It is with heartfelt gratitude that I reach out to say thank you for all of the lovely birthday wishes from all over the world.

As many of you know, I've been working on all aspects of myself---continuing to grow healthier in all ways (body, mind, spirit, and emotions). After a lifetime of feeling that I wasn't worthy of my own attention and affection, I learned to love myself. That was a huge thing for me and I am still overjoyed to acknowledge who I am and proudly proclaim that I love myself.

I'm not perfect, but I'm perfectly me---allowing myself to blossom more fully into who I am as the days go by. I've been openly sharing my journey because I know that I'm not the only person who has lived a life without self love.I receive emails from so many of you saying that you can relate to what I've been through, the pain I've suffered on all levels. You've shed tears and thanked me for my story because it has helped you see more clearly your own self. With open arms, and an open heart, I love all of you. It brings me great joy to know that through sharing I am able to help you grow and blossom more into your own beautiful selves. Imagine a world where we all know and love ourselves for the lovely individuals that we all are! What a beautiful and fragrant garden there would be!

Do you know the saying about freely giving out love because you never run out of it? Well, that's definitely true! There's something else that happens, however, the more you share love: it comes back multiplied more than you ever could have imagined! That's what happened to me on my birthday--I was overwhelmed with a flooding of love coming in from all over the world!

"Only somebody who really takes the time to understand [Pure Jeevan's Salsa's*] potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ... ancient on the planet." ~ Miles Raymond in "Sideways" (2004) (*slightly modified).

Jim here... Over the weekend, I'd made a string of videos for Pure Jeevan using my handy-dandy new phone. To my great surprise, when I went to post them to YouTube, they all came out sideways! So, I'm sorry, friends... you'll have to endure (if you so choose) a somewhat disorienting video, below. But, hey, at least it reminded me of that wondrous quote from the movie Sideways! I imagine Paul Giamatti describing one of my own recent creations this way -- a sort-of half-raw, yet still very healthy delight that I like to make sometimes.

My reason for featuring a less than 100% raw recipe is two-fold. First, I'd been discussing transitioning to raw (see yesterday's post). And, adding more raw into your non-raw diet is a great way to transition. I believe that raw sauces are an excellent way to achieve this, as I'll explain in the video. Second, if you do prefer a 100% raw dish, then you can simply replace the beans with something else -- perhaps sprouted beans, or maybe your own invention from the dehydrator.

I had to write an update after my grocery shopping today! Remember I said just yesterday that sometimes people comment about the amount of produce we are buying? Well, a sweet older woman saw all of the bananas going into our cart and she asked, "What are you going to do with all of those bananas " You already know the response I gave: "Eat them!"

One of the really nice workers at the food co op commented that he can eat about eleven bananas sometimes. I told him, and another friend we saw shopping at the same time, that I can do that now, too. I explained how I used to get full on just one banana when I ate cooked foods. But, now that my system is so much cleaner and healthier, I can consume 10-11 bananas in a day (bananas should be covered with brown specks to truly be ripe and digestable). I don't remember the maximum I ever ate in a day--it's somewhere in my Going Raw journal, I'm sure. It might have even been more than 10 or 11 when I was going through my major banana-eating phase. Now I eat about 4-6 bananas a day, which doesn't seem like a lot to me (but in the past I would have wondered about all of those bananas in someone's cart, too!).

I receive many questions from our readers, and I am very happy to respond. I truly love helping others, but I don't do it just for them.When I was younger, many times I thought I was performing selfless acts of kindness whenever I'd help others. However, now I realize I am experiencing pleasure by helping others. I find it very rewarding, as though I am fulfilling my purpose in life.

Do you know what your life's purpose is? Do you believe there is such a thing These aren't rhetorical questions; I'm really interested in hearing your response. Well, I've known my life's purpose (actually, I have more than one) from a very young age, but it wasn't until recently that I began living it more fully. My purpose in life is to love others---to connect with others through an immensely deep and genuine love.One way I've found for spreading my love and realizing my purpose is by helping others.

When I answer questions for our readers, I speak from my heart. I think it's important to realize, however, that the answers we receive from others are *their* answers to similar questions. Maybe their answers will work for us, but maybe they won't.I've stressed this many times, but it never hurts to repeat it: Listen to others, hear what they have to share, but mostly listen to your own inner voice. We all have the answers deep within ourselves, even if we can't always hear them very well.

Here are our weekly feature categories. These are in addition to the other periodic entries we will make to the blog (recipes, news, etc.). Click any of the banners for a blog page listing all of the entries we've made under that category. (Note: Since the blog is new, as of January 2008, there aren't many of these new features written yet.)

Makin' It Monday:? Every Monday we'll share a raw / living foods recipe with you that we've either made and loved in the past, or plan on makin' sometime soon!

Thanks to Bitt, yesterday, for pointing out that one possible misinterpretation of yesterday's post (on celebrity weight loss) could be that "thin = healthy." I'm sure that, while there are countless wonderful benefits to being a famous actor, one of the less wonderful aspects of that life must be the pressure to remain young, thin, attractive, etc. It would seem realistic to me to assert that, additionally, women are held to even more objectified standards than are the men out there (although, in fairness, note that 6 of the 11 stars profiled in the Yahoo feature linked to yesterday were in fact men).

In any case, the post's intention was never to imply that one's weight is necessarily the best indication of one's overall health. After all, we all know thin people afflicted with serious health challenges.

Happy Navratri!

You haven't been hearing much from me (Wendi) lately, for a variety of reasons. Over the next few days, I'll be celebrating Navratri and posting here on the blog at the end of each day. In my posts, I'll be sharing some of what has been going on with me and why you haven't seen much of me around, as well as comments on my celebration of Navratri.

An online friend of mine, Kevin Gianni (see previous blog entry introducing him), has been producing a terrific series of videos and blog posts. At the end of each post, he asks questions of his readers. In his recent post, he asked his readers:

What struggles have you been through

For those who offered help with the project I've been working on, you'll be receiving an email from me tomorrow, finally filling you in on everything!

I am overjoyed that even though I never told you exactly what you'd be doing, you still offered to help me! It means so much to me and I love each and every one of you!

So, if you don't receive an email from me by tomorrow late afternoon, let me know.

Let's stay sharp by learning about brain power! Did you know that the less exercise your brain receives through reading, learning new things (like you do here on our blog!), playing games, and contemplating puzzles the more it is likely to become weak and not serve you well into your centenarian years? Scientists have been trying to figure out ways to improve the brain's function and have learned a lot, but are still uncertain what causes Alzheimer's Disease, or any other form of Dementia.

If you ve ever known someone who suffers with a loss of mental capabilities, you know how sad and sometimes scary that can be. Last week, Jim posted a blog that touched a bit on the subject of Alzheimer s Disease. He wrote in that article, ?I want better than just a small chance that I ll live healthfully for a full lifespan. I want to stack the aging deck in my favor. ?Eating a healthy, raw food diet is something Jim was hoping to use in order to stack the deck in his favor of a life free of memory loss and full of vibrant health.

Did you know that approximately 70% of your muscle, 80% of your blood is water, and 85% of your brain is made up of water? When we are born, we are nearly 90% water by weight, and as we age we lose more and more water (think of a grape slowly shriveling up into a dried raisin).

If you consume 100% fresh raw foods (with none that have been dried or dehydrated in any way), your body is receiving the cleanest, most pure water possible and you probably don't experience a lot of thirst. The less fresh foods an individual consumes, the more their needs for water increases.