Summer’s Health Check-in: A personal note from Mary

We are (finally) into a true Michigan summer and about the one year mark of One-Community Consulting’s website overhaul as well as launch of the Transcendent Partnership site. Wow! What a year. I thought now would make sense to check-in and share a personal milestone. For those who have known me over the years, you’ll likely recall the extraordinary mobility and fatigue challenges undergone since November of 2014. Today, I am truly blessed, humbled and grateful to share some good news with you…

In Transcendent Partnership, I talked about some of my history around vegetarianism, animal welfare advocacy and insights gathered through Eastern travels. Like all entrepreneurs, my job is my hobby and in many ways I take joy daily in “working”. In late 2014, my work got massively derailed at the end of my tenure in Flint. About four and half years ago celebrating my birthday and the institutionalization of the National Service Accelerator, me and my spouse traveled to Jamaica for a little R&R. I was unfortunately bit by the wrong mosquito and contracted Chikengunya, sister virus to Zika.

At the time, the US knew very little of this and even the Mayo Clinic could not help me. There was no cure. I lost full mobility of my left foot, was unable to work for three months and laid seemingly comatose on the couch for most of my hours. I had difficulty breathing, couldn’t concentrate, shook uncontrollably, lost partial hearing due to nerve damage and couldn’t feel my hands and feet. It has since been updated as spring breakers began bringing this virus back from the Caribbean, but at the time the Center for Disease Control said Chikengunya was a rash lasting for one week with fever. In its country of origin, Tanzania, throughout Africa as well as India it translates to “the contorted one” and has been studied for 50+ years. Known results are death and/or severe side effects lasting six years to life. Conveying this to American doctors was more than my patience could handle.

A year prior, in 2013, I had begun yoga teacher training at the Sangha Yoga Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and volunteered leading youth through poses and meditation in Flint as a seva. My teacher, Devidas Karina Ayn Mirsky is internationally respected and loved as a guide and practioner of Rod Stryker’s ParaYoga – living link between yoga, meditation and tantra. Eight days and only 50 hours short, I was unable to complete the program, let alone touch my toes any longer. I was also unable to eat gluten-based products, sugar and dairy because 20 min later the associating pain was too much. I was so inflamed that one day when I went to stand up and get out of my chair, I actually fell over because my body refused to move forward. I could get through this after significant massage, but it took twice as long depending on what I ingested.

It was at this time I pulled from my agricultural past and began juicing my favorite plant-based ingredients (and basically drinking turmeric like it was my job) to create vegetable drinks and soups. I was truly forced to live what I preached and will never forget lying on my basement floor (my former at-home gym), praying and wondering if I would be trapped in a body that refused to work through the end of my life. What was the point? I could enjoy nothing and was in pain 24/7. Lying there I began to reach out and touch my knees walking my fingers toward my shins, talking to myself the way I talked to the kids I had worked with at the Flint Boys and Girls Club, coaxing, and praising myself for going an inch further, an inch further, an inch further through tears….it was a long and deeply painful road to recovery over the next four and half years full of personal reflection. Today, I have mild inflammation, most nerve damage is healed and almost all my hearing and feeling is restored. I attribute this to yoga, meditation and diet.

By the end of 2015 I decided to register with the Michigan State University Product Center and got my juice and the concept on file the next summer of ‘16. I was partially elated and partially concerned because maintaining the integrity of the ingredients through pasteurization was a big, big deal. Food safety is something that can make or break your career. As a former contractual journalist for the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, I knew more training was critical after documenting several safety pilots. I was a certified USDA GroupGAP auditor, and it only reinforced the possible liability challenges ahead.

Today, I am SO pleased to share that this spring of 2019 I finally completed the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification for my juice. This is a huge win and now, with Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development approval, will be working between two incubator kitchens between Hart and Adrian, Michigan. Mitten Juice Red and Mitten Juice Green will offer tasty anti-inflammatory nutrients all sourced from our Michigan farms.

Equally monumental, I was able to complete my yoga teacher training this spring of ’19. Once a choice is made on where I want to teach it will be registered through the Yoga Alliance, a nonprofit association for teachers and students. I want to thank all of my trainers, wise teachers, loving classmates – most gratefully to Tara “Golda” Engeran. My yoga training was completed through Golden Life Yoga in New Orleans, Louisiana in the lineage of Iyengar teacher-student learning of yogini Dona Holleman – you may know her from the 2011 film, Yogawoman.

Words cannot express how long I have wanted to share my juice products and love of yoga. Clearly, food and movement effect our life daily. For me, I believe they saved my life. Those who practice will frequently say beyond doing a fancy pretzel pose, for example in yoga or losing weight while juicing, their mental and emotional health was drastically improved in addition. From car accidents to cancer, I know so many people who have been able to find long-term healing through awakening their spine and healing their gut in this way. I am profoundly grateful this is possible and we, as individuals, are empowered to change our lives for the better. I am so excited to share this with you as I go into production as well as the philosophy and reflection. Namaste – eat well.