First, go to an art supply store and buy yourself some Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. Truth be told, I bought some years ago for my son, and when they went unused, I decided to color. Last coloring extravaganza—2016ish. The Prismacolor Premiers haven’t aged a day.
I suppose, mindfulness was my goal. I didn’t put that much thought into pulling the coloring book and colored pencils from the drawer of my nightstand. My brain was locked and loaded, practically shot, with back to school info. and all the details of a brand new job and 200+ new names. I teach high school, and I had taken a two-year sabbatical since the last time I stepped into my own classroom. My brain is two years older. Technology is ever changing.
I started in the center of a rather intricate design, the first page of the book. Suddenly, there was no past. No future. Just picking colors. Sharpening pencils as needed. Pressing harder for effect. An occasional thought snuck in to guilt me: Shouldn’t you be going through the mail on the kitchen table? When was the last time you mopped? But there was a calm satisfaction in my attention to pattern and juxtaposition of hue.
My husband looked on. “Can I have a turn?” he said. Over the course of thirty two years, not once had we colored together. But how could I deny him my new-found peace of mind? I passed the book and the tin box of Prismacolors. And I watched as he wrestled over his choices. I bit my tongue when I would’ve chosen differently. I smiled instead. Sometimes in marriage a wife or husband must relinquish control. He colored a particular pattern and passed it all back to me. My turn. His turn. My turn. His turn. Jeep’s Blues played in the background. In this way we passed a Saturday.
It’s a typical weekday. I’m walking the street behind my home before 8 am. On a two-story, brick house, a colorful flag, rainbow-striped, lifts in the breeze. I haven’t noticed it before. “NUMAH,” it reads. At least, that’s how I sound it out before realization dawns. I see the flag’s backside, the word backwards. “How often do we see things backwards? Misunderstand? Fail to notice?” I say to myself.
With the upcoming school year, I ponder these thoughts for days. “We’re all HUMAN–I think that’s the point–just trying to make our way. Not one in 7.9 billion is perfect.”
At The Art Institute of Chicago
I gazed at the blue-eyed
Vincent Van Gogh.
With turbulent stroke,
deep dejection clear,
hospitalized a whole year
before the ear incident.
Then death by suicide.
His eyes held mine.
“I want to touch people
with my art,” he said.
“I want them to say:
he feels deeply,
he feels tenderly.”
I felt it down deep,
faced him, and cried.
“You remind me
of my son,” I said.
“His gift, the cello,
sings. Yet other voices
reside inside his mind.
Relentless and mean.
I see you, dear Vincent.
Your help arrived too late.
My worst nightmare
is your fate.”
June turned July, and I committed to a ten-day cleanse. I said to myself, I can do anything for ten days. Even so, it took me a minute to commit. The unsaturation diet idea came from a book I read listened to on Audible, Dr. Habib Sadeghi’s The Clarity Cleanse.
As a twenty-one-year-old medical student, Sadeghi was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He ran into his anatomy partner right after receiving the news. His friend said something like, “You don’t look so good.”
Sadeghi told him about the cancer.
His friend said, “Let’s go get lunch.” During their conversation, the friend asked Sadeghi how he was feeling.
Sadeghi thought he was going to die.
His friend said, “I don’t know the God you believe in, but the God I believe in is a loving God. You’re going to be okay.”
During that lunch, Sadeghi’s entire perspective changed.
Sadeghi took a medical school sabbatical and traveled the world studying the power of thoughts, words, and alternative medicine. He studied the psychology theories of Wilfred Bion, who coined the terminology of container and contained. Every element of thought or emotion has either a projective/masculine component or a receptive/feminine component, so when a baby (or anyone) is angry, hurt, fearful—all they need is someone who understands. And when a container is there, the cycle of emotion is complete. I’m fascinated by this idea.
Sadeghi studied eastern and western medical practices and later studied Spiritual Psychology with Emphasis in Consciousness, Health, and Healing. He started paying attention to what he put in his mouth and how he processed his emotions. He started an exercise called PEW 12 (Purge Emotional Writing, click here for more). He learned self-containment in this way and the belief that thoughts have power and that anything is possible. He practiced forgiveness, mindfulness, and slowing down. Do you see why I like him?
Through CAT scans every three months, Sadeghi monitored his levels of cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol prepare our bodies for fight or flight responses. Too much cortisol plays a role in inflammation and stress. As his cortisol dropped, he produced a higher level of immunity.
All of this leads me to my ten-day cleanse or Intentional Unsaturation Diet. I only have one body. I might as well take care of it. The ten days are heavy on lemon water, red or pink apples, sardines, and brown rice.
I had never tried a sardine in my life and didn’t care to start. I kept an open mind and read about the benefits of sardines. I’m no expert. I learned from Dr. Sadeghi. Purine proteins support cellular reconstruction, enzymatic function, and DNA repair. Calcium (from chewable bones) and Vitamin D support bone health, nerve and muscle function, and regulation of cellular activity. Vitamin B12 supports cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fatty acids are an anti-inflammatory. They reduce cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They support fluidity and integrity of cell membranes, building blocks for hormones.
Apples reduce cholesterol and risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. They function as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and aid in hormone balancing (help correct estrogen dominance). They provide energy and tissue hydration. They detoxify, reduce gallbladder stress, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL (good cholesterol), reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and help maintain healthy body weight.
I think I’ll stop typing and go eat an apple. My favorite is the Honeycrisp, but I’m liking the Pink Lady apples, too. Dr. Sadeghi suggests slicing (or grating) your apples and allowing them to turn brown (or oxidize). I think he said that oxidation breaks down the sugar. Don’t quote me.
As for the brown rice, it digests slowly to keep blood sugar levels stable and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also helps protect against from free radical damage and reduces cancer risk. The fiber detoxifies, reduces gallbladder stress, cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular disease, and helps to maintain healthy body weight.
For lemon water. Wash your lemons and chop. Add to boiling water (one lemon per quart or litre). Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes more. Strain and drink all day long.
Ten days of lemon water broke my morning coffee habit. I didn’t even miss my coffee, which I normally drink with added decadence. However, I did lay off of all caffeine for about a week before I started. Benefits? Lemons stimulate better digestion. They cleanse your liver, kidneys, and blood. They are a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
More than anything, I write this as a note to self. I actually love the lemon water. I could go the quicker route, and I have, no boiling, just squeeze the lemon, but I especially like it hot.
Ten-Day Intentional Unsaturation Diet
Other than the emphasized foods above, the diet includes all poultry (white meat), fish and shellfish, egg whites, all vegetables (no legumes), all fresh fruit, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.
Days 1/2: Anything listed above.
Day 3: Avoid animal proteins. Anything else listed.
Days 4/5: Only brown rice, apples, and sardines. Use in moderation: herbs, salt and pepper, lemon, Bragg Aminos, ginger, garlic, scallions, onion.
Day 6: Fast. No food. Drink lemon water. I fasted 24 hours and ate around 8 PM that evening. I had never fasted in my life. Until now.
Day 7: Brown rice, apples, and sardines as above.
Day 8: Avoid animal proteins as above.
Days 9/10: Anything listed above.
I liked Dr. Habib Sadeghi’s The Clarity Cleanse quite a lot. During the ten days of the diet, I was energetic during the day and slept like a baby at night. I lost a few pounds and noticed a decrease in my belly fat. My mindset shifted. Now I’m eating more apples and trying to pay attention to what else goes into my mouth. I’m monitoring the thoughts in my head. I’m thinking about Shakespeare.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
I’m having a problem, and this is it. Typing one word and then the next. Forming coherent thoughts. Creating meaning out of nothing. Otherwise known as writing.
So, I’ve turned to other writerly activities. Reading books. Revising earlier works. Looking for publication opportunities.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending time on Poets & Writers, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers. I’ve only scratched the surface. They have an alphabetized database of over twelve hundred literary magazines and journals. I’m up to the letter C. Christian Science Monitor. However, it’s good necessary to actually read the journals and follow submission guidelines, check submission dates and reading fees. And that takes time. Lucky for me, I have some time, and today I read Christian Science Monitor. They’ve published Sylvia Plath. I’m probably a long shot.
Why publish elsewhere?
Well, I’m building my bio. For now, this is it.
Crystal Byers is an emerging writer and veteran high school English teacher living in Houston, Texas. She has a memoir-in-progress and an MFA in Creative Writing from Houston Baptist University. Her essays appear at The Porch Magazine, The Houston Flood Museum, and soon with Brevity. Visit her at crystalbyers.com.
And if you are visiting today, thank you! May your words flow, your thoughts be coherent, and your meaning worthy of contemplation.