When my life became one long hangover, leaving a wake of destruction in it’s path, I fell to my knees in agony and sought help from a higher power (that I wasn’t even sure existed) to remove my obsession with alcohol. It was the first miracle in my life I was consciously aware of, although there have been many.

Jewels painting on the happy face in Vogue

Yet somehow I never made that connection between God and my struggle with weight – until I read A Course in Weight Loss. I attended the first retreat this past weekend in San Diego, and was blown away by an entirely new concept of the power of one, and the miracles that happen when you come together.

A Course in Weight Loss is not just another weight loss program. In fact, weight loss is secondary, the course is about so much more. I walked away inspired in nearly every aspect of my life, because it’s is actually more about healing in general. When you let go of dysfunctional thinking, learn to love yourself and adopt eating habits that reflect that love, the weight loss follows naturally. When you invite miracles into your life, big changes can and do happen!

Jewels and Marianne in San Diego

Meet my friend Marianne – you probably already know her as the internationally acclaimed spiritual speaker and best-selling author, Marianne Williamson – I know her as the friend that I can’t pull the wool over. More than once I’ve painted on my happy face, met her somewhere fun as if I hadn’t a care in the world, and within two minutes I’ll hear “so tell me what’s really going on with you?” This woman definitely knows people and miracles! She is a student of A Course in Miracles (on which she based the book), lectures weekly on the subject, and lives life deep. If you’re not prepared to go there – this retreat is not for you.

Experiencing the power of one

However, if you are ready to change – I highly recommend going. Yes, you can benefit immensely from the book alone, but when sitting in a room full of others that understand where you’re coming from (because they’ve been there too in their own way) the work is much easier to access on a different level. You are surrounded with love, support, and the expert guidance is right there making it safe for you to delve much deeper. Issues came up while we worked together that had never even occurred to me before, and the air was electrically charged with a communal will to heal!

Yoga expert Tracee Stanley and therapist Grace Gedeon

Now meet the other experts. If “Walking the talk” is how one leads by example, Tracee Stanley is the sheer embodiment of a successful yoga practice. She is theepitome of grace, beauty, and serenity. Tracee deftly led us through introductory yoga that even those confined to a wheel chair could do. Movement is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle, and yoga is now the gift I ease my body into, rather than the punishment I dealt it with the grueling exercise programs of the past.

Grace Gedeon has an uncanny ability to zero in immediately on where your feelings are coming from, and how to help. She exudes the compassion of one whose been there, and brilliantly cuts to the chase with just the right bit of humor to cut any tension that may get in the way. “Jewels, you’re welcome to pay me $20,000.00 and devote two years of your life to therapy, or you can feel the feelings you’ve been avoiding (which you end up wearing on your body) this weekend, do the work Marianne is guiding you through, and and ask God to remove that which no longer serves you.” Not a difficult decision when suggested with some very welcome tough love.

Chef Tal Ronnen

As you may recall, Chef Tal Ronnen became one of my all time personal heroes when I did series of posts about his cookbook, The Conscious Cook last year. Even though I was a founding member of Parents for Safe Foods over twenty years ago, Tal has played an enormous role in my choosing what I put into my body today. The knowledge he shared with us deserves it’s own post in a food focused blog, as does the mountain of insights gained from listening to these exceptional people. As I wrote to Marianne my last evening there, This is such a major gift you have given us all, that thank you sounds trite – I don’t have words to express the gratitude I feel.” However, I can contribute to food that will love you back with this recipe.

Mu Shu Chick’n Gardein

I’m currently limiting my intake of starch to whole grains, so the Mu Shu is pictured on a bed of brown rice. Should you choose to go a more traditional route, just serve wrapped in a Chinese pancake or flour tortilla with a little more hoisin sauce and spring onion.

Servings: 4


1 package Gardein chick’n scallopini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
6 tablespoons of dry Sherry or pineapple juice, divided
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or Braggs Liquid aminos, divided
4 teaspoons corn starch, divided
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/3 cup hoisin sauce (you can buy vegan hoisin sauce)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup carrot, shredded
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large bok choy, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
4 scallions, optional
Chinese pancakes or flour tortillas, optional


1). In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the sherry, 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, and the sesame oil, and mix well. Add the chick’n slices and toss gently; set aside.

2). Mix remaining sherry, soy sauce, corn starch, and hoisin sauce in a medium size bowl; set aside.

3). Heat peanut oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chick’n and stir-fry until browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent to keep warm.

4). Add ginger and garlic to the pan, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add mushrooms, and stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy and water, continue to stir-fry with mushrooms until wilted, 2-3 minutes.

5). Add sauce mixture to vegetables, stir until thickened 1-2 minutes. Add chick’n back in, warm through for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestions: Traditionally served by spreading a little hoisin sauce on a pancake or flour tortilla, spoon in some of the chick’n and vegetables, top with a spring onion, and wrap to eat. Can also be served as a main course over rice.
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