Wow, what a strange episode we have for you tonight! As you'll see, it was a really bizarre day here at Pure Jeevan. Wendi's out of town with her friends Rawbin and Jeff (owner of NaturalZing) helping NaturalZing with their booth at the Green Festival in Washington, DC. Too bad she's away; she missed opening the mail today and seeing a highly unusual letter from the Department of Homeland Security! The topic? Well, it turns out Pure Jeevan is under governmental surveillance -- and our chief surveillor, one "Larry Ferguson," actually decided to introduce himself and make some comments about our Bananas episode (which we hadn't even released yet!). Sounds highly unusual, I know. But, he was actually doing us a favor. Take a look (vid shows me reading part of his letter, then the banana episode proper):

As you heard, Larry writes: "I believe your viewers deserve to know, for example, that bananas have roughly 100 calories each, are high in Vitamin C, and fiber. You might also want to mention that they contain considerable levels of B6, which is good for metabolic functions as well as nervous and immune systems. B6 also helps you produce antibodies to fight diseases and plays a strong role in brain function and even maintaining hormonal balance. Your body can't store B6, btw, so you need to get it every day. Of course, most people will know already about the great potassium levels in bananas. Potassium is great for controlling blood pressure and certainly reduces risks of heart problems. Bananas also contain manganese, which your viewers probably already know about after your persimmons video."

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.

An email has been sent to those offering help on the project I've been working on! If you offered to help and haven't received an email from me, please let me know. If you didn't offer help, but would now like to help out, it's not too late! Just let me know!

Thanks, again, for your generosity of helping with something you didn't even know anything about! It fills me with such happiness to know that you would help me!

Lots of love to all of you,

Here's a fun story, with a fun, inspirational, and at least partially dietary conclusion. As I mentioned yesterday, Wendi is in Portland this week. Can you guess what she's doing there? ... She's attending a very important event -- something that merited getting on an airplane with almost no notice (and, wow, are those last-minute airfares pricey!). Still not sure? That's okay; I'll let the cat out of the bag: We found a new home!!

We've been talking about moving to the west coast for literally years now, so it's about time, right? ?In recent times, we've really begun taking action on things in a much more profound and immediate way than ever, and it's been working out amazingly well. This home purchase was just the latest instance of it. We basically saw an opportunity and immediately went for it, without hesitation, and before we knew it we were sending paperwork back and forth across the internet to our realtor.

Let's continue this video cavalcade with a very quickly made video basically peeking inside Karyn's Raw in Chicago. I didn't really have an opportunity to spend a good deal of leisurely time there, as I did with two other Chicago area restaurants, so this video is *very* basic, and not at all thorough in terms of what is offered there. But, if you're not from Chicago and have no other way to see it, perhaps its interesting to take a quick (just 3+ min) look. Here's the video:

This retreat has been planned for quite some time, and we are very excited about it! It's going to be three days of feeding your body, mind, and spirit. We've kept the cost as low as possible, so that more people can afford to take the time to get away for some quiet time.

All the food is organic and raw, prepared for you with lots of love! There are yoga sessions, meditation, and even a beautiful bonfire if the weather is nice. I've taken some personal retreats at this ashram, myself, and it is so peaceful (it is called the Peaceful Valley Ashram, after all). ;-)? We've created a schedule of suggested activities, but everything is optional. This is a great opportunity to simply get away and calm your mind.

Last time on Raw Foods 101 we answered the question, "Why should you soak nuts / seeds before eating them."? Naturally, many readers then asked the next logical question, "How LONG should I soak them before eating " Great question!

Don't forget:? You're soaking the nuts and seeds to "wake them up" as would happen in nature. When seeds are soaked in the springtime rain, they wake up and begin to sprout. When this happens, the nutritional content of the nuts and seeds changes (they become an even greater powerhouse of nutrients).

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.

A Bit of India in Pittsburgh s Back Yard?

During an intense personal journey in recent years, I ve discovered that the more I m able to know my true self, the more my perception of the world changes. As a result, my surroundings have changed as well ?people, places, directions. At one point, internal and external changes happened so rapidly, it was difficult to fully process anything; I felt overwhelmed.

Amid urges to explore so many new directions, all at the same time, it became impossible to focus. My initial instinct was to flee to India, where I could peacefully stay at an ashram and process all that was transpiring in my mind. Although circumstances kept me from traveling abroad, I knew I needed to simplify. That s when I remembered an old issue of Point of Light I d kept. I dug it out and quickly flipped through the pages? There it was: Peaceful Valley Ashram & Retreat, located just north of Pittsburgh!

One of our readers, Julie, asked me to update her on what kind of diet I'm doing and why I'm doing it. The last time I publicly made changes with my diet, I received many similar questions. So, I figured maybe it would be a good idea to respond to her question here on the blog for anyone else wondering the same thing.

I did explain, in a long post, about experimenting with my diet being important to me.If you didn't read that entry, it will answer a lot of your questions. For many of you, I think I know what you are thinking: "Wendi was pretty much morbidly obese, her health was horrible, but she's now healthy. Why would she change anything with her diet when she has already found what works "?

Well, it's true. I am extremely healthy compared to how I was before I started consuming raw foods. Here are some pictures to show the changes, to motivate some of you currently struggling with eating more raw foods...

Jim here... We know a lot of people who exist on a high-raw lifestyle, and many others who aspire to eat a 100% live food diet. I don't believe there is an exact threshold that makes one a "raw foodist." That term is more or less just a general description you might use about yourself or anyone. Aside from the labels, though... If you want to talk about recommended levels of raw intake for optimal health, quite a number of web sites and health books seem to recommend shooting for around 80% of one's intake to be raw, with a careful eye on the other 20%. We certainly agree with that as a good starting goal, adjusting upward or downward as you gain feedback from your body.

Of course, most of the people who do follow a high-raw diet are usually by definition highly health-conscious about any non-raw foods they eat. I've yet to meet, for example, a raw foodist who occasionally eats Burger King Double-Whoppers ?(although, I'm sure that seemingly odd combination must exist somewhere).