There's SO much to celebrate lately! Check it out:

Our dear friend Robin (aka Rawbin) celebrates her birthday today. We created a fun video for Rawbin, who has the ability to make anyone laugh! Rawbin blogs here and you can read her "My Raw Story" installment here.She's also the east coast Raw Spirit Festival representative. (RSF east happens August 29-30, 2009 in Maryland. More info here.)

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.

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

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

My Story of Conquering the Myths of My 50+ Body

I ve been eating 100% live/raw food for a little over eight months now, and I believe it all started? well.... hmmmm? let s see. Last summer I was determined to do something once and for all about the weight that I put on since I turned 50, six years ago (well, almost seven years now ). It seemed that no matter how much I exercised or how much I ate ? or didn t eat ? nothing stopped the onslaught of impending bulk. Each year added a few more pounds until I hardly recognized myself! What happened? Who was I? Where did this strange body come from? I decided I needed to take this foreign body by the horns and wrangle it back into submission. Actually, I was gentler than that, but the determination was there.

The Environmental Working Group publishes something really useful called the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. In it, they offer two handy lists: (1) The Dirty Dozen -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the most residual pesticides, and (2) The Clean 15 -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the least residual pesticides.

While we believe that organic is always best, there nonetheless are times when most of us (for whatever reason) consider purchasing or consuming conventionally grown (meaning "sprayed with pesticides") produce.

We're extremely busy this week with some home projects, so we figured we'd simply share a few interesting photos each day. Here's today's -- a big plate of freshly picked cherries from our yard! ?These are smaller cherries than you'll find in stores. We believe they're sour cherries, which is a very healthy variety, even though they're not as tasty as Bing's or Ranier's. ?They're reportedly good for pies, though. I've eaten tons of them so far; ?they're at their peak at the moment here.

I tell you... the dangerous thing about cherries is something you'll only discover when you're out there on a ladder, standing on that tip-top rung (which clearly states: "Do NOT stand on this rung!"), and you're reaching higher and higher for that next bunch of nature's goodness. Even in this situation, you find yourself thinking: "If I could just reach a *little bit* higher!" ?Sooner or later, you have to realize that some cherries are there for the birds, squirrels, and raccoons.

Here's a basic recipe that can be used to create any nut milk!

Nut Milk

1 cup of nuts or seeds?

Welcome to Episode FIVE! Today we're focusing on our old friend the WALNUT. Since it's officially fall, walnuts are in season right now. What better time to enjoy one of nature's tasty, heart-healthy treats?

Some health/nutrition summary info: Walnuts provide a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, anti-oxidants to help prevent cancer, and Omega 3s to help your heart and vascular system. They also help lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure, and contain numerous beneficial amino acids and polyphenols (compounds linked with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer).

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.

When I first decided to try a raw food diet again (I had sampled it for about three months a few years before going completely raw), I wanted to do it in a way to prove that it either does or doesn t work. The best way to do that, I figured, was through consistent blood tests. So, that s what I did. I have continued to document my path to health with regular blood tests. Many of you know that the results have been remarkable. My dramatic shift in weight is the most obvious to others, but there were equally impressive changes going on inside my body, as well.

It has been about a year since my last blood work was done, so I knew I should schedule an appointment to get the testing done soon (since I want to keep the tests somewhat yearly). I tend to always put the testing off, however. As much as I m curious about the results, the truth is that I m terrified of needles. Over the past few months, I was continuing to put this yearly testing off, but something has spurred me to get it done sooner than later.

And here's the conclusion of Wendi's San Francisco travelogue:

That evening we met up with Carolyn, a long-time friend since college, who was our lovely host for a few days. Carolyn has a gift with cats, which was a real treat for KDcat to see. Do you know how you can teach dogs to sit and give kisses? Well, Carolyn has taught one of her rescued cats to do the same thing! He *really* sits and *really* gives kisses on command! WOW!

Carolyn showed us all around the San Franciso and Berkeley areas, bringing KDcat to a thrift shop (she's been having fun popping into random thrift shops to see what she can find) and a fun shop called Ancient Ways, stopping by some Indian shops so I could pick up some more bindis and some ground coriander for a dish I made while visiting, checking out the Berkeley campus area, and taking us shopping for organic foods.

Three months ago today, we put up a post called "Is Alcohol Raw " I wanted to post a little follow-up to that today, while I'm thinking of the story. (And, by the way, a great conversation ensued in the comments section of that article. However, if you visit it now, you'll see that the comments have disappeared. We're hoping to have these and many other comments restored once a new version of Disqus is released.)

In that article, I touched on how the body can seemingly store states of consciousness (noting how I dreamed of being drunk and felt authentically drunk in the dream). This sort of phenomenon is well documented anecdotally (e.g., often associated with LSD use), although still not fully understood by medical doctors or psychologists. In any case, the term "flashback" comes to mind: