Carolyn Wing Greenlee

2 Birthdays and 3 New Years

Every year I get 2 birthdays and 3 new years. I have January 1, my birthday, and Chinese New Year, which varies according to the lunar calendar. I like having three chances to make a good start on my new year’s resolutions. Most of the time Chinese New Year falls in February or even in March. This year the week of celebration started January 23, so I didn’t have as much time to strengthen my resolve between those dates of new beginnings. I felt catapulted into the place of change.

When I was little, my parents taught me to say, “Gung Hay Fat Choy!” It means “May you have good fortune,” which is, I suppose, the Chinese version of happy new year. I never knew whether “fortune” meant wealth or good happenings. What I DID understand, though, was that the result of saying those four words to a Chinese adult meant I would receive a little red envelope (licee) with money inside. Most of the time it was a quarter or a dime, but sometimes it was something folded. My dad said when he was little he would go out on Chinese New Year and say Gung Hay Fat Choy to the lonely Chinese railway workers. They were so thrilled to see a little Chinese boy that they gave him licee with gold pieces in them.

I also seem to remember that my parents told me the Chinese paid off all their debts before the calendar turned so they could start the new year fresh. That would be extremely difficult for us to do in these times. The Hebrew’s have a Year of Jubilee in which all debts are forgiven. Can you imagine if you suddenly owed nothing — your mortgage, school loans, and car payments were no more?

This year as I contemplated Chinese tradition, I wanted to do something meaningful for the new year. The Chinese way was impossible, but the Hebrew one was not. I decided to forgive my debtors in the most significant way. That means I don’t harbor bitterness and resentment towards those who have offended me. I don’t think in my heart, “You owe me!” Those debts can pile up so quickly that they are as impossible to pay off before the start of the new year as our mortgages and cars. Those attitudes wear us out. I’m not saying I do a flip “Oh, it’s nothing” dismissal; it’s a deliberate choice to forgive. In my experience, as long as I was keeping track of wrongs done to me, I was blind to the good that came from having that person in my life. What a waste! If my hands are full of clutched wrongs, there’s no room for anything better. Life is too short for “You owe me.” So, this Chinese New Year, I consider all debts forgiven. Besides, it’s too hard to keep track of stuff anymore. Hard drive is full.

According to my parents, the Chinese count each person one year older on Chinese New Year. That gives me 2 birthdays, in a way. This year I’m a solid 65 — eligible for Medicare. Of course, I hope I don’t need Medicare. I’m doing my best to build up my immune system and detoxify every cell in this officially Senior body. Most of my friends have now tasted Raw Chef Christina’s raw brownies. It’s the evidence I give people that raw and vegan foods need not be boring or taste unappealingly “good for you.” I’ve whipped up yam soufflés and massaged bok choy into flavorful kim chee. I’m still cooking soups, but I’m discovering that I now crave fresh, raw foods. It’s quite a surprise.

I may have already told you that the only time our bodies are supposed to be acidic is after we die — so we can deteriorate faster! Keeping yourself alkaline helps your body be inhospitable to vermin, cancer, and degenerative diseases. Leafy green vegetables are highly alkalizing. For me, however, a huge bowl of fresh kale is daunting — too cold and requires too much chewing on a chilly winter night. Hence, the green smoothie. It’s convenient and can be kept in jars for later. The fiber helps the enzymes stay alive.

Here’s a little more info that Christina sent me about the drinks:

Dark leafy greens are 1,000 on the nutrient density scale and the next highest food is the Acai berry and blueberries. They are 160 on the nutrient density scale. When the body is sick, we want to ingest the highest form of nutrients possible so the body can heal itself. Often medical assistance is required to be sure of a diagnosis so we know what we are really dealing with and then we have to do what is possible to heal and support ourselves as well.

Fruit and Green Smoothie
modified from Raw Chef Christina’s recipe
Use organic produce to avoid concentrating pesticides and toxins

Place in powerful blender or Vita-Mix:
1 peeled and seeded orange (quartered)
1 apple chopped (without seeds)
3 handfuls kale leaves (without stems)
1 T chia seeds (for Omega 3 and thickening)
2 T hemp seeds
1 C water or more if you like it thinner
Blend down
While blending add:
2 peeled bananas
1 handful of frozen mangoes (about 5 pieces)

Blend till smooth. Drink what you want; store the rest in tightly capped glass jars in the ‘fridge. I use little jam jars that contain about a cup of smoothie. Throughout the day I grab one and keep my body fueled and nourished.

This recipe can be varied innumerable ways according to your taste. If you don’t have the seeds, leave them out. Whatever combination you put together, you’ll be getting more nutrition than if you hadn’t made the smoothie, and you won’t have to chew something cold for half an hour!

January is already almost gone. Wasn’t New Year’s Day just a moment ago? I have resolved to be more mindful of what goes into my mouth and what comes out of it, to sort through what I’ve saved and look at the photos, videos, and objects that I’ve collected over the years. I’ve been so busy most of my life that I’ve rushed from one project to the next — gulping the good, so to speak, without tasting it. Now that I’m on the downward side of the hill of life, I’m motivated to take the time to savor. That means I eat my meals sitting down without multi-tasking, holding the fork in one hand while I load the dishwasher with the other. My body will digest the meal better if my mind is focused on the scent, taste, and texture — receiving with gratitude the good, wholesome food.

Time is going so fast. The only way I can slow it down is to be present in every moment — not dragging regrets, not worrying about what might be. Jesus told me this year to praise — to notice and respond to what is really there and be aware that He keeps His promises even when it doesn’t appear that He is there or cares. Worry is such a debilitating thing. When I was 9, I used to sit at the window and stare out into the darkness, certain that my parents had died on the L.A. Freeway in a horrible crash. I’d cry for hours, devastated every time the rare pair of headlights on Baseline Road continued past our driveway instead of turning in.

My mother used to rub the bump on her leg and worry that it was cancer. She told my dad she was afraid she would not live long enough to watch her girls grow up.

My dad worried about fire because the house they’d built was surrounded by orchards and wildfires blazed across the dry brush on the nearby mountains.

Each of my parents died at home in bed. Mom was 82. Dad was 95. No fires. No cancer. No flaming crash.

Someone said most of what we worry about never comes to pass. More than ever, I’ve seen the truth of that statement. I have also seen the worst come upon me, and watched in awe as the Lord turned it into unmistakable good. The only appropriate response to that is gratitude and praise, don’t you think? And yet I worry, gripe, whine, complain. It needs to stop. As with food, only I can control what I choose. We are what we eat. We are what we think. I choose what and WHOM I believe, and it affects everything I do as I walk through my brand new 65th year.


  1. Chris Darwall

    February 15, 2012 - 1:14 PM

    Hi Carolyn—
    Dave Kaplan’s mom here…I just wanted to say what a lovely post this is! I loved the sentiments, and the recipe looks soooo delicious. Bob just ordered a new high-powered blender, specifically to make a variety of green drinks, so this drink will definitely be one of the first we try!
    Also, your puppy book looks wonderful—and all your puppy-related posts are so dear.
    It sounds like you are doing really well. Hooray!!
    warm wishes

    • Carolyn Wing Greenlee

      February 16, 2012 - 11:31 AM

      Chris, you warm my heart! Yes, I really am doing well. After the year of healing, I began to have the energy to move forward instead of just keeping my head above water. It was like being a tree in winter with roots going down underground. Many people were praying, and I was refreshed with the Living Water and the comforting, nurturing presence of God.

      On the purely physical level, a big part of it has been the clean diet. So glad to hear you and Bob will be adding nutritious and delicious drinks to your diet! I’ll be posting some other fabulous recipes soon. I have a red bell pepper almond walnut paté that is my current favorite.

      So good to hear from you! I’m hoping to visit your San Diego family branch later this year for a book signing in San Diego.

      Blessings, Carolyn and Hedy

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