Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life Changes via Text Message

Part 3 of the search for my biological mother begins...
In case you're just tuning in, check out Part 1 & Part 2 before reading this.

So...
It's been one week.
Exactly.

How can I even begin to write this?


Last Monday, February 17th will forever be etched on my heart.

Because... you see... that's the day I talked to HER!

I got the email from my case worker with HER name.
With HER contact information.

What did I do with that?

Well, I tried to go through the proper channels and contact my social worker so she could set up a time for me to call HER, but I tried calling three times and couldn't get through. I had waited 29 years. I couldn't wait anymore. So I did what any millennial would do...
That's right. I texted her...



Can you feel the nervous anticipation in the above picture? There is my first message to her, and the little bubble with (...) means SHE is typing a message to me! Can you imagine how breathless that wait was? Soon I would have answers. Soon I would again feel the connection again.

Now before you judge me for texting her- let me explain...
I knew she was probably at work, and I got a little impatient. I wanted to connect with her before I went to bed, but didn't want her to get a call from me at work!! No, no no!

So I texted her.

We chatted for about 30 mins via text and set the time for me to make THE CALL. We made it for 7:35 am Korea time since she (being in the US) would be getting off work.

I think I got about an hour of sleep that night. My alarm went off and I jolted wide awake and out of bed- totally not normal behavior for me.  I took my pillow, blanket and computer to my yoga room and laid down on the floor. I took a few deep breaths and tried to pull myself together. I opened Skype and typed in HER number with unsteady fingers. Why was it taking so long to input an 11 digit number!?

Me, being the obsessive person that I am, turned on the voice memo app on my iPhone to record our first  convo.  I wanted to remember everything- every single breath and every tear. Then... I hit the "Call" button. This is what happened...

video


What a totally Earth shaking experience. Her voice was so lovely, and so familiar. We talked and cried together... it really was a beautiful thing. We were on the phone for about 3.5 hours!

She told me about her life. She told me about my full biological sister that was born a year after me... She told me that my sister knew about me... She told me that when they would say prayers every night they would pray for me and send me their love. She told me that my sister would kiss her baby doll and say "Goodnight sister" to me. She told me... that... my sister succumbed to cancer when she was only 6 years old...

Now, I had known this since the previous week- the case worker told me. I have cried and grieved for ever since I found out. For my beautiful little sister Jessica... and for HER too.

We talked about my life growing up and my adoptive family. We talked about a whole other LARGE  family that I have that I never knew about- aunts, uncles, cousins, a grandmother. I also have a half brother and half sister from my father!!  They don't all know about me yet, but are slowly finding out. My parents are no longer together and have been divorced for some time but they are getting together tomorrow to discuss all of this and going to tell my grandmother that I exist. She's the one I wrote about before that is from Colombia! Can you imagine her utter shock!?

Since our conversation over the phone we have been texting non-stop! We've sent lots of photos to each other, but I don't feel like I should put recent photos on here to protect her privacy... this situation is still relatively new for everyone. But I will once everything is settled down a bit.

HER in the early 90's! Love the hair, love the red, love everything!


Me with the blonde afro I've had for basically all of my life and my sister Mollie.
The time difference does pose a bit of a challenge... we both haven't been getting much sleep... but I can honestly say that this week has been the most emotional and most happy week of my entire life. I feel like I am walking on rainbows wherever I go. I feel like I walk taller and more confidently on the Earth since I know my roots. Even my curly hair and the fact that I tend to find it impossible to be on time to places doesn't bother me as much now because now I know those things come from her.

It's such an interesting situation I am in. I feel like we should be "strangers"... we just only met a week ago. But I feel like I have always known her. In so many ways she understands me better than I've been understood before. This is in part because we share so many personality traits. It's really surreal to be understood so well by a person you have just met. It all comes natural. There is nothing forced.

As with so many things in my life, this whole journey has been blessed and put into place by a higher power. Example: The agency actually had been trying to get a hold of HER by phone, but they kept leaving very vague messages on her machine. She wasn't sure exactly who they were and was  skeptical to call them back. Then, they wrote her a letter. The letter... was dated.. the anniversary of my sister Jessica's death. *the signs*

The timing has also been impeccable. We are leaving Korea for good in one week. We will be doing a road trip through the entire US from California to West Virginia. It's been planned for months that we will be driving through all the southern states... where she just so happens to live.




We have no set timeline and nowhere pressing to be this time. Usually on vacation we have to hurry back to work. But since we are moving to Ecuador soon and starting our own business, we can be flexible with our schedule. There is plenty of time for me to meet her without any constraints!

I never imagined that a single phone call could give me so much.
I have this amazing person that gave me the gift of life. She loved me so much that she did the hardest thing a woman can do to give me a better life.  She is so loving and so open to me. She is so considerate and kind. In addition to this most precious gift I have also gained or rather, discovered, all of these other people in her family that love me too. It truly is like discovering buried treasure.

I have about 3 weeks until I can meet her and give her that long awaited hug! How am I going to wait!? I'm actually really super nervous about it if I am honest. My stomach goes in knots just thinking about it!


My life is about to get a whole lot different.

So many new horizons ahead. I need to just stay focused on those horizons. If I start to look back at the past, I rob myself of both the present and the future. I can't do that... I've come so far!

Thank you so much for all of your calls, texts, and messages. It's been so wonderful to be surrounded by such love. I believe that all the prayer and positive energy being sent to this situation has gone so far to help on so many levels.

Aside from learning about the true power of love and what it can do, I have learned to
never live your life wondering...

FIND OUT!
Knowing and abiding in the truth is always better that hiding in fear and denial.

Step out in hope~

Live your life
The Empowered Way




A Word To Adoptive Parents:
I know I have friends out there that recently have adopted babies. It might be hard for you to read my 3 most recent posts. I get that. But please, let your child know where they came from. Be honest and open with them. Giving adopted children a stable and loving home is simply not enough. They need to have time to grieve for the loss of their biological family. Yes- even if they were infants when they were adopted. Please read the book "The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child" by Nancy Newton Verrier and understand what is going on inside of them, you simply have no idea.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mother Found.

If you read my LAST blog post,  you'll know that I've finally began searching for my biological parents. I'm starting the search with looking for my mother.

I just can't believe all the supportive messages, comments and phone calls that I have received during this process!! I am really stunned! I've had fellow adoptees messaging me, and [unexpectedly] BIRTH PARENTS, sharing their stories and their hearts. What a beautiful time this is.

So on Monday, it was exactly one month since the Adoption Reunion Registry received the forms.

I get an email from my case worker on Monday night (Korean time).

"I have an update on your case" she says. "Call me in the office."

I call right away- only a few minutes after her email was sent....




She tells me that the agency found HER!





That she has talked to HER!





That she has been looking for me too and wants to have contact with me!!


Elation!!!!!



But...

there were more details that I never expected to hear. I tried to prepare myself for all possible scenarios. I actually came up with 23 different scenarios and outcomes of this mission. Would you believe that the actual outcome wasn't one of the ones that I had created and "prepared" for?

How could I have ever thought of this outcome in a million years?

I feel SUCH sadness for things that my biological mother has had to go through since my birth.  I've cried and lost sleep over it.  I have a renewed since of love for her that was dormant until now.

Of course I am SO THRILLED and so thankful that we will soon be able to meet. I feel like I've been given a second chance at having a family. This is seriously the one thing I've wanted as long as I could remember- But something that I always had to hide because my adoptive mother could never have handled the truth.

My birthmother asked my case worker if I still had the blanket (that she made for me!) and the letter that she wrote me..... NO.  I never had either of those in fact. They were never passed along to me! It's really devastating. It would have made all the difference in the world to me. My adoptive mother never saw fit to give those things to me OR to even tell me they existed. :(   But it doesn't matter. It didn't stop the love that I felt coming from her. She told my case worker that she has been praying for me for my whole life. How special it was to hear that. For all of my life, I had no idea that prayers and love were being sent to me. I guess that could explain all the ways that I have been protected in my life in certain situations.


So after finding all of these things out, I basically stayed up all night. How could I sleep!?

I called my best friend in the US and she sat in the parking lot of a grocery store and talked to me for almost TWO HOURS.... My best friend that lives in Korea is on vacation in Hawaii and she took a break from paradise to call me as soon as she got my message.  I texted two of my aunts, talked to my mother-in-law on Skype and my sister-in-laws on Facebook.  I'm so lucky to know such wise and wonderful women. Each of them has their unique role in my life- each of them are so unique and bring another piece to the puzzle.

And... my husband.... what a man! He is so strong and so loving even when he doesn't know how to react or what to say.

It was such an emotional night. Wow! It was so hard that I had to take a sick day from school the next day. I felt like I couldn't move. I had no physical or emotional strength.

I'm much better now, after the initial shock of it all. But still my mind is preoccupied with HER. I have so many other things I need to focus on: graduating, selling our stuff in Korea, planning for our US road trip, planning to move to Ecuador.  But all I can do is think and pray and meditate... searching my memory for her face, her voice, her laugh. Hoping that while I'm doing these things, she is too and we will meet in our thoughts. I believe in things like that, you know.


So what's next?

The Reunion Registry will send forms to my birthmother. She is to fill them out and have them notarized and returned to the office. The process is said to take from 2-3 weeks. Atlanta is actually having this freak winter storm at the moment... The whole city is covered in ice and snow. SO, the office has been closed for the past 2 days!!! Seriously- what are the odds!?

I'm trying to document and be open to all my emotions in this process. Very shortly, we will meet. A cycle of my life will be over, and a new one will begin. So many unknowns, but I will try to live in the present. I want to fully remember this time in my life. We leave Korea in 2 weeks and 4 days... maybe, just maybe, I will get to speak to HER before then!


ALSO
On an interesting note- Has anyone out there seen the new Disney movie, Frozen?
I tell you.... these kids are OBSESSED with it! In case you haven't, Princess Elsa has this strange ice and snow power that she tries to hide. When she is emotional or upset, her power becomes harder to control. She ends up accidentally freezing the whole town!!

Like this.


I can't help but feel like Elsa. WHY you ask? Well, my city in South Korea NEVER snows.
NEVER.

But the day I was an emotional wreck took a sick day, it snowed!!! ALLLLL DAY!

It even stuck to the ground! See...

This. Never. Happens.



Sorry to everyone that was inconvenienced by the weather that I made happen. :)


It was a strange day, all-in-all. I feel like some emotions that have been "Frozen" for almost 30 years are beginning to thaw.


I think I'm starting to warm up,

Elsa

Meg




PS:
If you'd like to follow this story and The Empowered Way, you can subscribe by typing your email address in the box to the right. You'll only get an email when a new post is up!

PSS:
Love this song!!! hehehe




Monday, February 3, 2014

The Path to THEM



I'm usually a private person. I don't share the intimate happenings of my life online. But this is a story so important that it needs to be documented.


So as I said in my last post...

Things have been CRAZY in these past few months.

Yes, I'm finishing up school and doing..

All. Those. Case Studies. (for my degree in Holistic Nutrition)

Yes, we are also preparing to leave Korea- our home for the past five years- and planning a 2.5 week road trip across the US.

Yes, we are preparing to pack up again and move to Ecuador in April...


But the true whirlwind of crazy started on my birthday in November.

My birthday sort of unexpectedly threw me on this path that I knew I'd be traveling down one day. A path that is wrought with emotion, joy, fear and anxiety.  The path that virtually every adopted child thinks about going down--

Finding their biological parents.


For my birthday present, Dave got together all the documents to find all the "Non-Identifying Information" from my adoption file. It turns out that due to a law change in Georgia a few years ago, it's super easy to find out information on your otherwise "closed adoption". More info on that down below.

So, I waited and waited and waited to hear back from the case worker.
She basically gets an adoption file from the state and weeds through all the information. She then types up a document in which she summarizes everything that she can tell me that does not in any way give the identities of my birth family. This could be family health history, physical appearances, details about my birth, details on foster homes (if there are any), basically you could get any information that was given up to the point of your adoption being finalized.


The four weeks I waited, I truly felt like I went through a "dark night of the soul" so to speak during that time. I was a mess. This was affecting me... it had some strange power over me. I never thought being adopted affected me until I started digging. Turns out.. it does. I dealt with a lot during those few weeks.

Then, one night as I was getting ready to sleep I checked my email one last time with heavy eyelids. And BAM! There was the summary in my inbox! My heart raced and my hands were shaking. Was I ready to read what this email contained? Was I ready to face my reality? I had always made up crazy scenarios about how my life came to be, and who my parents were. But once I read this, there was no going back. I'd finally know.  Dave was asleep, I had to go at this alone. So I opened it!

As I read through the THREE page summary of the circumstances that lead to me, it was surreal. I learned SO MUCH! I learned about my biological parents' physical characteristics, their relationship, their parents, their siblings, their hobbies... so much more than I ever dreamed of learning!!! I even learned my ancestry.. something I've longed to know for as long as I can remember!

Are you ready for this?
I learned that my grandmother was from Colombia! My friends growing up always said I didn't have "white girl hair" (Click HERE for pics) and boy were they right!

I'm 1/4 Colombian! WOW! I have always loved the Spanish language and latin music. We've also been planning to move to Ecuador for over a year.... Ecuador is.... BESIDE COLOMBIA!!!


A HUGE piece that I didn't know was even missing has been replaced. Since learning what I know I have felt so different inside.  I know where I came from! I know the blood that runs through these veins, I feel it's pulsing culture and tradition. This is something children who aren't adopted take for granted. I know there are people out there that share a part of me. To me, this blows my mind.

When the summary talked about my birth parents hobbies, personalities, and physical characteristics I couldn't believe it! I am truly a mix of them both!

I have never been anything like my adoptive family. PERIOD. If you know them, you know what I mean!

But now, I "make sense" so to speak! There is just so much joy in knowing the details. I've always felt like nature won over nurture in my life- and this just confirmed it!

What's next?

Well- now that I have the non-identifying information, I am beginning the process to FIND THEM! Families First in Atlanta, Georgia partnered with the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry offers a super easy process to locate your biological parents, siblings, etc. There are a couple easy forms to fill out and you have to write a letter to the person you are searching for. They will contact the person on your behalf and read your letter to them. Then, if the person is willing, they will arrange a contact information exchange and you will be on your way to that first meeting.


The documents ready to be sent out!

So, I've completed and mailed in all the paperwork. That means....

I had to write a letter to my birthmother

It was certainly surreal as I sat there on the first day of the new year writing to a person I didn't technically know, but a person that I thought about so often- the person that made me- the person that I grew inside of for all those months!

I wrote through blurry eyes and I composed my letter. What should I say? How could I put down into words what I felt? When it was all said and done, I had a page and a half. This could be my only shot at communicating with the person that carried me and brought me into this world, so I had to be very intentional in my writing.

I had a few objectives that I wanted to accomplish in writing:
  • I wanted to tell her about me, and let her know what a beautiful life's journey I'm on.
  • I wanted to let her know the purpose of my wanting contact.
  • I REALLY wanted to encourage her to agree to contact, without scaring her off.
  • I wanted to let her know that I have always felt her love for me and I've never felt "unwanted".
  • I wanted to thank her for giving me life.
  • I wanted to help bring healing to her. It must be so hard to do what she did.
  • I wanted her to know that she will always be in my heart regardless of her response to my request for contact.
So with my page and a half, I hope I have accomplished this. 

This process is supposed to take anywhere from one to six months! Today marks the one month mark. I just called in and they said they have not found her updated contact information yet! UGH!

Families First and The Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry have a 90-95% success rate in finding people they search for, and of that group about 90-95% agree to contact. But, I'm trying not to get my hopes up. There are so many scenarios that could come out of this, I need to protect myself and be ready. I'm so happy I have my husband and some of the best friends a girl could have to help me during this time. 

So many unknowns coming up in my very near future! But this is going to be such a transformative year for me in so many ways. 

The Year of the Horse on the Chinese calendar has just begun. Is it a coincidence that both of my biological parents cited their love for horses in my adoption records? I personally, think not. I think it's a good sign of things to come.


Won't you send some positive energy, thoughts and prayers my way? If it's for the better good, I really hope to find her before we leave for Ecuador in April.


I'm healing.
I'm journeying.
I'm opening painful scars in attempt to heal them.

This is why I have created this blog. Things are hard to deal with. But our actions can bring us healing if we will it to be. Healing gives us true freedom.

I see no other way to live.

Everyday, I try to live.....

The Empowered Way!

Stay tuned for good news!

Oh and you can get my blog updates sent to your email by typing your email address in the side bar to the right! You're not going to want to miss the coming months!!


Meg

Any adoptees out there reading this? Have you found, or do you want to find your biological parents? We need to talk!

UPDATE HERE!


ADOPTION INFO:



If you were adopted from Georgia and are interested in finding your biological family, please contact The Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry HERE. They offer services to adopted children, birth parents,  siblings separated by adoption, and adoptive parents.
The fee for non-identifying information is $35.
The fee for a search is $300 per person.
There is free in-depth consultation available as well.
If you need financial help, they offer that too!  It really is such a great organization! I can't speak highly enough of them.

If you are thinking of starting this process and have questions, send me a message: Megan(DOT)Rushbrook(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The No-Poo Shampoo Method & A Guest Blogger!

no poo


Shew- That was a long break from the blog!

These last few months have been CRAZY! (More to come on that later)

There are lots of you out there that are in the honeymoon stages of your new year resolutions... or still trying to think of one. Lots of people will want to lose weight or begin a healthy lifestyle.

What is my advice to those of you who want to make LASTING changes this year?
I could tell you all to go vegan tomorrow, or start running and working out everyday, but how many of you would do that and STICK TO IT? Maybe 1% or less, right?

I think the best way to begin positive changes in our health is not by what we put in our body.
THAT'S RIGHT! I said it!

I think your intention and thought processes must change first.

There are many ways to do this- meditation, self-improvement books, prayer, etc. But I am going to give you a short cut. Are you ready?

Don't worry about what you're putting in your body (just yet), but worry about what you are putting on and around it!

This means pay attention to your:
soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, household cleaning products, etc.

All of those things have terrible chemicals in them that do have a direct affect on your health and wellness. They disrupt your hormones, trigger allergies, promote inflammation, and have a whole other slew of negative effects. Gradually changing all of those things out will really give you an awareness of your health. You will begin to read and enjoy reading labels, and become empowered over your own choices. Trust me, this has amazing results! I think part of the reason for the success with this is that your taste buds go un-affected. A big contributing reason for failure of success on diets is the food doesn't "taste good". But swap out that shampoo, and trust me, your hair will still be clean.

One of my lovely friends has been doing the "No Poo Method" of washing her hair for almost a year!!!! That's right! She hasn't used shampoo in almost- one. whole. year!

I thought you guys would LOVE to read what she has to say about it.....
and also I want a detailed explanation for my own personal use as well! :-P

So, without further adieu, I will hand over the keyboard to one of my best friends and one of the coolest, smartest, wisest and most beautiful people I know...

- and someone who shares my name-
Meghan D!

Me and Meghan at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae, SouthKorea
Meghan has been featured on the blog blow drying her hair while exercising- HERE!
She's pretty cool like that.


Hello all! What a lovely introduction from such a lovely person herself! Thanks, Meg! I think I speak for us all when I say that reading your blog has brought so much joy and empowerment into my life! I am honored to have a chance to be a part of it!

Ok, where do I begin?

As Meg said, this is the time of year where we are all making promises to ourselves and hopefully changing our lives for the better. One way to begin the journey towards a better you is to start by looking at what we put on our bodies. For me, this journey started at the top: my head!


My Hairstory

I have really thin hair, and anyone with thin hair can most likely understand where I’m coming from when I say that I have a problem with oily hair. Ever since I can remember, I have always had to wash my hair every morning. It seemed that my hair started to get oily already that same night! I cannot even begin to name all of the numerous, expensive products I have tried throughout the years that all promised to treat oily hair. It never occurred to me that the chemicals in my hair products could have been causing my hair such distress. After a little research, I was surprised to discover that typical shampoos actually strip our hair of its natural and essential oils. Shampooing our hair makes it dry out, and naturally our bodies try to make up for the loss of oil. Our scalps end up overcompensating, and the result is that we end up with oily hair. Consequently, we wash our hair because it’s oily. Are you seeing this vicious cycle?! We also have to consider the harmful chemicals that we are putting ON OUR HEAD.

Personally, I never thought twice about what sort of chemicals were in my hair products. For me, it was all about smell and getting rid of my oily hair. I never imagined that healthy and clean hair could be attainable without the use of regular shampoos and conditioners.



I never thought I would say this, but it has been 10 months since I have used regular shampoo and conditioner! 


How have I been keeping my hair clean? 

The answer: baking soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV).  Typically known as the “no poo” method, this combination of baking soda and ACV can have incredible and lasting results on your hair. Now, I can proudly say that I can go a few days without having to wash my hair!

For me, this is a monumental achievement. I am sure your first reaction might be that this sounds dirty. After discovering the stress that we put our scalps and bodies through with harmful chemicals in regular shampoos, we should hopefully see the benefits of minimal hair washes. I was also surprised to discover that after weaning our hair off of regular shampoo, our hair has a way of self-cleaning. Sometimes I only “wash” my hair with water!


How Does It Work?

Baking soda acts as our “shampoo” and has a way of naturally removing grease and residue from your hair. ACV is used as our “conditioner” and will further remove residue as well as revitalize our hair. It also acts as a “detangler” and will give your hair a healthy shine, not a heavy “oily” shine. By switching to natural hair products, you allow your hair to self-clean and better regulate the amount of natural oil on our scalps.   

My hair feels so much fuller and healthier after making the change to no poo. Additionally, I have saved SO much money since I no longer use expensive hair products. It is important to note that the transition from regular shampoo to the “no poo” method is not an easy one. It can take several weeks for your hair to completely adjust to this change. However, do not be discouraged. The final result is absolutely worth it! Plus, you are no longer using harmful chemicals on your body. If you truly care about your body and even the environment, you will be able to find the power to stick with the no poo method until your scalp adjusts.


What I Use

In terms of products, I use Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s important to buy raw apply cider vinegar “with the mother” because it is the most pure form of apple cider vinegar. I use baking soda as toothpaste and I also clean practically everything in my house with it, so I usually buy the biggest bag I can find! I also use ACV as a facial cleanser and toner, so I also buy it in big quantities. I recommend doing a little research on ACV. It has an endless amount of uses, including acne treatment!




How To No-Poo

We all have different hair types. Since everyone is different, that means that everyone will require a different variation of baking soda and APV mix. For me, I use 10 ml of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of water. For the “conditioner”, I use 10 ml of ACV and ¾ cup of water. Put the baking soda/water in its own container and put the ACV/water in its own container. Before you use it, make sure to shake up the containers in order to thoroughly mix the ingredients (especially the baking soda and water). In the picture, my baking soda mix is in the clear container and my ACV mix is in the yellow container.




When washing your hair, use the baking soda first like a shampoo. Make sure to only wash your roots and scalp with the baking soda mix. It will dry out your hair a bit, so it is not needed on the ends of your hair. The containers I use allow me to easily apply the mix directly to my roots.




Once you have evenly distributed your baking soda mix throughout your roots, gently massage the mix into your hair and scalp for about 2 minutes. After giving your scalp a nice, invigorating massage, you can rinse all of the mix out of your hair. Make sure you get it ALL out of your hair. You don’t want to get out of the shower and realize you still have baking soda in your hair! The next step is to use your “conditioner”. You only need to apply the ACV mix to the mid and lower sections of your hair. I usually keep the ACV mix in my hair for a couple of minutes as I wash the rest of my body. Once finished, you can rinse the mix out of your hair. And don’t worry. Your hair will NOT smell like vinegar!



After my shower, I dry my hair and style it as I always have. Only now my hair has more body and natural shine than its ever had before! I have also found that my natural hair color has really come out after using the no poo method. Basically, my hair looks and feels healthier. One common complaint is that this no poo method means that you will no longer get the “flower” or “fruit” smells that you got with your old shampoo. I do in fact miss the smell of my old shampoo from time to time. However, you can mix various essential oils with water and spray that on your hair after your shower. I don’t use anything in my hair, and my husband says my hair just smells “clean”. There really isn’t any smell to my hair now, which is a good thing! That means there are no more harmful chemicals in my hair!


As I already mentioned, we all have different hair types. If you find that your hair is too dry, try using less baking soda and more ACV. If your hair appears to be too oily, try using less ACV and more baking soda. It may take a while before you find the best mix for your hair. While frustrating at times, it is all worth it in the end. I am so happy with my hair now! I am much more comfortable and confident with my natural, “no poo” hair. I know you will feel the same once your hair adjusts! Here is my hair 3 days after the last “no poo” wash. I haven’t cut or dyed my hair in 10 months.

Whoa- gorgeous!
- Note From Meg NOT Meghan D. hehe-


Making the Transition to No-Poo 

This all depends on you! For me, I went “cold turkey” - I stopped using all of my regular hair products at once and immediately jumped into the no poo method.  Some people prefer to do a slower weaning process by using less and less shampoo until eventually making the switch to no poo. A slower weaning process will obviously result in a longer transition. 
When you stop using regular shampoos, your scalp will sort of go into overdrive as it tries to adjust to this sudden flow of natural oils (remember that regular shampoo strips your hair of these oils). Unfortunately, you might find that your hair will become quite greasy looking. For me, the first no poo day was incredible. I was sold on the idea after day one. After several days, it seemed my new “miracle” hair treatment had failed me.  Extensive research about no poo had warned me of this oily phase. 

There are several ways you can mask this problem. For me, my hair is naturally a bit curly (although I straighten it most of the time…). I feel that with curly hair, I was able to style it in a way that didn’t look as oily. You can also wear a headband or get creative with various types of braids. Some people might be able to wear a hat as well. Either way, this phase is not permanent, and your hair WILL adjust eventually. As I said before, if you truly care about your body and what you put into and on it, you will be able to get through this oily phase. I have heard that some people don’t even go through the oily phase! I think that because my hair is so thin, I was doomed no matter what. Remember though, now I can go several days without having to wash my hair at all! Totally worth it!

A Lasting Change

Experiencing the positive changes from ditching the shampoo has made me realize how much better my life could be if I eliminated more chemicals from my daily routines.

I don’t use any make up or cleaning products on my face other than ACV as a toner and cocoa butter oil as a moisturizer. I do still use eyeliner and mascara, but that’s it! I hope this encourages you to really start thinking about what we are putting on our bodies. Another way to a better you is to consider what we put into our bodies as well. Chemicals are not only found in our cleaning products, but also in our food products!

Protect your body both inside and out.

I encourage everyone to do thorough research before making the transition to no poo. There is so much information out there and wonderful tips and guides for other DIY hair products.


Thank you, Meg, for allowing me the opportunity to share my experience with the no poo method!

Happy 2014 everyone!

Meghan D.

---------------------------------------------

Thank you so much, Meghan for your hair wisdom!!! I'm definitely going to start "no-pooing" as soon as my shampoo and conditioner run out!

What do you guys think:

Have you heard of "No-Poo"? Have you ever tried it?

Please share your experiences with us and if you have a question for Meghan, leave it in the comments below!

Making changes from the top down-
Another way to live life...

The Empowered Way!


Meg

Another Empowered article on hair can be found HERE. You won't want to miss pics of me in high school! Wowzah- that hair!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

FINALLY an Edible Gluten Free Pasta! (with recipe)




I have something to admit...
I am an iHerb.com addict....

Those of you that shop on iHerb know exactly what I mean!!!! You can get basically ANYTHING you want or need for such a great price! You can find herbs and spices, vitamins, personal care items, household care items, etc. They have a wide variety of vegan/ gluten-free/ health food items that may be hard to find in small towns or in foreign countries.

If you live in Korea, shipping is usually $4 flat rate and usually free in the US!!! It has truly been a lifesaver to us here!

Among my essentials, I have a slight obsession with buying gluten-free pasta...

I have probably tried EVERY gluten-free pasta that iHerb sells! (no exaggeration) I, of course like them all...  they all seem to taste the same.

It's easy for me to sacrifice a slight taste or texture difference on the alter of  HEALTH. I mean, it's just pasta... It gets covered in delicious sauce so who cares if it tastes like cardboard!! This was my mantra...


BUT...


THEN....


 THIS ARRIVED...




Everything changed.


This gluten-free pasta tastes like your average heavily processed and chemically bleached REAL pasta! Not only does it taste amazing... it cooks super fast- just like the pasta you are used to. I'm not sure about what kind of witchery goes on at Andean Dream but, they know gluten-free pasta <and cookies ;) > quite well.


A few of you have been interested in some gluten-free meal ideas, or a good method to make your own sauces so I thought I'd show you a SUPER SIMPLE Gluten-Free pasta dinner I made in about 15 minutes! Once you learn this trick with the sauce, you will never be the same again!

Hungarian Black Bean Pasta




             Ingredients

         
 Instructions    
  1. Cook pasta.
  2. Sauté onion and zucchini in just enough water to keep it from sticking (instead of oil).
  3. When onion is clear, add in black beans and tomatoes. Mash tomatoes with your cooking utensil  and mix well with the rest of the mixture.
  4. Add in almond milk, nutritional yeast, flax meal and seasonings.
  5. After mixture is heated, blend half with an immersion blender or regular blender. This will give the pasta an awesome creamy texture. Then mix back in with the other (unblended) sauce. 
See the difference!? From random veggies to SAUCE in 3.5 seconds. Move over corn starch and thickening agents!
      
   6.  Mix the sauce in with the pasta. Sprinkle ample black sesame seeds on top! (Holy CALCIUM!)
        We ate it with a side of avocado. YUM! So creamy and buttery!


I tend to never COOK with salt. If I ever eat salt in my cooking, I add it in afterward. This recipe is very basic and will not satisfy your "salt tooth" (is that even a thing?). Add some Himalayan rock salt or unbleached sea salt if you wish. Or, as I suggested above, try out the black sesame seeds with sea salt mixed in!

Just in case you are wondering... I am calling this "Hungarian Black Bean Pasta" because the texture reminds me of a dish that my grandma used to make called "Hungarian Goulash". Blending half of the sauce really adds a great dimension to all soups and sauces! Try it out!

NOTEI do not like advocating the use of canned foods, but I wanted to show an example of a super easy meal. If you are buying your food in cans please pay a few cents more and ensure they are organic, low sodium, and BPA FREE.

I hope all my links to ingredients are helpful above. I just wanted to show how easily and relatively inexpensive it is to find healthy ingredients- no matter where you are in the world! 

If you are new to iHerb.com, use this coupon and get a $10 discount off of your first order!!!



Have a great Friday everyone!! Drink lots of water with lemon to recover from all that candy bingeing that's been going on! Hydration is key during periods of excessive sugar intake!


Make little changes everyday that move you in a healthier direction-
Go gluten free with your pasta,
Live your life~

The Empowered Way!



Meg

PS- I know you guys are out there. I see how many people read the blog! Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you!! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Enlightenment in Español


Summer is over.
Fall is here.


My body handles this transition the worst out of all the seasons. Nature slows and draws inward during this transition to winter. Since we are part of nature, our bodies do as well!
I've noticed over the past few years that my "draw inward" always progresses in eight stages.

They are as follows:

  • Stage 1: I have so much to do! --> 
  • Stage 2: I'm tired. --> 
  • Stage 3: I don't want to do anything. --> 
  • Stage 4: I'm not getting stuff done. --> 
  • Stage 5: I have no motivation. --> 
  • Stage 6: I feel blah. --> 
  • STAGE 7: **EPIPHANY!!!!! It's just the season change, be gentle to your body and listen to what it needs!!! -->
  • Stage 8: Ok! I got this! :)

Does this all sound familiar to you?? When you get stuck in a rut (stages 3-6 above), it feels so permanent, right! Like it will last FOREVER!

Last week in Spanish class I was smack dab the middle of stage 6. I felt overwhelmed with all that I have going on with school, work, the future move, and just life in general.

So as I sat there in Spanish class with a thousand things running through my mind- the teacher announced that today we would study the "Be" verbs.  For those of you not familiar with Spanish, these verbs in English translate to- "I AM", "You are", "She is", "They are", etc.

She explained that in Spanish there are two very distinctive phrases that mean "to be".

They are the words "ser" and "estar".

She briefly described the differences like this:

"We use 'ser' to talk about who or what we are." This doesn't typically change with time.

    • For example-
                   "I am a woman.", "I am American.", "I am a lawyer.".
                    You will basically always be these things!

"But we use 'estar' to talk about our feeling at the moment."

    •  For example-
                  "I am sad.", "I am happy.", "I am depressed." or "I am stupid.".

THEN, SHE SAID:

 "If you are sad, you aren't going to be sad forever! It's impossible, right?"





Now, I'm a big fan of Eckhart Tolle, and I've read books upon books that stress the importance of always acknowledging how you are at the moment is NOT who you really are.

This means even if you are something positive- like "happy" or "successful" or "in love" these are all fleeting. Emphasis should never be placed to heavily on these temporary states- good or bad.

But during this particular class, at this particular moment... I felt like I was hearing it for the FIRST TIME!

Not only was I being TOLD the difference, I was being taught to CHANGE vocabulary depending on which "I am" I was referring to! What a way to really "practice what you preach".

I mean, it's one thing to SAY you are keeping who you and your temporary feelings separate- but putting it into action with your language takes it to a totally new level of being.


Below is an example of our lesson for those interested:

Estamos Contentas= We are happy. (temporary feeling)

Yo soy americana= I am American. (permanent)     Yo soy espanola.= I am Spanish. (permanent)
Our lovely Spanish teacher Ana and me! 


Estamos tristes= We are sad. (temporary)

Yo soy americano.= I am American. (permanent)         Yo soy coreano. = I am Korean. (permanent)
Dave and his Korean teacher, who just so happens to date our Spanish teacher. Cute, right?

Separating the different "I am"s is very POWERFUL, don't you think? Words are powerful. The words

I AM

are the most powerful of all! Even if you don't speak Spanish, I challenge you to RE-THINK the meanings of these very important words.

I think we would all be much better if we carefully watched the words we said to ourselves. Don't you? Watch your words. They shape your reality.




I hope you all are having a wonderful start to your Fall season. I encourage you to slow down and ask yourself what it is that you really need to inwardly focus on. It isn't selfish, it's necessary, if you refuse to slow down during this transition your body will FORCE you to- this usually will manifest as a cold... ain't nobody got time for colds!

Have any of you Spanish speakers out there found such power in the "Be verbs"? What were your experiences?

Change your thoughts-
Change your words-

Live your life,
The Empowered Way

Meg


PS- If you are interested in language lessons in Busan, we really recommend our teachers!
For Spanish lessons you can contact Ana Porcel at anaporcelvelasco@gmail.com
For Korean lessons you can contact Jitae Kim at jtboxcar@gmail.com

PSS- Fall recipes on the way soon! I can't wait to tell you all about our wonderful Fall potluck!





Monday, September 16, 2013

Korean Inspired:
Devil's Tongue Stir Fry

Today it hit me...

Only about FIVE months until we leave Korea!! FIVE!
Wow- it's all going by so fast! We have spent most of our marriage here together, and soon we will leave.

Although we have been here 4.5 years, sometimes it still isn't easy. Korea is still, after all, a foreign culture. Language is different, logic is different, expectations are different and FOOD is DIFFERENT!

I have had a love/hate/love/hate relationship with Korean food in my past 4.5 years here. When I arrived in Korea I was SUCH a picky eater! Not such a good thing when almost every Korean dinner out looks like this-



Then, after I got past the shock, I started opening up and trying new things! "New things"= fish and MUSHROOMS! How exotic, I thought! ha! After I was starting to get along with the idea of Korea food... I converted to a vegetarian/vegan. Things changed slightly.

I'm lucky that the pre-school I teach at offers free lunch to the teachers. It's a great way to experience Korean food! Most of the food I can't eat because of the cow bones, fish broth, seafood, etc- and that's ok with me. But some days.... oh boy! SOME days, I really luck out! This was the case last Thursday. I had a delicious broccoli, mushroom and DEVIL'S TONGUE JELLY side dish!! YUM!!!

Have you ever heard of Devil's Tongue Jelly? In Korean it's called "gon yak" (곤약), in Japanese it's called "konnyaku". It comes from the root of a plant that grows in subtropical Asia- most refer to it as a potato or yam. It is for the most part, tasteless and will absorb any flavor you marinate it in! Wow- it is such a great addition to meals!

The Japanese call it "The Broom of the Stomach". It is referred to as such because of it's ability to "clean out" your colon- it's used for such in Chinese traditional medicine for this reason. This is how it made its way to Korea so very long ago.

 In addition to the high fiber content, Devil's Tongue Jelly also has starch,  protein and almost no calories because so much of it is made of water. In some studies it has been shown to normalize cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure! For all of these reasons, it is a very popular diet food for women in Korea. Not that I'm advocating it to be used as such!

So, I decided to give cooking with DTJ or "gon yak" a try! At the store, I was surprised to find only the white kind. If you're here in Korea, you can find it in the area where all the kimbap making supplies are. Here's what I got-


Here's my American-Korean fusion recipe. I'm calling it:

DEVIL'S TONGUE STIR FRY
Sounds like a witch's brew! Perfect for your Halloween Dinner Party!

Ingredients for Stir fry:
  • 1/2 brick of Devil's Tongue Jelly
  • 8-12 mushrooms (depending on size)
  • 2 cups of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup organic Tamari (soy sauce)
  • 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • 3 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Serve with soaked quinoa and spelt or other whole grain and a side of steamed broccoli.

I started by opening the bag and pouring its water out, then I rinsed it a few times until the smell was gone. You'll know what I mean when you open the bag.

Next, I cut it the package in half and cut it then into cubes.



Check out my new ceramic knife!! Woo hoo! LOVE it!


Next, I marinated the cubes in 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and 1/8 cup of Tamari. You could also use Soy Sauce, or Shoyu, they are all similar.

I marinated it just for a few minutes while I was preparing other things.

When I was ready to cook, I put the coconut oil, garlic and onion into the pan and cooked it for 2 minutes on medium heat.

Next, I added in the chickpeas and the other 1/8 cup of tamari and 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. I cooked everything for about 2 or 3 minutes.

After that, I put in the mushrooms and Devil's Tongue Jelly along with the remaining tamari in the bowl.



I let everything cook on Medium High heat until all the water started coming out and looked like this.
See how it looks bubbly?

After it starts getting like this, cook about 2 minutes more and add in the blackstrap molasses. Cook for about 5 minutes. Make sure to keep mixing as you are cooking so you can mix in the molasses. 

Here is my finished product. I served it over soaked red quinoa and spelt and topped it with sesame seeds. I also added a side of lightly steamed broccoli topped with black sesame seeds.


I didn't add the broccoli to the stir fry because I wanted to keep as much of it's nutrients intact. I've been craving broccoli, sesame, chickpeas and almonds lately. My first thought- maybe my body is needing extra Calcium right now! So, I gladly indulged. Check out the nutrition in just 1/2 of the meal. Keep in mind, this is only 1 out of 3 for the entire day! Wow!
Look at that protein, B6, Iron and Zinc! Who says the vegan diet is deficient in those things!?!? Shame!
I tracked the nutrition from www.fitday.com
*Note: The fiber and carbs ratios on this chart may be off for my specific way of eating.
I eat a high carb diet- this is set to the standard US requirements.
So, this meal is not really 79% of my actual carb needs for the day.

I'm going to try to soak in as much Korean food as I can in my last 5 months here. I love finding new cultural foods to add to my repertoire.

Have you ever tried Devil's Tongue Jelly? What were your thoughts? Also, PLEASE let me know if you have any good recipes using it (I still have a half of a brick left)!

I'm leaving tomorrow night for Japan! We have a 5 day weekend here in Korea thanks to the Korean harvest festival (Chusok). Can't wait to hike Mt Fuji and sip some tea in Kyoto with my hubby!

Details on Japan and that new "Client Access" tab at the top coming to the blog soon- can't wait to share!



Try a new food.

Listen to your body.

Soak your grains.


Live your life,

The Empowered Way


Meg