A friend of mine was practicing deliberate creation, the manifestation of his dreams. He decided that he wanted a HIGHWAY to Hawaii. Any time he wanted he could get in his car and drive across the US all the way to Maui. The universe, always obliging, was nevertheless a little slow on the uptake. My friend distinctly heard God laughing. So he decided to go for second best. "God (or Inner being, or Whoever's Out There), if I can't have a highway to the big island, then help me understand wellness. Why do some people get sick and others recover? Why do people have to die? What is the connection between the mind and the body?" God pondered divinely and responded: "Two traffic lanes or four?"
All those reading this account undoubtedly have a strong desire to know and understand the secret of well being. Words do not teach, but only experience. These words are meant to convey my personal experience and others who have been where you may be now, and have brought themselves to where you might like to be–a position of secure health and well being.
This is not to imply that any one of us has health all locked up. You surely have heard of illness and death among macrobiotic practitioners. Macrobiotics is not about becoming immortal. We can make ourselves ill because we are free, and we are also free to regain balance if that is our desire. All of us love to taste the richness of life, sometimes expressed in food and sometimes in experiences. When excess lays us flat, we have tools to pick ourselves back up.
This page contains the following remarkable recovery and healing stories:
A Recovery Story – Leah Zinn
A Recovery Story – Christina Campion
The Highest Priority
Tribute to Elaine Nussbaum
A Recovery Story - Leah Zinn
I was very ill with my last pregnancy. I developed toxicity from high blood pressure and elevated levels of protein in my urine, the result of gestational diabetes. I was failing, and only an emergency caesarian section saved me and the baby, now a gorgeous eight year old.
Two weeks later I contracted severe pneumonia. Recuperating from this I came across Elaine Nussbaum's book, Recovery From Cancer. I read it and immediately wanted to know more. I searched the local Israeli newspaper and came across the phone number of Ginat and Sheldon Rice who ran a macrobiotic support group in their home. We talked and I started cooking classes with Ginat.
My husband joined me and we continued with studies in oriental diagnosis, macrobiotic principles and shiatsu massage. After Ginat and Sheldon left Israel in 2000 to travel throughout North America, I discovered David Briscoe on the internet and continued my studies with him.
I eventually opened my own business, which I called Macrobiotics for Everyone. I want macrobiotics to be more than a cure for cancer. I would like everyone to be able to eat healthily, not only if he or she already is in trouble. I strive to educate people about good nutrition in lectures and workshops, going into schools and community centers.
I lived in a small town in Israel where I served mostly young, affluent, modern-orthodox Jewish clients. Most of them were referred by word of mouth and had some idea about macrobiotics. People are always curious. Many want to eat healthily and don't know how. This is also true here in Australia where we live now.
I developed a website to reach out to more people. It's been growing and evolving for five years, as have I. Macrobiotics is no longer a system of opening a textbook to follow a recipe. My senses have developed with an increasingly intuitive understanding of yin and yang. I cook without a timer now--I can sense when a dish is ready. I'm more sensitized now, in touch with my body and my environment. I'm calm and more balanced.
I don't take people who come because their families insist. It must be his or her decision. Macrobiotics is difficult enough, and the person has to want to do it. Macrobiotics is not the means to an end. You don't do it to cure and then go back to old habits. I like to find people I can really work with and help them change. A seriously ill person is a good listener. We have fun together and feel good. I've had success with cancer and other chronic diseases, and it makes me happy. One woman had never tasted a vegetable before. Now her husband can't believe how much energy she has. I'm an educator, a social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist all wrapped in one.
We need to educate ourselves when we want to change. I teach people to look at how they handle food and the way they eat. I tell them to make changes with a smooth period of transition if they have that luxury. Do it with love and understanding of deep, personal issues. Especially when you have children, you have to make changes with care. Macrobiotics helped me tremendously. My deepest wish is to offer Macrobiotics for Everyone.
Healing Inside Out - Christina Campion
Written by Ginat Rice
I think I was born with an eating disorder. My mother didn't want to breast feed me and I refused all other nourishment. Only my grandmother's folk remedy of raw cow's milk with sugar saved my life. Grandmother was born in a castle with 120 servants, daughter to the countess of Scarborough. As the administrator of the family dairy holdings she enjoyed fresh cream and butter each morning. Grandmother was a stubborn woman with a big heart. She'd only turn on the heating when visitors would come. We were given hot water bottles to heat up our beds, which only made the sheets wet. Our electric blankets would constantly short circuit from the overriding dampness in the house.
My high-needs mother married a man younger than she who couldn't handle her. He ran off with another woman soon after my youngest brother was born. Four babies early on were more than Mummy could manage and she was institutionalized for tranquilizers and electric shock treatments. My Grandmother took us all in. Within a few weeks of our arrival, my grandfather died. At age four I was orphaned to a 40-room house with a woman I hardly knew.
I was weak and sickly as a child, frustrating my grandmother tremendously with my chronic constipation. I had been constipated from birth, never having released the fetal matter. My grandmother considered bowel irregularity a transgression. If I didn't do things quickly I got punished. I would strain to have a bowel movement to please her and get my chocolate bar. She would often dose me with a near-lethal concoction of fig molasses that would have an equally unwelcome opposite effect on my bowels.
As far back as I can remember my focus was on food. At age nine my English schoolteacher told the class that potatoes caused cancer. Although grandmother called it nonsense, I refused to have anything more to do with them. At fifteen I came home from boarding school and announced that I would not eat meat. My grandmother said I would starve to death and fed me cheese and eggs instead. Cheese became my main food together with an addiction to candy, wine and sherry. All other foods were uninteresting.
I was well on my way to an eating disorder. I was a skinny child always told to eat more. But when I went for a second helping my Grandmother would call me greedy or criticize my figure. So I didn't want to eat. I wanted to please my grandmother and look like my skinny best friend. I became anorexic.
I didn't have much comfort in my body as I grew up. I became an antibiotic guinea pig against sore throats, ear aches, coughs, itching, hand rashes and myriad other symptoms. No one looked to food as a cause. They thought I was allergic to the flowers. Eventually the symptoms went away, replaced by candida and thrush for another two years.
Then I became bulimic. I hated the food at my boarding school. I'd sneak away from meals and buy candy bars instead. I was basically living off cakes and sweets. The last day we got a treat of deep fried fish and chips. I remember bending over in the bathroom to find a dropped earring and heaving my lunch up. It was a strange feeling. I realized that I could control my stomach by bending and pushing, choosing which foods I would keep inside and which I'd purge. I'd enjoy eating all kinds of food, then rid myself of unwanted ones and finish with the things I really liked like alcohol, milky tea and candy, which all served to keep my blood sugar up. I was alcoholic for about a year and a half.
I became afraid of food after I learned to purge myself. I didn't know what to do with it any more. My bulimia lasted for about three years the first time. It remained a secret even from my best friend. I had an unhealthy relationship with a man ten years older than me during this time who knew nothing about my clandestine practices. It was an awkward relationship modeled around an exclusively female life with no father, a brother who was sent off early to boarding school, and no male classmates or friends. Consequently I had a strong attraction to men and great naiveté.
Though I had no peace with eating, I'd always loved cooking. My grandmother saw that I had a flair for culinary arts and sent me to a Cordon Bleu school to ready me for marriage. I arrogantly wanted to do things my way there- either I already knew everything or wanted to find out myself. Even so, I finished with high marks and got a job right away as a sous-chef in a hotel. I was nineteen, independent, depressed, insecure and withdrawn.
A year later I met my future husband. After a devastating lover's quarrel with him I tried to commit suicide. I felt myself slipping away into a strange sleep with no return. I dragged myself to the toilet and used my bulimic tricks of pulling in my stomach and retching up. Something deep inside me knew I wanted to live. My friends found me soon after and took me to hospital. The nurse immediately recognized an eating disorder. Until then, no one had mentioned the word bulimia. She advised me to stop the contraceptive pill, which I'd been on since age fourteen to regulate my periods, and encouraged me to confide in my fiancé. That night I divulged my secret and became pregnant. I was so naïve that it took me three months to realize I was expecting. Even my doctor misdiagnosed it as an infection when I began to gain weight in my cheeks and breasts.
From the moment that the pregnancy was confirmed I had such deep joy that I stopped my bulimic practices instantly. I started enjoying food for the first time in my life. I was guided to delicious-tasting food with a vegetarian slant like bean and rice burritos, and milk shakes. My daughter Cleandra was born beautiful and healthy after sixteen hours of intense pain and tearing. I heard the voice of God say that she would be my teacher and I knew it was the truth. Because of her presence my whole life turned around.
I traded bulimia for a bowel movement obsession. I was still constipated, and wouldn't leave the house before I moved my bowels. I was also stuck in my relationship with my husband, who didn't understand that young mothers might not want post-partum sex. He forced himself on me in a frightening way. I tried to leave him, but I couldn't survive on my own with a new baby. I became even more tense and tight with the responsibility of motherhood added to my life of trauma and heavy dysfunction. I was determined to be a perfect caretaker, to give my daughter the best I could, and certainly not duplicate what I had been given. Such naiveté at age twenty!
Discovering Hatha Yoga was a turning point for me. I began to hold myself differently and learn to breathe. I became attracted to whole foods and began to cook grain-based meals, sometimes including meat dishes.
We moved to Florida to be near my husband's parents and I began to open up even more in the warm sunshine after a lifetime of cold and damp English weather. I took yoga lessons with a former alcoholic who had found her recovery in yoga. She explained to me how AA replaces alcohol with sugar, opening my eyes to the effects of these addictive substances. I entered a whirlwind of change, particularly with my diet. I'd get little hints and suggestions about what to do next. I ate tofu instead of cheese and honey instead of sugar. I subsisted happily on mango, pita, tehini and lots of sweets. After ten days of fasting I took cocaine at a party, and came out alive only by a miracle. I played with hallucinogens for two more years until my nervous system couldn't handle any more.
As my journey unfolded, I opened a dress making business with a partner in Florida. She was the first person who suggested that eating slowly was a good thing, and introduced me to fasting and high colonic cleanses. I was utterly amazed at what came out of me. For the first time in my life I had a normal bowel movement. Somehow I understood the fetal origin of my condition - I was clogged up from birth.
I became pregnant once more with my jealous, abusive husband. I was so fearful to be carrying a male who would be like him that I had an abortion. I prayed for this child's spirit and let it go.
Visiting in London, I noticed a friend's beautiful handmade carpetbag, a Mary Poppins type of thing that made me smile deep inside. The bags were made by Harry Hart and Loretta Quartey, an English couple who had been involved with macrobiotics since the early 1960s. I was deeply impressed with their peaceful energy, calm confidence, humility, generosity, and wonderful listening skills. I felt gifted with a deep sense of beauty and truth. Being entrepreneurial, I decided to start a business distributing their products in New York State, where we were now living.
My praise and interest in their product opened a new world to me. Harry and Loretta introduced me to foods I had never heard of, including miso soup, aduki beans with kombu and squash; fresh kale, and pressure-cooked short grain brown rice. I knew nothing about chewing, so I simply churned the food around in my mouth a few times and swallowed. Something clicked, and I knew this was what I wanted for my family, for me and for our life. I was lit up and turned on by something very exciting. I felt like a child digging in the garden for a treasure. I had found what I had always been looking for.
I lost my menstruation and decided to follow Ohsawa's remedy to gain my period back again. I ate brown rice, gomasio and shoyu exclusively, and chewed my food for the first time in my life. I experienced a miracle of golden light pouring in and out of my body. I heard angelic voices channeling my family's condition, world events and universal information. On the third day my period came back, the last time for the next ten years.
Though I knew that something extraordinary was happening in my life I was still missing a big point-–that of my own condition. I continued to eat grains and became very tight and controlling. My rigid application of macrobiotic principles caused my body to shut down.
I was always hungry, and progressively getting thinner. I lost weight until I resembled a starving Biafran. As I became increasingly undernourished my spirit became correspondingly strong. I could foresee things before they manifested and knew what would happen as a result of a previous action. Lacking the physical buffer to block experiences, I was frightened and awestruck at the same time.
My poor daughter had to go through all these phases with me. I wanted her to meet her grandfather, my father, whom I hadn't seen in fifteen years. I was deeply traumatized by this first visit since I was thirteen. He accused me of lying when I told him about my childhood experiences, especially the severe effect of the distraught and disturbed behavior of my mother and his own departure from our family. I realized that I could not trust him because of his alcohol dependency. We parted badly, only able to find forgiveness years later.
I came back home looking like death. Staring at myself in a mirror I was shocked at how malnourished I was. I accepted the suggestion of a dear friend that I see a macrobiotic counselor to ease my discomfort with food. The counselor misdiagnosed me with candida and told me to cut out all fermented food for a year along with all sweets except grapefruit. I came away from the consultation wanting to believe, yet unsure. I loved fermented products like miso soup, homemade amasake and natto. I'd been dreaming of clams, so he recommended clam juice. It was so salty that I got even tighter from it and from my generally poor application of a macrobiotic diet. He recommended that I buy blue green algae from him. I finally became bulimic again from being so yang, and he referred me to a psychiatrist. I felt rejected and let down by his well meaning but inaccurate advice. Nevertheless it pushed me to the next step that ultimately saved my life.
I struggled on my own for several months more, out of alignment in my soul and my body. I wasn't eating much and I was chewing well, but at the end of each meal I'd feel a severe tightness at mid-body. I sought advice from another macrobiotic advisor. This time I was told to eat anything and everything--just eat! I shared conventional restaurant food that made me sick and nauseous with my family. Sometimes in a calm inner state I would be guided to healthier foods. Nabé-style light cooking felt amazingly delicious and relaxing. But after an hour I'd be starving again. I'd consistently feel tension in my chest and torso after I'd eat. The only relief I knew was to purge myself. When I contracted my stomach muscles and regurgitated I didn't have pain and tightness, but of course I remained hungry.
The vomiting sent an adrenaline rush throughout my system with a palpable strain on my heart and kidneys, although medical tests were inconclusive. I felt like there was nothing I could eat on this planet.
I dragged myself back to England weighing seventy-eight pounds. My family was overcome with shock when they saw me. They wanted to put me into re-habilitation center to be force-fed, believing I was mentally ill and trying to die. My sister asserted, "You're killing us all with your wish for attention." I looked her in the eye and said, "You don't understand what a nightmare my life is. This is an illness. The discomfort in my body is not on purpose--I don't know what to eat." After that I developed a new feeling of mutual gratitude and love for my family. I saw how precious life is and people are, and wouldn't listen to any discord. Pure energy was coming through as I was approaching death.
Occasionally I would find a certain food that would send a wonderful feeling of energy and well being down my spine. It would circulate through my body as I was guided to eat it. I would keep eating this magic food until it wouldn't work for my any more. I ate deep fried mochi every day for six weeks. Then I began to shut down. I barely spoke, didn't laugh, cry or even cough. I still loved to walk, and remained strong in that way. But there were signs that my system was going to sleep. It was 1991 and I was thirty-three years old.
A friend in New York had previously encouraged me to see the well-known macrobiotic counselor Denny Waxman for a health consultation. At the time I arrogantly thought that he could offer me nothing new. All of asudden I knew that now I had to see him. Miraculously I learned that Denny made regular visits to the Macrobiotic Center in London. A last minute cancellation opened the door for a personal consultation with him. As I sat in front of him he calmly explained that my current condition stemmed from the excessive cheese, chicken and eggs that my mother had eaten during her pregnancy. A light bulb went off and I knew it was true. As he presented a detailed list of recommended foods, I began to grasp the reality of my present condition and how I'd created it. It was brilliant.
As I returned from my visit to Denny, my mother and grandmother recognized that something in me had changed. They knew I was speaking the truth. My mother asserted, "I know you're going to get better now." My grandmother insisted, "You're too good for this planet." My family became my greatest friends in supporting my path even without understanding it. I developed a wonderful relationship with each of them after that.
I had a lot of hard work to do. I knew my illness was a deep condition, possibly originating from conception. I didn't want to fix it quickly, but rather to heal its root cause. Denny recommended that I get a cook, but no one was available so I did it on my own. In a way this was fortunate, giving me a profound understanding of my condition. I learned what foods made me feel good and which ones didn't.
I was strong-willed and rather stubborn, and needed to do things in the "right" way. I was coming from such a tight, yang place that I was inflexible. I would wake each day at 5:00 AM, shocked to be alive. It took me five hours to prepare my food each day and another five to eat it. I would chew each meal for an hour and a half. I counted one hundred chews per bite for one and a half years. It repaired a lot of the damage I'd done and got me in a good habit that still remains with me.
I needed Denny to be very specific with his recommendations. For example, he suggested that I cook brown rice together with a second grain and a sweet vegetable daily. I thought he meant to have this grain mixture exclusively. For the first six months I ate only this concoction three times a day. Gradually I learned to enjoy pressed and boiled salads, daily steamed greens, cooked fruits, and amasake once or twice a week. I had miso soup twice a day, drinking only the broth. My rice always had to be soaked in advance and cooked with another grain and a sweet vegetable. I had two bowls of rice cream daily, along with two cups of sweet vegetable drink. I had no baked flour products, and no oil except for one arame dish. Everything was fresh--I ate no leftovers at all. I came to understand my underlying condition of hypoglycemia, the original state that had manifested into bulimia.
My mother did most of my shopping. It was a real blessing to be together with her during this period. We bonded over the eleven months that I healed in her home and I was able to treasure her for the first time. I used to monitor her alcoholism, which made her drink even more from nerves. Now I realized that I also was nervous. When I saw my mother downing gin and tonics and whisky, I no longer worried about her. Gradually she began to drink less while she was with me. She wouldn't leave me alone because she feared I'd be dead when she got back. She kept a tight vigil at my side. I ate quietly on my own, away from her so I wouldn't be disturbed by her hyper energy.
I actually lost weight as my system opened up. I had been constipated and hardly urinating. My newfound sweet baby food was heaven. Soft rice with squash felt like mother's milk, the soft, sweet, light food I had craved my whole life.
Denny allowed me to snack on almonds, and as I chewed my first one, I could feel its energy. I knew where it had come from, growing in a strong, rooted tree, suspended on a branch, housed in an incredibly hard shell surrounded by thin air. I began to get messages from all my food. I'd feel my energy dive or expand as I'd eat something and I'd know if it were contracting or relaxing right away. I developed a strong intuition of what I wanted to eat for my purpose instead of being guided by my pathological condition. This sweet message of understanding food lets me encourage people today to go slowly and be quiet, switching everything off to chew, listen and wait. Something will speak to you if you allow it. The key is slowing down. I became so calm that I could feel everything as it came to me and embrace its information.
These changes were hard for my thirteen-year-old daughter to understand, and she was angry with me for a while. It took several years for her to stop blaming herself and me and to realize that I hadn't been well enough to look after her while she was living with her dad. Gradually she began to notice improvements in me and to enjoy the food I was cooking. When my meals had been yang, dry and tight, she hadn't been interested. As I relaxed, so did she. Now she's a well-adapted young woman who will happily eat with me and ask for health advice whenever she needs it. She knows how to go back to healthy food when she's strayed too far and understands well the hypoglycemic eating patterns that she learned from both her parents' families.
I returned to Florida the following winter to continue healing. I was careful to eat on a regular schedule even as I traveled. I gave myself time to set up and carefully prepare my meals, and to chew. I continued to see Denny every three months for the first year, then every six months. My mother came to visit and was ecstatic to see me better. I learned to accept my husband as a well-meaning, uncomplicated man who I was not able to include on my path of healing because of his overly-yang, physically violent nature. He recently remarried another yang woman with the same Nine Star Ki (Asian astrology) 7-metal sign as I have. They have a baby whose 5-9-1 Nine Star Ki sign varies only by a few months from our daughter Cleandra.
I moved back to New York to be closer to Cleandra, one of the 160 times I have moved in my life. I became the housewife for a hard-working friend who invited me to move in with her, cooking on a gas burner in her house. I stayed almost three years. There was a lot of laughter and love in this healing and nurturing environment.
I had to leave this refuge so that my daughter could attend the same school as her friends. I still hadn't learned how to handle distress and again became bulimic from the tension and ordeal of the move. I'd been under Denny's care for almost three years now, and although I derived emotional comfort from eating, I still misinterpreted hunger signs, as do many people suffering from hypoglycemia. When the body/mind becomes stressed, it contracts as the blood sugar level drops. At these times the spleen/pancreas needs to relax with a mild sweet taste in order to secrete insulin. Although I knew intellectually that contracting foods like sweet, baked flour products triggered bulimia, these were my comfort foods. I would spontaneously eat them, feeling brave and free to satisfy my cravings. I'd been so strict for so long that self-control made me contracted and uncomfortable. I needed to feel free in order to relax.
I always went home to England when I became bulimic. I sought comfort in my family, and looking after my grandmother helped me shift away from my own problems. I wanted to express my great appreciation for having taken us all in. How extraordinary she was! She greatly enjoyed my newly peaceful, loving and generous personality. Ironically, properly taking care of myself made me more charitable to others.
Returning to New York, I began to share my story with others and to teach those around me. I assisted a local cooking teacher and met a sweet man in one of her classes. It was my first romantic relationship in three years. I still hadn't gotten my period back, but I felt like a blushing teenager again. He was the first person to cook for me since I had started macrobiotics. We loved each other and parted as good friends.
In 1996 I decided to branch out on my own, seeking a new direction. I found a magical piece of property just below Woodstock in the lower Catskill Mountains, two and a half hours north of New York City. I bought the property with money that my Grandmother had gifted me. I lived first in a trailer that was 13 x 7 feet with an inside walking space only 4 x 2 feet. I began cooking and meeting people as I opened up more and more. I catered two-course meals three days a week for three families in this tiny trailer. It was beautiful, simple food, prepared and delivered with joy. I loved my clients and happily spent time with them in friendship. I bartered cooking and shiatsu with the local community in exchange for help building a cabin and outhouse. It is bliss because it is my own.
My mother came to visit me and we had the best time ever. She was fun and natural, able to mask her dependence on the alcohol that she needed to make balance with her high cholesterol diet. I was at my best health with tremendous energy that I put into building my cabin and doing chores like hauling water and stacking wood, all on a diet of grain, beans and vegetables.
1997 saw a big shift. I decided to move to Long Island because I didn't want to be isolated in the long New York winters any more. The stressful, chaotic energy there turned out to be too much for me, and against Denny's advice I made the arduous trip back to my cabin. I arrived home late and tired, and knew I needed to stop and eat. But I pushed ahead, and suddenly felt a strange sensation in my heart. I could barely move and couldn't catch my breath. Something had happened and I didn't know what.
Stressed from whatever had happened to me during my move back home, I learnedthat my grandmother was dying. The long plane ride to England, the trauma of my grandmother's illness, and all the visitors coming to bid my grandmother farewell overwhelmed me. I was eating too simply for my needs--I needed to add richer foods like fish or oil to broaden my diet. Instead I began having my meals later and later to give myself time alone. Then one morning over breakfast, I suddenly felt myself freeze. My heart was racing as though I was going to implode. I thought I was having a heart attack or a stroke, and realized that if I did not leave, I would die from the stress around me.
Back home, my long and lustrous hair fell out by the handful. I lost weight and was a wreck for months. I felt as though I was dying as my heart raced out of control. Medical tests showed nothing. Again I was referred to a psychiatrist.
Something in me had become upset with the world. I felt as if something wasn't right in my life, like I'd made a wrong move somewhere. I had become so sensitive that I felt I needed to protect myself from my mother, and so I purposefully distanced myself from her, my best friend. It felt terrible.
Denny could see the energetic upset and recommended that I eat very widely--coffee, tea, milk, sugar, eggs, cheese, corn flakes--anything to relax myself. I hated this food and found it hard to eat. I was used to feeling calm and energetically charged. Now I felt wild. But simple, calming food made me too contracted. I had to retrain myself to eat at least 50 percent"non-macro" food. Caffeine would help me relax my mind and ease the restrictions. Even practicing yoga was too disciplined for me. It took me a year and a half to feel normal again.
My grandmother remained alive for another year until October 2000, but I couldn't go back to England again to see her. My family's energy was abusive and aggressive from their excessive drinking habits. Instead, I went to Hawaii, invited by two macrobiotic friends to teach and work there. I was given an apartment and a job, and I bought a car as I developed macrobiotic cooking clients. I stayed for 4 months until my mother called one night saying my grandmother had passed away. I returned to England for two stressful weeks at her funeral and afterwards, settling the estate.
I didn't return after that for two years until my own mother's funeral. She suffered a concussion from a fall and never recovered, dying of a heart attack a few weeks later. She had lived on eggs, cheese, butter, and meat at every meal; only alcohol kept her blood flowing past her cholesterol-laden arteries. Her drinking somehow kept her alive, and I never tried to stop it. She would drink less when she was with me because I was undemanding and accepting.
After her sudden death I became ultra sensitive. It was a spiritual shock that left me thin-skinned and weakened. It's been hard to relax and allow since then--I realize what an enormous influence she had on me. Despite her difficulties she was not obsessive. She had a hard time under my grandmother's control and then being on her own for many years. My mother buffered great sensitivity much better than I could. My body won't tolerate the animal foods and alcohol she used, so I've had to protect myself in quiet, isolated places. I deeply regretted distancing myself from her during her last years, but I needed to survive and create for myself the life of freedom that she never enjoyed.
I gradually developed a macrobiotic consulting practice along with a new relationship with a man named Evan. He is a deeply spiritual man who has been very patient with me. I became pregnant--a joyous miracle to me--but the morning nausea left me confused about eating. I lost the easy flow and spontaneity of hunger and response for a couple of weeks until things settled down. I lost the baby in a difficult miscarriage after only seven weeks, a very low point in my life. Denny once again patiently guided me forward to health.
I continue to check in with Denny every year for food adjustments or 9-Star Ki consultations. I am eternally grateful to him and for his insight and practical wisdom. I know I am becoming too yang when it becomes harder and harder to stop whatever I'd doing. I'll feel like I need to finish something before I can relax or change courses. This is rigid thinking. I have to be very careful to eat on time, eat enough, and treat myself well. I simply cannot skip a meal. I must ensure that I have a relaxed atmosphere at meal times. If not, I find it hard to eat. I still have to be attentive to my heart as well. I get out of breath easily and become weak from too much movement or talking. I constantly try to replenish my energy. I'm careful not to contract too much when it gets cold. I'm happy to say that I haven't retched up for almost ten years. I'm not afraid of it anymore--I feel like a different person now. I don't need that to survive.
The whole experience continually becomes more and more extraordinary. My life entails immense fortune and great pain--a dual-edged sword! The gift of my experience cannot easily be put it into a single word or idea. Humility is big on the list, and awareness. I can safely say that I've been given the gift of knowing myself, and from this, the gift of knowing others. It gives me great joy to know and love myself with all my quirks and strangeness. This is my life's purpose, for out of self-knowledge comes my gift of joy and light. It allows me to be less turned in on myself, and instead to soften my ego and be thoughtful of others.
These days I truly enjoy cooking and eating. I see the miracle of life, movement and energy. Often I can sense energy moving through my body. I feel myself to be a moving mass, with my spirit hovering. Sometimes I feel huge, like I am the universe. Other times I feel like the tiniest of atoms. I thank God for my life on every waking day. I am extraordinarily happy to share my story. As I've been inspired by others, I want to encourage others with my experiences and help us all to find self-empowerment and love.
The Highest Priority
From "Macrobiotics Today", September/October 1994, Vol. 34, No. 5
George Ohsawa often commented, "Curing disease is easy. Curing the patient is the big difficulty."
If arrogance is the cause of all disease, unhappiness and suffering, as Ohsawa claimed, then curing arrogance should be our primary concern. Otherwise, we will bring to our practice of macrobiotics and our efforts to teach it, a symptomatic mindset which cannot cure anything, or help anyone cure themselves.
Will macrobiotics cure disease? I don't think so, any more than any other symptomatic approach to healing will, since disease will always remain a symptom of a deeper malaise. Will macrobiotics cure arrogance? George Ohsawa thought so. In fact, he believed so much that it would cure this biggest of difficulties that he devoted his entire life to teaching it.
The paradox of arrogance is that arrogant individuals do not realize they are arrogant. If they realized they were, they would already have begun the journey away from arrogance.
Being arrogant, they are incurable. They cannot cure anything until they begin to understand their arrogance. The circle is closed and cyclical, perpetually binding every individual to a self-created wheel of suffering until the self-indulgent ego which has caused all the misery cries out, "I've had enough! Get me outta here!"
This cry from the heart can be an impetus for change. Nothing changes until there is desire to change, motivated by either a yearning to live a greater and fuller life, or to get away from a self-created hell of one kind or another.
The opposite of arrogance is the belief that I have been given the miracle of life. For this priceless gift, I owe a debt of gratitude I can never possibly pay: to the Infinite, parents, friends, teachers, economic system and all other systems which have supported and sustained my life and the lives of all my ancestors up to the present time.
To repay this unpayable debt I must try to give back as much as possible in whatever way I can. Otherwise, my unpaid debts will pile up and lead inevitably to bankruptcy in all areas of life: moral, social, emotional as well as financial and spiritual. Disease is symptomatic of a self-centered life.
Cleaning up our lives, our attitudes, should be the priority of every person aspiring to a macrobiotic lifestyle - at least as important to surviving and thriving as learning how to cut vegetables.
"Vivere parvo" is essential to self-change. The law of life is to produce abundantly, as far in excess of what you are given as you possibly can.
Those who understand and apply this law in every area of their lives must, sooner or later, reap abundantly. This is faith born of recognition of the natural order.
Arrogance can be overcome, transmuted into health, happiness, freedom, and supreme judgment, only if we embrace difficulty, become content with simple living, eating (taking) less and exposing ourselves to all the changes of the seasons. Of course, chewing well is important to make our bodies strong and hardy, able to survive the rigors of life, and resist whatever disease tries to establish itself in our bodies. In the West we say, "Give and take." In the East we say, "Give, give, give."
Tribute to Elaine Nussbaum
Elaine was (and is) a macrobiotic inspiration. Diminutive in stature, she was a giant among life teachers. Her words were gentle, loving and kind; her bravery was loud and unrelenting. Her life demonstrated the title of her book, Recovery.
Sheldon always tells the story of Elaine's faithful encouragement when it was his turn to heal. Fearful of his plummeting weight, Elaine assured him that no one ever disappears. Tired of ginger compresses, she promised him that one less would not delay his healing. Isolated in his dogged perseverance, she stood by him as a friend.
I also loved Elaine. The first time I talked to her she was immediately embracing and accepting. She gave a talk at the Israel Center in Jerusalem to a packed room, keeping us spellbound. "Let my understanding help you," was her on-going offer.
The last time I heard from Elaine was two days before she passed away in NJ. I happened to be visiting family, and as always, I called to say hi. We exchanged phone messages, and hers was happy and upbeat in her usual, cheerful voice. Our schedules were at odds and we missed each other. Now I shall always miss Elaine Nussbaum. Rest in peace, dear lady.