"... a warrior's life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior's sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death."
~ Dan Millman, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

During some "highway philosophization" (my term for pondering everything and anything while driving) this afternoon, I eventually began to think rather deeply about human aggression, and specifically about how people hurt other people. Mainly, I was thinking about individual aggreession, although, as a group, humans are unfortunately rather prone to it.Wikipedia maintains a list of ongoing conflicts (i.e., wars), in fact. According to that page, there are seven major wars happenning right now and 15 additional significant ones. Of course, there are scores of unlisted ones ongoing as well, most of which the average person has never heard about.

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... Thought we'd share some hidden camera footage from the Pure Jeevan household. Didn't you know ? ... the Pure Jeevan household is under continual video surveillance!? We have an enormous bank of these cameras, all feeding live streams to our costly, off-site high-tek storage facilities, monitoring every room in the house -- all to capture moments of inspiration such as this one. Why carry pen and paper all the time when you can simply install hundreds of "inspiration-cams" and pay techies to maintain a gargantuan bank of petabyte hard drives ? So, in this clip, the actual origin of an idea is captured. (We totally weren't just acting, ok ) So, having scoured said bank of petabyte hard drives, we isolated the following clip --thought you'd enjoy it as a preview of what's ahead tomorrow.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for lovely Mother Earth. Where would we be without Mother? May we always care for her in a gentle and loving way.

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Aren't these videos wonderful? Today we have yet another special Raw Spirit interview for you -- the mega-talented Markus Rothkranz. What can I say about Markus? He's a true inspiration, a man who truly lives by his heart and inspires thousands of others on a daily basis. He's actually very tough to interview because he's so interesting and self-actualized, you really just want to hang and chat with him (but then you remember that you're on film and you should probably get back to asking questions that people will appreciate).

This has been floating around the web for a day or two, but for those who haven't seen it, here's former President Bill Clinton talking about his plant-based diet, and what he hopes to gain through it. How amazing to see an *American president* discussing this sort of thing!! Who'd have ever imagined this (considering the strength of the beef and dairy lobbies in this country)?

Stories like this give me hope that the world will become more health conscious -- and will begin to understand that things like irradiation, GMO technology, pesticides, and all of the scary discussion floating around about the "Codex" are all unnatural, unsustainable, and unhealthy for us and for the planet. All you need is love -- and delicious organic foods! Glad to see Bill Clinton advocating this.

Yesterday's smoothie was superlatively tasty, eh? It was clearly something out of Elvis' more energetic younger years, I think. You're probably wondering: "How does one follow an Elvis smoothie?!" I know ... it'll be tough to do.

A Pure Jeevan family member recently asked us how they can tell if they're consuming too much protein. They felt because they have been eating too many nuts and seeds, because of how quick and filling they are, that perhaps their intake of protein is too high in their diet.

We fully understand the convenience of the quick energy that eating nuts and seeds can bring to one's diet. We also have learned, through experience, that the more we rely on this type of nutrition (high in fat), the less energetic we feel long-term. There's nothing wrong with eating nuts and seeds as a pick-me-up between meals, as long as you're eating a small handful of them and your body does well with fats (not everyone can easily digest fats).

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

Picking up from the previous installment, Wendi and KDcat absolutely loved beautiful Corvallis, but ultimately felt it had too much of a small-town feel for us. So, they decided to take a road trip to the nearest big city, Eugene. KDcat and Stephanie (one of the lovely daughters of our Corvallis hosts) were enjoying their time together, so Stephanie decided to come along.

The trip from Corvallis to Eugene is but one pleasant hour's drive.The group's first stop was the Buffalo Exchange, a new and secondhand clothing store. Everyone loved the store, which offered a great selection of? fun clothes you can t usually find in other stores or thrift shops. A barely worn pair of red hi-top Converse sneakers was the highlight of this stop for KDcat. She's been wanting a pair of these exact shoes for ... well, forever! She immediately began decorating them when she had the chance (after they were disinfected, that is).

From there, they explored greater Eugene, checking out areas others had suggested. There were a lot of cute shops, but they were geographically spread out. It wasn t like the neighborhoods in Portland, where you can walk blocks and blocks with unique stores, restaurants, etc., all in a row. There was a nice vibe to Eugene, Wendi said, but something about it just didn t feel like home for us. Wendi said there weren t as many people out and about as she'd expected, but that could have been because they visited on a Sunday. Here are some pics from around town -- and then we'll talk food.

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.