Master Cleanse Addendum

On day four of the cleanse I noticed that I felt very puffy and stiff.  I was getting ready for a vacation and, while packing, I tried on some clothes and noticed something horrible – my clothes were TIGHTER.  That’s when I decided to weigh myself, and discovered that I had gained 3 pounds.  After 4 days of only ingesting the MC lemonade, one cup of mint tea and a daily saltwater flush, I gained 3 pounds and felt awful.

Obviously, the saltwater was staying in my system.  I did the saltwater flush on day 5 and that was it.  I ended the cleanse.  I also promptly began peeing and sweating like a… I don’t know – peeing and sweating machine.  REALLY UNFORTUNATELY, I was flying from Hawaii to Chicago on day 6.

That began my vacation.  I had only juice on day 6, then fresh, raw fruits and vegetables on day 7.  I wasn’t around a bathroom scale, but my clothes became much looser.  Then, though I was eating mostly salads and produce, my clothes got tighter.  I returned from an 8 day vacation another 3 pounds heavier.

Upshot – cleansing alone doesn’t do anything more than give you short-lived euphoria, unnatural physical problems, then boomerang weight gain.

I’m done!

Cleansing

This is my third day of the Master Cleanse. I’ve done this one other time… about 5 months ago, for only three days. The goal is ten days.

For those unfamiliar, this is the cleanse that involves lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper – I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You eat nothing other than a lemonade concoction and a salt water flush every morning, natural laxative tea every night and mint tea occasionally… for ten days.

Frankly, I did this the first time because:

  1. I have been overweight to varying degrees all my life (sometimes fat, other times obese, never anything else)
  2. I have been dieting with varying degrees of success all my life (I have lost as much as 60 pounds three or four times in my life and have always gained most of that weight back)
  3. I have picked up some nasty habits over the years, including a deafening dependency on coffee and a nightly alcohol intake (sometimes just one glass of wine, sometimes a great IPA and a glass of Makers Mark neat – my favorite)

I looked forward to the nightly drink and morning coffee A LOT.  I’m not positive I was an alcoholic, but I was definitely a coffeeholic.  I was also noticing that I sometimes didn’t know when to stop either of them.  The first cup/drink was always the best and all following were just an attempt to return to that feeling, which of course, never happens.

I’d also noticed that I often didn’t feel 100% “together.”  I’d feel jittery or sluggish, drowsy or anxious.  I know I’m not 20 years old anymore, but I actually wondered if my mind was aging and this is what I had to look forward to for the rest of my life.  That frightened me.

And let’s not forget that both coffee and alcohol can take the place of food – that is to say, they both can eliminate the urge to eat.

Now let’s be clear that I’m a successful career woman with great friends and family and a pretty damn fantastic life.  That said, I was frustrated that I was over-eating and drinking in the day-to-day course of my life.  Any my brain and body were paying the usual price.

As all of this was swimming around in my system, I heard about the Master Cleanse from several different sources.  It kept coming up in conversation, or on the television show I was watching or radio program I heard on my way to work.  Yes, I thought this was a sign.

I had done cleanses before, but nothing nearly as dramatic as this one – I had never gone more than 24 hours without any solid food.  When I initially heard about this particular cleanse, I thought it was ridiculous.  When I googled it, I was in the middle the perfect storm of “a sign,” along with emotional angst, physical discomfort and ever tightening clothing.  I gave it a shot.

The first time I did the cleanse I journaled everyday and cleansed other aspects of my life as well: I didn’t watch television or listen to anything but peaceful music.  I worked, which requires that I participate in social media, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.  I allowed myself to think and feel everything I thought and felt.  That is to say, I didn’t make excuses or label anything right or wrong, good or bad.  I said to myself, I don’t like that thought/feeling, but I’m having it, so it’s a part of me.  What is it; why is it.  Sometimes I didn’t question or examine, I just thought and felt.  And I slept A LOT.  All of this happened in three days.

During that time I was suffering acute caffeine withdrawal symptoms.  I was irritable and uncomfortable as hell.  I didn’t realize how bad it would be, and had made the mistake of beginning on a Wednesday, meaning that I had to work all three days of my cleanse.  That wasn’t smart; however, by the fourth day, I felt so good, I considered staying on the cleanse, though I had already made plans to end it.  The last night I barely slept – I just laid there and thought CLEARLY through some problems and issues and comfortably made some big decisions, including a relationship change and move.  It was very, very good.

I didn’t go back to my coffee habit, but did eventually start drinking decaf, which I know contains traces of caffeine, and the occasional diet coke… with rum.  It took awhile for me to start drinking any type of alcohol again and I didn’t go back to the quantity I once enjoyed, but I did go back to a nearly nightly habit.  DAMN!

So… I am doing it again.  I figure I’ll just continue to get a little better at taking care of myself every time I do it.  I’ll also work my way up to the full ten days eventually.  This is a five day cleanse, chosen because I had to squeeze it between a fundraiser at work and a vacation.  The last time I did this I was soooo tired, I didn’t dare try it again during such a busy time at work, and of course, this is difficult to do when traveling (which requires nearly 24 hours straight between airports and shuttles, as I live in Hawaii and am traveling to visit family in Chicagoland).

I began the cleanse on Friday morning (though I did only fruit and vegetables on Thursday).  Today is Sunday.  Last time I only surfed around for information.  This time I got Peter Glickman’s book on the subject – I am MUCH better informed this time.

Here is what I’m experiencing:

  • Thus far, I’ve only had minor fatigue issues.  In fact, I feel pretty damn good
  • I have been a busy bee, completing several projects over the weekend.
  • Part of the reason I’ve gotten so much done is that I seem to have ADD; it’s easier to do things than not
  • I now recognize that the act of cooking and eating, drinking and watching television all do the same thing – they occupy me.  I like to be occupied.
  • Because I’ve spent the majority of my life either racing from work to rehearsal, running several offices, dealing with home (cooking, cleaning, decorating, mowing, weeding, shoveling, etc.), eating and drinking to excess… I don’t really know what to do without some sort of flourish of activity or mind-numbery.

That’s my story thus far.  Pretty good realizations, eh?  I should add that there is a biological nastiness to this cleansing business.  The quart of salt water you have to drink every morning causes about two hours of intermittent “flushing.”  Which is to say, the salt water goes right through you – with gusto – and carries with it all sorts of detritus.  It’s not pleasant, it’s not pretty and it’s not easy.  You must awake and drink the giant nasty beverage two hours before you have to be anywhere.  You cannot skip the step and you cannot trust your sphincter more than ten paces away from a bathroom.

Did I mention that I feel awesome?  I do – it’s totally worth it.

 

 

VISION QUEST 2011, Part I

Yes, I have been on a vision quest.  In fact, I’ve been on two, 2010 and 2011.  What exactly constitutes a “vision quest,” you may ask?  For me, it’s a nice, neat package of openness, opportunity and contemplation, all concentrated into a small lump of time and travel.

  • Be open to big changes in your life
  • Have a week to travel and no need to plan most of that time
  • Have enough money and/or creativity to take care of basic needs (eating,  sleeping and getting from A to B to C)
  • Bring at least one big question
  • Bring an open mind and willingness to let answers unfold over the next year or so
  • Bring a journal and write in it every day
  • Bring curiosity and high, but loosely defined expectations
  • Seek adventure and newness every day of the quest – pick up brochures, ask for recommendations and be willing to drive down the road just because it seems like the right thing to do at the moment
  • Talk to strangers with no expectations, but don’t be surprised if they reveal the secrets you’ve been looking for
  • Spend a lot of time alone – in nature if possible – appreciating your surroundings
  • If possible, begin the quest with loved ones who will cheer you on and ask questions about your upcoming days
  • If possible, end the quest with friends who will ask questions and listen – people who help you define the experience
  • Breathe – notice smells, sights, sounds and above all else, feelings

I began both of my vision quests with my darling nephew, Jason.  I ended each with my dear friends, Heather and Michael.  There are hundreds of miles and  a plethora of experiences between said nephew and friends.  This is the meat of the quest.  (but don’t get me wrong, the meat would be little without the dear, cheering and the defining bookends.)

Both of my quests initially centered on visits to a woman named Jo Carson and an art project she inspired.  I read a book of Jo’s and we eventually became acquaintances, and  later friends.   Both times I traveled at Jo’s request, but knew I would not travel that 1000 miles to spend a lot of time with her as she has been very ill and easily exhausted .  I basically traveled both times to spend a total of 8 hours with Jo (that’s another blog).  I appreciated the time I had with her, but also appreciated the time I spent with a waiter in a restaurant one night, a woman who sat next to me at the dining room table in a bed and breakfast one morning, a timber wolf who lazily stared at me through a chain link fence and a ghost named Lydia, with whom I spent two nights… just the two of us in a secluded bed and breakfast that was once her childhood home.

And here’s another piece of the quest: I have felt driven to take each trip, despite bad timing and the necessity for frugality.  I was  certain of the need to travel and circumstances unfolded to allow me to do so.

The first trip was initially invited in October of 2009, but circumstances in my life didn’t open up for that… it was delayed until May of 2010.  At that time, I KNEW the time was right and I went.

In August of 2011, similar circumstances drove me to begin readying for another quest.  Along the way, I had doubts.  While doubting, I stopped at a rest area to get something to eat (or perhaps more appropriately, I wanted to assuage my doubting heart with some Oreos).  I stood at a vending machine and reached into my purse for a bill.  My heart nearly stopped when I pulled out a bill that had my name very clearly written on it.  You see, when I began the trip, I had an empty wallet – I stopped for cash in my home town, then got change at a gas station somewhere in Indiana.  That is the origin of the bill.  The poignant moment in front of the vending machine is such a landmark because of the question in my mind as well as the answer… had I not gone on the trip, someone whose name probably wasn’t Donna would have gotten the $5 as change in the gas station somewhere in Indiana.  They probably wouldn’t have had a question of “am I where I should be” on their hearts and they most assuredly wouldn’t have been impressed by seeing my name of a $5 bill.

I suppose that $5 is a good thought to continue on at this point because it sums up all that anyone has to give to receive gain on a vision quest.  Be willing to see visions and ready to allow your heart AND your mind to interpret them.  Bring the journal so you can remember all that you’ve experienced.  Talk to strangers – even let them in on the story – but do not allow their opinions to define your experience.  Frankly,, they may be there specifically to teach you not to allow anyone else to define your world for you.

I don’t want to put to much definition on the rules of this experience.  After all, not having rules is what makes it so special.  On these quests, I have never planned more than thirty-six hours ahead.  Because of this, I’ve received lovely discounts on 4-star available rooms exactly when and where I needed them.  I have also used Priceline to find a good deal on your basic chain hotel.  I’ve written in my journal beside pools, in animal sanctuaries, at highway rest areas, in my nephew’s and friends’ homes, in several restaurants and coffee shops, mountain tops, along rivers and on park benches.  I’ve met people who had recovered from tragic loss, accomplished amazing 18-year journeys, were living their dreams and reaching almost as much as I was.  They all helped me.

That brings me to another type of person – and they helped me too – the people who are not searching, are not happy and don’t believe in hope.  They appear like neon lights above your bed during a lovely dream.  You notice them and they jar you from your peace.  Frankly, you probably jar them as well.  Let them affirm your quest and do not allow them to bring you down.

I once talked with a waiter who first  befriended me, then became cold and literally backed away from me – all while I didn’t say much.  I think the problem was that I was just so frickin’ happy.  I gave him a nice tip.  I remember that because my bill was $41 and I happily rounded it up to $50 to allow for a generous tip (I figured anyone who could turn so chilly and mistrustful to a happy stranger who asked for nothing other than items on the menu, needed a good tip).  When I returned home and sorted through my bank statement, I noted that said waiter refused the tip – I was only charged $41 that night.   I was in the business long enough to know something like that does not happen by accident.  I believe he recognized something only in retrospect.  He recognized something he couldn’t deal with at the time, but in retrospect, he couldn’t accept that gift from someone so foreign.

Okay, I’m wrapping this up now – too much definition of a vision quest is not a good thing.  As I work through my findings from VQ 2011, I’ll post them here.  I will benefit from the thought process behind writing more about it.  Perhaps someone will read and feel inspired to take a VQ of their own.

If you go in the right spirit of open expectation of vision, the time you spend on the quest will reward you hundreds of times over!

Wrought Feelings

More from Candace:  “Feelings are a bridge between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of manifestation, and must be felt and experienced if any kind of real and lasting result is going to come about.”

Okay, so if I don’t feel my emotions, nothing will ever be gained, changed or otherwise affected by what is going on in my head.  Ladies and gentlemen, that is an awful thing to say!  I don’t want to feel half of what is going on in my neurotransmitters on a good day!

Hmmm, have I mentioned I’m going through a lot of transition at this point in my life?  A LOT of transition.  I’m feeling a whole dynamic world of states of consciousness that change like one of those glass-filled kaleidoscopes you saw on well-dressed coffee tables everywhere in the early 90’s.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah…

When it really gets rough inside my head and the ligands are landing in the most unpleasant of ways, I look for ways to NOT feel.  I think I’m a little upset with Candace for telling me I’m not supposed to run away suppress or otherwise drown those feelings.

I admit it, I’m going through a huge phase of transition in my life (seriously – career, home, geographic region, relationship…).  I love the highs and don’t care at all for the lows.  I’ve spent enough time crying, eating and generally wanting to bang my head against the wall – do I really need more of those emotions?

Apparently, I do.  Perhaps if I feel them, I’ll actually learn to deal with them without the aforementioned behaviors.

Okay, fine, Candace.  If I’m going to make any change, I have to not just ride the shit-storm, but actually smell it.  Whatever.

A very wise friend of mine told me just yesterday that progress requires taking steps up in consciousness, then supporting/sustaining them until you’re ready for the next step up.  Meh, I suppose all of that requires awareness of all that each steps entails, including occasional [incessant] loneliness, mourning and grief…. not to mention the paralyzing questioning insecurity brings.

In moments when I’m most honest, I have to admit I’ve used the banal tool: alcohol, to mask my feelings, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Excessive sleep, movies, performance (read: adrenaline), physical and emotional risk (read: adrenaline) and even Facebook to escape for a little while.  Sometimes all of those things are happy and healthy little choices we make when deciding how to spend our time.  Sometimes, those are ways to divert attention and avoid feeling.

Okay, so now that brings me to another question: what is normal activity and what is escape?  Or the converse: what is sitting and feeling emotions and what is sitting and looking for trouble?  I don’t want to bask/wallow in my emotions to excess.  There’s got to be a good balance…

Don’t we have an entire two generations full of people who want everything now and really have no idea what it’s like to sit in a quiet room along with their feelings?  Oh pong, what hath though wrought?

… I’ll get around to thinking about – but not wallowing in – all of this, just as soon as I finish this drink while watching a movie and posting this very personal blog on the entire world wide web (read: adrenaline).

Jesus, where’s Pythagoras when you need him…

The Definition of Emotion

This is from Dr. Candace Pert:

[I began by defining emotion as] “the flow of information perceived to be essential for the survival of any particular state of consciousness making the observation.”

Candace is one of the small handful of scientists you see in the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” She’s an internationally recognized pharmacologist who has published over 250 scientific articles on peptides and their receptors and the role of these neuropeptides in the immune system. She spends a lot of time talking about the “molecules of emotion” (she has several books and CD’s REALLY worth checking out).

I gotta look at that again: “the flow of information perceived to be essential for the survival of any particular state of consciousness making the observation.”

A state of consciousness exists/survives – and informs me of its existence – because of certain ligands flowing into receptors (that’s the flow of information).

THAT’S IT? Jesus, God in Heaven, this frickin insanity that has tried to control my feeble little brain since the age of consciousness is a goddamn matter of squiggly things landing in squiggly thing soft spots? AND IF THEY DON’T LAND, THE GOD-AWFUL, IRRATIONAL AND POTENTIALLY LIFE ALTERING – IN A BAD WAY – EMOTION GOES AWAY?

Well, for heaven’s sake, wouldn’t it be nice to imagine controlling those soft-spots? Harumph, I’m pretty sure there’s a whole shelf of expensive prescription drugs surviving on THAT flow of observation… but shouldn’t it be easier? And cheaper… with fewer side-effects?

Seriously, if I can just catch myself in the act of an emotional wallop, shouldn’t I be able to tell myself that’s just ligands landing in soft-spots and this angst/worry/anger (insert your incendiary emotion here) would just pop off to oblivion if I could say… block its conjugal visit with that whore of a receptor?

Well hell if that’s all it is, this should be easy, right? I’m going to give it a try. The next time I want to kill someone, break something or run out of the room screaming, I’ll just remind myself that it’s not the situation that is actually all that bad – it’s the friggin ligands that are making me crazy.

Worth a try…

Private Art

Months ago, I wrote that I had taken up acrylic painting for a hobby. I’m still doing it and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy it. I like to paint things that just appear in my head, like faces in swirls of color, as well as things that appear outside my window, like a willow tree that looks different and more intriguing to me every day.

That willow tree is especially amazing in the moonlight.

I have spent many a wee hour of the night and morning, flicking the light on and off – off so I can see the tree… on so I can see my brush touch the canvas – to paint that tree in the moonlight. I finally discovered that my Kindle light could be tucked into the top of the canvas, only too discover after the sun rose that the light didn’t offer me enough to actually paint what I saw. Rather, what I saw on the canvas didn’t look so good in the light of day.

Oh, that tree! I love painting that tree. The midnight blue sky that ends at the bumpy horizon. The green and yellow tree becomes black and gray. The hill upon which it sits becomes obsidian and slate. When I stare longer, I begin to see hints of green and a strange, rich burgundy. I love painting that tree.

BUT, I won’t show it to you. In fact, I am no longer showing any of my paintings to anyone. I’m giddy and filled with the torrid temptation to break my own rule at the thought of it. I have been showing off my paintings to friends and family. I have a small group of loved ones, to whom I send periodic cell phone pics of my paintings, so they can watch them evolve (one of my favorite aspects of the painting is the evolution, but then again, I’m a theatre person at heart). Even those folks don’t get to see the paintings any more.

Ahhh, the mere idea of art, just for the sake of art, just for the sake of me creating that art, makes me squeeze my knees together in delicious anticipation. You see, I am an actress; I have spent most of my life learning to hone a form of art specifically for audience consumption. I fall in love with my characters as I read the script and analyze my every motivation in the quiet of my home, knowing that the way in which I present my art must be digested by unnamed floating faces in the dark of the theatre. It’s like stripping naked and dancing in an apartment on a crowded boulevard at night, with no shades on the windows. But I just want to dance. How different my dance would be if I knew no one was looking…

This idea of the tawdry voyeurism of the theatre became most known to me when I began to direct. My shows were such delicate tapestries of story-telling. My casts, designers, technicians and I created such intricate finery. I dreaded the disruption in balance those strangers would bring. Those people in the auditorium were Johns with fists full of cash, paying to dally with my precious lovelies.

Yeah, that sounds really dramatic, I know. What’s your point? We ARE talking about the theatre, after all. What? Did you expect me to sound dry and pragmatic about this?

Okay… I wrote a profound and never before seen algorithm on the chalkboard and then invited strangers off the street to press their faces against it.

Got it?

So anyway, now I’m painting and I finally have my precious, private, tangible expressions of emotion – my emotion – and I’m not sharing them with anyone. PRIVATE ART. This is like singing in the shower at the top of my lungs. Not because I’m rehearsing or honing my chords for anything… just singing for the joy of creating an expression of my immediacy.

My immediacy…

Waiting for the Next Bar to Drop

Sometimes, everything goes so right, it seems like there must be something wrong.  Seriously, when life goes very well, I begin to wonder if I should be enjoying myself so much.  Perhaps I should be agonizing over something and preparing for the inevitable “bad times.”

Pragmatically, it is safe to assume that eventually, something sad, bad or really tragic will happen in my life.  It is nearly empirical fact that sad, bad and tragic are on their way… ‘cause this is life, after all.  People die, hearts get broken, money is spent and skin sags.

Optimistically and Zen-ally, nothing sad, bad or tragic ever happens.  We experience this life; that is all there is to it.  There really is no “good” or “bad,” there’s just “experiences.”  We are ethereal spirits having earthly experiences.

Well, I hate to stick it to the esoteric (and possibly correct) Eckart Tolle and Celestine Prophesy set, but I happen to like this experience better than most and I really want it to stick around.  This ethereal spirit gets a little reflux when she considers the really strong possibility that this here good feeling will pass and she tries very hard to squeeze the bar of soap without it popping out of her grip.

Oh, holy crap… that’s it, right?  The key is to just enjoy the lovely, figurative bar of soap – rub it all over your proverbial body, as it were – and trust that, if it does eventually melt away (from so much rubbing), you’ll find another… or maybe you’ll discover that shower gel is really more to your liking…

Wow, screw Wayne Dyer  (pardon me, sir – I really do like your books – am just making a point here), I’ve just discovered the key to relishing momentary happiness and experiential optimism:  you never know when you’re going to love the next bottle of shower gel to come along!

UN-EMPLOY-MENT

Welcome to time to do everything you’ve always wanted to do, and none of the money.

Well, that’s not necessarily the case, I’m not exactly in the poor house.  I’m reading this book called “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave.  Now that’s poverty – being excited about a slice of dried pineapple…  I’m not exactly there at the moment.

The time is what’s blowing my mind actually.  I should be able to accomplish everything I wanted to but couldn’t while I was working 10 hours and commuting 2 every day.  But somehow, I’m not able to accomplish nearly that much.  The days just zip by if you don’t have ways in which to mark them.

I have meetings here and there.  I talk, write, read, paint, shop and cook.  I watch Top Chef and Project Runway (thought I have to warn anyone thinking of becoming unemployed that looking forward to television shows is a pretty awful way to spend the day).

I’m working on a great big project (more about that in the Editorials section).  I’m working out regularly.  I have a work-out partner and several project partners and consultants with whom I collaborate…. That’s all good.

I’m working on the funding portion of all of this.  That’s going to come.  Until then, I’m pinching the ever-loving life out of every penny that comes my way (just the way I was raised… and not a habit I feel a need to break at the moment).

And I am still working on perfecting this state of being.

You see, I’m busy as hell.  I’m working a lot and accomplishing much, all while making sure dinner is on the table when my loving man is ready for dinner.

Un-employed, just means no one entity reserves the right to not less than 40 hours of me a week.  In fact, I am now the world’s bitch.

Hello, I’m unemployed at the moment.  What can I do for you?