Family Yoga Retreat in Kona

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20170331_074145Imagine 11 family members, ages 1 to 82, glamping out at an ocean-front, off-the-grid, yoga retreat center on the island of Hawaii. Pretty cool, right? When my kid sister first told us her brilliant idea, I had doubts Dad would share her enthusiasm.

20170402_101857_002But my sister worked her magic, and Dad and Mom agreed. A few months later 4 sisters, 3 brothers-in-law, one niece, 2 parents, and a friend convened at Hale Kai.

20170402_080833This is no ordinary place. Hale Kai (Hawaiian for Ocean House) is a charming ecological yoga center designed and built by David over the past 30 years.
20170402_080643Once an acre of thorn trees, now it is a mini Balinese yoga village. Ask him and he will tell you about each piece of reclaimed wood he refinished or milled to build the floors, the decks and railings; the materials each roof is made from; the beautiful cabinets from coconut wood, and so on. Some of the huts David designed and had made in Bali.
20170402_080554My husband and I stayed in the Rose Room, which is a reconstructed Balinese Ceremonial hut with beautiful carvings inside and out.
20170331_084009Deborah, yogini extraordinaire, has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1969. My sister Nicole took her yoga teacher training here at Hale Kai with Deborah, and has been an assistant teacher ever since.
20170401_074645This yoga shala, and their retreat center, is the perfect place to relax, breathe deeply, and stretch.
20170402_080737Not everyone would choose to vacation in such a rustic setting,
20170401_075423but it has its advantages.
Probably the greatest benefit of being off-the-grid is having quality time together (which rarely happens when everyone is plugged into their daily lives and tech devices).
20170329_182426Without the distraction and noise of media, we talked, walked, swam, snorkeled, practiced yoga, sang, and ate together. Definitely the most peaceful and happy family get-together I’ve experienced.
20170402_095032Content in the hammock, my awesome Dad.
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Challenges with the Creative Process

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Challenges with the Creative Process

IMG_2191The Creative Process has all kinds of
stumbling blocks, hurdles, and detours.

Every artist I know is on the verge of utter despair
before the breakthrough happens!

Too many songwriters, visual artists, choreographers,
screenwriters, actors, singers – gave up along the way.

Fortunately, many others did not.IMG_2236

This is a pep talk, to myself.
Frustrated I’m “not good enough” or “a gifted artist,”
I assume it’s harder for me than for others.

Standing back, I size up this giant hurdle, and instead of challenging it,
pull out my pencils and begin a new sketch.

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Full Moon Rising

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Full Moon Rising

Full moon rising
radiant and transcendent

nearby clouds
surround her like a cloak
illuminated by
her bright heavenly light

the concrete city below
is dwarfed and insignificant
veiled in darkness

look to the light, in awe
of her magnificence

look to the heavens
and feel humbled
by her majesty

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What Children Know That Adults Forgot: Walking Barefoot is Good for You

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What Children Know That Adults Forgot: Walking Barefoot is Good for You

youngBoyBeachIt’s simple and it’s free, and everyone can do it as often as they like. Whether you choose a riverbed, a beach, a mountaintop, or your own backyard, walking barefoot on the earth recharges and rebalances your earthly body.

JumpingGirlsBarefootThe best shoes are truly your own feet. Your feet have more nerve endings than anywhere else on your body; about 1300 per square inch. When barefoot, your feet absorb the magnetic energy of the earth and distribute that energy throughout every nerve and organ in your body. Walking barefoot increases blood flow to the brain and awakens creativity. It also strengthens the muscles in your feet, legs and back, improving your posture and overall physical strength.

childongrassShoes on the other hand, insulate you from the earth, restricting your feet’s natural movement and blocking their ability to feel, and to recharge. While shoes are great at protecting your feet from freezing snow and rough terrain, whenever possible, kick off your shoes and let your feet feel the earth beneath them.

YogaTreePoseBeachBarefoot Yoga

For thousands of years people have practiced their daily yoga barefoot. All the muscles in the body work together, so to achieve optimal strength, flexibility, and balance throughout your entire body, ditch the shoes.

ZuluDancerTry Dancing barefoot

Along with walking and running barefoot, you can add dancing barefoot to your repertoire and you’ll have the opportunity to strengthen your arms, abs and core muscles too.

FireplaceBareFeetBarefoot in the House

Try leaving your shoes at the door when you come home. Barefoot living inspires more dance and yoga movement. It also helps keep the house clean.

BarefootWomanPathChoose shoes that help, not hurt, your posture

Once you’re playing outdoors in your bare feet, recharging energetically, and rebalancing and strengthening your body, remember to choose wisely the shoes you wear. Shoes that cause aches and pains or poor posture aren’t worth wearing. Your feet are too important! The strength and health of your feet affect the health and posture of your entire body.

two feet airReconnecting with Your Inner Child

I’ve heard those unaccustomed to a barefoot lifestyle comment that walking barefoot is like being a child again. Isn’t it past time we let our inner child out to play? Cast off the shoes and run barefoot through a grassy field, pick wildflowers and roll down the hill giggling. Go ahead and climb the trees, play in the river, and talk to the stars. Run and splash through the waves at the beach, climb the rocks, and play in the sand. Reawakening childhood playfulness is healing too.

MomKidGrassLearning from a Child

While there is so much, perhaps too much, to learn in the present age of information, some of what we need to know most is intuitive, and can be learned from a child. Next time you see a child kicking off her shoes to run around barefoot, follow her lead, and kick your shoes off too!

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Bali Rains

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Bali Rains

bali01The last two nights the rains came, cooling everything and bringing gentle winds.

grass roof hut

The musical grass roof hut

From inside the hut, I awoke to what sounded like millions of jewels cascading down upon us. Listening for awhile to the sweet sound, I was unsure rain alone could make this music. I got up, opened the curtains, and walked out the door. Yes, it is the rain. Beautiful rain. And then it stopped.

Shipibo Rain stick

Shipibo Rain stick

The second night it rained much longer. This time I recognized its music.

It is the music of the rain-stick. When you tilt a rain-stick, back and forth, its small beans pour from side to side, creating music in the hollow of its wood.

Traditional Balinese Alang Alang grass roof

Traditional Balinese Alang Alang grass roof

This Balinese hut, with its thatched roof, receives the rains into its Alang Alang grass, and with the hollow of the room below, the three together create this music. Looking up, I imagine being inside a moving rain-stick, with beans pouring down around me, as the clouds pour rain from the sky.

What an enchanting sound vibration.bali05

For hours it envelops me.

Only after the rainclouds travel on does sleep reclaim me.

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Forty Year Anniversary of Going Veg 1974 – 2014

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Forty Year Anniversary of Going Veg  1974 – 2014

Valuable experience retail badges

It’s not something I ever thought to celebrate. At least not for the last thirty nine years. Somehow forty years is such a milestone number, it’s worth celebrating!

And sharing some reflections.

1974. A lot happened that summer. After my 14th birthday I moved to Laguna Beach with dad. Our second floor apartment rose above the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sixty stairs and I was on the beach.


Laguna Beach, California

Laguna was a small town of 12,000 people, the majority of whom were artists, hippies, or both. Soon I discovered the best part of all—everyone was vegetarian! (well-almost)


The “Love Animals Don’t Eat Them” movement was in full swing. Posters, bumper stickers, and buttons were everywhere. All the cool hippies and artists I spent time with had given up eating meat out of concern for the animals and the future of the planet.

I didn’t require much convincing, I just needed to know what to eat. Half a block away Sunshine Smoothies solved my dilemma. Fresh juices, avocado sandwiches, and sprout salads became my daily fare. Two blocks away, The Stand served another assortment of vegetarian meals. Vegetarian friends invited me to dine with them. The transition to becoming a committed vegetarian happened in one day!


The Stand, at PCH and Thalia Street in Laguna (still in business!)



I attended a small parochial school through eighth grade, and enjoyed learning. Now only one semester into public high school and I was so, so bored. Then my English teacher let me in on a secret. She and a colleague were starting an alternative school at Laguna High, named Creative and Vocational Education (C.A.V.E.). She encouraged me to apply.

My Sophomore year of High School began in a huge classroom allocated to C.A.V.E., with couches and reclining chairs, desk stations, and a kitchen. We had no bells, no useless homework, and no discipline problems. Instead of shifting our focus every 50 minutes, our dynamic, interactive classes met twice a week for 3 hours. Group decisions were democratic. We voted — on everything.

We were also encouraged, and our schedules adjusted, to take college classes, apprenticeships, and volunteer in careers we wanted to explore.


Now I spent my days, nights and weekends with mentors and peers who expected us to be independent thinkers, outspoken activists, artists, and writers. School trips included wilderness survival in the Sierra mountains, living in tepees and pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico to learn from Native American elders, and journeying to the Channel Islands for a week of research with Marine Biologists.


And for daily communing with nature, outside our classroom was a green house, organic garden, and hiking trails.

About half of the fifty students attending C.A.V.E. and one of our teachers were vegetarian. Every school outing we had a vote to determine the group meals: veg or non-veg. The veg meals won most every time.


Job at Sunshine’s

That summer I got a job at Sunshine’s. Minimum wage was a whopping $1.65 an hour back then. But beyond the wage, there were two major perks. 1. Our boss gave us permission to eat to our full satisfaction before, during and after our shifts (veg teenagers are known to eat obscene amounts of food!) and 2. I met and befriended almost every vegetarian in town.

Some of our regular smoothie customers were Krishna folk from the nearby temple. They were famous for their vegetarian cuisine, and all the festivals and feasts they provided to the public, free of charge. I received many friendly invites to visit the Krishna house two blocks away for an evening of singing, dancing, and feasting.

I had reservations. There were stories about them. And accusations of brainwashing. I didn’t believe the brainwashing bit, but I didn’t feel all that comfortable going alone. One of my friends from school invited me to go with her, and I readily agreed.


Krishna Cuisine

My first time at the Krishna house was magical. I loved the singing and dancing, the thought-provoking class, and the dinner. Oh my gosh— I had never eaten that much food in my life! There must have been twelve dishes, from hot and spicy to sweet and crunchy. Flavors and spices and textures I didn’t know existed. I ate two heaping plates of food, and brought a third home to enjoy for breakfast.


Looking Back

Between Sunshine’s, the Krishna temple, and my veg friends at school and around town, I had a fantastic support system that made it easy for me, a young teenager on my own, to become a committed vegetarian.

Over the past forty years my community of vegan and vegetarian friends expanded around the world. To each and every friend I’ve shared a meal and a good laugh with, please accept my gratitude.


Thank you to all the authors, researchers, doctors, celebrities, activists, and journalists who have educated the world on the validity of a plant-based diet: for ourselves, for the animals, and for the earth.

Please join me in my celebration— 40 years Veg and counting!

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