Sunday, March 28, 2010

Broke Through the Dome of Fear

After walking the dogs this morning we went to the beach to read

It's funny because it was so awesome, I had a lot more fun than I look like

This book makes me so happy!

As you know from my previous post, I have been kind of freaking out. Don't get me wrong, I am amazed and in awe of the beauty all around me. There have been moments of wonder as I drive by the beautiful beaches or gaze at the magnificent mountains in the distance and I think "I live    here!!! When we first got here I was so happy, happy that we did it, happy that we all made it safely and happy that we were finally here. The business of moving in, repurchasing everything and thinking about an income slowly built up walls of fear. Fear that a shark might eat me, fear that I wouldn't make money, fear that we would get hurt, that we wouldn't make any friends. Isolation and loneliness slowly seeped into my bones until I was manic about getting Kauaian Fresh off the ground and exhausted from lack of sleep. Dan and I flip flopped. He became more at ease while I became more anxious. In his ever present love for me he listened, consoled and loved me through it. Gently pointing out where I was over thinking or teasing me about my high voltage energy levels. I forgot that this is our path, that everything is going to be ok. My meditation class sparked that memory. After a short meditation this morning, we walked the dogs. The meditation calmed me, soothed my soul and made me feel like playing. The words soul play came into my mind and I set the intention to let my soul play today. While we were walking the dogs, I felt free and happy. Watching Baxter and Lucy joyfully and passionately explore familiar terrain,  I literally felt like I was breaking out of the dome of fear that was slowly encasing me in misery. 

I promised myself and Dan that I would slow down, digest. I craved reading one of my yoga books yearning for the 5000 year old philosophy of self discovery. Sitting on the couch, birdsong drifting in through the open windows and the cool breeze refreshing my warm skin, I read. I suddenly got the urgent impulse to read at the beach. I got up and got dressed telling Dan I was going to the beach to read and he decided to join me. 

The constant gale of the trade winds was almost cold on my skin, just shy of giving me goose bumps. But I didn't care. The pounding surf and salty mist captivated me and I stayed put, riveted to my chair. The book was speaking to me, it was my life before coming here right there on the page. Affirming that we are indeed on the right course and that I need to take time and let life unfold as it should. Surrender.

An excerpt from Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

...Slowly, Paula began to reveal another side of herself. Under the surface of her successful corporate career, she felt a sense of desperation. Her job had always been a pressure cooker, she said, but now she seemed less able to tolerate it. For the past year, she'd regularly had panic attacks on Sunday nights as she contemplated going back to work after the weekend. Work nights, she would often go to bed early, hoping for a refreshing nights sleep, only to sit bolt upright at 2AM with her mind racing: deadlines, pressure to perform, competition with a rising star who was, as Paula put it, "younger and hungrier than I am." "You know, I truly don't remember why I am doing this work," she lamented "I don't really care about it anymore. If I am going to pour out my energy the way I do in that job, I want to be doing something that matters." 

My head was spinning and my heart was throbbing. The words echoing round and round in  my head. I don't even know how many times I thought that let alone said it! I eagerly read on.

...Midway through life, Paula and I were facing a serious crisis of meaning---mine triggered by a devastating disappointment in love, hers by a bewildering disappointment in a career in which she was outwardly quite successful. Our crises were, of course, not at all unusual. But they were serious. We were both suffering painful symptoms---anxiety, depression and a difficult sense of internal disorganization and fragmentation. But as we would come to understand much later, our crisis each contained the seed of a magnificent gift. We were both forced, by pain, to look under the surface of things. To investigate deeper into the nature of our human-beingness---its impermanence, its lack of continuity, its disappointment, its suffering...

...As I looked more carefully at the dilemmas of my friends like Paula...and at my own dilemmas of my own midlife, I discovered that for many of us, the developmental tasks of the second half of life are primarily spiritual. Carl Jung had come to the same conclusion 50 years before:

Among my patients in the second half of life---that is to say, over 35---there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a spiritual outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his spiritual outlook. 

Jung believed that at midlife, most of us have refined out external selves, what he called the persona, the mask we wear to assure some stable, ongoing sense of identity. In his view, the persona represents only one limited aspect of the personality, and by mid life most of us are outgrowing it. At some point during the middle years, Jung said, "the glowing coals of consciousness buried deep within the personality begin to break into flames." When this occurs, the hitherto repressed and hidden aspects of the self may seem to overwhelm the conscious self, initiating a difficult period of disorganization of the personality.

The developmental demands of this newly awakening self are enormous, but they are mostly overlooked in our culture. While the awakenings of early adulthood, which are mostly about identity, are culturally supported with rituals and celebrations---weddings, graduations, ordinations, baptisms---the more subtle spiritual awakenings of the middle years are culturally invisible. Jung was outraged by this.

Are there not colleges for forty-year-olds which prepare them for their coming life and its demands as the ordinary colleges introduce our young people to a knowledge of the world? No, thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening become a lie. 

Somewhere in the middle years of life, ...Paula and I were ready for a deep new pilgrimage to the center to find what Jung called "the whole self". And for each of us in our own way, the return to the center of the self was inextricably linked with the return to God. Jung believed that the symbols for the self are indistinguishable from the symbols for God, and that the journey to the center of the self and the journey to God are one and the same. But in order to find this center it was necessary for each of us, in our own way, to deliberately enter the darkness of the unconscious, to begin what Jung called the "night sea journey." This entry into the unknown began, for each of us, a period of disorganization and metamorphosis that would eventually allow us to accomplish the goals of the second half of life---the integration of opposites, bringing into awareness all the banished aspects of the self. 

This comforts me in a strange ways. One, I am not alone in this quest. Two, I am on the right path.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Take Time to Digest

Last Friday Dan and I went into town. There was a celebration of the spring equinox, an art walk, and a show. Bill Kreutzmann, the drummer for the Grateful Dead was playing so we had to go. In front of a busy art gallery we ran into Mekepa. Mekepa is a native Kauaian and though we don't really know him (we saw him play at a bar once) he slowed down to talk story with us. He said the island is beautiful and it is hard, raw. If you don't take time to digest what is shows you, you won't make it here. He talked with us for 45 minutes reminiscing about old town Kapa'a and what it was like when he was a child. The building we were standing next to was where one of the kings lived. Imagine!

Playin, Playin in the band!

We had fun at the show, Jillian and her husband were there along with Turtle and Stew. Turtle gave all the ladies plumeria flowers for their hair. I love plumerias, they smell divine! They opened the doors to the lanai, so we stayed outside listening to the band jam and laughing at Turtles stories and Jillian's antics.

Jillian's son Sage

Seeds Dan and I sewed last week and Sage being silly. The kids are on spring break for 3 weeks so they hang out with us in class. She also has a daughter Faith, she has the most beautiful eyes, I'll try to get a picture of her.

Jillian showing us seeds that were sewn properly and some that weren't and shows us how to troubleshoot what went wrong.

Sage pulled a clover and showed us the root system. It has a "mother" and a bunch of babies that can be spread throughout the garden by shoveling and what not.

Dan and I planted lettuce and tat soi this week.

Green Grand Rapids grow next to Cherokee lettuce.

Pretty palm fronds

A banana tree, the bottom is the edible flower. 

We went into the banana grove to take some pictures and were ambushed by Sage. He is catching chickens (that day he built a cage with chicken wire, boards and nails by himself) and has a hide out in the bushes. When he saw us he had to see who we were. When he realized it was us he goes "oh, it's just the interns" he's too funny!

Dwarf coconut trees for easier pickings

Stew and I Double Digging

Jillian is an expert at it!

Jillian prepares the inoculate for the soil.

We all get to try. She says we are creating chaos in the garden by doing this. Perfect!

Sage watches from the tree as Jillian puts on a backpack to spray the inoculation

Tiana listens closely to the inoculation plan



everyone pitches in to spread the chaos

Beautiful Rainbow Chard

a baby pineapple

sorry for the blurry close up, iPhones don't take good close ups

After spraying we all walk

past the greenhouse

by the chickens

so Jillian can show us her worm bed

Sage showing us a big worm

This week at the farm, we learned about permaculture, sheet mulching and inoculation of soil and seeds. I won't bore you with the details but if you care to know click on the word that you want to know more about. After I posted a picture of Dan drinking from a coconut on facebook the other day, I was called a hippy. It's kind of funny because I've never thought of myself that way, besides it has such a bad stigma. Drugged, stinky, airy-fairy activists. But I guess I have been in the closet about it. After all, I love yoga and the wisdom and peace it brings me. I want to connect in meaningful ways with people. I want to eat food that doesn't harm the environment, animals and people who grow it. I like drinking fresh coconut juice from a coconut. I love to be in nature. I want to do work that matters and effect people in a positive way. Does that make me a hippy? Maybe. If that's the case, I'm ok with that.


handmade machetes (for sale) to whack open older coconuts who have no water left but do have tasty meat.

drilling for water

 a perfect drinking hole


we all say yum


Breakfast; egg fruit and soursop

the egg fruit is delicious, almost custardy, starchy and sweet. The soursop was a sour texture violation I had to blend it into some soy milk!

I have been struggling with settling in here. A lot of folks don't want to get to know you when they find out you are new to the island. Also, if you have not put your bad habits to rest (impatience for example) you may find yourself with out any friends. The island demands it's people to be honest, loving, kind and compassionate to family, friends, strangers, the land and the sea. Any bad behavior will not be called out but simply ignored as will you. Besides trying to connect with people I am trying to earn a living. I'm pretty sure I could get a job at the local grocery store or restaurant, but we moved out here to do our own thing. I find myself of walking a tightrope. On one hand I want to make money so I can not only pay for my bills (we still have a lot in savings) but buy good wine, socialize, wear nice clothes (as nice as they get here, read: casual), buy some pretty sandals and go to yoga classes. In order to do that I need to get paid well for my work so $10.00 an hour at the local health food store won't do. I busy myself with making a website, flyers, and facebook connections. Creating sleepless nights and manic energy. I know I need to calm down, digest what the island is showing me. I wanted to be uncomfortable, to grow, to learn. I went to a meditation class this morning in an effort to balance my energizer bunny energy. I was reminded that because of choices we have made things can be tough and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I am essentially mentally detoxifying, it can be ugly, uncomfortable and erratic. But why hold onto things that do not serve me? So, I am glad I went. I feel better now, reassured that _____ (God, life, the universe) will provide and I will be stronger for it, healthier.

My meditation teacher

Monday, March 22, 2010

Good Things Happening

A couple of cool things to share real quick.

Last week Dan went to our wine store Da Kine Wines. Our friend Danny (who is a chef at Merriman's) was working and through chit chat Dan told him what we were having for dinner. It sparked the chef's interest, he asked if we ate like all the time and Dan said yes, pretty much. I have the recipe on my website. Basically, I was working at the farm and asked Dan to make dinner. I told him what to do and he did it, it turned out fantastic! Anyway, Dan started telling him I was a personal chef. You know how Dan can get when he's really excited about something. Dan was so excited, he got Danny excited (the other owner's name is Dan too!) and Danny suggested I do a "pot luck" at one of their Saturday wine tastings. He suggested I feature the farms produce as well. So, sometime in the near future I will bring some finger food made with some produce from the farm (they also do mushrooms) some of my flyers and some of Jillian's flyers and pimp my food! Wish me luck!

I can't remember if I wrote about AJ Irons, a personal chef here on Kauai. Back in Colorado, when I was researching, I found his site. Turns out, he does some work at the farm and buys produce from them. Jillian told me about him cooking for Will Smith and his family so he's pretty big time. We became friends on Facebook the other day so I sent him a message trying to connect with him. His reply brought tears to my eyes! Here is what he said:

Oh my! I am beyond touched at your perfect approach to the island community and people's being! You are more than welcome to pick my brain, assist me with some of my clients and/or have a few of them.
It certainly was never a dream of mine to have my life the way it is now BUT GOODNESS to the powers that be! I never had any expectations when I came here to be such a connector and grower! Jillian powers me and fuels my business. So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pick my brain...I am not sure what is up there right now during these extremely jam packed weeks of clients, but (he left his personal phone number here)

Speaking of Jillian and my last piece of good news. She called me this morning and told me about a place for rent. The landlord wants to have the tenant grow an organic garden and she will even put in an agriculture well! It gets better! For $50.00 more a month we get more space; it's a duplex. It has a full size fridge and full size gas stove and a lanai. Unfortunately, it is only a one bedroom but, baby steps right?

The place for rent is that white house down there

Jillian gave us directions to the general area and the landlords contact information. Dan called and left her a message and we went to check out the area. We were no less than 2 blocks away when she called Dan. So, we went to meet the landlord. She is a slender white lady that looks 60 but is 70. She had us come into her house so we could talk. The picture is from her upstairs lanai. We walked into the most amazing, huge, open, space. The entire downstairs is open to the outdoors with a fantastic view and a beautiful living area. She is an artist and her artwork was everywhere. She took us upstairs to get a better view of the property and into her 1000 square foot dance studio (because she likes to dance) covered in more art. The art was mostly from all over the world as she likes to travel. We talked, she takes pictures and edits them in iMovie. We used to edit. We are really clicking, she's asking advice about her video camera, when 4 green parrot looking birds flew by in formation. Dan pointed them out and she was surprised, she's seen a lot of birds fly by but never those! She wants to rent it out a month before our lease is up but we may be able to get out of it because there is a mold problem here that our current landlord is ignoring. We are going down next week to check it out, the current tenant will be out by then.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Farm Fun

Baxter finds a huge snail

Tuesday was Dan's first day in class, it's just him, I and Jillian on Tuesday mornings. We got to bring the dogs so it took some time to introduce them to Azure (Jillian and Gary's son), Hoku (the farm dog), the goats, chickens and wild boar. After that, the first order of business was to check on the irrigation systems. It's the end of winter so it's still really rainy. So rainy that Monday Dan and I stayed inside (finishing my website and doing homework) during the day long downpour. Jillian had left the sprinklers on all day so we needed to turn them off and check on the condition of the farm. Next, we went to the greenhouse and planted seeds. Every week about 1200 new seeds are planted; 7 planting trays, each tray containing 100 to 200 plugs. We planted 3 types of lettuce (I could tell you the names but they'd mean nothing; Ermosa, Tropical, Green Grand Rapids), 2 types of bunching onions (scallions), Kohlrabi, and a tray of cilantro. Then we went into the garden and pulled weeds until lunch.


 Azure at the farm

At lunch, we went to the beach. This is where the river meets the ocean 5 minutes from the farm.

Our view

Baxter begging for food, Lucy checking out the ocean

Back at the farm, Casey joins us and we weed, feed and cultivate the gardens. By this time the dogs were tired out so they laid by the tool shed under the shade of a tree and napped. Turtle came by with three, two foot long catfish that he just caught. He and Jillian discussed when and how to make them. As we were leaving for the day Turtle gave us some flowers to put on our dashboard. Not only did it make the jeep smell great but, it created a feeling of acceptance and safety. This token of love could be seen by all, including the locals who sometimes have issues with haolies.  Eileen told us an interesting story about the origin of the word ha'olie. The ancient Hawaiians would greet each other by putting cheek to cheek (imagine the Europeans kissing each side of the cheek in greeting) and exhaling. When the native Hawaiians met Captain Cook for the first time, instead of their traditional greeting, he extended his hand in a hand shake. Ha means "the breath of life" in Hawaii (prana in India, Chi in China, Qi in Japan) olie means without. Ha'olie means without breath. When the natives called him that it was not in derogatory reference but in curiosity.

Flowers from Turtle

Wednesday morning was harvest for the CSA. It started off nice enough, Jillian assigned me to pick micro-greens from the 75 foot long bed. Four rows of baby beets lining the entire 75 feet. I'd have to do 2 rows and go around to the other side to do the other two rows. Daunted, I set to the task and enjoyed the peace it brought me; meticulous work combined with sunshine, birds chirping and the sound of the ocean in the distant background. Everyone went to their separate harvesting areas and I was left to my thoughts. Sometimes, Eileen's laughter would reach my ears. We harvested arugula, amaranth leaves, beet micro-greens, baby turnip greens, cabbage, rainbow chard, garlic chives, fennel, 2 types of Kale, Kohlrabi, 2 types of lettuce, purple globe turnips and Tat Soi

While we were all working, a light sprinkle started for which I was grateful. The rains here turn on and off like a shower and give you no warning. Sometimes they last 30 seconds and it's a nice way to cool off. This was not letting up so Dan brought me one of our raincoats. We kept working and the rain kept pouring. Two and a half hours into the beet bed, drenched, Dan and a new student Teo came to relieve me. I was 25 feet from being done and ready for help. They said Jillian thought that since I'm a chef, I was the obvious choice to make a special salad. This afternoon we were going to The One Year Celebration of the Mayor's Aloha Garden and we were bringing a salad for people to sample. Jillian instructed me to go into the garden, harvest whatever I wanted and make a salad. In the pouring rain I got lettuces, carrots, baby beets, radishes, basil, mint, cilantro, spring onions, tat soi, cabbage, mustard greens, baby turnip greens, little white cilantro flowers, light purple garlic chive flowers, maroon, red and gold marigolds and yellow nasturtiums. Out of the poring rain and into the farm's kitchen, I washed and assembled the salad while my classmates finished the harvest and clean up. The rain came down so hard and fast, the roof sprung a leak. There I was with spiders in every corner; long dainty legs and big fat bodies dangling in eight wispy webs. The rain was streaming from the roof onto the gas stove so I unplugged the overhead light and worked in the damp shadows. Once the salad was finished, Dan ran in soaking from head to toe and we went to town to get a bowl of soup. 

We had an hour of class time before we had to leave so we presented our veggie facts. I made a cauliflower salad and printed out my veggie facts for everyone. (I ended up using all the ink on my Kauaian Fresh flyers so Dan could only print one veggie fact). Dan drew the sweet potato in it's immature plant form and the sweet potato itself. We were a little embarrassed as our veggie facts were way above the hand written ones the others did. Over achievers? Maybe. Stew did a really cool drawing of a marigold that we all thought could be a Seed to Table t-shirt.

The rain had given up when we set out for the Mayor's celebration sponsored by the Kauai Agriculture Initiative. The proceedings started early to avoid the rain and we set up as Larry Rivera sang Aloha Begins With Me. We arranged the salad and produce Jillian brought to sell as well as flyers about the farm,  I only had 7 flyers but I laid them out next to Jillian's. As were were getting organized, a well dressed man came up to me and gave me a Hawaiian hello (one kiss to the cheek). Stunned, because I didn't know him, I said hello back and he went on his way. I asked Jillian who that was and she said the Mayor! Following Larry, the Mayor had a hula lady dance while he sang Beautiful Kauai. It was fantastic, he sang it with so much love that it brought tears to my eyes. I'd never seen a mayor sing before and to see the mayor of Kauai sing was special indeed. His speech was passionate as well. He explained that 30 years ago the island was completely sustainable but now 90% of the food is imported. As he spoke of a renewed, sustainable Kauai and his efforts to make it so, I felt encouraged about my work. 

The Mayor's Garden

The Mayor singing Beautiful Kauai with Larry Rivera playing guitar

Once everyone was finished giving their presentations the line for the salad formed quickly. I piled the salad high for the first plate and had Dan give it to the mayor. Jillian and Eileen were frantically selling their produce while explaining what things were and how to cook them. I pointed out what was in the salad to curious folks so they could see the vegetable in it's original form. I got a lot of compliments on the dressing and was asked how to make it. Regina, the mayor's wife, really liked the salad saying the dressing was so light and flavorful. After explaining how to make it, I gave her a flyer and told her to call me if she had any questions. Mary, the mayor's assistant, wanted to know how to cook chard so I gave her some suggestions and a flyer as well. The flyers must have been meant for them because they were the only two left. 

Jillian and Azure

Jillian and I waiting for Eileen and the rest of the produce

Dan making Azure laugh

Turnips, Broccoli, chard, Tat Soi, Turnip greens, kohlrabi, amaranth and lettuce

Mustard greens, if the bugs like them, you can be sure it's organic

Turnips, Kohlrabi and broccoli

Tat Soi

Me after having been in the garden all morning and rained on until soaking wet. A quick change of clothes and we were ready for the mayor!

The table on the far right has my flyers held in place by a coconut. One of the red dirt covered containers, between the tables, hold some of my micro beet greens. The table on the far left has seedlings from the Kauai high school's key club.

The audience listened as representatives from community gardens, sustainable nurseries, landscapers and farmers explained how they contribute to a healthier Kauai.

Teo (Eileen's business partner), Jillian, the mayor and Eileen.

While I was serving the salad Dan was talking with the mayor. After explaining that his wife made it from produce harvested that morning and that everything in the salad except the dressing was from the garden, he gave the mayor some ideas. He told him about the markets in Spain and how you could go to one place to get most of your food, all local. From seafood caught that morning, fresh chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and eggs, to sandwiches, fruit and vegetables. 

The market in Barcelona

Spanish tuna caught that morning

Dan suggested having a market in several towns where local food producers could sell their food, when they had it. It could be very casual, maybe under a canopy and on a first come first served basis, find a spot, set up and sell your food. It would be open every day, as opposed to the farmers markets that are only open one day a week. The local people could get their fresh produce daily. The mayor said he is working with Washington for 2 grants that go directly to the county of Kauai. One is for energy and the other is for sustainable agriculture. Dan explained that the avocados here are amazing and the only place you can buy them is at the farmers markets. The ones in the grocery store are imported from Mexico. He wondered aloud how this could happen. The avocados grown here are fantastic, the ones from Mexico can not compare. Wouldn't it save energy to sell local avocados instead of imported ones? Another man, standing next to them said the carbon footprint on that could easily be figured out. Dan also suggested that the owners of dormant cane fields be taxed higher. The land should be used to grow things like organic avocados, and farmers who do should get a tax break. The mayor listened and Dan was elated that he was able to talk to the mayor in such a candid way about his ideas and not only be heard but seriously considered. 

On the way to the car Jillian complemented us on our veggie facts and said it was exactly what she was looking for when she was having a website designed. She was trading a CSA share for the website but the lady had a nervous breakdown and it never got done. She always envisioned a page on the site with veggie facts that looked like ours. It looks like Dan will build her a website and she will trade him with the class. $500.00 savings right there! She then hesitated to add (because she was trying to protect us from disaster) that she knew of a beautiful restaurant, fully outfitted with new linens, kitchen and dinnerware, sitting empty. This well off couple has had several people in and out running the cafe, changing their minds all the time. The last she heard, a chef had gone in there and totally decked the place out and it sits empty waiting for the right person. It even has an organic farm AND farmer! Something to think about she says, because she thinks we could be the right people.

We are planning on following up and sending the mayor an email. Who knows maybe Dan will work for him! Because of all the curiosity about organic gardens and how to cook produce, Dan and I are expanding Kauaian Fresh to include cooking classes and consultation and installation of organic gardens.

I leave you with this beautiful video I found.