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.

Jim here... Certainly, we're all familiar with the old saw, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," right ? So often, the life of a raw foodie is perfectly captured by that saying. We are, of course, the ones leading our equine brothers and sisters to the sweet trough of raw foods, just as others coaxed us into the barn for our first drink.

Have You Been Led To This Post ??

So, what is this post It's a big old horse trough to which, if you're a raw foodie, you can lead others. Or, if you're someone unfamiliar with raw foods, and have been sent here by another, what you'll find below is the water. No one can make you drink it. And, please don't be offended at my comparing you to a horse because (1) we're all horses, (2) this is all just my strange opinion, and (3) horses are beautiful, magical beings! Being compared to a horse is a compliment!

Wow, today is a really special day: Jay Kordich's 86th birthday! There must be millions of stories of how Jay has touched the lives of people in enormously positive ways. Here's ours...

Back in the early 1990s when we moved to the Washington, D.C., area, Wendi got a job in Arlington, Virginia. When she walked into work one day, one of the other workers there was absolutely glowing. So, she asked the woman, "Do you have a new boyfriend or something ?!!"

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.

Jim here... Yesterday, we talked about exceptions -- those non-raw food items that raw foodists sometimes allow themselves to eat. I listed mine, and a number of people here and on Facebook noted some of their own. (Seems a lot of us enjoy olives, by the way!) It struck me today that a natural follow-up to a list of exceptions would be a list of non-exceptions -- basically a list of things I personally never ever ever ever consume.

This makes sense, right? I suppose all people generally have three basic lists: (1) those things we eat regularly, (2) those things we eat sometimes, and (3) those things we never eat. Hopefully, none of us keep these lists etched in stone, as diets are dynamic things that tend to evolve over time. A few of the items I'll list below may only apply to my current practices, while others (like refined sugar) I hope to permanently exclude. So, let's see:

I like this "travelogue" format, so let's continue! Here's Wendi's comments from their adventures in San Luis Obispo, checking out the raw vibes along the CA Central Coast!

After a very active visit in the San Francisco / Berkeley area, we headed down the coast to San Luis Obispo, CA. There's a pretty active raw food meetup there and we were asked to stop in their town to give a talk to their group.

It was a nice drive south, but the sun is a bit brighter than we're used to (especially when driving long distances). When we arrived in the town, we were overcome by the beauty of the place. It's one of the most beautiful places we've seen in California, so far!

Wendi tells a funny story sometimes about a woman she'd met who was considering undergoing gastric bypass surgery to help her lose weight. When Wendi asked the woman whether she'd consider changing her diet to a raw foods regimen, she responded with something like, "Oh, no, that's too radical."

This is really what it's come to in society; having part of your digestive system surgically altered (in a profound, irreversible, dangerous, and invasive way) is no more than some nonchalant, consequence-free elective decision ... while eating more salads is viewed as "radical."

This is a recipe for the coconut shake that brought my cholesterol levels from very unhealthy down to extremely healthy within the span of one month!

Young Coconut Shake

Flesh and water from one young coconut

A worker at our local Food Co Op was talking about making his own dehydrator. I mentioned that I saw a link to a site that told about how to create one and I'd share it with him. When I found the link, just now, I thought maybe some of you might be interested in checking it out, as well.

?The page isn't vegan-friendly (there is ground meat in the one picture), but if you've been wanting a dehydrator and don't want to spend the money on the more expensive ones...this might be a great option.

Yahoo recently ran a photo series on their "omg!" channel entitled "Celebrity Slim-Down Secrets." It actually has a nice set of before and after photos of celebrities who have lost weight. The set is here.Featured are Kelly Osbourne, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Jerry Ferrara, Kirstie Alley, John Goodman, Jordin Sparks, Jason Segel, Drew Carey, Sara Rue, amd Kevin James. ?Most reported using personal trainers, changing up their diets, and getting more exercise (or some variation of those three).

We didn't read any reports of raw food diets in the story, but looking at before and after pictures is probably always a good idea, if only for visual inspiration. It's nice to see a broad range of people turning their health around, too. Some are younger celebs; others in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. So, it's nice to know that major changes are possible at any age.

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!