A story about Marlena in Redding

blendtecThe folks at Blendtec are a blessing to me, and to lots of others, too. They give me a $435 blender to give to one lucky attendee at each of my classes. Once, to an audience of 400 in Dallas, I said:

“This amazing machine is a game-changer for your health. I really wish I could give one to ALL of you!” A lady on the back row yelled out, with her Southern drawl:

oprah“IF YOU WAS OPRAH, YOU WOULD!!”

Well, I’m not Oprah. But I love having one shiny, new giveaway blender at every class. Thank you, Blendtec! Check out Marlena’s story. She came up to me after class and told me her 3-year old daughter was at home, very ill, on her fourth course of Prednisone in three months.

She’d just heard the story of my son’s desperately ill first 15 months of life as a stunted-growth, Failure to Thrive baby on constant steroids and bronchodilators. And the miracle that occurred when we eliminated milk, sugar, white flour, and other processed junk. The story culminates in my son leading the state of Utah in RBI’s his Senior year, and leading his team to State in baseball as the MVP of the team, hitting two grand slams, and pitching a 5-inning near-shutout (12-1) in the finals. He’s 6’4”.

Marlena hadn’t even wanted to come. She wasn’t interested in the message. She just knew I was giving away a Total Blender, plus she knew our longtime reader, Pam Opdyke, would be so disappointed if she didn’t show. Check out Marlena’s story here:

More…..about scars on the human body

images-55Nikki wrote me about my last blog post. She said she was pondering the scar conversation we had, and about how scars point to some other things:

She said, isn’t it amazing how the autonomic nervous system does things like breathing, creating white blood cells to fight infection, starting self-healing processes immediately upon being wounded.  We don’t have to think about these processes or fill out forms to get them done.  Or even will it.

Nikki reminded me of the conversation we had with Doug and Andrea, who manufacture our protein powder in San Diego. We’d just had lunch with them. Doug was telling us how, as a nutrition aficionado, he points out to all his friends and co-workers that what they’re eating is going to kill them. I told him that I haven’t ever commented on what somebody is eating—and gave him some heck: “So have you been wondering why you eat alone a lot?”

images-56We soapboxed, preached to the choir, talked about our astonishment not that people die of heart disease or cancer—but that most of us are still walking around at all. Nikki said: how marvelous the coping mechanism is of the body! We fuel it with crap, we don’t give it enough rest, we subject it to stress and pollution, alcohol, and . . . it copes.  It extracts what it can use, it filters the bad stuff, it shifts energy to areas of immediate need, and just. keeps. going.

What a gift it is to interface with the world in such a sophisticated organism, Nikki says to me. I agree. Sometimes I’m on my knees with awe, that God keeps letting us do this.

And isn’t it cool, she says, the way that scars heal from injury with skin that is tougher.  We won’t get hair or sweat glands on a scar, but that place of thickened skin is also less susceptible to re-injury. Isn’t it interesting how muscles can’t grow unless they are torn first, but the result is a larger, stronger muscle.

Nikki and Kristin and I were raised in a religious tradition that believes we are resurrected, on the other side of death, in perfected bodies. About that, Nikki says to me,

“I was thinking about perfected bodies, and I wonder which version of me is ‘perfect.’  I don’t even know what my real hair color is.”

images-47Kristin (who happens to be Nikki’s sister) joins the conversation saying, this makes me think about the metaphysical life scars we carry with us, too. The bad stuff that happens to us. “If they were manifest on our bodies,” she says, “some of us might walk around looking like a disfigured burn victim. I’ve got to learn to love those scars, too.”

And she suggests that all the GSG employees undertake a Post-It Love Bomb Campaign in public bathrooms everywhere. I’m in.

Let’s work on this. Adoring our scarred selves. Let’s be a work in progress, emphasis on “progress.’

(p.s. Aren’t I lucky that I get to work with people so thoughtful and intuitive and funny?)

I’m buying some Post-It Notes.

And what to do about SCARS?

On the long drive home from Tijuana to Utah earlier this month, I stopped at a McD’s because they have the cleanest bathrooms. And, well, because I’d drunk the 32 oz green juice I swerved off the freeway to get, at the Henderson Whole Foods Market.

images-48Inside the stall, a pink Post-It Note was taped to the door. It said,

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”

Who knew bathroom graffiti could make me cry? I was so moved that someone has the sweet mission of writing notes with Sharpies to help women love themselves better and posting them everywhere. And on top of it all, show the business owner the respect of not writing on the walls. Weird and cute and classy, all at the same time.

Nikki and I were in a San Diego hotel and had the sweetest conversation. Nikki is our product developer and my cancer research assistant. But she’s just been trained to run the Green Smoothie show when Kristin can’t come with me. (Kristin is burning out on my never-ending speaking tour–a lot of work for her!) Nikki worked alongside Kristin in St. George and Vegas, and then ran the show herself in Riverside and San Diego.

I told Nik about Cheryl and the wrinkles, which I blogged about yesterday. About how I decided at some point to shift some energy from self-loathing, to choosing to accept and love my body, my wrinkles, my flaws. How I figured out somewhere along the line that’s a better use of my energy.

Nikki said,

images-51“I’ve been thinking about scars lately.”

She showed me a prominent white scar on her arm and told me the story. Nikki was three years old, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother was talking to a friend, who also held her two-year old in her arms. For no discernible reason, the boy bent his head over and….bit into Nikki’s irresistibly luscious arm.

Nikki said, “If God perfects my body someday, I want Him to leave this scar. Some scars I don’t love as much, but this one I do.”

Nikki loves to scold the grown-up boy, Justin Holbrook, with proof of his toddler misdeed, when he comes to their mutual hometown of Burley, Idaho. And I imagine, as I said to her,

“Yeah, it’s a memory you have of your mama, too, right?”

Nikki’s mother died in a car accident when Nikki was only 7 years old.

I sit down on the hotel bed and show Nikki……The Worm. It’s a keloid scar on the back of my ankle. You know, those big, raised, white ones?

Obtaining the scar wasn’t particularly interesting. At my old house, I installed a screen door on my front porch so the kids could bang in and out. So I didn’t have to be Vigilante Mom, yelling about leaving the door open with the air conditioning on.

(My dad did that as I was growing up. He’d bellow, “I’M PAYING TO AIR CONDITION THE GREAT OUTDOORS!”)

One day, I’m barefoot, and the corner of that screen door caught me just wrong and slit two inches up the back of my heel. When you walk, your foot constantly flexes, so the thing didn’t heal. It would scab over, and then the simple act of walking would break the scab open. Many times.

Consequently, when it finally healed, it was a fat scar with an uncanny resemblance to an earthworm.

images-52So at church, or anywhere that we might be bored, when my kids were little, I’d say, “Oh no, LOOK! The worm is grooooowing!” I’d start with the scar as small as possible by Barbie-pointing my toes. Then I slowly flexed my foot so that the scar grew longer and longer and LONGER AND LONGER!!! “AAAAAH! BE VERY SCARED, THE WORM IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD!” I’d fake a panicked look, as if the worm was growing without me having any control over my foot.

It used to make my kids laugh when they were little. Now they roll their eyes at stuff like this, of course, because it really is stupid. But they thought it was great fun, once upon a time. Happy memories of ridiculously simple entertainment. Simpler times.

Nikki said, “Even Jesus, whose perfect life entitled him to a perfect, restored body, chose to keep his magnificent scars.” They are emblems of his experience, his grace.

Our scars show who we are, tell our own magnificent, quirky, unique story.

What, then, is “perfection?”

Maybe the lady with the Sharpie and the Post-It Notes has it right.

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”

thoughts on service

I don’t know about you-all, but I have a lot of sick people in my life right now. A couple of my tennis-club girlfriends are having serious issues affecting their ability to play–these being women in their 30’s and 40’s–like ovarian cancer and blurry vision suspected to be a brain tumor. Another of my good friends had brain surgery a few weeks ago for an aneurysm, and was told that her veins look 70 years old. I could go on, but suffice it to say that I seem to be surrounded by folks getting cancer, thyroid problems, gout, and many other issues.

This weighs heavily on me. In my community, people know each other well because most (far more than 75%) belong to the same church, so either we go to church together, or we know the few who don’t. My church, world-wide, has a well-run system to make sure that no one is without a regular visitor to check up on them and help meet their needs. There are welfare systems in place for those who hit hard times, and if you are ill, WATCH OUT–the women’s organization will be all over you with loads of casseroles, treats, and all manner of food items!

I watched my girlfriend who has a 16-inch scar on her head (and her really long, curly hair gone now but growing in beautifully already). She and her husband are very well known in the community. He is a rather famous local recording artist, and she is one of the kindest, service-oriented people I know.

So people wanted to help. Every time I’m at their house since her recovery I see things that I know she does not want to eat. LOTS of homemade “stardard American diet.” She loves plant food, would be vegetarian except for (1) her love of occasional shrimp, and (2) the fact that her husband likes his meat and she likes to oblige.

In this community, you can find yourself wondering what you could do to help–with so many others lovin’ this family up. (I’m on a list to babysit their youngest child, but they never take me up on it . . .)

Well, my way to help when someone has surgery, or is bedridden, is GREEN SMOOTHIES. It’s unique and it’s appreciated more than another plate of “goodies.” However much they want–a pint a day, or a quart. Sometimes the spouse wants some, too. I’ve had a wonderful experience with helping people in this way. Even if they aren’t interested in nutrition, they seem to always appreciate the smoothies and always want to give me feedback about how much better they feel, drinking them. Sometimes they keep the habit up, themselves, after they recover.

I also get the sense that of all the food that pours into my girlfriend’s house (the one with the aneurysm), they appreciate and anticipate green smoothies more. Very frankly, the last thing people need when they are SICK is more of the food that helped get them that way. You’re never more motivated to make lifestyle changes than when you’re ill.

This isn’t to criticize the way so many show love with food, because the givers’ hearts are in the right place. Once I read a rant by an extremely overweight person about how she wished people would not give her chocolate and other junk food for various occasions requiring gifts. She called it “abuse.” Is it abuse to give an obese person a box of chocolates?

I’ll leave that question hanging out there. Fact is, all I want to say is that if you make green smoothies every day for yourself, you already understand something most people don’t. You’ve learned the “highest and best use” of your kitchen time. When your life allows it, double that and take some to someone else you know would benefit. (If you’re shy, ask them first. Or just take them a pint. Explain why you think it might benefit them.)

It’s a gift of your time and energy (and it isn’t free, of course). But as people are wringing their hands right now about flu and H1N1, you can do something during the winter and holidays to HELP instead of hurt their health. It’s pretty easy and people are SO grateful.

I’d love to hear your story about taking GS to folks who are suffering with health problems to give others ideas and motivation. Or maybe you’re a recipient of that service?

My dear friend Laura converted to GS a couple years ago and has taken them to a woman who is wheelchair bound and blind from a degenerative disease. Her ability to swallow is severely impaired. She is such a blessing to her friend. How about you?