As a follow-up to yesterday's McDonald's-bashing post, I thought I'd post another perspective -- namely, that not all chain smoothies are bad. I can't claim to have tried them all, but I can report with confidence that, for raw most foodists, a trip to Jamba Juice can be awesome!

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.

Jim here... Until our home sells (SOON!!!) and Wendi and I launch ourselves into the world as full-time raw food teachers / lecturers / inspiration providers, I'm more or less stuck in the corporate world during the day. While much of what happens in this Dilbert-esque environment is, as many of you likely know, absolutely meaningless, there is nonetheless the occasional pearl of wisdom to be pried from the clammy jaws of the 9-to-5 world. I was, for example, just reminded of a story I heard at a seminar once. Not surprisingly, the seminar pertained to the art of money making. However, there's another more fulfilling message to it as well.

A large modern newspaper company still uses these ancient printing presses from the 1950s -- huge old monstrosities with enough belts, pulleys, and greasy gearboxes to make any modern-day steampunk enthusiast squeal with delight. One day, not long after the old press manager finally leaves the company, the main press breaks down. Manuals are consulted, technicians brought in, engineers asked to take a peek. No one can bring the beast back to life. But there's a woman on the Internet who specializes in these babies -- and, guess what, she's local! So, they call her in. She listens to their problem and says she can fix it, but it's going to run them $5,000.

Guess what's pulling into Pittsburgh tomorrow evening? Here's a hint (if you don't already know after reading the title of this blog post!):

Jim here with another installment of Weird Wednesday...

Throughout the year, I go through various phases of fruit preferences. Right now, it's citrus. I eat probably four large grapefruits per day (dark reds). The darker the red the better, IMHO. I can get quite disappointed when the grapefruits are listed as "ruby red" but turn out to be just regular pink ones. I've noticed that the ones I like the most have an orangish tint to them, as though they've been left to ripen on the bush a little too long. Also, the best ones I've had this year have been from Texas. So, find yourself some burnt-looking Texan grapefruits & enjoy the blood-red bitter-sweetness!

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Jim here... A few months ago, I'd posted an article here on the topic of Cognitive Dissonance. This theme seems to crop up from time to time in questions people ask about the raw foods lifestyle. For example, one new raw fooder recently posted a question in a raw foods forum asking whether other raw foodies had reached a place in their lives at which things changed so much that they felt as though they were living a contradiction. Because this struck home for me, I'd like to reiterate my response, somewhat edited, below.

Day 6: Today is the final day of placing extra focus on the feminine qualities attributed to Goddess Lakshmi. For me, going within, shining light on the things that aren't so clear, the things that I've been avoiding, or the things that have been completely invisible is something I've revisited off and on my entire life. It's something that I often recommend to friends and family, as well. It's what has allowed me to continually improve my life (both physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually), and something I'll always consider vital.

The more we search within for answers, the more we'll learn about our true selves. The more we understand ourselves, the more authentic we become in our interactions with others. The more authentic we are with others, the more others can feel comfortable around us. The more others become comfortable around us, the more they can experience their own authentic selves. And the more others experience their true selves, the more we all wake up and truly begin living a life of beauty, grace, vibrancy, and love.

We're super excited to devote the rest to the week to featuring a variety of answers to the question "Are Raw Foodists Crazy " If you're just now tuning in, please read the back story and introduction to this, as posted yesterday. ?But, for now, let's get on with posting a few responses. We have at least 10 different ones to share this week, from a number of friends of Pure Jeevan. Some are short, humorous quips, others longer essays. Enjoy!! :-)

I've been back from the Raw Spirit Festival for about five days, now. The first few days I couldn't stop crying. I have a lot to share with all of you, maybe more than you'll want me to share. While away some pretty amazing healing took place. I found myself lifted out of the past and delivered to the future, in a way. I am here, whole, and aligned with who I am on all levels.

Pure Jeevan means Pure Life (or Total Life). Raw food is only part of my life, part of who I am, part of my journey. So, I'll be openly sharing who I am here in this blog; raw food isn't going to be the main focus---it's just part of my story and part of what I want to share.

Until I can sit down to begin sharing everything that transpired while I was away and over this past five days, I'll share some pictures with all of you!

It's Fun-Filled Friday again---that week went by so quickly! So, what fun did you have this past week and what fun have you planned for yourself in the near future? It's very important to make the time for fun. We all know that, right? But, how many of us actually carve out the time to have some special fun without stress, without problems---a time when we can laugh and experience the joys of being alive?

Is low fat more expensive? When I was eating a lot of nuts and seeds, in the back of my mind I kept saying, "Someday you'll eat less of these nuts and seeds, and you'll save a lot of money." I really believed that to be true because organic, raw nuts and seeds are outrageously expensive.

For one hundred days, I'm transitioning to a lower fat raw diet. I'm down to fats only in the evening, and for the next ten days those fats will only come from avocados, young coconuts, and possibly some hemp seeds. If I'm not hungry for the fat, however, I'll go without it. That hasn't been the case yet, though. By dinner time I'm ravenous and wanting to eat heavy, dense foods to calm the hungry beast in my belly. Even though I've been including some fats in the evening, I'm eating significantly less than I normally would if not doing this challenge. So, I've been eating more fruits and vegetables to get the calories I normally received from nuts and seeds.