Friday, February 22, 2019

My Failed Attempt at Fasting & How It Introduced Me to Goddess Like Powers

"Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and sickness, to riches and poverty, to freedom and slavery. It is WE who control these, and not another." ---Richard Bach

While the rest of the world was partaking in debauchery this New Year's, I was discovering the life changing benefits of mono meals. I know, I know--of all days, New Year's. Just know I've had my share of debaucherous New Year's (generally pouring the bevies, whilst imbibing from behind the bar--always a great time), so "Don't cry for me Argentina...the truth is [my liver needed a break]."

Influenced by a book I read at age 17, Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss (the premise being disease cannot exist in a pure bloodstream), I've always been health conscious: working out regularly, limiting sugar and  flour...  However, for the last few years, a sluggish thyroid (likely due to the overuse of antibiotics during childhood, and 10 years on the pill which compromised my gut microbiome) left me with debilitating fatigue, brain fog, and a myriad of other unpleasant symptoms. I gave up gluten, soy and dairy (triggers for those with auto-immune disorders), ate healthfully 90% of the time, and successfully (without medication), suppressed weight gain, hair loss, psoriasis, but continued to feel like death inside. I was dragging myself through life, and when too tired to drag, sleeping through it. Simple things I loved doing became difficult, if not impossible (like writing) hence, my 4 year lapse in posts. 

So after reading about the profound effects of fasting (for completely regenerating the immune system, enhancing energy and bringing clarity of mind), I decided to give it a go. 

My gluten/soy/dairy free life (and minimal sugar) was a good segue into the fast, though for Christmas, I indulged a bit. My real struggle would be coffee.

The goal was a 3 day fast. Herbal teas, coconut water and warm, coconut "golden milk"--all allowed for their healing properties.

*While I don't mention it below, I drank tea, water and coconut water/milk copiously throughout the fast.

Day 1

My daily ritual (coffee, citrus, smoothie, GF waffle or pancakes) was missed. I thought about coffee the most (I knew I would). With each passing hour, I felt triumphant. I was conquering an addiction.

I decided not to workout, as I didn't want to work up an appetite. By 4-5 p.m., I caved--not to coffee, but a granny smith apple. My hanging fruit basket was full--it was like they were calling me. It was organic, and healthy. I failed at fasting, but I wasn't overwrought by guilt. I abstained from coffee and had not a single piece of chocolate from the bag of Dove silk dark chocolates with almonds (my favorite). 2 hours later, I surrendered to a clementine, meant to be eaten precisely when it was, and 'round 9ish, I had a pomegranate.

To my surprise, whenever hunger struck,  fruit quelled my cravings.

Note: When attempting a strict fast, do not keep any food within view--especially during the first (most difficult) day. 

Day 2  

On day 2, after posting about my failed attempt at fasting (on FB), I perused the pages of my  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Detoxing, and came across the term mono-food fast: eating either one food per fasting day: fruit, vegetable, or whole grain, OR eating one food per meal.  I realized that while day 1 did not go according to plan, I was still giving my digestive system a needed break, and decided to continue.

Again, I ate an apple, clementine, and pomegranate (for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Before bed, I had a cup of warm golden milk (coconut milk, tumeric, grated ginger, raw, organic, grade A honey, cinnamon, and vanilla). The healthy fat from the coconut milk is filling, and the benefits are plentiful

Pleasant surprise: I was not ravenous. For years, I was as consistent with my breakfast rituals as brushing my teeth, so the relative ease with forgoing them, made me conscious of how fiercely I hold onto habits and rituals.  The anticipation of relinquishing certain comforts fills me with more angst than the actual act of doing so.  

Days 3 and 4

I had 2 clementines for breakfast, and introduced oatmeal (with coconut milk and water, a smidgen of organic maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla) for lunch. I realized I get super bloated from oatmeal. I love oatmeal, and have no intentions on giving it up, but now I know I won't have it when I'm about to rock a bikini. Dinner was a granny smith apple. Apparently, granny smiths have the most beneficial effect on healthy gut bacteria, and are more filling than other apples. Who knew?

My initial goal was a 3 day fast, but since I shifted to a mono fast, and was (believe it or not) not starving or even struggling, I decided to continue on for a fourth day. 

Meals were the same as Day 3. 


At the end of day 3, my energy soared in a way I haven't experienced in, perhaps, ever. My thinking was sharp, clear (the brain fog was lifted). I was eager to write again. I did a meticulous cleaning of my apartment, which I've read is very common after one fasts. Internal cleansing spills over to the external. Various religions practice fasting, and by day 3, I understood why. I was filled with Goddess like confidence, optimism--an awareness of supreme power within, a sense of invincibility. Goals I'd set for myself (deferred because of illness) were now before me, within reach. A sense of gratitude and clarity of purpose overcame me, and I saw clearly in my mind's eye, my future self: Spring 2020, fit, healthy, sharing, and healing others with my food truck(s)--a goal, enhanced by my own recent struggles (struggles I was convinced would elude me, because of my healthy lifestyle). And odd as it may sound, I was grateful for the sickness that taught me so much: patience with myself, and others; greater empathy;  balance; holistic healing.  

Eating Again, Day 5

While I wasn't particularly hungry, I was ready to ease back to regular meals. I'd abstained from working out while on the mono fast, and was eager to return to my workout regimen. I had an apple for breakfast, clementine for lunch, and a simple cod fish, cooked in garlic and olive oil with lemon, and roasted brussel sprouts for early dinner. My stomach shrunk: I was full with half the amount I normally consume. 

Day 6

Fearful of having missed out on essential nutrients, I returned to my smoothie ritual (kale, ginger, raspberries, beets, carrots, pineapple juice). Lunch was Spanish style,  gluten-free spaghetti with organic chicken. Dinner--a giant pomegranate, and my late snack was organic popcorn, with truffle oil, and Himalayan sea salt. My favorite Dove, dark silk chocolates with almonds remained untouched. Never had I resisted for so long. Silly to be so proud of myself for something so trite, but I was. It seemed a shift from habit and addiction (sugar), to awareness and intention.  

Day 7: Café

I returned to coffee. I'm a writer--a Puerto Rican writer. It's part of my culture. But with coffee comes sugar, and with this reintroduction returned my cravings for more sugar. The coffee was accompanied by gluten free raisin bread (sugar in that too). Lunch was leftover, Spanish style (gluten free) spaghetti with organic chicken, and dinner was an apple and (dairy free, coconut based) blueberry yogurt. 

I'm currently experimenting with coffee alternatives (i.e. herbal coffee drinks like roasted dandelion and chicory root). Thus far, there's nothing like the real thing. 

I vacillate between embracing the low level vice, and being Spartan like in my journey towards optimal health. This week, I'm embracing it.


I know this is perhaps why many of you are reading, so don't hate me  for not having weighed myself. My goal was not weight loss, but optimal health. And while pure curiosity may have prompted me to check a scale, I don't own one (the mirror's my guide). I know I lost over an inch from waist, which was of course, a sweet perk. 


Since the fast, I've adhered (for the most part) to certain food combining rules, and experienced a drastic increase in energy. Our body uses different enzymes to break down different foods--it's why we shouldn't combine fruits and vegetables, and why proteins should not be eaten with carbs or large amounts of fat. 

I've also overcome my intimidation of more stringent fasts, like the master cleanse--next on my list. Not long ago, I thought fasting was not only unnecessary, but insane. But that Goddess like feeling is indescribable, and I now understand how spiritual they are.   

Monday, December 23, 2013

Confession: I Have a Penchant for Bisexual Men

Confession: I have a penchant for bisexual men. Now, I don't mean I'm attracted to flamboyant, effeminate types, because I'm not. And I don't mean I consciously seek these men out. In fact, if you asked me three+ years ago how I'd react to learn that my man was attracted to other men, I'd likely say "completely turned off"--might've been a deal breaker. But this serial monogamist has (after already fallen for--let's just say, statistically speaking, an inordinate number of bi/bi-curious men) come to the realization that there is something specific & inherently different in the men that I'm drawn to. I am definitely a personality girl. I've always known this, but it became especially evident after a candid heart to heart with a dear friend of mine, Camille. She's been privy to the many details of my personal relationships during my last--ohhhh 7 years or so, of my Latina "Sex & the City" single life. She has experienced the shock & awe, more than once, more than twice, of hearing me say, "he's bi."

Before the conversation I'm about to relay to you, I'd (perhaps naively) been under the impression that the number of bisexual men in the world was grossly underestimated. It wasn't until filling Camille in on my new boyfriend details, that her joltingly honest statement (tactfully posed as a question): "Are you sure he's not gay?! I mean, with your track record, you should really find that out on like the 1st or 2nd date," brought me to the realization that it was me. There was something these bisexual men shared in common that drew me to them, & perhaps, them to me. 

Truth is, said ex boyfriend is in fact bi, or I should say bi-curious, as he's never acted on his attractions. I hadn't told her that yet. I wanted to tell her about how wonderful he was, before having her judge or dismiss the totality of his character, because of a label much of society has deemed abnormal, perverse. Camille has never made me feel uneasy about sharing anything, but while beside her, I drifted inwardly, newly conscious of the realization that my attraction to these men was not coincidental--there was a commonality they shared that appealed to me. All I remember of that evening was pondering what that commonality might be.

As is often the case during moments of heavy contemplation, the "cosmic forces," as Erica Jong describes1 , spoke to me, the very next day. In an effort to enhance my own voice as a writer, I picked up an old favorite, a voice as direct & honest as my own, Virginia Woolf's A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN. And there while skimming the underlinings, asterisks &  notes I penned throughout the margins, I came across Woolf's thoughts regarding our suppressed yearning for unity of the mind, of the male & female psyche:

"Perhaps to think [...] of one sex as distinct from the other is an effort. It interferes with the unity of the mind. [...] Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when the fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilized and uses all its faculties. Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create, any more than a mind that is purely feminine, I thought. [...] the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally incandescent & undivided [...] one goes back to Shakespeare's mind as the type of man-womanly mind..."

Obviously, I'd read A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN before, but had not considered it within the context of how such a fusion of the masculine & feminine mind, would affect sexuality, identity & the individual as a whole. What many have for so long deemed as perverse or abnormal, I began to view as a more fully developed & integrated mind.

I found that the senses of each of these men seemed heightened--almost bionic. They were all detail oriented, which enabled them to excel in the workplace, and almost anything they took a serious interest in. They could walk into a room, and instantly, notice every detail of everything & everyone in it. Touch was also important. I noticed early on that a recent ex never purchased a shirt or sweater that wasn't uber soft to the touch--made a mental note of it for future gifts. Superior communication skills too, have always been at the top of my "Ideal Man" list. I've always been expressive (perhaps more so on paper, than in person) & appreciate the same in others; the ability for others to express vulnerabilities and hard truths has always made me feel at ease and in the presence of a kindred spirit. In retrospect, it's perhaps in part, the ability for these men to communicate as expressively as I do on paper, in person, that drew me to them.

Though as I write these words, I must add that unfortunately, none were in a place of peace & acceptance with their sexuality. They were not open about it--never admitted to it (with the exception of one--& only to me), and were, for the most part, in denial & experienced a great deal of inner turmoil because of it. That turmoil, in more than one instance, resulted in the demise of the relationship.

There is still much shame within society  regarding bisexuality--perhaps even more so than for gays and lesbians (many of whom, in spite of their own experiences with erroneous generalizations, consider bi men to be in the early, experimental stages--testing the waters sort of speak before becoming fully gay, while bi women are thought to be "going through a phase").

Impositions of who and how we should be create an incessant state of repression within us. I can relate. We can, I'm sure, if we think long and hard, all relate. Constantly teased for being a Tomboy, I grew up wishing I were a boy. I wanted to wear ties and suspenders because I thought they looked cool, but never did--I couldn't even fathom it as an option (though now, I can & will rock 'em well). My first two wheeler was an electric blue & yellow BMX. I wanted to make pop o' wheelies and skid marks on the street with it,  (& I did)--but the salesman tried showing me pink & purple, banana boat seat bikes--didn't understand why I didn't like any of the "girl" bikes. In response to the salesman's perplexed expression, father diagnosed me as a "Tomboy," which my 7 year old brain translated to mean an aberration of my gender. By 12, I learned that if I wanted my crush to notice me, I had to dress the part, tame my hair, be less aggressive. A box of father's, not well hidden PlayBoy's, taught me what beautiful was. And so began the process: socialization, repression, conformity.  

Both Adrienne Rich and Gloria Steinem write about "the split fragments of the psyche, the masculine and feminine elements ripped apart and longing for reunion." Steinem explains, "the more patriarchal and gender-polarized a culture is, the more addicted to romance. These myths embody our yearning to be whole" (Revolution From Within, 255).

And so my question regarding my attraction to these men became clear: while I was more in touch with my masculine psyche, the men I was attracted to were more in touch with their feminine psyche. And without fully understanding ourselves, we understood each other, because as Steinem explains "We [were] making love to the rest of ourselves" (Revolution From Within, 256).

Those words hit home. In that moment, I understood. I recall, during one of our many fun, silly moments, telling my ex, "In your past life, you were a female stripper." His reply-without pause was "And you were a man!" We laughed, while inwardly I knew, we were both acknowledging certain truths--to ourselves, & one another. It was liberating--sharing truths, never disclosed (until now) to anyone. It deepened our love. There were no masks. And we loved purely--while it lasted.

But love, when one is not wholly accepting of one's self is never an easy thing. Constant repression, denial & inner conflict will always surface, in some form; hence, my singledom. 

However, a life of constant repression also creates the strong, rational, self-disciplined mind I've always been enamored by (likely because those traits represented the missing yin to my yan--the polar opposite of my sentimental, bohemian spirited, ever changing self).

Now, I don't want everyone presuming that I've dated exclusively bisexual men, or that these realizations have made me inclined to now consciously choose bisexual men. I have, of course dated heterosexual men. However, I find that most of the men I've been involved with have been more in touch with & embraced the "feminine" parts of themselves, & appreciated my more assertive, "masculine" traits. 

As of right now, I need all the sexy men out there (hetero, bi, whatever!) to lead me not into temptation: I am focusing on a monogamous love affair with myself--one where, to quote an anonymous feminist, I "become the man I want to marry."

1 1 "Books go out into the world, travel mysteriously from hand to hand, & somehow find their way to people who need them at the time when they need them...cosmic forces guide such passings along." --Erica Jong  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

To Marry or Not to Marry; That is the Question

The concept of marriage has been something I’ve questioned—okay I confess, I opposed, since as far back as I can remember . Sorry! Let me also confess, it is something that, after falling in love, I have also seriously considered, and come close to—but thankfully, did NOT ever follow through with. As a child, I remember looking around, and not knowing a single happily married couple. I knew several married couples, some for many, many years, however, none married happily. I recall adamantly telling my father, “I NEVER want to get married when I grow up. I don’t know any happily married couples” to which my father lovingly smiled and agreed. My stepmother however, replied, “You say that now. You’ll change your mind when you grow up and fall in love.” They are no longer married.

But my stepmother was right. I did grow up, and fall in love. My first love and I met when I was 15. By 20 I was engaged. However, never having celebrated any of the major milestones in my life (no Sweet 16, no prom, no H.S. graduation—I skipped it). I longed for a nice wedding, but we couldn’t afford one, and so decided to wait & save up for it. Well, while we saved, we had a baby (the most beautiful & pleasant surprise of my life), I graduated college, and then, just when we had enough money…I realized I didn’t think forever, would really be forever. What does a 15 year old know about forever? I was now a woman, with different goals, needs, and expectations, and while I evolved, he (a lot older) remained the same. We were together for 15 years. It was a beautiful time in my life. I chose an amazing father. I have absolutely no regrets—not about the relationship, or the break-up.

During the years following, I was free to be fully myself. Relationships require compromise, however sometimes, we compromise too much & no longer feel like our authentic selves. I immersed myself in the writing scene with like-minded individuals, got back into sports, and taught my daughter, as I was taught, how to be an independent woman. The ability to blossom into the me, I was meant to be, was fulfilling and an essential source of my happiness. 

After a second brief but intense relationship, where I once again found myself embracing the idea of marriage, I found myself reflecting on the entire concept. I went away on a much needed vacation, where as my body lay on the shore, allowing the tide to rise up and cool me down, I watched an older couple walking along the beach, hand in hand. I wondered, “How many years have they been together? Are they as happy together daily, as they appear right now? What sacrifices did they make for the sake of their marriage? Were they fair? Were they equal? Did the good times outweigh the bad? Given the choice, would they do it again? Was theirs a marriage of love, or convenience? Did their partner thwart, or encourage their ambitions? Did they compromise too much, or not enough? What obstacles did they overcome…are they still overcoming? Infidelity? Alcoholism? Illness?”

As they continued past me, my thoughts returned to my own situation. On the brink of getting married, I discovered some truths which averted a major mistake. I grew spiritually, emotionally and intellectually from the failure of the relationship. I realized the irrelevance of my possessions. Giving up your apartment, giving away all of your furniture and finding that you can still be happy---truly happy, will do that. My ability to laugh, hope, and enjoy life—with nothing more than clothes, books and little else, allowed me to realize my spiritual strength, resilience and fortitude. Hence, the experience was in retrospect, a positive one; the lesson extracted from it—transformative. 

I see all experiences and people, not as coincidences in our lives, but as lessons presented to us in various forms--lessons essential to our growth. One of the many I’ve learned on my journey is to “never say never,” for almost all of those things I have said never to, I’ve done! So, I will never say that I will never get married. I’m a romantic sentimentalist whose favorite quote ( or rather one of my favorites) is: “A foolish consistency is the hobglobin of little minds”—Emerson. How could I say such a thing as “never”? Conversely, I also struggle with the premise of forever in marriage, which is, in essence another form of the word “never,” as in never divorce.

We are all constantly evolving--products of our experiences, environment, people … How can we be certain about what this evolution may bring about in the future? Perhaps the future brings about the realization that the marriage is thwarting our full potential. Perhaps time reveals that that particular partner was necessary for our evolution, but only up to a point. Why fight such a truth? “Change is the only constant” (forgot where I read that). This awareness has been *epiphinal in my life, and allowed me to rid myself of the destructive habit of attachment, comfort and security. Nothing is wholly “safe”; it’s but an illusion. That being said, how does one who does not believe in never, commit to forever? For “forever” means never ending. 

Hence, I now present my own view of marriage: It is a beautiful idea. It is an idea, I am open to. However, I am open to the idea only because when faced with rational versus emotional thinking—even when knowing on a rational level that I should probably do “A”, the sentimentalist in me tends to follow my heart and choose “B.” That’s what love does though. A recent study of the brain showed that a brain in love is akin to that of a drug addict. Our ability to reason is affected—perhaps compromised. Therefore, it should be no surprise that in spite of my reservations, I may one day, many years from now, succumb to it. 

Let me add, while my ability to reason is still intact, that I think people come into our lives as lessons. When relationships fail, and we part, it may be that we have fulfilled our purpose with one another. I think it’d be beautiful to fall in love, and have forever actually be forever. And while I will embrace love, if and when it comes, marriage is not a goal, nor is it something I view as essential to my happiness. It is in fact a concept that I see as very often counterproductive to our personal goals, illogical and unrealistic in expectation, but within the flaws—beautiful, for however long it may last. 

Using my creative license to create. The word "epiphinal" is variation of the word "epiphany" that I created. It does not exist. Use it anyway. Let's get in into the next edition of Webster.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing: A Means of Excavating My True Self

We all have a story—a history interesting enough to write about. I write, not because I feel mine is any more tragic, significant or extraordinary, but because writing has always been a great source of serenity for me. It’s brought solace in the midst of chaos, clarity in the midst of confusion, and hope in the midst of despair. When left with nothing, but tears and fears, I've had the meditative solace writing brings. Those tears became the water I used to poured into my most poignant pieces--stories chiseled from suffering, that made me, me. I am convinced that part of the reason for many heartaches and seemingly tragic events, is the creation of great art—be it music, poetry, visual art. Kurt Coban was convinced too: "Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art." Consider the following songs:

Phil Colins' “In the Air Tonight,” Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Fruko y Sus Tesos’ “El Preso,” Rob Thomas’ “Lonely No More,” Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around the World,” 2Pac’s “Dear Mama.”

Or poems:

Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Lord Byron’s “When We Two Parted,” Miguel Algarin's "HIV," Sylvia Plath's "Daddy."

Would these--could these works have been created without sorrow? Absolutely not.
Recognizing that often, from great suffering comes great art, I also recognize that during those transformative moments, we are made, as Paulo Coelho so eloquently put it, “stronger, despite, or because of the scars.” (The Witch of Portobello).

Recently, I lost what to others may seem like a lot. I gave up my 2 bedroom apartment & all of my furniture to begin a new life with who I thought was to be my future husband. I uprooted my 13 year old, introduced a man into her life (something I vowed never to do unless I was to walk down the aisle)--& it failed. Luckily, I did not get around to selling my car. God knew I needed it to get my daughter to and from school. After leaving home at the age of 20, I found myself living back with Mom. Shock to my system I tell ya. Always independent, I began working as soon as I was legally able, 14, but I am comforted with the knowledge that this is only temporary and life will often throw us unexpected curve balls, to move us forward.

Oddly enough, I'm not bitter. Instead, I recognize that sometimes, we must lose everything to focus on that which is truly important. I was losing MYSELF. I wasn’t writing. I had subconsciously sacrificed that dream, for another—a family. Funny thing though--before he came alone, marriage was not a desire. I had resigned myself to a happy life of singledom, consisting of poetry events, softball, travel, exposing my young lady to the writing world, and HER world: dance, art--making new memories in our beloved Prospect Park; regular heart to hearts with my dear friends, over wine. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being in a relationship. I love taking turns making beautiful dinners, eating as a family, sharing the holidays together. However, the perfectionist in me, that struggles with being the perfect wife, mother, homemaker, financially independent woman, writer, friend, felt that perfection in all areas was not possible, at least not all at the same time. I was okay with that. I made a conscious decision to focus on writing and raising my daughter. And JUST when I made up my mind, BOOM—he came along, and all of that rational thinking, went out the window. But that’s how it is with love. You surrender to it, and I did. I should have known it wasn’t going to work, when before I moved in, he asked, “Are you going to continue with your poetry events after you move in?” Ohhhhhhh inside, I was devastated that he would even ask such a thing. Ginormous red flag. Why WOULD one ask such a thing? I addressed it. We spoke, and he convinced me that he understood me, and looked forward to a new kind of relationship (I gathered the previous lacked self-esteem, or goals, or something vital to maintaining their identity).

Now, apartmentless, furnitureless, a $13 toll away from my daughter’s school, and living with my often difficult to get along with mother—I will tell you, I have no regrets. I needed this experience to reiterate that which I already knew, but suppressed—shushed with constant activity: I must write.

What a risky endeavor for an undisciplined, procrastinating, perfectionist. Nonetheless, it is such a part of who I am, that I feel it as essential to my being as eating, drinking, sleeping. I'm actually sacrificing sleep right now so that I may continue to write.

Know, that this blog is not intended to be a forum for the details of a break-up, but rather a revelation of my journey and how it’s brought me to this place of acceptance, peace, and renewed ambition. My complacency has been replaced with passion, my bitterness with pity, my disappointment with the awareness that I am bountiful in true, kind & loving friends.

I can write on forever & I intend to, but for now must say good night. Thank you friends, for being curious enough to catch a glimpse of my soul.