Monday, May 27, 2013

Indian Sweet Carrots

This little dish can be a great side or dessert.

4 TBSP melted unsalted Butter
2 Cups Grated Carrots
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon or A toothpick dipped in Cinnamon essential oil and then stirred into the melting butter.
2 Cups of already Steamed Brown Rice
1/2 Cup cashews (roasted or raw to garnish on top or mix into the carrot and rice pudding.

If you're using the cinnamon oil, just dip a toothpick into your bottle and stir it into the melted butter.  A full drop will be too much.  It's a very hot and potent oil.  On medium heat, stir the carrots into the butter.  Add coconut milk, vanilla, sea salt & maple syrup.  Keep stirring to infuse the flavors and soften the carrots.  Toss in the 2 cups of brown rice once the carrots are a bit soft.  Stir the mixture until the rice has absorbed all the milky gooey mess.  You can then either throw the cashews into the mixture for softer cashews or roast them and at some crunch to this yummy pudding.  Sweet and yummy.  Who says sweet things can't be healthy too?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Things No One Talks About

Sunday morning here.  Don't know why I'm up early.  I seldom get up early.  I should be sleeping but can't.  So I figured now's as good a time as any to begin this story.  I may have to do this in parts.  But I need to write these important things down before too much time passes and my memory allows me to erase the trials I've learned so much from.

I want to be real.  Can you handle real?  Raw emotion?

After having three babies at home, I've begun to realize just how much intervention goes into birthing in a hospital environment.  Don't get me wrong.  I think there are times when a professional medical staff is absolutely necessary for birthing women, and I'm super grateful the option is there should I need it down the road, whether for myself or for a friend or family member.  I am grateful to the staff that helped me with Orion's birth, for in no way do I feel they were ill-intended.  Their assistance to me and my baby was what I needed at that time.  And if I had a choice to do it over, I'm sure there are things I would like to have done differently, but in the end, I'm not sure I would change them.  The situation I experienced with him was the most difficult time in my life that I can recall to date.  And I've learned so much since.  And it's for that life-long lesson that I am grateful.  But today, I want to be real with you.  Let's talk about the things no one talks about.  The things I wish people would have shared with me so that I didn't feel so alone.  The things that happen behind closed doors.

The day Orion was born, he was beautiful.  I know many of you reading this already know about so many of the struggles I went through with him.  And if not, I plan on telling that story too.  I tell that story to almost everyone I meet.  I'm passionate about it I suppose.  Today, I will share the story that few people know about me.  Just close family really.  And even my own parents are somewhat in the dark about it.  

After giving birth to my first son, I myself suffered pretty terribly from post-partum depression.  Yup.  I said it.  It's not something many people openly discuss I guess.  I mean, seriously, why would anyone walk around claiming they were suffering from depression?  As a fitness and dance instructor in the past and one who is always somewhat health conscious and aware, I was afraid and yes, indeed ashamed to have that stigma as a label attached to my person.  Ligia?  Depression?  Disgusting.  Truly, I felt like a failure.  You feel like a loser not to be able to control your emotions and the dark cloud that fogs up your mind.  And you worry.  You worry about being pitied and having people come and try to help you because they pity you, rather than because they truly just want to be your friend.  This thought alone consumed me.  I'd spend many hours rocking myself on the bed and crying.  The anxiety attacks would often make me cry in despair as I spent many days alone while my husband was at work. I'd work myself into a such a frenzy that I'd cry myself to sleep and then wake up to a crying a baby and the anxiety would start all over again.  

My self-esteem was shattered.  My body is not perfect and seldom where I want it to be ideally.  But at that time, sadly, my focus when I looked into the mirror was every single flaw that I bore.  I hated myself.  I detested my human flaws and found no trace of anything good.

The stress of moving around, having little money and recovering post-partum, had sent me into a state of post-partum psychosis.  I often entertained the idea in my head about what suicide would be like.  Don't know if I actually would have been brave enough to follow through with it.  But the thoughts in my head were there.  Very real.  Very dark.  Scary.  And they were not productive by any means.  Thoughts of ending my life were there.  Thoughts of ending Orion's life were there too.  I'd make a mental list of people that might notice my death right away.  People that might be shocked.  People that might think about it for a few hours and then move on with their lives.  I'd wake up late.  I mean, I'd get up to take care of my baby and try to get a routine going, but in the end, would just fall asleep whenever he did and literally not even move.  A first new baby is a hard adjustment as it is already without having to cope with depression.

I often wondered what it would be like to feel connected to my baby.  My mom often described how much she wanted me when she had me.  She described the feeling of overwhelming love she had for me right away.  I can honestly say, that while I loved my sweet boy, I did not have that bond with him the way I thought it should be.  I didn't know why at the time.  But I have some theories about why, now.

I was ashamed of feeling that way too.  I felt like a thoughtless and terrible mother.  What mother wouldn't enjoy her new baby, right?  I mean, some women struggle to have babies.  And here I was, this ungrateful human being, holding a sweet and wonderful newborn baby and thinking about killing us both.  And who would want to be friends with this psychotic mother?  A mother that at one point had locked herself in the bathroom seriously contemplating whether to down a bottle of Aleve or not.  Who's husband called the police that night, desperate to get some help for this crazy woman. This woman who refused to get help from anyone, for fear that someone might see that she was human.  

I don't mean for this post to be a doom and gloom about depression.  But I wanted to take a moment to say that depression is real.  It's consuming, and over-bearing.  It's the heaviest emotional weight I've ever carried in my life and what made it heavier is that I was trying so hard to do it on my own.  It was as though I was trying to prove to myself that I didn't need anyone to help me heal.  My pride definitely hindered my ability to overcome this mental illness.  But there was a light at the end of this dark and dreary tunnel.  The moment I decided to allow others in.  The moments I would see my baby smile were few, but just enough to keep me going.  The moment I allowed God to soften my heart and let go of my pride is when I began to manage the self-destructive thoughts so much better.

It's not something I talk about lightly now.  I simply want other moms, as well as those who experience depression outside of post-partum, to know, that they're not alone.  That they don't have to choose to go through these things without help.  And most of all, that they're not failures for feeling the way they do. To me, failure has become a good teacher.  We all experience failure in some way or form.  But if you listen carefully, failure can teach you so much.  About who you are and who you'd like to be.  If you allow it to, it can teach you about how strong you really are and just how much you can bear.

You see, before this experience, failure was not an option in my mind.  I didn't think anything good could come from it.  But I think it's all about what we choose to do after a great failure that defines our true character and shows us what our true potential in this life is.

It's okay to feel like a total loser from time to time.  As long as you don't allow the thought to consume your life, it can be overcome.  And no sedative or prescription pill will allow you to do that.  That decision needs to come from within.  It's not easy, by any means.  I know.  But I firmly believe that depression can be overcome by the lifestyle we choose.

Yes, I have four kids now.  So you're probably wondering, if one baby made her crazy, what did three others do?  Well, I'll be honest.  The hormone fluctuation that occurs inside my body after each baby is always a difficult thing to balance for me.  That's for sure.  May be due to weak genetics.  May be due to emotional scars.  May be due to daily food choices and habits.  But the small and simple steps I've taken to imrpove the quality of my life by allowing others to be a part of my healing process is what has actually made it easier to move past the burden with each successive pregnancy.  It hasn't become a non-existent thing, if you want the truth.  But I think after four kids, I've learned how to get a grip on it, so to speak.  I'm mentally prepared for the feelings and when they arise, I know I can choose to entertain them or, like I said, get a grip on it.  A good strong one too.  Metaphorically speaking.  So, having four babies has somewhat made me a pro at battling depression a lot easier with each one.  By the time I have our tenth child, I should be depression free.  Just kidding.  And no, having more kids is not the answer to battling depression.

So there you have it.  The things no one talks about.  The things probably very few of you knew about me.  Now, before I share with you some of the steps I took to overcome this illness, what I would love to know is, have you been through a similar experience?  And if you're comfortable sharing, what were some of the ways you chose to battle it?  This exchange of ideas might save the life of a new mom somewhere.  Or someone experiencing it because of a different trial in their life.  No matter the reason.  I know that hearing others' stories are what saved me.  So please comment below.  Short or long.  Have a happy Sunday!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letter from Ligia

To any and all of our fellow readers:

I don't think I've ever taken a moment to introduce myself and the reason this blog has been created. I think that as a young mom, often my life is kept so busy by these short and bossy people that run it, that  I never really took the time to organize this exchange of ideas that I initially set out to share with friends and family.  So here's a little history about why I wanted to share these things in the first place.  

Hi!  For those who may not know me, my name is Ligia Huntington.  Strange name.  I know.  But it's grown on me.  Well, originally, my maiden name was Velez.  I married a Huntington.  But my first name remains the same.  Many call me Lig.  And the "G" in my name is pronounced the way you would say jam rather than grapes.  Anyways, enough about my name.  

I wanted to explain my reason for gathering the few gals that have decided to join me in this collaboration of ideas.  Somehow, I believe this blog is about to evolve into something new, and hopefully, something better.  Originally, it was simply for healthier recipes to try.  

On February 24, 2007, Orion was born.  That day marks a special memory in my mind.  It was the day I became a mother for the first time.  A day that came with much excitement and wonder as well as fears, uncertainties and trials.  For my husband and myself, the trial didn't begin right away.  Our baby boy was born quite healthy.  He was a 9/10 on the Apgar score, losing a point initially because he had some bruising after being pulled out with forceps.  He weighed in at 9 lbs. even.  Big boy!  Full of color and life. Needless to say, we were definitely in love.  

The problems that arose a few weeks later were so many over such a short period of time, that it was something I can definitely look back on and say I was NOT prepared.  I plan on sharing Orion's full story in a later post but for the purpose of this post, I'll just say he developed just about everything from jaundice, eczema, chronic ear infections, was throwing up non-stop at times, which led to doses of antibiotics that made him break out in hives, steroid ointments that gave him difficulty breathing, was then on a nebulizer, and meds, both over-the-counter and prescription, and finally, was diagnosed with early symptoms of autism.  

I began to grow desperate for some real cures and answers and was completely ignorant.  At the same time, I'm grateful to have had this experience because it is one I want to share in hopes that some young mother in the future may find my story to be of comfort.  I'm grateful to Orion for allowing me to learn from the error of my ways through his sicknesses.  He's a super happy 6 year old now with almost no sign of the fact that he was so ill as a baby.  

As I fiddle around on facebook from time to time, or run into random strangers on some of the many travels that my husband's work takes us on, I encounter quite a few of my young mom friends going through similar experiences with their own children, and my heart goes out to those dear mothers who have so selflessly taken the step to raise and nurture another human being.  Those dear women are the mothers of our future and as a mom of four children myself, I know that the task is not an easy one, even on good days, let alone the ones that bring many tears of frustration to the surface.  I've been there and I know life isn't meant to be perfect.  But it's definitely the hard situations that we grow from the most.  

All I wanted to do when I set up this blog initially was to share my newfound and somewhat overly enthusiastic knowledge of health and wellness, and perhaps to help inspire others to try new recipes at home before resorting to more dramatic measures that often lead to further and usually unnecessary medical interventions.  While I mostly lean toward the more natural and holistic forms of healing, I am in no way ANTI-conventional medicine.  I believe that the progress that has been made in science is absolutely valuable on many occasions.  

More often than not though, I feel that we as a society have slowly stepped away from how to do things on our own and thus have lost the ability to empower ourselves with the knowledge that will help our families to grow and flourish, by taking measures into our own hands rather than always being at the mercy of a doctor.     

It's with this in mind, that I would now like to venture into a whole new world of information to share, that not only includes clean, healthy recipes that taste good, but also our personal stories as well as other information that is useful and beneficial for reducing our toxic load and creating a simpler, more nurturing environment for ourselves as well as those we care for and love most.

So please bear with me as I work my way through the quirks of the blogging world to bring you a more visually appealing site that is equally as functional.  

Much love,
Ligia Veronica V. Huntington

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