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Wow, who knew so much work goes into meeting up with people all across the country ! It's going to all be worth it, though, to meet so many of you!! Below are the definite meetups happening. There are more being planned that we'll share once things are finalized. If you don't see your town/city here, but it's on our list of places we'll be visiting, maybe you'd like to help us put together a little gathering If so, just let us know! We'll be updating later next week with a more finalized plan for the trip and various meetups taking place.

Any botanists or kale experts in our readership ? Take a look:

This "kale" is locally grown by an organic farmer. I tasted some in the store and bought a whole bunch because it was so delicious. Jim added 5 or 6 leaves to a smoothie for us a few days ago. But, today we were going to use it for kale salad. As I was washing the leaves, I saw these tiny tendril-like things sticking up. At first, I thought it was some strange kind of bug or egg, but then I noticed they were on many of the leaves and, out of some of these tendril-like things were growing MORE LEAVES! This is all happening on the flat surface of the kale leaf. I've never seen any leaf in nature that sprouted more leaves from the flat surface of a leaf. Take a closer look:

I was just thinking about a particular phenomenon, but don't know what to call it. This is something I used to notice mostly after watching movies, although it's something that happens all the time in life -- and I think it does in fact relate to diet, so I'll share. Here it is:

Ever leave a theater after viewing a particularly uplifting film Recall what it's like for a moment. You walk outside, maybe with friends or family, still filled with that magical feeling of having visited another world, or having been moved beyond words, or being filled with inspiration. There's a glow about you, and the air seems sweeter as you stroll out to your car, absolutely care-free. You spin around as you walk, laughing with your friends, joking and hugging each other, engaging in imaginative conversation all the way home -- and the spell lasts for a good long time thereafter. Oh, I love, love, love great movies!!!

A few of my friends have recently reached some special personal milestones in the raw food world. Congratulations go out to...

Sam: ONE YEAR RAW!!!

A few days ago, we'd mentioned that Wendi had done a five-day water fast as part of her early dealings with Lyme disease. This was the first time I can recall in our household anyone fasting for more than a day or so, although there may have been the odd juice fast now and again for a few days.

Thinking back, I can tell you that, all while I kew Wendi (and especially during her cooked years), such an extended fasting would never have happened because she used to get wicked headaches any time she went without food for more than a normal time period between meals. This makes perfect sense, of course, as you really do have to be in fairly good health to successfully fast -- and, during those "cooked" years, we were both extremely unhealthy! (More on the reasons for all that later, as Wendi will likely do a write-up on fasting at some point.)

Yesterday we talked about stress eating and I suggested coming up with a plan for ways you can deal with stressful situations in the future, before mindlessly turning to food for stress relief. I even said maybe it was okay to eat a gallon of ice cream if that's what makes you feel better. A healthy lifestyle isn't only about the foods we put into our mouths; it's about overall health (body, mind, spirit, emotions) and the decisions we make regarding our overall health on a daily basis.

Many times, individuals who struggle the most when trying to eat a healthy diet are the ones who have other aspects of their lives keeping them from attaining the healthy lifestyle they're desiring so much. For them, working on their diet may not be the best approach to overall health. If eating something we know is healthy for our bodies, something we know looks and tastes great, is difficult to do then there's something bigger going on in our lives than just food. If that's the case, it's important to figure out what's going on.

Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

The My Raw Story series was a wonderful success. We had many comments here on the blog as well as numerous emails thanking us for running the extremely inspirational series. Thank you, again, to all of you who opened your hearts and shared your stories with everyone. Sharing our personal stories can bring about remarkable changes in others who feel inspired by what we've shared. In return, they too may one day share their stories to further help even more individuals. It's beautiful how we can all support and motivate one another, isn't it !

Even though the My Raw Story series has ended, we'd be very happy to run it again with more stories. If any of you have your own raw story, or know somone else who does, and would like to share it as part of a future My Raw Story series, please let us know. We are happy to do anything we can to help others share their stories, especially when doing so is a powerful way to continue inspiring others.

It's always a journey.

That's basically my post today, boiled down into four words. From all I've read, from all of those I've talked with / emailed / interviewed, and certainly from all I've personally experienced, this is a key concept that, in my view, it's best to come to terms with as soon as you can.

Today is Wendi's Birthday, so please join me in wishing her all the best for the coming year! Since this was our first year in Portland, just an hour-and-a-half's drive to the Pacific, I'd known for ages what we were going to do to celebrate Wendi's birthday -- a picnic at the beach, of course!

A few days ago, the weather reports for the central Oregon coast cities unanimously agreed: Rain! ?But, after living here for a few months, one learns that a forecast of rain *never* means that it's going to rain all day long. Rather, it just means that it'll likely rain at some point, or at many points, in a given day. The rest of the time, it could very well be perfectly sunny outside!

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!