How I Feel

My heart-opening glass of water.

I LOVE our friends. We don't get store-bought fruit cakes, re-gifted wines, or cheesy things with green felt lining on the bottom, we get incredible gifts- olive oil from a family farm in Torino, personally harvested chaga from Woodstock, hand-made smudge sticks from Mt. Shasta, rare fruits, coca leaves from Peru, stones/crystals from different places, and all manner of wonderful things from all over the Earth. And spring water. As in spring water collected from a spring. Who has had the opportunity and great blessing of drinking living water knows what a gift it is to consume. Actual spring water isn't a bottle of water that says "spring water" on its label. That water is treated and completely void of any and all traces of its original content if it was ever collected from a spring in the first place. So, if you've been drinking dead water your whole life and then have the chance to drink live, truly hydrating water from a spring (like I did a few years back from a spring in Maine when my friend brought us some in two 5 gallon jugs- Thank you Nalla!!! <3), that first sip is like an oceanic experience. It was so smooth and soft. It felt like velvet in my mouth and like oneness in my heart. I closed my eyes and felt connection to Pachamama and to Source. It took a moment to remember where I was. I held my glass of water as if I were holding a precious gem and I drank it deliberately and oh so ceremoniously. It was sublime. I was satiated like never before and didn't need water again until much later in the day.

A day later, still high from the experience, I sat in meditation and and my mind wandered to what in the WORLD else I was potentially missing from living a life of conformity and complacency. I began to get a real and more complete sense of why people like Daniel Vitalis began a website called www.findaspring.com and why people are choosy with their water, food, clothes, environment, etc etc etc. Before my experience with that glass of water, I thought why would ANYONE drive to a spring when they can get a decent bottle of water from the local Whole Foods. Then that "decent" water became not even close to good enough. It began to dawn on me why things like this were important. Why asking questions was important. Thus began my second round- so far in this lifetime- of unearthing some major truths.

Without asking questions, we miss being an active part of our own lives. It takes more work and creates discomfort sometimes, but isn't it worth taking matters into our own hands? Asking questions demands more from all of us... something, I understand, that is not for everyone. But I truly wish more of us would do it, for everyone's sake. After my water experience, my questions took me down another point of no return. I learned things I could never unlearn, nor would I want to. It is seemingly easier to live on automatic pilot and allow things to be chosen for me, but in the long and short run I am absolutely content being the author of my life or as much as I am allowed without beginning to hit some serious walls. Some call me a conspiracy theorist which is fine because I am the first to say that most truths nowadays do sound like an intricate plot for a bad movie: Murderous multi-national bio-tech company creates genetically modified bees that go mutant and wipe out the population of the earth in three days! Yes, Monsanto is now in the business of creating the frankenbees that can resist the chemicals and pesticides in their frankenfoods- the very frankenfoods that are wiping out the real bees and us.

Another friend of ours brought us a gallon of spring water this weekend and again I had some deep remembrances as I sipped. I felt again the very real truth that I am of the earth and that regardless of how strange life feels at times and how far we seem to have strayed from our original intent, everything is alright and everything comes from God (or Source, or Spirit, or whatever name you give it- if you even believe there is an IT). As I sip on it now, I recall the words of a very spiritual being that I heard earlier today: "Simplicity is divinity and divinity is simplicity." I gave some to my daughter so I can continue the legacy... so there will continue to be people on this Earth that know what truth tastes, smells, looks, sounds and feels like. And so that there will always be people to seek it out.

New Year.

There are a few things I always do on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day... 1. Watch "When Harry Met Sally"

2. journal (or in this case blog) while I listen to a great playlist which always starts with Bette Midler's version of "What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

3. meditate

4. Set intentions for the upcoming year

I don't like saying "make new year's resolutions" because the word "resolutions" gives me a picture of people trying to do things that never actually happen like "lose weight", "ask that guy out", "dump that loser", or "make more money". Maybe those things don't happen because spoken so casually and lackadaisically they lack true intention and specificity. I've made plenty of resolutions that have been forgotten by the end of January so now I choose to set intentions.

So, what are these intentions I speak of?

There are always so many. The question becomes more "how do I narrow down what I want to focus on this year?" It took some time to decide but the top 3 are:

1. Open my heart more. Think with my heart. Accept and surrender.

2. Nurture friendships.

3. Concentrate on my temple's physical aspects- yoga, belly-dancing, and movement galore!

*** Sidenote: I love that the repetitive lyrics to the song I'm currently listening to are "Why would you play by the rules?" !!!!!! ***

For 1, I realize that having children has put me in a more anxious state. I have forgotten how to drop down into the space of silence and trust. The place of the simple "I am." The place where my heart understands and is at-oned with the mysteries of this universe. It's ironic because at the same time my heart has been monumentally thrust open with the presence and love of my children, it has also been severely neglected in other ways. I have found it hard to find time to journal, to sit in nature, to fill it with it's favorite nurturing yummies and I'm starting to see and feel the effects of that.

I can see how its affected my life because I have seriously dropped into the illusion of "me" and "them." It feels as if the duality dial has been turned to ludicrous speed, especially lately. I feel intolerant of nearly everyone and feel that at the same time I am wanting more compassion, love, and understanding from others, I have been unwilling to fully give that myself. As my sweet friend Gina reminded me the other day, "you have to hold the vibration of that which you are wanting." I feel judgmental of everyone and everything and have allowed myself to use the tip of my tongue for creating things a bit lower than for the highest good. I am not perfect; certainly it could happen again. But I am aware and would love to see a clearer me emerging this year. I am soul-tired of not letting things flow and not accepting people and things just as they are. I am tired of feeling everything external is not enough. And I am absolutely exhausted of fighting my family. My friend Ganesha reminded me of a great point the other day: irradiated or not, crystals that cOme into your space are for a purpose and for your highest good. This goes for people too!

So, heart- I am coming for you. Peacefully... but still coming for you, I am.

For 2, I need my friends. Simple as that. I just NEED them. I welcome new ones into my life if that is to be but whatever the case is, I want deeper friendships. I want to know the people I know more and I want a deep friendship to emerge. One where I can share ME in its entirety. To share days with the kids and feelings and trips and the messiness of life.  I'm not afraid anymore. I turned a corner.

For 3, throughout my entire life I have always moved. I have always danced in some way or another. Ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, salsa, belly-dancing, yoga (not a dance but it kind of IS). For three years now I haven't been able to dedicate myself to this which I adore so much. But my children have all arrived and they are happy and healthy little ones so it's time to begin to come back to myself more. Bit by bit. This is one of the bits I want to start with. I started yoga once a week again a few weeks ago and in a couple of months I'll be back to my advanced belly-dancing class. It will mean all the more to me now after learning so much about the history of women, the history of where we are really from, the truths of the universe and connections to Mother Earth.

*** Sidenote: I'll also continue to knit and crochet my way into a zen state and write more too, but that's a given. ***

I stand in my resolve so that I can be a better woman and so I can grow my soul. For my family, for my friends, for my community, for my world. I evolve so we can ALL continue to evolve into who we are. To who we always were and always will BE.

Happy New Year! Light and love to all of you. In lakesh a laken. <3

The bastardization of the word "Natural."

I'm going to do something very cliche here and I'm going to start off a piece of writing with a definition of a word. Natural (adj): existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind: carrots contain a natural antiseptic that fights bacteria | natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Okay, now that I've settled that I'd like to say how upset I am when companies treat people like they're idiots.  Not only with the advertising but with the very substance of the products themselves.

For Christmas I was given a basket of Lush cosmetics items from a very generous and thoughtful family member.  Now, I understand I am not the average consumer- I do a lot of research and so I understand more than others what is good and what is extremely NOT good.  I had heard of Lush before and by name alone was excited to receive such a lovely gift.  However the waft of intense "natural" fragrance when I opened the box alone was enough to tip me off- natural schmatural.  I put on the lip balm and it started stinging my lips and not in the good, normal way.  I took a closer whiff of one of the other items and I got an instant headache.  So I did the next thing I knew to do.  I read the ingredients on the labels.

On the back of what these people have the audacity to call "natural" is Sodium Laureth Sulfate topping the list (in case you don't know it is a very dangerous and highly irritation chemical.  Far from giving "healthy shining hair" and "beautiful skin", soaps and shampoos containing SLS can lead to direct damamge to the hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and liver toxicity) and then a slew of other multi-syllabic lab concoctions with several FD&C colors to boot.  All of this simply boils down to a lot of bad with a clean, fresh scent.  So, what the heck?!?!?!

I know natural means jack to companies nowadays, trying to get in good with the green movement, eco-friendly people, vegans, celiacs, and more aware consumers like my husband and I but these products were the grossest misinterpretation of natural I have seen in a long time.  They had this great brochure with pictures of bees and avocados and apples and that's all great, but when you put 12 known toxic chemicals and carcinogens in a lip balm, natural is not the first word that comes to mind.

I wish I could post the exact ingredients up but to be honest, I threw it away.  I could have given it back to the gifter or to a few friends I know that use Lush, but frankly, I couldn't sleep at night knowing someone was ingesting that through their skin by way of me.

While shopping at Whole Foods earlier, I walked past the aisles in the middle (I mostly shop on either side of the store) and I picked up things that boasted "all natural ingredients" or "wholesome" or "100% pure" only to find crap on the back label.  Take Johnson's Natural Nourishing Baby Shampoo in its creme colored bottle with green top- what's the first ingredient?  Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  Even the organic label is misleading.  I've said it 100 times but I'll say it again- an organic marshmallow is still a marshmallow.  Skippy Natural peanut butter is still a non-organic shit peanut butter.  Organic gummy bears with the word "nutritious" printed on their box never means they are not sugar bombs.

I hope more consumers wise up.  Marketers, advertisers and corporations have completely bastardized the natural world and people have to know this and respond.

My thoughts on some women's issues.

This is an article I wrote for a friend's website. Her website is to every topic what the "Truth" campaign is to smoking. Voila...

MAKING THE SHIFT

As a woman, I am very passionate about the topic of women’s health. Especially after I married my husband- a chef and health educator devoted to people’s health and vitality. He inspires me to always ask questions and dig deep to find truths. Admittedly, my way of life was not always based on the principles of a sound mind and sound body. I haphazardly allowed external influences to manipulate my thinking, basically leaving my health and my womanhood in the hands of society and others. It is only now- after many years of acquiring wisdom, insight from within and and making many lifestyle changes- that it has become clear how dangerous it is, especially for women, to leave the responsibility for their well being in the hands of others. Women are delicate. That is not to say we are weak for within the intricacies of our minds and the systems of our astral and causal bodies lies strength beyond what most of us have experienced. Each woman in the world is a reflection of Gaia Ma, the divine Earth Mother. Therefore we should treat ourselves and each other as such. It is a danger to our lives- as it is to all of life itself- to continue looking to others for how to navigate our health and our whole lives. If you look around you, the skinny sexy bombshell image is being shoved down our throats by a long-standing patriarchy. According to society, it is not okay to have women represent each and every point of a wide spectrum of the true meaning of beauty. In society, that wide spectrum is whittled down to one very small point on the spectrum- size 2, tall, long legs, perfectly coiffed long shiny voluminous hair, big boobs, a tight round toosh, hairless armpits that magically smell like flowers, legs and nether regions, flat sculpted abs, perfectly smooth velvety skin and big pouty pink or red lips. This has left no room for individuality and originality.

This has also left many women feeling short-changed and depressed. Say you were born a big-boned size 12, how could you ever compete with a Victoria’s Secret model or even make an attempt to look like one? The truth is, we don’t have to. Regardless of what many men and society would have us believe, beauty is a reflection of what is going on inside each person.

A very long time ago, a “plus-sized” older friend of mine looked me deeply in the eyes and said to me, “I DARE you to love your body and your self as you are NOW.” I had been complaining about my body and this was her response. I thought she was being preachy and hokey, but those words stayed with me and are still ringing in my ears now- 15 years later. Eventually, I turned to plastic surgery to try to fix the complexes and conflicts within. If you look around, you will see that many people have turned to the quick fix that plastic surgery delivers. But as I, and many others have and will find, it is a polish that eventually- if not quickly- loses its luster. I say, instead of looking to fix things physically, let us women go inside and tune back in to our intuition and divine insights. Only this way will we truly find lasting joy- not fleeting happiness- and true mental, physical and emotional health.

THE TRUTHS SHALL SET YOU FREE

Did you know that deodorants and anti-perspirants are very dangerous to your health? Most of them have large amounts of aluminum which is very detrimental to any human body. When it comes to health, I recommend going as natural as possible. I know it’s an inconvenience, but we were born with sweat glands in our armpits. That is our nature. When we fight nature (nature is easy), we come upon illness (dis-ease). So, we may have to sweat a little. Is it worth smearing toxic chemicals into your armpits every day thereby compromising the health of the lymph and other glands around your breasts? I personally don’t think so. I stopped using any mainstream deodorants a long time ago (Secret, Degree, etc) and opted for Tom’s or the natural crystal deodorants. Today, I don’t use any at all unless I know I am going to sweat profusely during a workout or spending a lot of time outside on a very hot day. How have I completely forsaken deodorants and anti-perspirants? Well, here’s the true “secret”. After only a few months of detoxing from the nasty chemical stuff (i.e. not using it even once so as to not shrink the lymph nodes, thereby allowing your body to get rid of toxins), your body odor is no longer offensive. But you must be patient and not expect to not smell in just a few days. It will take some time. It also depends on how clean your diet is. The cleaner it is, the quicker your body will come back to its natural odor without that daily dose of heavy toxic aluminums.

This next one isn’t so easy.

Bras. Every woman needs to wear one, right?

Wrong.

Have you ever heard of an indigenous woman with breast cancer? No, of course not. Because they let the girls hang out all day, free of any kind of constriction. And this is the idea I am shooting for. If you are large breasted and can’t get away with not wearing a bra or just don’t want your nipples to show, you can buy bras that go from little to maximum support that do not have underwires. Underwires seriously hinder lymphatic flow and your lymph lines are your life lines!

Beyond that, however, let’s look at the real purpose of bras. Beyond support for large breasts, they have NO PURPOSE. Victoria’s secret is that most women don’t need to wear bras. And those that need or want to, can definitely do it without spending $50+ on them. That’s her other dirty little secret. If you really look at it, lingerie is a billion dollar industry based on fake societal standards that continue to render women powerless. Super padded double push up lacey very sexy bras... you pay a lot out of your pocket for each of those adjectives and the simple truth is, those frills are hurting women. What is sexy about looking like every other woman? And look at the breast cancer rate in women today. One in every three women. Illnesses aren’t random occurrences. They have a cause. Even the smallest amount of research will unearth a whole lot of truth.

SOME INFORMATION TO CHEW ON

I had the pleasure to meet Daniel Vitalis- an amazing health educator and owner of Surthrival health supplements- when he was in Miami and we spoke about many topics. One of the things he touched upon was the issue of breast cancer and what could be done to avoid it. I had heard this before in a landmark talk he gave at a public library in Portland, Maine and I would like to share it with you. It is eye-opening, very thought-provoking and helped me form some more conclusions of my own to make better health decisions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHkgJX_ew24&feature=related

(The above link is only part 1 of his talk... parts 2-6 are also on You Tube and can be found to the right of the video of part 1. You can also go to www.templeoftheelemental.com and get the full 60 minute video if you enter your email address.)

SOME MORE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

On the topic of women’s wellness, I would like to say a word about KFC. Yes, THAT KFC. The one with the “double down” sandwich- two greasy “chicken” breasts with “bacon” and melted pepper-jack “cheese” in the middle. Susan G. Komen, the leading breast cancer foundation for women, has teamed up with KFC to donate some cents on each dollar for every bucket of “chicken” sold. All that money on research, and the Susan G. Komen foundation has not yet made the connection that what you eat directly affects your health? The hormones in the “chicken” of KFC and other fast food places (and any “chicken” that isn’t grass fed and pasture raised for that matter) is full of hormones and other incredibly gnarly things that can add up to become serious illnesses including breast cancer. Does anyone understand this partnership between Susan G. Komen and KFC? Does anyone understand why it seems like companies and such WANT to make and keep people ill? This is a question that demands some kind of response.

PREVENTION

What I’m sure we all can understand is that prevention is essential. I mentioned breast cancer because it is a very serious disease among today’s women, but I believe prevention of any dis-ease is something we can all get behind. Treating any illness is very difficult and unfortunately usually not effective unless you get deep into the root cause. Let us not get sick so that we don’t have to scramble to figure out how to undo something. So that we don’t have to depend on pharmaceutical companies and allopathic doctors who don’t necessarily have our health in mind to solve the problem. We are all- EVERY ONE OF US- capable of taking care of our health through diet (clean food and water), exercise (at least 20 minutes every day), seeking knowledge and- when something perhaps gets a bit too overwhelming for our self to handle- seeking a responsible and knowledgeable health practitioner with a respect for not only our physical body but our emotional and spiritual bodies as well.

Let’s leave behind the images we have been fed of what a woman is supposed to look like. DARE TO LOVE YOUR SELF AND YOUR BODY.

NOW.

AS IT IS.

Not when you lose 10 lbs. Not when you break up with your boyfriend. Not when you get that new triple boost mascara.

The time is now.