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.

And you thought Apple Cider Vinegar was tough to pin down ? Ever come across the whole fluoride controversy

A Google search on "fluoride" returns 6,300,000 results.

A Google search on "fluoride toothpaste" returns 246,000 results.

Many people have asked us about the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF): What is it? When is it? Where is it? Will we be going ? So, we wanted to take a moment to answer those questions.

Today we welcome an up-and-coming raw chef, Sam, from DebbieDoesRaw for the first of Pure Jeevan's new Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" editions. Sam will demonstrate how to make a simple Peach Pudding, which she tells us is the invention of her very good friend Anthony from Rawmodel.com. We think Sam did a super job! Don't you ! Sam, you're welcome to guest-host on our blog any time you like.

To continue with our Summertime Raw series, we took a trip to Pittsburgh's Frick Park to enjoy the beautiful day. Before leaving, we packed another meal to show you how easy it can be to eat a raw food diet while away from home.Frick Park was wildly popular among dogs; we saw canines of all shapes and sizes -- all playful, yet calm in comparison to our lovely Julia, a rescued blue Doberman. Joogie enjoyed the outing very much because she was able to snack on cucumbers (a favorite treat), chase after a few joggers (we're teaching her that this isn't proper doggy behavior), knock the cooler out of Jim's hands when we were leaving (which broke a few of our best glass dishes), and lick the faces of a few new furry friends. We've been to many parks, but we have a feeling this is now Julia's favorite. ?

In yesterday's blog and video post, we showed you how easy it is to simply grab fresh fruits and veggies and head out the door for an outing. In that show, no refrigeration or preparation was necessary. However, we also know that many of you are new to raw foods, and perhaps eating simple chopped produce isn't so appealing for you compared to traditional foods you'd normally eat while in a park. So, today's goal is to demonstrate how simple it can be, making it easy for you to stick to a raw food lifestyle and not feel tempted by the cooked foods that may be around while you're out enjoying the summer with friends and family. So, today's video is about stepping it up to the next level.

End of day 4:

Yesterday I decided to go ahead and consume what my body was telling me it wanted: cooked, fermented rice and lentil pancakes. Well, the restaurant nearby that makes the Uthappam doesn't serve them until 5pm and it was lunch time. So, I ordered the simpler, steamed, fermented rice and lentil patties called Idli.

In this video, Pure Jeevan heads to Washington, D.C., to visit some close friends. See what these raw foodists pack to eat for the weekend and hear proof that Wendi Dee is getting younger! A friend who has known Wendi for 20 years says she now looks as young as she did when they first met! *giggles* Raw foods are AMAZING at restoring youthfulness! Are you getting younger, too !

You'll see a picture of a raw apple pie that Wendi created (the recipe is included in our free raw food recipe ebook) and hear her friends rave about the raw cheesecake she prepared for them. It's always nice to make some extra special raw treats for your friends, so they can see that you're enjoying the food that's helping you regain your health (and youth!).

Jim here... A health-conscious friend of mine was feeling sick today. And, while I certainly do not advocate harping on the sick, I did have a very mild discussion with her when she phoned me for some advice. I asked, "Do you know what cognitive dissonance is "

"I'm not sure," she replied.

I've been back from the Raw Spirit Festival for about five days, now. The first few days I couldn't stop crying. I have a lot to share with all of you, maybe more than you'll want me to share. While away some pretty amazing healing took place. I found myself lifted out of the past and delivered to the future, in a way. I am here, whole, and aligned with who I am on all levels.

Pure Jeevan means Pure Life (or Total Life). Raw food is only part of my life, part of who I am, part of my journey. So, I'll be openly sharing who I am here in this blog; raw food isn't going to be the main focus---it's just part of my story and part of what I want to share.

Until I can sit down to begin sharing everything that transpired while I was away and over this past five days, I'll share some pictures with all of you!

?To keep all of you inspired while we are away, we've asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

Jim here... I thought it might be interesting to spend the rest of this week looking at some quotations we've come across that discuss obesity entirely outside of the context of diet. ?While these quotes focus on obesity, it's likely (in my opinion) that the authors' intentions pertain to almost any health challenge (obesity or otherwise).

Today, we're going to quote a well-known author, Marion Woodman. Tomorrow, we'll hear from Rhonda Byrne, Thursday Dr. Gabriel Cousens, and Friday I'll recap with something I posted on Facebook a while back from Tony Robbins.It should be an interesting week -- and, by the way, I'll tie all of this back into raw foods on Friday, and discuss then why the raw food diet makes a lot of sense for healing obesity and other health challenges even if, as these authors imply, one's diet may not be the sole or ultimate cause of one's health challenges.