Before officially starting the new year, I'd like to acknowledge the changes and growth that took place over the past year. It was a whirlwind of changes, sometimes so dizzying that I wondered what I was doing and occasionally questioned whether, or not, I was making mistakes with my life. I followed my intuition, however, and it served me well. I'm here today, remembering the past year and ready to announce plans for this new year that has just begun. It's a beautiful life, isn't it Even when things seem dark and like there is a lot of pain, there is a tremendous amount of potential for new growth and a brighter life than ever imagined.

I ended 2008, perched on a summit and ready to take flight. Before I fly, however, I'm standing still for a bit and enjoying the view. I feel like the entire past year consisted of climbing to higher and higher plateaus of an enormous mountain. While climbing to each new plateau I stumbled, held on for dear life, saw amazing things, and became stronger.When reaching each new plateau, I'd spread my wings and leap, circling the mountain's circumference. But, I wasn't strong enough to fly straight to the peak. It was a year of gradual growth and change -- and I found myself becoming stronger and stronger as I reached the summit.I'm certainly not the same person who started this climb. I have transformed into a more genuine version of myself, a younger and stronger woman emerging from a lifetime of guilt and fear. As I stand on this summit, I feel youthful and invigorated. What lies ahead may be unknown to me, but I know it's within my ability to fly to the highest heights of ANY mountain, to see and do and experience ALL that I desire. It's going to be an incredible future and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

In recognizing all of the accomplishments of 2008, I think it's important to admit that it wasn't one steady climb to the point I'm at today.The few years prior to 2008 were almost like my training in mountain climbing. Last year there were a lot of tears shed, along with a releasing of physical and emotional baggage that was still clinging to me. I openly shared what I was going through, however, after learning that keeping things inside was slowly killing my spirit. I think if I had to sum up 2008 in just one sentence it would be: In finally releasing everything, I woke up as my true self.

Yesterday was a ton of fun, wasn't it? Sam loves all of the comments, so if you haven't viewed her video, please do -- and let her know how much you enjoyed it!? For today, we just wanted to announce the addition of a permanent new button along the right sidebar of our blog. As you can see, it links to this post from a few weeks back when we first announced a call for guest raw chefs. There, you'll find the details on hosting a segment of Makin' It Monday, just like Sam did.

By the way, just last week, we passed a noteworthy milestone that we didn't mention -- our 500th blog post here at Pure Jeevan. That's a lot of raw foods coverage, right ! Well, we're really still getting started when it comes to the level of information and inspiration we're planning for Pure Jeevan -- so it's great to add new features like this now, as we're able to. Of course, once our home sells and we're finally able to move on to the next phase of our lives, we envision Pure Jeevan exploding with more content than ever before. What fun it'll be to be able to devote ourselves full-time to spreading the word about raw foods!

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Jim here... Here's an interesting way to finish out the week: Today just happens to be my one-year "rawniversary." That's right, for the past full year, I've existed as a 100% raw food vegan.

Sure, I'd been "high-raw" for a couple of years prior to September 18, 2008 -- and it was during those high-raw years when the bulk of my weight came off and when I kissed prescription meds goodbye (I'd been on powerful beta-blockers for my heart and blood pressure).

If you are in the Pittsburgh area this weekend, you are in for a real treat! Rhio will be visiting with us and she'll also be meeting with others during her two-part presentation for the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup on Saturday.You don't have to be a member of the meetup to enjoy this presentation. Below is information about the event you won't want to miss!

Two-Part Presentation by Rhio includes Dinner

It turns out that planning a 40-day/40-night cross-country trip is a LOT of work! (Who knew ??!) Wendi and I seem to be spending every waking moment planning this thing, which may explain why we've missed a day or two's posts here on Pure Jeevan. But, we're gearing up for something absolutely amazing -- and it all starts next week!? So, if there is a quiet day or two this week, just keep in mind that the rawsome content is going to be absolutely insane here starting late next week and continuing through March into early April!

Today, we wanted to extend a huge thanks to Jeff and Helen Rose, owners of Natural Zing, for offering to sponsor the snack portion of Wendi and KDcat's trip. Jeff and Helen understand that, being a raw foodie, it can be a little tough to be on the road for such a long time. Sure, Wendi and KDcat will probably be snacking on a lot of fresh fruit, but it's also nice to have some packaged raw goodies as well while you're traveling. So, Wendi and KDcat will be loading up on some of their favorites -- botija olives, Love Force breads, Gopal's power wraps, some nut butters, some raw chocolates, and more. So, in thanking Natural Zing, we'll be running banners and so forth along with our content during Pure Jeevan's trip.

Jim here with another exciting installment of Weird Wednesday. (What, you thought that just because Wendi is out of town this week, we'd have no Weird Wednesday )

In any discipline, I think it's important to consider the entire argument in taking a stance on a given issue. Examine each issue from both sides (pro and con) -- and then make the best choice you can. That makes sense, right?

Wendi and I just heard about a super deal, totally out of the blue! Jeff Rose of Natural Zing dropped us an email saying that he received 60 bottles of Raw Organic Hemp Oil as free giveaways.

There's no minimum order, either, for Pure Jeevan readers! All you have to do is type PUREJEEVAN-FREEOIL in the COMMENT section when checking out. The website will calculate shipping based on your purchase. (Oil adds no extra charge to shipping.*)

We agreed not to disclose the manufacturer in this announcement. (Don't ask; it's all part of the wondrous mystery often inherent in such special offers).Here's a bit about hemp from Natural Zing:

I'm in the mood to eat lemons, so I figured for today's Makin' It Monday I'd search the Net for some lemon recipes. Well, look what I found!

As promised yesterday, here s the Pure Jeevan cross-country tour itinerary! Will Wendi and KDcat be in your town or city? If so, please be sure to let us know, so they can meet you in person! We re all very excited that Pure Jeevan will be meeting some of you in person very soon!

We'll be posting a button on the right side of the blog later this week. When you click on the button, it'll take you to an up-to-date itinerary of all cities on the tour, as well as any talks/gatherings, etc. that may be going on. On that page, you may also be able to view some live video streaming of Wendi and KDcat as they're out and about finding the perfect location for Pure Jeevan. Stay tuned for more info!

In a previous Take the Time Tuesday entry, we introduced you to three fantastic raw food snack companies who have offered to donate samples of their products for our upcoming retreat. If you haven't heard about the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Retreat, yet, there is still some space for you to join us from May 23-25, 2008! We ve set this retreat up so that it s as affordable as possible. There s a significant savings if you sign up early, too, so be sure to check it out!

Each individual attending the retreat will receive a gift basket filled with delicious raw food treats from some truly fantastic companies. Keep an eye on the retreat page to see other companies that will be sharing delicious raw food snacks with those attending the retreat! Today, we'd like you to...

Continuing on, again, with Wendi s San Francisco travelogue:

After leaving Pete and Blessing, we had a little time before our next meeting. So, KDcat and I explored San Francisco a bit. We saw the largest rainbow flag we've ever seen, experienced the steep hills (much steeper than the ones in Pittsburgh), and checked out an overview spot called Twin Peaks. Our San Francisco host taught us later that evening about how to "curb" your car and always apply the parking brake (which is necessary in a place with such steep hills).

Later we met up with Shivie and Cemaaj, who heard we'd be in town and invited us to visit them for a raw meal? in their home. Wow, what a delicious and beautiful meal we were served! Shivie and Cemaaj are gentle, loving people with a true gift for preparing and serving gourmet raw foods. We were honored to be invited to visit with them and loved them both instantly. They were a lot of fun getting to know, and very generous (sending raw foods with us before we left to eat and share with our San Franciso host). Cemaaj is also a gifted musician and taught KDcat some rhythms on the djembe African drum, which she quickly learned and enjoyed very much! Cemaaj is a gifted teacher and great with kids. It was fun watching him ease her into the instrument, which she now says she'd love to own and practice on!