I am excited to finally debut my personal website, sanaesuzuki.com (I created four different websites previously) on my birthday, April 4th 2016, which focuses on healing, happiness and what I love to share with the world. It will be an ongoing creative process, so if you see a section that is not available, please revisit…
I have always acted like an athletic person, even though I was not. I am a pretty lazy person who can continue watching movies all day long and use my bed as my office and a dining space. I was also very overweight when I was a teenager till mid 20’s. But I have always been curious and want to try many things; yoga was one of the subjects I wanted to try. When I was in college in 1981, I tried yoga for the first time at Harriman Studio on Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles.
Yoga was different from anything I knew, and after I tried it, something changed. It was not like other exercises I’d tried, but it stretched my body and made me feel lighter. At that time, I did not know why I liked it so much, other than it just made me feel good. I do not want to say “natural high,” but a feeling of highness comes from inside of me.
I really enjoyed how I felt, and how my body felt after practice. But I continued for only a short time back then, because I did not feel comfortable in a dark room (maybe it would be different if I’d gone to morning classes, but I went only in the late afternoons), with the carpeted floors and the smell of too much incense. Also, the people practicing yoga there looked very different from me, and I did not understand many things that they and the teacher were saying. I was just faking and trying to fit in, but I did not feel that I fit there.
I never forgot how I felt from the yoga practice I did, so I was always seeking a different yoga studio ( I wish Goggle existed that time…hahaha), but there was nothing that close to where I lived. In 1987, I found a new studio in Santa Monica, called Yoga Works. I was so happy and loved their bright studio, with its natural light and wood floor. I really enjoyed it and knew yoga was helping me so much—not just physically, but mentally and emotionally—because I was going through a very tough time with the separation from my first husband, as well as the passing of my father and one of my dogs. If I had not practiced yoga regularly, I am not sure how I would have survived. I did not think very deeply; I just practiced and practiced.
That’s what I did till I started feeling tired in 1992 and, gradually, became unable to do much yoga practice. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993. It was a hard time for me when I was not able to do yoga; I had to rest a lot and accept that I had cancer. I was scared and depressed. I did not know what to do. Then I found macrobiotics, and my focus changed to learn more and more about that. I did not forget yoga, but I had to focus and heal through the nourishing food.
I started yoga again in 1994 when I went to a macrobiotic conference and took yoga classes there. I felt so good, and I knew I needed to practice again. I went back to Yoga Works and took many different workshops. I was enjoying practicing yoga once again, and now I also had macrobiotics.
In 2001, I was feeling good. I had just put together my cooking studio in Santa Monica, called Studio Mugen. (Mugen means “infinity” in Japanese. My macrobiotic teacher, Michio Kushi, said we all came from infinity and will go back to it. So, I wanted to call our life here “infinity,” because everything changes.) Around the same time, I took a macrobiotic counselor training with Michio Kushi at Kushi Institute in Becket, MA.
But on the way back from the training, I had a nearly fatal car accident in the Arizona desert. I was driving with my three dogs and one cat; two of the dogs died in the crash, and I was in a coma for three days. I was later told that my heart stopped a few times, once for 12 minutes. My heart and lungs were injured badly by the accident they were not able to function without mechanically and all the ribs on the left side were broken, and my both legs and ankles sustained compound fractures. The doctor said unfortunately, I may never walk again. I was so shocked, I resented that I did not die from the car accident. It took me a long time to feel that I wanted to live again. All I knew was the love of my best friend at that time—Eric, who is my husband now; and my dog Kin and cat Mai, who survived the car accident; and other friends, and my family in Japan, who supported me so much.
It took a long time, but in 2003, I found a yoga class that I could go to with my wheelchair; I started to go, taking special transportation for a disabled person. I was back to practicing yoga, even though I was in a wheelchair. I am very proud of myself for continuing my practice and making my goal to walk again for my wedding with Eric on June 20, 2004. Everyone was so happy to see me walk “the virgin road” (what we call the aisle in Japan) with my brother’s support and the cane, which was decollated with satin ribbons to match my wedding dress. Of course, eating healthy and nutritious foods has helped me a lot, but yoga has helped with my physical movement, as well as relaxing my mind. I also got much more strength from practicing yoga, so I have less leg and ankle pain, and I sleep better.
It was a long detour, but when my 60th birthday came last year, I decided to take yoga teacher training—which I’d first thought about 20 years ago. I was concerned about whether I’d be able to complete the training and pass the test now, given my injured legs and ankles. So, I carefully planned a one-year mission.
Finding the right yoga studio was very important for me, so I checked many places around Santa Monica and found Santa Monica Yoga Studio. I was grateful to find a studio near my house, so I could walk or bike there to practice. I also found knowledgeable and kind teachers: Nancy Goodstein, Kyra Haglund, Jamie Elmer and Luke Ketterhagen. It was one of my best years physically since the car accident when I was able to practice yoga regularly and feel good about myself. I am so thankful that I did not give up yoga because of my serious injuries and instead kept practicing whatever I could, even when I was in my wheelchair. Yoga has been helping me every day; yoga is for my life.
My yoga teacher training main teacher, Nancy Goodstein wrote for me…
I have a saying about Sanae, “Do not underestimate Sanae.” She is quite petite, but crazy strong. She is deeply passionate and serious about all her undertakings, but she almost always makes me laugh. I am her teacher, but I consistently learn from her. Sanae has an ability to articulate both the physical and emotional world and make one feel that the healing that needs to be done is possible and that the route need not be painful. That her patience, wisdom and strength will lead you to heal in a beautiful and peaceful way.”
I am very happy to announce that I have completed yoga teacher training and passed the test. My official yoga class starts Thursday, September 1, from 12:15–1:15 pm. Then Thursday, September 22, from 12:15–1:15 pm and also Sunday, October 2, from 2:30–3:45 pm. The classes will be at Santa Monica Yoga Studio, 1640 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, 90405. The fee is $5/person to cover the studio space. I hope you will join. I also want to offer a donation-based class in the park near my house soon.
Love, Sanae 💖
Our bodies are more than 50% water. You’ve probably heard that, right?
According to chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., the amount of water in the human body ranges from 50–75%. The average adult human body is 50–65% water, averaging around 57–60%. The percentage of water in infants is much higher, typically around 75–78% water, dropping to 65% by 1 year of age.*
When I learned macrobiotic vegan cooking in 1993 to heal from ovarian cancer, I learned to soak whole grains and beans in water (spring or purified) 4–6 hours or overnight before cooking. Soaking helps with digestion and makes whole grains and beans softer, with more liquid content.
I realized that our bodies need more nourishing foods like soup, which has more liquid, every day. It does not have to be a large amount—just 1–2 cups a day. Dealing with my cancer taught me this principle, and since then, I have soup every day. Usually, I have one cup of miso soup with three or more kinds of vegetables in the morning; many times, I have a creamy soup at lunchtime and even dinner.
Kombu & Shiitake Dashi (this is how you create the Umami flavor)
kombu, dried (use one 1⁄2-inch square piece per cup of water)
- Wipe to clean kombu with a dry cloth.
- No-cook method: In a bowl, combine the kombu and water and soak for at least 2 to 3 hours. Stovetop method: In a saucepan over medium- high flame, combine the kombu and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (either covered or uncovered) for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Strain out and reserve the kombu strip to make Kombu Condiment. Dashi is now ready for use in soups and stews. Dashi will keep for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.
Soup helps the digestive system and gives us gentle energy to be able to relax in a natural way. Many busy people come home and eat bread or microwavable food to save time, but bread is dry, and microwavable food provides more chaotic energy. Overall, they cause contracted tightness, and we are unable to relax our intestines, body or mind.
It doesn’t take much time to make soup a few times a week. A large quantity will last few days, and you can easily reheat it on the stove. It is simple if you plan a menu every week.
When I teach my macrobiotic principle cooking series, the first two classes cover whole grains, and the third is soup. In last week’s class, I taught how to make five different soups using umami dashi:
- Kombu & shiitake dashi (this is how you create the umami flavor)
- Clear soup (consommé)
- Miso soup (summer vegetables)
- Whole grain and vegetable soup (summer whole grain)
- Creamy soup (summer corn soup)
My teachings include:
Cut vegetables after you carefully wash them. Keep vegetables separate from one another so they do not exchange their energy before cooking. Add the vegetables one by one, letting them meet slowly and get along together. Once you add the vegetables together, do not mix too much; they do not need a lot of help to create a peaceful and delicious soup. We are just there to support them.
When you add seasoning—soy sauce (or tamari, if you need gluten-free), miso or sea salt—do not add too much, so you do not lose the each vegetable’s delicate aroma and texture. Most of the foods we eat are abundant with seasoning (spices, oils), making us unable to taste the vegetable/plant/whole grain itself. I’ll occasionally add more seasoning for certain special foods, but many people add strong spices and oils to most of their food, even with plant-based menus.
Just eating plant-based food in the beginning of transitioning from a meat-based menu is excellent, but in order for us to keep our bodies healthy and be peaceful in our minds, we need to learn cooking principles for modern life. We are all facing everyday life with more stress, worry, fear, frustration, anger and depression, so I believe we need to bring order to our universe and learn how to cook with principles.
The first thing we need to do is to just cook simple foods for ourselves—making whole grains and soup every day is a great way to start—so we must learn to make time for cooking. I believe strongly that cooking your own simple whole grains and soup will improve your life. I hope you’ll join me in living a healthy and happy life.
After Kula was diagnosed with spleen cancer she was not able to walk so I decided to do all-holistic bodywork to help her walk again.
Morning body routine before morning remedy drink and/or breakfast:
1. Massage her gums
2. Body scrub
4. Do-in exercise
I felt that massaging Kula’s gums were important, since she had abuses on her left-side gums, as you can see in the photo. Her gum area was discharging pus. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Lane showed me how to make a gum rice formula with green tea and myrrh essential oil (which is very good for gums and can also be used as a mouthwash to help eliminate dental infections) and massaged her gums with loquat tea (made from loquat leaf) and sea salt every day.
Here I am showing photos of Kula’s abscess how it got better.
1 cup green tea or loquat leaf tea
2 drops myrrh essential oil (if for cats, I just use sea salt, since cats are very sensitive to essential oil)
1 cup green tea or loquat leaf tea
4–5 drops myrrh essential oil
Use a very soft, small toothbrush. If you want to, you can use your finger (usually index).
Photo: Toothbrush and loquat leaf
In this video, I am massaging Kula’s gums.
Wishing healthy gums and teeth for your dog and you!
Love, Sanae 💖
Seven days after Kula’s departure.
I am not a mindful Buddhist practitioner, but I want to honor my beloved dog daughter, Kula—who departed just seven days ago—with my heart of spirit. I decided to follow some Buddhist traditions for her.
Shonanona is a Buddhist service held on the seventh day after death. This is when the deceased crosses the River Styx (4000km – 2485.485 miles wide) after she passes 3200km/1988.388mile long steep mountain. Depending on her behavior during life, the stream of the river will change. So, the deceased’s family gather and honor her, sharing good memories and thoughts so that she will receive a gentle stream.
Kula was a perfect dog, so I am sure she’ll have no problem passing the steep mountain and receiving a gentle stream, but I wanted to be certain. So, Eric and I went to the beach—Kula’s favorite place. We swam, and I called her name seven times loudly to reach her and send my wish that her journey to heaven is smooth. As I was finishing swimming, my right hand caught some seaweed, and I thought it was Kula saying, “I love you!” She loved seaweed, so I decided to bring it and put it on the altar for her.
We have received many emails, comments, and Facebook messages about Kula. Eric and I are deeply touched by everyone’s kind thoughts. Appreciate everyone!
I want to share two quotes from messages we received
- From Madir Scalini, Maui, Hawaii
“The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not ‘get over’ the loss of loved one; you will learn to live with it.
You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again but, you will never be the same.
Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler
- From James Peden, Santa Barbara
Some wise person wrote:
It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them.
And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart.
If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dogs,
and I will become as generous and loving as they are.
I love both of them so much. The one from Madir is so true and made me feel grounded to move forward. The one from James made me smile. Eric said “Sanae, components of your heart are already 85% dog!” hahaha
On September 18, I plan to hold a shijūkunichi—an important Buddhist memorial service for the 49th day—for Kula. I will let everyone know more details, and I hope you can join here with us wherever you are.
Oro (Kula’s a half sister) who is grieving and missing so much Kula with us. We took her also to the beach and she met new friends – Noman with Josie and Susan with Morgan.They helped Oro feel so much better.
When I took a photo of Oro with women (her name was Anna), Oro showed me Kula smile and surprise us.
We also found out that Kula’s nephew, Luka was also swimming in the face of Percé Rock, Percé, QC, Canada.
Kula’s spirit is continuing with Oro and us everywhere and everyone.
Thank Kula with all my heart!
I shall continue writing about Kula and her family to spread their healing spirits.
Life is so precious.
My dog daughter Kula’s life has been very simple, but she enjoyed every day to the fullest even after her spleen cancer spread to lungs.
I asked her recently why she can be so patient and kind to everyone even after getting cancer…she said without any hesitation,
“Why? Because life is so precious, don’t you know mommy? Every day is never exactly the same. I love each day that the sun comes up in the morning, no matter what. Sometimes the sun is not showing the face, but I feel the existence of the sun every day, and the sunlight makes me feel so good. That’s why I really enjoyed you and papa Eric taking me to see the New Year sunrise in the mountains every year.
“I also love feeling the breeze coming into the room when you open the window first thing in the morning. I love fresh air so much. That’s why I love going to the beach whenever you were able to take me. After I stretch you take me out to the yard, and each time it smells different, believe it or not. I enjoy relaxing while you make breakfast with the music you play from your iTunes, YouTube or Spotify. I love your choice of music most of the time, but I love your singing even more and your dancing. My food is always freshly made and organic, and it smells so delicious and tastes super yummy. Since I got cancer you not just prepared a healing delicious food, but started to give me a body scrub and shiatsu massage which felt so good, then finishing up with Do-in excise which was fun and stimulating. You are the best caretaker, but you are of course my mommy! Also, please let papa Eric know that he was the best papa and his ukulele music heals my soul every time he played and I love him with all my heart and more than going to beach!”
“I love watching doves and hummingbirds in the yard after breakfast and taking naps whenever I want. I love you and papa Eric for taking care of me like I am the most precious dog in the world. Papa Eric carried me when I was not able to walk and cuddled with me when I was having a fever.”
“I love my animal family – My half sister Oro respects me so much as her big sister, so we never had an augment, and I will miss her a lot. Leo cares and worries with his eyes about me as Oro’s partner. Bubu is a great nephew who never bothered me and gave me space, but he was there for me always. Lumi, my niece and also my sister Dore in her previous her life, tries to play with me everyday and it’s fun playing with her, even though sometimes she is too frisky for my age. My great niece Happy who is so cute and beautiful, but she does not know how beautiful she is so she is insecure like I used to be. I appreciate TinTin the boy cat who comes to check on me and talks so much to me since I am a pretty quiet dog and therefore a good listener, and MaiMai the girl kitty sleeps in the same room every night when I have a fever and have to sleep in the back room with mommy. I never thought that I can be the leader of a family of eight, but after my big sister Dore was killed in a hit-and-run car accident, and my Kin mama was so sad that she left us 10 days after Dore, I had to learn to accept the role of leader of our pack quickly. It was not easy and I may not be a good leader like Kin mama, being around so many dog-and-cat-facilities. Thanks to mommy for taking animal communication classes so we were able to communicate better and papa Eric for taking his time to slow down and understand his animal family.”
“I also need to let you know how much I love road trips since you and papa Eric took me to Quebec and Nova Scotia when I was 8 weeks old. I remember my first and last experience chasing roosters in Eric papa’s uncle’s yard. It was so much fun! Since that trip, the car became my second home.”
Watch Kula’s amazing diving at Manzanita Lake on Youtube.
“Going to North Fork and swimming and diving at Manzanita lake was one of my most favorite things, as was going to Farmers Market and seeing all the children and adults who pet me; visiting Leyla the apple vendor, who always gave me my favorite Fuji apple; meeting people at Seed Kitchen; talking to people at the bookstore; going to the senior home to put a smile on the residents’ faces; hiking with mommy who was able to walk farther every time we went. On the last hike in March, she hiked faster than me – I thought I was getting too old, but I think I was getting sick already.”
“I can tell you more and more, but you kind of get the idea why I love my life so much and have no reason to complain.”
“Life is so precious, and true happiness is not about how much money you make or how famous or how popular you become, or how big a house your live in, or how many amazing places you travel to. I have a great family and loving home and just enjoy whatever comes because everything changes. I have learned it from you, mommy because you have limited mobility from the leg injury from the car crash, but you always find something in life to enjoy, and you taught me each day how precious life is.”
Dore(left – Kula’s sister), Kula and thrie mama Kin with me in my wheelchair
”I thank you and papa Eric so much for giving me such a wonderful life. I was born in this house in Santa Monica, and I know that I will depart from this house to go to heaven. Mommy, you helped me to arrive in this life and I know you are going to help me to depart also. I trust you, and I know you trust me so when the time is right I will be departing soon.”
“I will miss your hugs, kisses, and our conversations, but I will be always with you no matter what. I trust that we will see each other again.”
Kula was a big sweetheart, and she has been truly our angel. I thank her everyday for her life of 13 years. She always put her paws to my face or arm to be connected, and I showered her with kisses and hugs whenever she needed to sleep with me when she was lonely and tired.
This conversation with her made me cry. I thanked her again and told her to promise that when she wants to depart I will be there with her, as I always will be in her heart.
She got my message and she departed the next day, on Aug. 1, 2016, at 5:45pm in my arms, on her own will. After her departure, her face looked very peaceful, as though she was smiling. when I put her on her bed she looked like she was just sleeping. I put plumeria flowers next to her. Kula’s holistic vet. Dr. Lane and her husband Patric came to pick her up and she was cremated with her plumeria flowers at Los Angels Pet Memorial Park, SOHIE Kula was cremated on Aug. 3, 2016 at 9am.
Eric and I have been crying and missing her so much, but we are so grateful to have been her human parents and proud of everything she did and who she was for us and others.
I created a temporary altar to place her ashes when she comes home.
Kula’s altar waiting for her ashes to come back home
While I was creating the altar, Lumi, who played with Kula everyday, just came and lay there like she knew that Kula’s spirit was there.
Then all the rest of Kula’s dog family came and sat there. They are so sad and missing Kula so much!
They miss Kula so much, but the same time feel her spirit! Now they are teaching me that Life is so precious!
Thank you for reading this blog, and please share it because life is so precious.
Love, Sanae 💖
Finding the Right Remedy of Fever is The Key.
Kula was diagnosed with spleen cancer on May 18, 2016, and she is on her healing path for her life with macrobiotic food and natural remedies with a holistic vet. Dr. Sally Lane.
Overall her health got better with her new healing diet, herbal medication, reiki, moxibustion, acupuncture, massage, Do-in exercise, body scrub, and healing power stones etc. The type of cancer she has does not give her pain, so she is spending her 13-year retirement life comfortably.
One challenge Kula faces is high fever from time to time since the diagnosis. Last week her fever was almost 106 ℉ (normal dog temperature is 101 ~ 102.5 ℉). This was the highest her temperature had been, so I was concerned, even though I understood that cancer patients suffer from high fever intermittently in reaction to the body’s attempt to detox and/or purify cancer cells and bring them back to being healthy cells. When I had ovarian cancer in 1993 I also had a high fever from time to time.
Kula’s holistic vet Dr. Lane said sometimes if the tumor is changing in any way it can elicit a fever that can be persistent or cyclic.
When her fever goes up I try to lower it with cucumber juice, apple juice, watermelon juice, and/or cool lotus root creamy tea and brown rice cream with daikon juice. I also give coconut water when fever is very high fever that caused by yang condition. I spray her body with water with peppermint essential oil with Bach flower Rescue Remedy.
I also apply a tofu plaster, taro plaster or cold towel compress. She likes all the juices and cooling liquids and tofu/taro plasters – Her favorite is cool lotus root creamy tea to drink and tofu/taro plaster over her tummy, but making all these remedies take time so sometimes it is not easy for me to apply them. To make easier for me I have used a cold towel to help lower the temperature quickly, but it does not work for her. Indeed a cold towel is much easier to apply, but her body temperature drops too fast, making her start to shake.
When the right remedy works she feels very comfortable and sleeps for a couple hours, so I had to experiment with different types of remedies in different combinations. Then it occurred to me: cabbage leaves!
Yes, it turns out Kula’s favorite remedy is cabbage leaves for her head, ears, chest and tummy. It required many cabbage leaves, but it was quite easy to put them all over her body. (cabbage leaves are used for an inflammation and apply on a breast cancer in macrobiotic healing).
The only problem was that her dog family (especially Bubu) would come to steal her cabbage leaves while she slept, and she would wake up when there were no more cabbage leaves left on her head and body. Well, at least cabbage is good for the digestion and safe to eat, and I only use organic cabbage.
If you are looking for a remedy for you or your family, including your animal family, the key is finding the right remedy for natural healing.
I hope Kula continues to get better as she navigates her healing path.
To be continued…