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!

Bunny Berry is back with a new 100-day Raw Fu challenge! If you've made a New Year's resolution to eat more raw in 2009, Bunny Berry's Raw Fu community may offer you the amazing support you'll need to meet your goal for the new year. Check it out!? Here's a snippet from Raw Fu:

And we re BACK! It s time to ring in the New Year with a New 100 Day Challenge. Take the plunge with 100 days of support, love, and lots of leafy greens. Bunny will be back with daily videos, vision boards, special Raw Fu celebrity guest stars, Breakfast with Bunny calls, and more Cutting Board Cam!

Join the Next Raw Fu Challenge NOW!

We had a wonderful weekend that started with a raw food potluck in our home (through the Pittsburgh Raw Food Meetup group). There were about twenty people and so many lovely raw food dishes! I haven't checked the camera, yet, but I hope someone remembered to capture some pictures of the food and guests. It was all very yummy, including the beet pasta I made with a cream sauce. I also made some carob peppermint sweets that KDcat formed into bite-sized balls and arranged them on a platter. A friend of mine told me that the people who show up for raw food potlucks tend to be genuinely nice people, and she was right. It was a pleasure meeting everyone and I look forward to next month's meetup.

The rest of our weekend was spent with our guest, Devaki, who just left a few minutes ago to return to the ashram. She played some beautiful music on the harmonium and she and some other lovely guests filled our home with the beauty and energy of Kirtan chanting. Some of the chants were in English, too. I thought I wouldn't like them as much, but they were just as beautiful as the Indian ones. One of my close friends who was here for the Kirtan told me that I was glowing after the chanting! I love the blissful feeling that comes from chanting and meditation.

What do you do when you spend the night or week-end at someone's house and they're not raw. Do you take your blender and all that

Super question, Joanna!? I'm sure you also have a great answer for this. I think I do, too, but it's probably more complicated than a lot of people would like.For me, the factors that complicate the "travel to non-raw households" issue include, but are not limited to:

This is Part II of a two-parter on raw food restaurants. Yesterday, we listed a half-dozen challenges that one might face when opening a raw restaurant. Today, we're focusing in on the more enjoyable side -- the potential advantages that opening raw restaurants offer over their cooked-food counterparts.

Let's dive into it... Here are six things we believe are advantages!

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.

Beginning today and running all through next week (and even spilling into the following week!), we'll be running videos from the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF East 2009) held in Upper Marlboro, MD, last weekend. If you've never attended a RSF event, you absolutely must. They're the best ever!

A month has gone by since my last health update. At this point, I consider myself healed of lyme disease! In the past I asked the lyme specialist doctor if there's a way to test to see for certain the lyme is gone, but he said there isn't. So, I go on my inner wisdom, which tells me that it's gone and now I simply need to continue healing from all that the lyme brought with it.

We're still not comfortable sharing what we've been learning and doing to help move my body into an even healthier state, but it's obviously working. I've been able to go back to daily living, for the most part, without much assistance at all. I've organized the house again (Jim and KDcaT were busy caring for me and the house wasn't the top priority for the past half a year), caught up on all of the laundry, responded to all of my email that had been piling up, and I've been able to be more social again. The biggest improvements are that I can now prepare my own food without experiencing any pain, and I can dress myself with only minimal assistance at times! BIG improvements!

Organizing the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat has brought with it the bonus of meeting some fantastic people and the opportunity to learn about their amazing raw food snack companies.

We began this series with one possible psychological explanation of obesity, moved on to a possible philosophical explanation, and will now cover one that could be both of those, or could find classification within the emotional and/or spiritual realms. ?Wendi has often told me of hearing Dr. Gabriel Cousens speak in Sedona, Arizona, a few years ago. One remark in particular stuck with her. This may be a slight paraphrase, but Dr. Cousens said:

"There's never enough food to feed a hungry soul."

As we all know, physical hunger happens when our bodies need food -- when our stomachs are literally empty and aching for fuel to sustain our life. But, what about non-physical types of "emptiness"? Surely, we experience a kind of hunger in these cases as well.

Sharing is lovely, don't you think? When I decided I was going to "go raw" and not consume cooked foods anymore, it was a huge life-changing decision. Even though there was no one standing next to me, telling me what to do and not do as I was changing my eating habits, I was still supported in my efforts. My support system was made up of copious amounts of experience and advice that was openly shared by experienced raw foodists. Even though many times I felt like I was alone, the path I was walking was etched with loving words left by caring people who wanted to encourage others who were yet to come down the same raw food path.