Holding Back the Sea- Houkje Ross

Are You Trying to Hold Back the Sea?

Lately, I’ve been a bit sad. A relationship that I thought was blossoming is now ending. I’ve been feeling a bit overcast… like a typical Dutch day.

My mother is from the Netherlands (also known as Holland). It is a cloudy, rainy country. Despite the weather, the Dutch are an industrious folk.

They are infamous for reclaiming the sea. They took large chunks of marshy land, built massive barriers and drained the water to create more land.

A large portion of the country is lower than the level of the sea. To keep it from constantly flooding, waters are held back by a system of strong dykes.

Remember the story of Hans Brinker? The boy who saves Holland from drowning by putting his finger in a leaky dyke?

Water always flows to the lowest point.

Hans Brinker was working hard to hold that sea back.

Sadness is like water behind a dyke. If there is a hole in the wall caused by a death, a loss of a relationship or job… the water starts leaking. Left to its own devices, the water would eventually crack the wall open.

Like water, emotions naturally want to flow. If you hold them back and build a huge resistance to them, they get stuck. But if you let them go where they need to, they can bring energy forward and balance back.

I like Holland. I don’t want it to be flooded. But when it comes to my own sadness… I’ll take the flood any day. It washes the sadness away more quickly.

Besides, I’m pretty sure a cloud does not put out the sun.

Resources on Dealing with Grief

The Kübler-Ross grief cycle – Details each stage as it applies to persons facing death or other negative life change. Note that the cycle as presented includes seven stages, including initial shock. (ChangingMinds.org)

What is Grief? – Lays out general stages of grief with tips for helping someone who is grieving. (University of Illinois Counseling Center)

Complicated Grief – Learn the difference between the normal grief reaction and complicated grief. Includes information about symptoms, risk factors, and treatment. (Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide)

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Liat’s Tailfeather Designs

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What was your background leading up to Tail Feather Designs? I was making feather earrings for myself and girls would come up to me offering to buy them off my ears… So I started expanding my designs and vision. Soon after I was offered a booth at the d&a show in LA, and less than a week later I designed a collection and my good friend, designer Stu Smith, created my logo and website it was an amazing team effort and we pulled it off just in time for the show- which was hugely successful!

Why did you decide to start making jewelry? I had just moved to Venice beach to open up our LA office for my conscious marketing company globalkinect.com. I started making feather earrings as a hobby and a creative outlet from the events and marketing world in which I was immersed in. It gave me a chance to go “inward” and reflect silently which was a nice change.

Did you have any fears when making this transition into jewelry making and if so how did you deal with them? No fear at all. Its all pretty much unfolded seamlessly which proves that it’s meant to be and it’s in the flow.

What is the inspiration for your jewelry? I was inspired by a pair of feather earrings that someone gifted me at burning man years ago. I was touched by the gift but the pair broke, so I wanted to make a new pair and also one for the girl who gifted me. Tailfeather designs was always inspired by gifting and giving. Its about creating unique pieces that are blessed and meditated on so that the person wearing them feels the love.

Could you tell me about how you source your materials, especially your feathers? Feathers are sourced from a few different native American bird farms. When certain birds mate their Tailfeathers naturally shed. The feathers are blessed and then sent to me. The hardware is infused crystals and gems that are gold or silver trimmed.

What is special/different about your latest collection? I just finished the third collection. The first collection which is all on the website, inspired the second collection in which the pieces are similar quality but all the feathers are interchangeable giving each piece versatility and options. My last collection, also on the website, the Maui collection was all inspired by the one-of-a kind pieces I was making abc selling at the craft and farmers market here in Maui where I currently live. The price point is more affordable $30-$80 and the pieces are very unique and beautiful.

How has starting this business changed your life? It has gotten my creative juices really flowing, having worked in marketing for so many years, I always dreamed of marketing my own product. Designing and creating had made me explore so many other sides to myself and has led me to meet my soul mate and partner.

What other things in life light you up? I love art and traveling. And live for snowboarding! I have been snorkeling lately which is a very fun exercise. And of course all the amazing inspiring friends and family that inspire me every day.

What are you most grateful for in your life right now? I am grateful for the people in my life. My partner Blake has been such a huge support and inspiration. We are expecting our first child so i am grateful for that of course. I am also blessed to have such amazing women in my life that have also been so helpful supportive and amazing.

What is the most important piece of advice you could give to someone who wants to start their own craft based business? Start out as a hobby, if you truly enjoy it and it’s in the flow it will naturally evolve into a success. If there are many roadblocks and it’s a bumpy process, take a step back and remember why you started doing it in the first place.

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My Mother is a Hiker – Houkje Ross

Last summer, I quit my job. I lingered there for 3 years, and knew from the beginning it wasn’t really the right fit for me. But I kept telling myself it is a good job, a great opportunity to work in international development.

As much as I tried to convince myself that the job was a great opportunity, it didn’t work. By the end of my third year, I was completely burnt out. I came home from work, exhausted, with no energy to spend on friends, hobbies; even my dog suffered from my dismal mood when I neglected to take him on his walks.

I had forgotten a golden rule: If it’s too heavy, don’t take it.

My mother is a hiker —the kind that straps a pack to her back and takes a journey in the woods a few weeks at a time. She brings all her food, a tiny camp stove, a sleeping bag, a jackknife, a first aide kit, and a few other items.

I’ve watched her prepare for these trips… spreading out everything she will bring on a bed or the floor… carefully packing each thing as tightly as she can get it. When the pack is full, she steps on the scale to make sure she isn’t ‘over’. Good hikers know that they can only carry a certain percentage of their body weight. If they carry too much, they may injure themselves.

She can only bring the essentials, only what she needs to sleep, eat, and hike. How much space and how much weight each item takes up in the pack is immensely important. She ruthlessly scrutinizes each item before it goes in the pack.

Like hikers, I think we are all carrying around packs on our backs.. full of the thoughts, people, jobs, relationships…. that make up our life.

Sometimes, the most important thing we can do for ourselves is look inside our pack, take stock of what we’ve put in our life, and remove things that may be weighing us down.

Some things just don’t belong in our lives… no matter how noble, or how ‘great of an opportunity’ they may seem. The job I quit was not essential for my journey. If it had been, it would have felt lighter.

How To Lighten Your Load and Find Your Essentials

1. Get quiet. Take a few deep breaths. Breath all the way down to your stomach and back up through your chest and neck and mouth. Do this until you feel relaxed and present.
2. Remember a time in your life that was fantastic. I mean, you felt so great your body was singing. Go back to that memory. Stay there until you can remember what you were wearing, who was around you, what the smell in the air was like… how your body felt. Write it down. You are looking for sensations in your body … like, my chest felt warm and open, my shoulders are loose, I’m smiling. Include enough detail so that if you had to describe the sensation to a friend, they would understand you.
3. Name the feeling (I felt like a ball of joy or the totally relaxed feeling)… something you can easily remember.
4. Go through your week and write down everything that you have to do in the next 7 days. Rate each item on your list according to how close it comes to the feeling you named above. (Ie. It was pretty close to being a 10 on the ball of joy scale… or it was a 1 not even close!).
5. As you begin to notice what activities, people, things, places… feel like a 10 for you.. you’ll also start to recognize a few things on your list that are lower in number.
6. Ditch the low numbers and make room for more activities, people, etc.. that make you feel great. If you are only left with a handful of things that are a 10 on your list… don’t fret… that just means you have some room for experimenting and trying out new things.

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Drumfish- Be Inspired to Begin (music)

The bombardment and seduction of slick and glamorous illusory images and the mostly scripted “reality” tv, in our fame culture, almost make a person, especially a young person, feel as if fame is the only valuable measure of success. So it is refreshing and inspiring to hear of a group of musicians getting together to make music for the sheer joy and process of playing together, because they feel called to it, because they have something to say; oh yeah and their talented. Of course they wouldn’t mind if everyone in the world heard their music as well, but their focus is on the journey- and you hear it in their music. Drumfish is the name of the band and it subsists of Aaron Bertoglio on drums and percussion, James Hanford on base and vocals, Larry France on guitar, piano, and vocals, Alex Petty on guitar and vocals, and Margie on violin. This once broken up band has reunited with three of its original members and it looks as if time has allowed Drumfish to mature and to look inward questioning the illusions of fear and apathy, questioning oneself, and endlessly searching for the light. In the song Motion, from the CD Memoirs, Alex sings:

Nothing was ever in your hands
Nothing was ever in mine
Only love remains when the illusion falls away
Let your mind gently hover over the details of your life
Let your life arise by letting be what is

This is, for those of you who are familiar with the writings of David R. Hawkins, Power verses Force. A lifting of the veil and clearing of illusions to discover what truths dwell beneath. This is not “yes sir, no sir” or “roll over and play dead,” but a powerful call to look beyond what you are told, to look so far beyond that you look within, because that is where the small humble voice and feeling of truth lives.
In the process of interviewing Larry France from Drumfish it became clear that the purpose of the interview was to call forth the inspiration of doing something you love doing, for the simple joy and process of it, not just for an end result. I feel that a person, myself included, will sometimes, get so overwhelmed by achieving the goal, or by the fame image, that he or she forgets it is a daily, even playful, journey, and this fogetting will often stop us before we begin. So remember and begin!

How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play? Each of us has been playing for most of our lives. We started young and some cases at 4-5 years old. Aaron plays drums and percussion. James plays bass and sings. Alex plays guitar and sings. I play guitar, piano and sing. Recent addition Margie plays violin.

Drumfish broke up in 1999 and then got back together in 2009; is this incarnation of the band running smoothly and if so why is that? This new incarnation is running very well. We did lose our original bass player Neil Richardson when he moved away last year, but after a long search we found James Hanford who has been amazing. He jumped into the group both musically and personally like he’s been here since day one. But the biggest reason that things are going well is that we all see the big picture now. This is going to sound cliché and/or boring but we’re playing now just because we love it. We don’t need to do this for money. We all have jobs. And we constantly say that if we’re not having fun then we’ll just stop. Many of our rehearsals end up being more about hanging out with friends than about playing music.

How has starting up the band again changed you on a personal level? I think all four of the members felt like there was a void in our lives. There was a time when we were all trying out various other projects, each of which seemed to fail. There was some kind of karmic experience one day when we all realized that we’d each been listening to our old CDs. And there was just a feeling that we needed to get back together. And it has just been a very natural thing. We all click so well musically, but even more so we click personally. We just love doing it. It wouldn’t matter if we never sold one CD. We enjoy the process so much that it doesn’t matter. However we of course, we do love it when people validate our efforts by coming to shows or joining our Facebook page or buying CDs, etc…

Who writes the songs? What are the pervading themes in your music? Songs are generally first initiated by Alex or me. Sometimes a musical idea is developed nearly to completion by one of us. Other times it’s only a snippet, but at some point that idea is brought to the band as a whole and it is then developed the rest of the way. However we think of songs as living things. They are never “finished” even if they are recorded. We view the recordings on the CDs as a memorialization of the songs at a particular moment in time. They will continue to evolve after that as we rehearse and play live concerts. There are some very profound themes in our latest CD. We noticed that many of our new songs carried a message about a spiritual awakening within oneself. A call to make a change within in order to effect a change in the world around you. And as we realized this we began to tailor the other songs to reflect the same message. For more on this, see Alex’s blog post about it….
Could you talk more about “No Hesitation” was it inspired by a specific experience or is it a more general quest for answers? In this particular song, a protagonist has gone through a series of internal questions and struggles before beginning to “see the light”. And in this song, he is finally beginning to understand. He is going for it with “No Hesitation”. You can hear the dueling vocal lines in the song. The lead line is the protagonist’s thoughts and the backup line is his conscious talking back to him. Even a third line is brought in during the third verse. And these are representations of that internal struggle. Musically the song was inspired by a guitar snippet that I had started playing. Without much more it was brought to Alex where the dueling vocals lines were first created and then brought to the entire band where it was developed to the point we hear on the CD.

You have said that the artwork, produced for Drumfish’s Cds, is a big part of the band’s overall experience, why is that? Who does the artwork and where does the inspiration come from? All of the art is done by Aaron Bertoglio, the drummer/percussionist. He is is a graphic designer by day and brings all of that talent into the band as well. He also does all the posters and logo designs as well. Aaron may not often come up with the actual lyrics used in the songs, but he is an integral part of the entire musical and lyrical process in terms of overall themes and ideas. And he represents those ideas behind each song and the overarching work in the artwork. A lot of time is spent making sure that not only the imagery is indicative of the lyrics but also it represents the back stories and hidden meanings. There are often messages or “clues” put in the artwork that relate to the songs which might not be at first transparent to a listener. In addition each of the CDs intertwine and that is represented in the artwork as well. You could say that Aaron is a modern day Leonardo da Vinci.
Who are Drumfish’s influences? The influences are pretty wide and eclectic. Originally the band met as music majors in college so there is a lot of classical, choral, jazz, Latin, orchestral stuff in there. You’ll hear it in the songs in various sections. But as a rock band there are also the influences of many of the “popular” genres as well…rock, pop, funk, etc… I think each member would give a pretty different set of artists if you asked them to make a list.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Historically our biggest challenge was always a struggle to get heard. We want the entire world to hear the music and that’s really hard to make happen if you’re not being backed by a monster record label. We do what we can on our own. I think the biggest challenge now is that we all have jobs and families which are important to us. We struggle to balance all of those things while still trying to put as much time and effort into the band as possible without jeopardizing the other parts of our lives.

How do you and your band mates define success for Drumfish? Are you happy with the current popularity or do you want to take that further? We would love to be the most popular band in the world; to be able to do music for a living and not have to worry about other jobs. And I think any band would have those kinds of goals. However we are also very happy with the other parts of our lives so if nothing else ever came from the band other then our enjoyment of playing, that would be fine. As said earlier, we enjoy the process. That’s all we need, but if any other things come out of that, then we would be very happy with those developments as well. We also have a goal to create a mountaintop studio called “Eagle’s Nest Studios” and are in the process of making that happen.

What advice do you have for people that want to form their own bands? Just do it. Jump right in and start playing and have fun. Work hard but get enjoyment out of that work. Find people that you enjoy being around and mesh with musically. Enjoy the process and everything else will fall into place. If it starts to feel like an obligation then stop.

Drumfish will be playing the 8×10 in Baltimore on Saturday Feb 5th. For more information call: (410) 625-2000.

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Natural Remedies for Seasonal Ailments

Many people I know are either in the midst of a contagious cough, common cold, flu, or fever or just getting over it. To maintain your immunity through this season one of my favorite options is olive leaf extract which is a natural antiviral, antibiotic, and anti-fungal herb. Of course wash your hands frequently, eat lots of veggies, greens and fresh raw fruit or, if you’re not a big veggie fan, supplement with a Super Green powder preferably raw and organic. Garlic is also a great immunity defense. The latest, and as I have heard from a nurse friend of mine, a very successful immune defense, is a good mushroom complex like New Chapter’s Life Shield Immunity. All one needs to do is google – mushroom complex immunity defense sale- to find a host of options. If you have already contracted the dreaded cough, cold, fever, or flu you could choose a homeopathic option, found in your local health food store and chosen specific to your symptoms, or choose a natural ingredient that you can look for in a pill, tincture, or tea, or as one of the ingredients in a complex natural remedy. I found the natural remedies below in a great resource book called Prescription for Natural Cures, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D. – copyright 2004.
Share with Tribe Tonic, in the comment section below, the natural remedies you use to raise your immunity or fight illness.

COMMON COLD (p. 162)
Echinacea and goldenseal: Both of these will enhance the immune system and Echinacea has anti-viral properties.
Lomatium Dissectum: Has strong anti-viral effects.
Vitamin C: Supports immune system function through increased white blood cell activity.
Zinc: Supports immune function may have anti-viral effects. (Herbalozenge makes a great tasting Elderberry Zinc Lozenge.)
Ginger: Helps with a sore throat and chills.
Astragalus: Excellent for preventing the common cold. Do not take when you have a fever.

A hot fresh ginger and lemon tea is soothing to a sore throat. For sore throats I also like to use Propolis Echinacea throat spray, carried by Herb Pharm. This will usually knock out any bacteria in my throat, which leads to a quicker recovery.

COUGH (p. 172)
Licorice (glycyrrhiza glabra): Reduces coughing, enhances the immune system, and soothes the respiratory tract. Not to be used if you have high blood pressure.
Cherry Bark: Reduces coughing especially for wet coughs. (This ingredient can be found in Umcka Cough Syrups.)
N-acetylsysteine (NAC): Reduces a wet cough, Thins the mucus making it easier to expectorate.
Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus): This is an herb that promotes mucus discharge and has anti-inflammatory effects on the respiratory tract.
Echinacea and Goldenseal: Both herbs enhance immune function. Goldenseal helps to dry up mucus.
Astragalus: It strengthens weak lungs, increases the body’s resistance to infection. Good treatment for chronic or acute bronchitis. Do not take with a fever.

FEVER (p.230)
Yarrow: Induces a sweat to help break a high fever.
Echinacea: Stimulates immune function and reduces fever.
Ginger: Helps break a fever, especially if you have chills and a sore throat.
Elderberry: Helps with fever related to the flu or other viral infections.
Vitamin C: Supports immune function by increasing white blood cell activity.

FLU (p.248)
Lomatium dissectum: Strong anti-viral effects.
Elderberry: Reduces coughing and inhibits the replication of the flu virus.
Echinacea and Goldenseal: Both improve immune function. Goldenseal dries up mucus. Echinacea is anti-viral.
Oregano Oil: A powerful anti-viral.
Vitamin C: Supports immune system function by increasing white blood cells.
Ginger: Aids with sore throat and chills.

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The Story of Cosmetics (not just for women)

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Sweet Junkyard Minnesota Pine

                I know people that would rather eat raw eggs than participate in the commercialism and trappings of Christmas.  The complaints range anywhere from it’s a consumer holiday, Coca- Cola invented Santa Claus to what does a Christmas tree have to do with Jesus.  When I took down my Christmas tree today, on January 10th 16 days after Christmas, a little part of me died.  It’s a fake tree that had wound up in the yard of a dear friend.  Her shared yard neighbor has a constant heap of yard sale wares bubbling into the driveway; shoes and half worn stuffed animals percolate into the walkway.  The neighbor, because of the eyesore and for the required need of agile movements and an obstacle course like mind set in order to get to my friend’s front door, kindly told both of us to, “take whatever you want, no charge.”  So I often scan the heaps quickly and thoroughly, on the way to visit my friend, panning through river rocks for gold and luckily one spring morning there it shown as shiny and warm as a golden nugget glowing through running water, a brand new boxed fake Christmas tree. Of course I could only see a photo of the The label post fade.  gorgeously full and life like tree on the label of the cardboard box, as I didn’t dare disturb the perfectly packaged parcel; I am all too familiar with the distress of trying to shove newly opened tents and sleeping bags back into their impossibly minute original packaging.  The label on the pristine box read – 6 ft Minnesota Pine with the original price tag of $19.99.  I grabbed the box by the handle and nearly skipped to my friend’s house exclaiming, “We have a tree, we have a tree!”  She wasn’t quite as beaming as I was about the whole ordeal but she seemed to take pleasure in the image of me dancing around with a fake Christmas tree and was even more pleased when it was decided she wouldn’t have to take on the display and decoration of it in her house.  I was more than happy to take that on. 

                Neither one of us had room to store the new found treasure, so the box was forced to weather the rough California sun on my friend’s porch, where it’s label slowly began to fade waiting for the exalted day its contents would finally be pulled out and appreciated for all of its fluffy green fullness .  Over the ensuing months I would casually check to make sure the box was still on her porch.  One day I nearly panicked when I missed the box behind a chair, but my friend reassured me she wouldn’t get rid of the tree. 

                Thanksgiving finally came and even though my mostly on again vegetarian self loves the festive gathering centered around a juicy turkey and fall harvest vegetables, I couldn’t wait for the turkey to cross the road so I could put up my 6’ Minnesota Pine.  I waited for 2 days after Thanksgiving, more out of respect for the Native Americans than the Pilgrims considering all of the upheaval the white man’s arrival caused, and then it was on.  On Saturday I texted a handful of friends to come over for a tree trimming; which I later discovered a few people thought that meant I would be trimming back the leaves on my plants and I will blame the medium attendance on that minor loss of translation.  Before people arrived, my dear friend, who kept the tree on her porch all those months, and I began to assemble the tree; earlier that day we had gotten some spiked hot apple cider, and goodies for the guests and some lights and ribbon for the tree, so we were well prepared to begin the process.  I pulled the tree out of the box and began to connect the three umbrella like parts of the tree.  The first thing we noticed is that it was clearly not 6’ it barely reached 4’10”.  This was not a big deal because I was putting it atop a low coffee table and the tree was only $19.99 and free for me so what are you going to do.  The next thing that we noticed was that the tree was not full and fluffy it was actually full of holes and fine haired as opposed to thick.  So we than began the equivalent of a balding man’s comb over on the tree by pulling and carefully placing branches, even if the directions didn’t quite make sense, until it was as full as it could possibly be.  Standing there, bare the tree looked like the busty cousin of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree; a bit fuller but still related.  Despite the sharp contrast of the seemingly real Minnesota Pine on the faded label to the in the flesh under interpretation of a Minnesota Pine, I was still very excited about all of the decorating possibilities.  I then noticed my friend, who housed that tree for all of those months, began to get excited too.  Pretty soon we were skipping to the tree, finding the perfect spot for each ornament, prioritizing its placement, gleefully naming our favorites and what we liked about them, and giggling at our unexpected enthusiasm.  My neighbor joined us in these early stages and in a pinch was able to fix the broken lights that I had used on my foot tall tree from the year before.  The enthusiasm for the tree appeared to be infectious .  It went like that throughout the night people stopping by, adding an ornament to the plucky petite tree, eating, drinking, and being merry as they say.  Friends basked in the sparkle of the tree now filled with ribbon, lights, and ornaments that had been gifted to me every Christmas mostly from one of my best friends in college, and ornaments that I had bought at post Christmas sales.  Now they all had a home and a purpose. 

                The tree provided a whimsical warm magic for the time I had it up.   That little boxed 4’10” free, fake Minnesota Pine inspired conversation and exuded the subtle comfort of tradition.  It brought life and I suppose that is why I felt a little part of me had died today when I took it down.  Now my living room is back to normal and I can see the hillside more clearly out the window that the tree had temporarily blocked.  At night the hillside twinkles with the lights from the inside of each home and in the day you can see those homes and the trees that cover the hillside between them.  It’s peaceful and I will get over missing the tree, but the next time someone brings up the pointlessness of  Christmas traditions I will just smile and quietly enjoy the thought of that sweet junkyard Minnesota Pine.

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The September Issue (documentary)


Welcome to the first installment of my monthly inspired recommendations.  If you haven’t seen The September Issue by director R.J. Cutler, a documentary which largely follows the lives of Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and creative director at Vogue, Grace Coddington, I highly recommend it.  Whether or not you think fashion is frivolous or high art it is impossible to ignore the sheer forward moving force of two of fashion’s most important influences.  As a film school veteran I was often at a loss to find women on film unapologetically and systematically achieving a goal.  It is refreshing to witness the unemotional decisiveness of Anna Wintour as she cooly edits a fashion shoot wardrobe or the inspired artistic genius of Grace Coddington as she passionately defends the artistic integrity of her photos.   These two contrasting women move through the everyday challenges of the fashion world and within their personal relationship to each other with clear goals and determination.  Ultimately this documentary is a meditation on active and effective female visionaries.  Watch these women devise their powerful self-realized lives and be inspired to manifest your vision regardless of life’s inevitable obstacles.

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Ojai Revelations

supplied by the Ojai Foundation

Sometimes ancestral wisdom drops in through a gentle conversation on a mountaintop. This weekend I went to the Ojai Foundation in Ojai California for Council II training. Twenty-seven people gathered to tell stories from the heart, in a circle, holding a talking piece. At the end of my stay a friend and I walked up a hill to a spot called the Power Point. The power point is a place that the Chumash tribe held sacred and is said to be a vortex of sorts, a strong point of energy. When I walked up to the spot I felt no surge of power no electrical currents. I just saw a bare spot of grass. I imagined the Chumash journeying to this spot. I questioned what they would do once they arrived. Did they dance, or sit? Did they speak or were they silent? Did they form a circle? Still I didn’t feel all that different. My friend and I walked a few feet to the seat made of stone, which overlooks the Ojai Valley. We shared the seat as we talked about the weekend and our families, watching over the vivid green land. We laughed generating intermittent ”oohs” and “ahs” while she told me the story of her allergy ridden cat that, after many endeavors to heal him, now needs a clear cone over his head to keep himself from scratching it. We sympathized for the poor creature’s condition but couldn’t help giggling over the image of him licking the inside of his plastic cone in an attempt to clean his fur. I suggested she try giving the cat olive leaf extract because it is anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial; it rids the body of the bad elements while keeping the good ones intact. She was familiar with it and said she would try mixing it in with his wet food.
The valley cradled us in its quiet strength. The high clouds sheltered us from the sun and made the deep greens and bright yellow leaves on the walnut trees appear even more lush and dramatic; as we sat and looked and talked the impressions of the weekend made their way into my cellular memory colliding and comingling with my own experience. The stories of the circle settled into my body taking root like the many trees in the valley. Away from the yurt and the bodies which held intelligent faces, shining cheeks, and golden memories, the gratitude became clear. The gratitude became a feeling as deep and as beautiful as that wide eyed valley, pouring over me like a warm bucket of water at the end of the day.


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Unforgettable Persimmon Warmth

I sit on my pink and white fake tiled bathroom floor  soaking in the heat of my Thermador wall heater. The warmth of copper coils, of my newly grouted bathtub, of the dinner guests at P’s earlier tonight, of a spontaneous raw Persimmon banana ginger mousse, of a few bites of P’s tasty vegan stew- with no fake vegan meats.  

One of the dinner guests mentioned that Christmas is not about a religion but about the warmth that is expressed and I agree we all agreed.


Unforgettable Persimmon Mousse


1 1/2 cups assortment of raw walnuts, almonds, pecans (soak for 2 or more hrs, let dry out)

1 tbsp raw virgin coconut oil

6-8 dates soaked in 3/4 cup purified water for 2 hrs (will use the left over date water for the filling)

capful of vanilla

pinch of salt

In a vitamix or good blender blend the nuts together. Add the melted coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. Then add the dates one to two at a time until crust sticks together nicely. Grease a 9X9 glass pan with coconut oil press the nutty crust into the bottom of the pan. Put into freezer while you make the filling.


3 ripe persimmon

1 bananna

2 cups raw cashews ( soaked for at least 2 hrs)

1/2 cup raw virgin room tempature coconut oil (1/4 cup if you want to limit the flavor of coconut)

Cinammon to taste ( at least 5 shakes of ground cinammon)

2 tsp raw honey

1/3 cup date juice (left over from the soaking dates)

1tsp- 1tbsp (to taste) of fresh grated ginger

2 capfuls vanilla

1 dry vanilla bean

Blend all of the ingredients together except the vanilla bean. Blend until smooth. make any necessary spice additions. Pour filling over chilled nut crust. Grate the dried vanilla bean over the smoothed over mousse. Chill infreezer for 1 hr. The longer you freeze it the firmer it will get. This could become like an ice cream cake.

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