My birthday wish is… (a love letter to little Wendy)

My birthday wish is… (a love letter to little Wendy)

wendys bdayAs a little girl, she wasn’t always excited to celebrate her birthday. Strange. You would think that being the only child she would have wanted all the attention for that special day. She wore a crown on her day, though she didn’t think she was a princess. She wasn’t impressed with princesses or skinny barbies. Her mom always got her the most beautiful dolls. Her favorite toys: a kitchen set, grandma’s jewelry, a produce scale (the one used at farmers markets), vegetables from the fridge, a cloth doll, a few Lego sets. Her favorite playmate: grandpa.

Now looking back at the birthday pictures when she was little, I see a timid little girl, barely smiling for the camera. Maybe she was just a kid who didn’t like her pictures taken, hard to believe now.  

 

Back at that time, there were many questions with no answers, situations that were not explained: like her parents’ divorce, why she had to live with her grandparents, why she was being teased at school for having a limp or a scar, why was her life different from other kids around her… She learned about resentment and guilt that she had imposed upon herself without knowing why. Years later, she had to re-learn about trust, specially trusting herself, to stop doubting and second-guessing. She didn’t know any other way. She grew up as an only child; however, with lots of cousins, lovely family and relatives, who cared for and protected her (sometimes too much), but nevertheless, very much loved. Most importantly, SHE LEARNED ABOUT LOVE FROM THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING COUPLE SHE EVER KNEW: HER GRANDPARENTS. 

 

After all, she was a lucky kid. She was blessed with the unconditional love and care from her grandparents, who raised her with good family values, taught her about living a humble life and caring for others. She also was blessed with the love and care from her parents; who even though were not physically with her, they were still part of her life at a distance.

 

I have thought what if her life would have been differently, but I believe things were perfectly as they were supposed to be. Every experience and situation shaped her into the person she is now: a beautiful soul finding beauty in all things, hopeful about life, believes in love and caring for others.  I know she is all that!

 

She was loved.   She is healing.

She is LOVE. 

 

Looking at those pictures made me realize that, like many people, I had neglected the LITTLE ME for so long, and I needed to let her know that I have her back. Now 30+ years later, I understand that sometimes we live the life we are meant to have, with all the trials and tribulations. A scraped knee, each surgery, every single scar, a broken heart; each tells a story, teaches a lesson and we can only learn, get up, dust off the dirt and heal from within.

 

 

 

If we don’t heal from within,

we might be without.

 

For a while now, I’ve been discovering new practices and creating new habits to support my spirituality and highest good. Some being meditation, journaling, daily affirmations, connecting to my body and my needs. Call it wisdom, experience or acceptance, but I do feel that at my age now I have a better grasp of what life is about and that I am living a more meaningful life. Maybe part of it has to do with the realization that my life is not the same anymore, that if it is not me taking care of myself, then who will?

 

A practice that I learned and keeps me grounded is to reconnect with “little Wendy”, the little timid princess who didn’t smile much at pictures. I looked at pictures of the younger Wendy with the eyes of compassion and really devoted my time and thoughts to think, believe, admire, and bless that little Wendy from years ago. Then I wrote to her a love note, I wanted to tell her that 30+ years later, everything would be ok. I asked her questions, asked for forgiveness, asked for her blessing.  In return, I gave her words of encouragments, advice, my blessing. I don’t remember what my birthday wish was back then, but more than a wish, now I make a promise: that I will always take care of myself, the inner child or the crazy silly grown up version, to nurture and love.

 

 

 

Do you remember that when you were little it was all about you? You were a bundle of joy for your parent.  You received all the care and attention because seeing you smile and giggle was the best gift to watch. You are still a bundle of joy (bigger version), and you still matter to your parents and family, but something was lost. You forgot to smile at the little things, to giggle at silly stuff, to laugh at yourself first. You forgot what it’s like to run barefoot on the grass, to go on an adventure, be free and fearless, to look in the mirror and see the beautiful princess (or prince) living a happily ever life, to take the time to care for yourself. All of a sudden, those memories seem so long ago, and even might seem ridiculous to think about them now.

 

Somewhere between playing with dolls and cars, playing innocent games; we learned about negativity and self-doubt. We forget to be kind and compassionate with ourselves. It was easy to lose trust in ourselves and procrastinate: “I can’t do it,” “I am not good enough,” “I am fat, who would want to go out with me?,” “I am meant to be alone,” “I will eat healthy and go to the gym… tomorrow,” “I don’t have time to take care of myself, too much to do, there is always tomorrow”. These are negative beliefs that somehow sneak into our minds and stop us from being the best we can be. But, what if tomorrow never comes? What if tomorrow comes and life is turned upside down and nothing is the same anymore? We get so consumed in our everyday routine that self-care comes second, if at all. We forget to take care of ourselves, to dedicate time to attend our needs, to made amends and forgive. We forget we once were kids trusting that whatever happens, things will be all right. Well, we need to touch bases with that kid again, to reconnect with that true self.

 

Wouldn’t you want to hold, embrace and take care of that little YOU? What advice would you give about the things that are coming in her (his) future?

 

Take out an old picture of you, look at that innocent little face, what is she telling you? Can you recall what she was feeling at that moment? Are there any words of encouragements or advise now that you have walked the path? Write a letter to that little one. A letter of forgiveness: giving it and asking for it. A love letter to the beautiful mini-you, to that pure innocent child who maybe grew up so fast and didn’t enjoy her childhood. Perhaps to that little kid who was so overly protected and couldn’t spread her wings for adventure, or lost confidence and trust and couldn’t be her best. Reconnect to that little person who is still hiding inside, and sometimes comes out as little voices of self-doubt.  Tell her/him that no matter what, things will be ok. You know it!

Sugar Scrubs, facial exfoliator and more…

Sugar Scrubs, facial exfoliator and more…

Sugar Scrubs, facial exfoliator and more…

You!!! have been reading about the truth of sugar, and how your health will benefit if we decrease its use, specially conventional, processed sugar. You decided to clean out your pantry, get rid of all the devilish snacks and sweets, but what to do with the extra bag of sugar by the coffee machine?? Sugar might not be good inside your body, but it might just help on the outside!! Use it as skin exfoliator!!!
 
Stress no more, here I have a couple of options to give sugar a good use 😉
 
 
Citrus Body Scrubgive yourself a time off from the busy schedule and specially away from the sweet temptation.

     

      – 1.5 cups sugar (coarse is better)

      – 1/2 cup almond oil

      – zest of 1 lemon (or lime)

      – a few drops of lemon essential oil 

(optional) I sometimes use cucumber pulp that is left over from my juices. Leaves a really clean and fresh feel on your skin.

 Mix all the ingredients into a glass jar.

CAUTION: This scrub is smells so good and delicious, but DO NOT EAT while in the shower.

 

Facial Exfoliator –  remove dead skin from your face by combining some sugar with epson salt or sea salt and honey.

     – 1/2 cup coconut oil

     – 1/4 cup jojoba oil

     – 1/4 cup raw sugar

     – essential oil of your preference (citrus, lavender, peppermint, rose) or use rose petals.

Other Helpful Tips to give sugar a good use:

*  To get rid of the soap grimme from the shower and clean the toilet.  Use as if you would AJAX or other cleaning detergent.

 

* To clean up the coffee or spice grinder.  Put a tablespoon in the grinder and let it run. 

 

* To make your cut flowers last longer, put 3 teaspoons of sugar in the water. 

 

* Remove gunk or smelly odors from your hands.  It will also exfoliate your hands.

 

* To clean grass stains from tennis shoes and clothes.  Make a paste of sugar and water, apply to stained areas, wait for a few minutes and wash off.

 

 

Sugar and Cancer, not a love story

Sugar and Cancer, not a love story

I am to nourish my body and every healthy cell in it, not those darn cancer cells.

 

The first meal of the morning sets the metabolism and can influence the food choices throughout the day. Sugar will leave me craving for more sweets.  Most importantly, and maybe my main reason is that cancer cells love sugar and to the body sugar is sugar regardless of where it came from. When I first learned about sugar and other foods that contribute to cancer, I almost pooped in my pants. Not that I have a ridiculous love for sweets, but still, I set myself to learn more about this gummy situation and try to avoid foods that might help cancer cells thrive.

 

My first lesson about sugar and cancer was a visual demonstration on not other better subject than myself. As part of the diagnosis I had a PET scan done where the the patient receives an injection into the vein of a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar). This radioactive sugar is picked up by all cells, but it is the cancer cells that will rapidly feast on it and light up like fireworks on 4th of July, therefore showing the exact location where the cancer cells are clustered. I am a visual person, with a curious mind and with a scientist eye. I couldn’t help to visualize what really was happening at a cellular level inside my body every time I ate a cookie or if I had a sugary drink. Although the thought of lighting up like a firefly was cool to think as a kid, I don’t like the idea of a light show inside my body.  (the photo shows a PET scan of a patient with lymphoma, red zones are the hot spots 🙁

 

Cancer cells are more addicted to sugar than you think. They are extremely hungry and have a higher metabolism than any healthy normal cell. A third of some common cancers have an insulin receptors (20 times more) on the tumor cell that feed of glucose supply that normally will go to other cells.  In other words, it is like having many hungry mouths waiting to be fed. In the last blog we reviewed what happens with an overdose of sugar and carbohydrate in the body: overproduction of insulin to deliver the excess sugar to the cells through the blood. With excess insulin, those cancer cells with extra hungry mouths for insulin are having a feast while healthy cells could starve to death.

  

Increased sugar consumption and elevated insulin also create an optimal environment for inflammation.  What is the link between inflammation and cancer? Inflammation is a natural and normal process to protect the body from invaders, it is the prolonged and increased inflammation that sets the immune response on high alert and turns against itself. Tumor and cancer cells use the inflammatory process to signal their own cells to grow and multiply. Also, insulin has been linked to the production of a growth hormone that as the name implies promotes growth. Some cancer and tumor cells will take advantage of this and grow faster. Those are really sneaky little bastards.  

  

As you can see, excess sugar breaks havoc in the body, and one of the organs that pays the price is the liver. The liver serves many vital functions: filters toxins out of the body including alcohol and medication. Also, fructose is processed in the liver and converted to fat and stored in the fatty tissue. For cancer patients and those of compromised health, the liver requires extra care because it is one of the organs that works the most. Even more so when the patient is undergoing chemotherapy. In addition to its regular function to keep up with the basic needs of the body, the liver has to do extra work to detoxify from all the toxins and chemicals from the treatment. If you think about it, it is a lot of strain for that organ, so it is best not to take it for granted and do a better job taking care of it.

 

How would you like your coffee with pesticide?

For some folks, it might be too much giving up on sugar, especially their sugary drinks or the morning coffee. Thank goodness for those alternative sweeteners, uh!?!  Not so much sweet friends, many have been linked to health problems like some cancers and obesity. And what about the DIET options in sodas and energy drinks? Aspartame is a common ingredient in diet drinks that breaks into formaldehyde in the body, it is a neurotoxin that causes inflammation and neurological problems. Despite of the alarming finding, the demand of these lab formulated sweeteners keeps on the rise. Unfortunately, instead of changing habits and reducing sugar intake, people are more inclined to find alternatives, and in order to keep with the demand, manufacturers come up with different options. One of the latest is sucralose or Splenda that we have seen become very popular because it contains no calories with no spikes in blood sugar and no long-term side effects that we know of.  However, did you know that Splenda was originally discovered in an attempt to create a pesticide?  Hear this, the chemical structure of Splenda is not much different from that of DDT.  How is that for a pesticide frothy latte?

Of course natural sugar from fruits and vegetables is a better option, but it will still have the same insulin-glucose reaction in the body.  That’s why I get a little worried when people choose to have fruit juices or smoothies so early in the morning as their only meal, thinking that they are being healthy because it is natural. That’s a lot of sugar to handle first thing in the morning. I’ll save one of those fruit smoothies for an afternoon snack.  It is important to mention that it is not solely fructose that is the problem, it is the overused supply that food manufacturers use in their products. In reality sugar and derivatives are in many food products in the market that disrupts liver metabolism.  

 

Here are some of the names to look out for. The list almost never ending, and even honey and raw sugar are found in the list because after all they are sugar. But my rule of thumb is to always go with the most natural, not processed and in moderation. 

 

  

Things to keep in mind:

  • sugar, excess carbohydrates and processed foods promote inflammation

  • inflammation is the mother of (almost) all chronic diseases including many cancers

  • excess insulin becomes a growth promoter for cancer cells, needless to say that insulin is also pro-inflammatory

  • refined sugar is acid-forming in the body and has been associated with some cancers

  • cancer cells persuade healthy cells to form blood vessels to feed more cancer cells → growth

  • circulating insulin throughout the body promote cancer tumor metastasize and spread to other parts of the body

  • alternative sweeteners are as bad or worse than sugar

 

One take-home message is that cancer cells function differently than healthy cells and one difference is that cancer cells require much more sugar to function. Therefore, it might help tremendously to cut down on refined sugars from the diet and create an anti-inflammatory environment in the body to help starve those cancer cells.