importance of taking a multivitamin each day. The Harvard School of Public Health describes the importance of both a healthy diet and a daily vitamin. Note, however, that not all multivitamins share the same health benefits. Those manufactured with synthetic ingredients cannot provide the same overall health benefits as those crafted with organic fruits and vegetable sources.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamins/

Simple things such as the ritualistic daily use of the right multivitamin can create a dimensional behavior when coupled with positive thoughts, the warmth of a cup of tea, and inspirational visualization. You can give yourself a healthy, research-supported start to your day by making your morning vitamin a catalyst for your own affirming daily ritual.

We respect ourselves as individuals and world citizens when we partake in ritual. Around the globe, rituals celebrate children coming of age, inspire performance, honor grief, and support physical healing. Tapping into the power of ritual joins us with our ancestors and our global community.

And engaging in a daily ritual respects the self. When we pause each morning to affirm ourselves, engage our senses, and take our vitamins, we are expressing love for our whole selves—we are engaging our inner selves in personal healing, growth, self-unity, and power, and we are thanking our bodies for giving us our earthly experience.

You can also respect your body by choosing scientifically based, organic, healthy foods and vitamins sourced in an ethical manner. Say “no” to synthetic compounds and “yes” to organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs and to cultured, whole-foods vitamins and minerals, including DHA.

We create and invite our rebirth when we partake in ritual. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” The great paradox and power of ritual is that by engaging in the same affirmations and actions each morning, we can transform ourselves and embrace a vita nova—a new life—every day. Ritual both unifies our days and makes each of them new.

A morning ritual that includes affirmations and your vitamin supports your inner and outer rebirth. Transformation happens not only in our minds, but on the cellular level in our bodies: right now, your cells are regenerating! The cells on the surface of your lungs regenerate every two weeks, and even your skeleton regenerates every ten years. Your positive thoughts and botanical supplements directly affect this process of transformation and rebirth.

Take a moment to envision what a reborn you would feel and act like. Imagine affirming yourself each day, telling yourself that you can experience this rebirth. Now, visualize yourself achieving it. Doesn’t that feel good? Resolve now to begin affirming yourself towards your rebirth each day as you take your vitamin.

Every day holds the opportunity for your rebirth. Join us, your ancestors, and the world in transforming yourself through the scientifically validated power of ritual and nutrition. You can find affirmations to support your journey at www.facebook.com/vitanovanutraceuticals/.

“My life is hectic, and getting myself up and motivated in the morning is crucial to my success. I always brew some green tea, close my eyes, and picture myself on top of Mt. Everest. I say an affirmation, such as ‘Today will be my day because I am smart and strong. I will succeed.’ Then I take my Vitanova Women, take a deep breath, and make it so. This ‘me time’ is when I give myself a morning lift.” Amy Rose, 46, from San Francisco, California

“When I play competitive tennis, I always wake up extra early. Every morning, I brew a pot of coffee, stretch, grab my bike, and head to the gym. It is really important that I use three identical racquets all strung equally and wear my special socks that have a left- and a right-specific sock. This ritual gives me the focus I need to envision myself winning.” – William Scott Sutter, 50, from St. Louis, Missouri

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