It sure has been a gift of nature that brought us here in California a lot of rain. We imagine that living in Oregon must be like this. I came up an idea to lift up myself during rainy days to knit hats for all my family. I enjoy crochet and knit for many years…
If any of you read my blogs about my beloved dog daughter, Kula—who departed last August—you know I was sad and missing her. I took a time to take care of my inner self and also put together Kula’s ceremony on her 49th day, according to Buddhist tradition. I invited many of Kula’s friends and people who loved her. You can read about it here and see a YouTube video of the ceremony here.
I heard that by Buddhist tradition, I must not cry after the 100-day ceremony. I did not think I took the tradition so seriously, but after November 9, Kula’s 100-day ceremony, I not only stopped crying, but I also stopped talking or writing about her. It was not intentional, but Thanksgiving and the holidays were coming, so I must have felt it was not a good time to share my sad feelings with anyone. I kept all the memories of Kula inside of me.
I gradually started to feel numb and did not feel “Sanae.” Sanae is usually excited every morning, motivated about the day, and she is curious. But I had no excited feeling and no motivation or curiosity anymore. I thought it was just holiday blues, which I do feel almost every year. So, I kept doing my usual things—teaching, counseling, taking dogs for walks, and practice my yoga.
About a week before Christmas, Eric got sick (which was unbelievable, because the last time he got sick and took a day off was in 1992 when he first moved to Los Angeles.) He had to go to Utah for his cooking job the day after Christmas, so I took care of him with my best ability. He had to take only one day off from work; he got better and went to Utah. But I was getting a high fever and stayed home alone with the dogs and cats for seven days. I got a little better, so I wrote my final 2016 newsletter to my friends and family. I was hoping to get better soon after I wrote the newsletter. It took another week or so, but I got better and taught cooking classes, did counseling, etc.
In mid-January, we found out we had a flood in our mountain cabin in North Fork, California. It was lots of work for Eric to clean and make trenches, so I cooked and took care of our dogs and cats. Then I got a fever again for one week; it ended but came back again last week. After more than a month, I decided to go get some tests done. My main symptom was a fever of 100–102. I had some sore throat and a little cough, but nothing major—except I was not able to eat my favorite foods, like brown rice, miso soup and twig tea (kukicha). Also, my sleeping pattern had changed. I was able to do most of the housework and things I normally do, except when I had a high fever. But I did not want to socialize much, and I got tired very easily and had no motivation to do music or new or physical things. I just wanted to go see the ocean and be with my dog and cat family. I did not feel like I was depressed (I went through depression before, so I usually notice if I am feeling that way).
It took a while, but I realized I was going through “grief.” I was grieving for Kula! I was thinking about her most of the day. I remembered her with everything I did and everywhere I went since she had been my service dog when I was in a wheelchair.
I knew I was feeling very sad and missing Kula a lot, but I thought I was doing all right. I have sent many dogs and cats to heaven since I was 8 years old. Of course, I was sad and missed each of them, but I was able to process the sadness every time, so I did not think I was going through “grief” for Kula. Also, I still have five other dogs and two cats, so I felt bad missing Kula so much. I told myself that I can’t miss her so much—an excuse not to feel my sadness. That’s how I completely stopped talking about her.
Since finding out that I must be grieving for Kula, I have been reading a book about grief and learning how to process it and find self-support meetings and workshops. The book told me that in order to deal with grief, I need to talk about my sadness and pain and how much I miss Kula—which is a relief because whenever I talk about her, my heart is lifted and open. The book also says, “Sadness and joy are part of your memories.”
What I have learned so far from The Grief Recovery Handbook – John W. James and Russell Friedman
Myths About Grief
Most of us, over the course of our lifetime, have heard at least one of the following statements after a loss:
- Time Heals All Wounds. You may still be grieving after losing someone five, 10 or 20 years ago. Does it hurt any less? Do you miss that person any less? Probably not. For some, the pain may get even worse. Time definitely does not heal all our pain. Yes—I thought after Kula had been departed 100 days, I should be okay.
- Grieve Alone. We have been taught that we are not to burden others with our grief. I felt that way after the suicides of two friends. You don’t want to bother others with your sadness, so you keep it to yourself. In some cases, you reach out to others, but they don’t know what to do to help you. As a result, you feel lost and alone, so you isolate yourself as a way of handling the grief that others can’t. Grieving alone certainly, doesn’t work. Yes—I did not want to bother people, and I just stayed alone.
- Be Strong. If you are the oldest child in your family, you know this one well. If something happens, you have to be the strong one for your younger siblings. You have to suck it up and not show your emotions. Heaven forbid the younger ones to see you crying. What sort of message does that send? Maybe they will think you are weak instead of just plain sad. Trying to be strong just gives the wrong message that you are trying not to be human. Yes—as long as I stayed strong, I was all right.
- Don’t Feel Bad. How many of us have been told as a child not to cry when something bad happened? Rather than expressing our emotions, we were told to hold it in. I think many of the generations before us were never allowed to show their feelings. Men joined the military and were told to check their emotions at the door. Some children have never seen their parents cry. No wonder they grow into adults who can’t deal with their own emotions. Yes—it has been a while, so I should not feel sad.
- Replace the Loss. I am pretty sure most of my generation has heard after a relationship breakup, “Don’t feel bad; there are plenty of fish in the sea.” I’m not sure if that was supposed to make us feel better, but in actuality, it made it worse. It implies that we should not wait and grieve over the loss of the relationship, but instead move on right away and replace the old one with a new one. That can’t be healthy. Maybe that is why so many people have a revolving door in relationships—maybe even two at one time, in case one of them doesn’t work out. No wonder there are so many divorces these days. This one did not fit me.
- Keep Busy. Speaking from experience, I can say I became a workaholic just so I didn’t have to think after the suicides of my two friends. Keep busy. Keep working. Don’t think about it. It’s much easier than facing your grief. In reality, it’s worse, because you don’t end up facing your grief at all. Yes—I thought as long as I kept busy, I was all right.
All relationships are unique—no comparison and no exceptions.
I am also reading The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss – John W. James, Russell Friedman and John W. James
I started to talk about Kula a little bit again, and I am writing about my feelings and letting some friends know what I am going through, which is helping me.
I went to see the new movie A Dog’s Purpose. I cried a lot and thought about Kula and miss her a lot.
Now I started to talk to Kula once again and using animal communications that I have learned. She supports my feelings and told me “Mommy, I love you and miss you too. Please take all your time, you are all right! I am here for you no matter what.”
I am thinking of trying a support group meeting or taking a workshop to learn more.
If any of you are interested here is their website.
Bach Flower remedy and a homeopathic remedy are also very good to take during grieving period, as well as using essential oil and a healing crystal power stone. I would like to share about it in my next blog.
If you are going through grieving, please share also!
With my love,
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 the site at a later time, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know the story of The Rabbit and The Turtle?
I was born a turtle, but I misunderstood that I had to be a rabbit.
I realized many years later that I was not a rabbit and learned to love being a turtle. I move slowly and deliberately and need time to make decisions.
It may take time, but I am committed to completing this site, albeit at my pace.
I hope this site helps you to heal in body and mind, and find happiness in who you are.
Life’s challenges come just like the waves of the ocean.
Some are big, and some are small.
2016 is almost over.
Eric and I had an opportunity to look back over the whole past year.
I wish I could write about how wonderful 2016 was, but I want to share our real life and true feelings and be honest about the many challenges we had.
The last month of the year, I usually feel sad and unable to match the outside world of cheerful faces and holiday gatherings, so I tend to stay home more, be with my dogs and cats family, and do knitting/crocheting or other hand-making projects. But two weeks ago, I was feeling run-down and unable to do what I wanted to do my daily chore.
I told Eric that I was not feeling well, and he responded, “Okay,” and then he started talking about a GoPro he was trying to get with his credit card reward points. I asked him what he meant by “Okay,” and he did not have much of an answer. We ended up having an argument that did not make any sense. We felt frustrated because we argued over nothing, and because of our argument, our cat Mai Mai got scared and started peeing all over. Tin Tin laid down in his litter box and not coming out for a few hours.
Mai Mai peed all over the house about a year ago also, when we did not know what to do with our Seed Kitchen business and we were very stressed out, so I knew this must be from stress again.
It took about a week, but I realized that I was not the only one feeling sad and tired. Eric also felt sad, tired and grieving. Eric almost never gets sick or takes sick days off from work, but he had a dry cough (which usually comes from grieving) and fever, and he had to take a day off. I was weak and had no motivation to do much. We both had bad dreams.
What did we do?
We nurtured ourselves with respect and friendly manners—meaning no arguments.
We made special remedy drinks (Lotus Root), homeopathy (Ignatia Amara for grieving), and cooked healing food, our garden wintergreen Shungiku water sauteed ; we took a warm bath with Bach Flower (Rescue Remedy and Honeysuckle) and Aromatherapy oils (Mandarin, Lavender and Clary Sage) ; we stayed in bed with a hot water bottle and slept; when we were awake, we watched good movies and cuddled; we meditated in bed and just saw our feelings as they were. We also cried and rested with our five dogs and two cats. They totally understood us and never complained. They comforted and rested with us. I think they needed this family bonding. Mai Mai stopped peeing all over.
Looking back at 2016, we realized what we lost this year was big—from my completely cracking a tooth while having a nightmare, to losing our beloved dog daughter Kula and our lifetime work Seed Kitchen. Life has struggles, no matter what; it is up to us to live as though this is a beautiful struggle or a miserable struggle.
Today, we decided that our life is a beautiful struggle, and we appreciate what we still have—I still have 31 teeth out of 32—so I am ready to move forward to 2017.
Whatever you are going through, I hope you are able to look at the bright side.
If you are not able to do so, take a rest and please nurture yourself like I am doing for myself now; that is the best remedy you can give yourself.
Thank you for your support and being our friends and family.
Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year 2017!
In the macrobiotic world, azuki bean congee has a special name: omedetou.
(Azuki beans are strengthing beans and the sprout is beautiful as the front photo.)
The word means “congratulations” and is used especially in the New Year and for happy occasions like having a baby, passing a big exam, etc. George Ohsawa (founder of the macrobiotic philosophy) named azuki bean congee omedetou for when you get well from illness. Eating this porridge in the New Year will help you have a positive mind.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup brown rice
½ cup azuki beans
5–10 cups purified water
1″ square kombu sea vegetables昆布 (2cmx2cm)１枚
Roasted sesame seeds
Pressure Cooker Method:
- Wash the rice gently, about three times. Roast till golden brown. Wash the azuki beans and remove pebbles, etc.
- Place the rice and beans in the pressure cooker. Add the water and kombu, cover, and heat over a medium-high flame.
- When the pressure is up, turn the flame to simmer and cook for 60 minutes.
- Remove from the flame and wait till the pressure is down.
- Serve with roasted sesame seeds.
- Wash the rice gently, about three times. Roast till golden brown. Wash the azuki beans and remove pebbles, etc.
- Place the rice and beans in a stainless or ceramic pot, add water, and heat over a medium-high flame.
- When it starts to boil, add the kombu, cover, turn the flame to simmer, and cook for 2 hours.
- Remove from the flame, and wait till the pressure is down.
- Serve with roasted sesame seeds.
Enjoy your omedetou and chew well!
I love tea.
Yes, I am Japanese.
I’ve also been told that I was English in a previous life so that naturally gives me the title of “Tea Lover.”
Since I was about 7 years old, one of my favorite things was taking a tea break with my mother’s housekeeper, Mrs. Kato. We usually had bancha (harvested from the same tree as sencha grade, but it is plucked later than sencha, giving it a lower market grade). It is considered to be the lowest grade of green tea. There are 22 grades of bancha. Its flavor is unique; it has a stronger organic straw smell than sencha (a type of Japanese ryokucha/green tea prepared by infusing the processed whole tea leaves in hot water). Mrs. Kato said sencha was too strong for a child, and usually, it is for guests. I tried some, but I did not like it because it tasted bitter.
I started to learn Japanese tea ceremony when I was 17 years old. I used macha, a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. It was very creamy, and its aromatic taste matched the Japanese tea ceremony sweets. Macha is for special times, but it is high in caffeine. I am not able to drink it most of the time since I am sensitive to caffeine now, so my favorite tea became non-caffeinated herbal tea, like rosehip tea and bancha twig tea (kukicha).
Kukicha is very low in caffeine. Most of the caffeine is in the leaves, which are not used, and the rest is reduced by the aging process. Kukicha is called “three-year bancha” in Japan, because after the stems, stalks and twigs of the tea are picked, they are dried in the sun and aged for three years before roasting. I usually do not feel any caffeine effects, and it is safe for children to drink.
Kukicha has a unique flavor and aroma among teas, due to its aging process and becoming more alkaline. And the benefits of kukicha are numerous. It is an important part of the macrobiotic diet and is thought to lead to stable health and longevity.
It also good to add apple juice when you want to have a little sweet taste when your body gets too tight and need to relax. I usually add a half purified water and a half apple juice and heat up. You can add a slice of apple too.
I use Eden’s Tea Bag for when I am traveling or going out for lunch/dinner. It still give a good taste of Kukicha.
Benefits of Kukicha Tea
Most of the benefits of kukicha tea stem from its alkalizing properties. Prevention of numerous diseases is achieved through alkalization of bodily fluids and tissues and consequent balanced levels of acidity. A diet containing white flour, sugars, dairy products, eggs and meat raises the body’s acidity and eventually results in fatigue, premature aging, weakened immune system, heart, kidney or bladder conditions, and problems with weight, joints and bones. A body containing too much acid draws minerals from bones and other organs and stores fat.
Twig tea (kukicha) is abundant with minerals like copper, selenium, manganese, calcium, zinc and fluoride, as well as A, C and B-complex vitamins and flavonoids. Like green tea, it contains polyphenolic catechins, which are famous for their anti-cancer action. The most powerful of these substances is epigallocatechin, which prevents cancer by discouraging the growth of tumors and stopping it from spreading within cells. Kukicha is also known to promote digestion. Moreover, it has a high content of tannin, which helps clean the body from toxins. Tannin can even free the body from nicotine and radioactivity, which is why it is recommended for people who take many medications.
Similarly to green tea, kukicha regulates the levels of blood sugar, and by lowering high blood pressure, it prevents strokes and heart disease. Being an immunity booster, it helps combat virus-induced colds and flu. Kukicha can also promote weight loss, slow down the aging process, and prevent ulcers. When brewing twig tea, it is important to use hot water, but not boiling. Once boiled water has cooled, the tea is steeped for three minutes at the most. It can also be served cold, with the addition of apple juice, and enjoyed throughout the day—even by children.
Many health benefits may be gained from drinking kukicha, including:
- Contains six times more calcium than cows’ milk, helping to build bone density
- Contains 2.5 times more vitamin C than oranges
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Helps with digestion
- Combats fatigue
- Benefits people suffering from bladder infection and heart diseases
- Reduces the risk of certain types of cancer
- Fluoride helps reduce plaque and bacterial infection
- Helps lower cholesterol levels
- Low in caffeine
- Burns fat
How to Make Twig Tea (Kukicha)
2–3 cups purified water (depending on how strong you want to make the tea)
1 tablespoon twig tea (kukicha)
Place the water in a teakettle, and bring to a boil. Place the twigs directly in the pot or in a tea ball. Reduce the flame to low, and simmer 3–5 minutes. If adding the tea directly to the pot, strain through a tea strainer when serving.
Umeboshi Plum With Twig Tea (Kukicha) Remedy
I love desserts, so when I became a plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic person to heal myself, the hardest thing was not eating desserts that had refined sugar, butter, cream and eggs. It is my weakest link, but my husband Eric rescued me—and can rescue all of you if you have this weakness like I do. He makes plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic desserts so tasty and healthy you won’t believe it.
I had to beg him to do a winter baking class, so we are offering it on Sunday, December 11th, at Studio Mgen in Santa Monica. I hope you’ll join us and taste the real plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic desserts that you can enjoy without guilt.
I hope you’ll join us and taste the real delicious plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic desserts that you can enjoy without guilt.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Studio Mugen, Santa Monica
Learn how to bake delicious, healthy, macrobiotic desserts with chef Eric Lechasseur and Sanae Suzuki, so for the rest of the holidays, you do not have to eat sugary, unhealthy desserts. Please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to save your spot.
- Two Kinds Scone 1) fruits/azuki 2) savory
- Two kinds of baked Donut 1) maple-glazed 2) strawberry-kuzu-glazed
- Amazake Pecan Pie
- Grain Café Au Lait
If you can’t come to the class, you can purchase Eric’s stunning plant-based vegan and macrobiotic desserts cookbook, “Love, Eric Revised” and learn how to make healthy delicious desserts at your home.
I am so excited because I usually can’t find any good quality delicious plant-based, vegan macrobiotic baking desserts anywhere.
I get to help the class and able to eat them!