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  • Last modified 2794 days ago (March 23, 2011)

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Seeds of something fine

Spring clean me

Staff writer

It’s spring cleaning time and, if you’re anything like me, force of habit is calling you to swap out winter clothes for warmer-weather attire and attack the dusty neglected corners with a powerful vacuum.

This time of year always has been one in which I feel the urge to prepare for a new beginning. It’s a natural response to what Mother Nature is doing outside my window.

However, this year, my life is demanding a more whole-sale cleansing than can be accomplished with a broom, a mop, and an open window to circulate fresh air.

This year, I feel the need to cleanse on a soul-deep level. To rid the “corners” within me of the dusty habits that no longer fit who I am and the schmutz of pursuits I give energy to that don’t really give to me in any sense.

As an outward manifestation of this “soul-scrubbing” we have begun a rather in-depth “detox” of our diet or “cleanse.”

It began with a week of eliminating all potential allergens and other toxic waste we humans so readily put into our bodies.

My husband and I are longtime vegetarians, occasional vegans, and we have done “cleanses” before. This, however, was something really different for us.

We traveled to three different cities and four grocery stores to obtain the necessary ingredients. I spent the weekend before the first day of our “diet detox” roasting vegetables and making smoothies, slicing cucumbers for pitchers of cucumber water, and chopping carrots and apples to have something fresh (not the homemade potato chips I’d convinced myself were “healthy”) to grab and eat during the week.

The first day was rough without my morning half-cup of coffee, but I sipped green tea and made do. My husband had a headache the whole day.

I awoke the second day feeling much like I think an angry bear who has been roused early from hibernation and poked with a stick might feel. My husband was irritatingly fine. I was a beast for most of the day. Ask anybody.

Day three the clouds began to clear a bit in my brain, but both of us were feeling constantly hungry. We’ve done liquid-only detoxes for a few days that left us feeling more full than this and yet we were eating much more than we usually eat.

I double-checked the plan. Yup, we were doing all we could. Drinking plenty, eating when we were hungry, resting, taking time to taste what we ate.

Still, our tummies grumbled.

Standing at my kitchen counter that evening chopping roasted beets while lentils steamed with fresh ginger, I heard my little girl wander in.

Her usual curiosity about what I’m doing in the kitchen lasts an average of 30 seconds before she begins to wail “I need a snuggle.” But the deep purple beets and funky-looking ginger root interested her and she stayed awhile to observe and ask questions. I let her see what I was doing and feel the ginger. She eventually was satisfied and went back to her play — calmly.

I turned back to my chopping and smiled, taking a deep, long breath.

Staring down at the elements of a meal I’d been preparing for two days, I felt something I hadn’t in a long time while cooking — I felt joy.

Cooking used to be one of my favorite things to do and always made me happy. I don’t know when that stopped, but I do know, nowadays, I’m usually frustrated with the knife for not magically doing the work for me when I chop vegetables. I don’t pause to take in the scents and textures like I used to, much less share them with my child.

Instead, I slam frozen pizzas into the oven at the end of long, exhausting days and flop down on the couch to close my eyes for a few minutes until a beep I secretly resent calls me to get off my duff and pull the less-than-ideal meal from the oven.

We sit at the table and ask about everybody’s day, but most of the time I’m only at the table a few minutes before something else screams for attention. I barely taste the food that later sits like a rock in my belly — hardly what I’d call “nourishment.”

Spending two days and three trips to prepare beets and lentils and such is hardly possible all the time, but as I stood preparing them mid-cleanse for the one week we’d set aside, I was filled with joy. The task was not a chore, it was a chance to explore flavors and smells and invite my family to experience it with me — all this while preparing a meal that would care for us and taste pretty awesome. It was a meal that nourished us whole people and it was much more like what I would do daily if I had all the money and time in the world.

I inhaled the earthy beet scent and the spicy warmth of fresh ginger and felt a little lighter — not because I’d lost any weight, but because the way I long to do things, ideally, is not so far away as it feels most days.

Sure, in this time of life, frozen pizzas are often the best I can do, but “this too shall pass.” In the meantime my detox showed me a few things I can integrate without more time or money invested than what I usually do, and they make me feel more whole. They fit who I am beneath the harried-mommy surface and remind me of who I want to be moving forward.

So, we are now all decaf in our house and drink more green tea than coffee. My sugary flavored water has been replaced with cucumber water (which I love) and I now have a “quinoa night” replacing rice and beans once a week or so. These changes are here to stay and that feels great! But “pizza night” is too, for now, and that’s OK too.

Last modified March 23, 2011

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