Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It’s hot, humid. My cooling system is not ideal and I struggle with the heat. Jillian has put me in the greenhouse today and as I plant cherry tomatoes and tomatillos my mind relaxes. The lush vegetation and birdsong lull me into a meditative state as I perform delicate tasks.
I eat my lunch at Anini Beach. In the shade, a breeze cools me off as I gaze at the ocean. Turquoise water first, then whitecaps and beyond, the clear, sapphire blue waters of Kauai.
I am so fortunate to live here. Everyday I am surrounded by beauty. Driving through tree canopies that open up to vast ocean vistas. My senses are always delighted. Sounds; birds chirping in 100 different voices, roosters calling in the distance, geckos and frogs give their little croak calls, the ocean breaking in on itself, trees rustling, waterfalls and streams, silence. I feel the moisture in the air, a cool breeze on my skin, the texture of seeds fallen from a tree under my bare feet, the hot sand and the cool water. Flowers turn their big happy faces towards the sun and fill the air with their fragrance. The taste of a ripe papaya, it’s delicately sweet juice running down my arm.
The people are just as beautiful, accepting in a way that takes me some getting used to. You don’t have to put on your game face, get all prettied up, have lots of cool things. You are accepted, by strangers, upon first meeting with a hug and a kiss. A big, strong, lasting hug from the heart too. So intimate and welcoming. You become one of the family. Little children call you auntie or uncle. There is laughter, smiles, sparkle in their eyes. People here live from the heart, no agendas, no judgements. All that is required is for you to be real, sincere and honest.
There is a generosity here as well. Folks are generous with what they have, offering something of what they have. A drink, a snack, some vegetables, fruit, flowers, plants and trinkets. They are relaxed, easy and generous with their time as well. You stop to ask a question, they talk story, you talk story and 45 minutes later you are on your way again. 
It may seem pretty fantastic, worthy of hours of daydreaming, the idea of living in paradise. What I have found is truth in the statement “no matter where you go, there you are”. Your good and bad characteristics follow you. Why you smoke, drink too much, eat too much, work too much, exercise too much, do drugs, talk too much, are overly religious. Those are all ways we use to comfort ourselves when the dark side rears it’s ugly head. It shuts us down so we don’t have to feel what is really going on. Mostly fear, fear of failure, not being good enough, not being accepted, of being alone, of something, there is always something. 
I am happy to say I am getting what I asked for when we decided to move here. I am struggling with those things about me that make me uncomfortable, which is what I wanted. Which is healing me, causing me to grow and be stronger, more resilient, able to weather those uncomfortable moments. Reinventing yourself is not easy, living in paradise makes it easier and maybe more acute because you want to make it work, you want to live in paradise forever.
Dan is being his amazing self, he never ceases to amaze me. I give him a year before he knows everyone on the island! Always happy for an opportunity to meet someone and talk story, he is enjoying his new job. He gets to do his thing and has the power, the title, to do it. If he thinks Papaya’s should sell fresh cut flowers and seedlings, he can do that. He gets to meet locals as well as people from all over the world. Last week, he met someone at the coffee shop from Vendrell, the small beach town in Spain where we have close friends. The other day when we were doing laundry, he helped an older man fix a stroller. He is happy and at peace and I am happy to witness his old self come out to play again.
I am having a harder time, being more of an introvert I find it difficult to connect. But, every day is a new day and it is my intention to open up and let people in. Every day I get another chance. I may get a job at Papaya’s in their cafe, I received an email for a catering job (for 50 people), I enjoy my days at the farm and daydreaming with Jillian on how to make her business grow and the possibilities for me there. They are many and include cooking school lunches for about 50 kids, starting a farmers market in Kilauea, running her CSA, creating fliers for the farm, farm dinners and tours, taking care of the farm while she is away on vacation in June. There are some nutritionists wanting to prescribe CSA boxes to clients struggling with diabetes and heart disease. A local company servicing the rich and famous wants to include a box as a welcome gift inside hotel rooms. The dreams are endless, my enthusiasm boundless.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Another Day In Paradise

Wow! Usually I write chronologically but...I just had THE BEST MASSAGE, for free! Natalia is a lovely 21 year old woman who left the material trappings of Santa Barbara and followed her heart to Kauai. I'm finding that to be a common theme with the people I meet. Like us, she had no plan. She found someone online willing to let her couch surf and listened to her heart. It lead her to Jillian's farm where she completed the Seed To Table program that Dan and I are half way through. There, a fellow student noticed how well she worked with her hands and suggested massage. Natalia, graduating in July, needed to get some hours in.

Two days before, I had told Dan I really needed a massage but it didn't go further because those are costly. My right shoulder has been hurting, I thought maybe between doing yoga everyday and working on the farm the bursitis I had 15 years ago was coming back. As Dan and I were leaving the farm for the day Natalia came to our jeep and asked if I'd like a free massage! I said yes.

75 minutes later, the massage finished, I find myself invigorated. Not only has my pain greatly dissipated, but she showed me a lesson. She truly followed her heart and it took her to exactly where she needs to be. I've not been able to do that. Although it was my intention before we left Colorado, I have found myself much more attached to money that I thought I would be. As a result, I have been worrying about it, a lot. Dan has been relaxing and going with what turns up and he just got a job! He starts Tuesday as the produce manager for Papaya's. He will be responsible for revamping the department, replacing the imported food with local food. He even has 2 employees. The dress code? No bellies, no cleavage. Dan said he felt he could comply! I have been busying myself with what I think I should be doing, something with food, instead of just being and going with the flow.  Just being is really hard for me to do. I am coming off a 25 year run of working in the television industry. I went straight out of high school, to a 4 month trade school and have been working full time in the industry ever since. Yesterday, Dan and I had a heart to heart and we decided that since some of the monetary pressure has been lifted, for the next couple of months, I should concentrate on just being. For me, it's harder than it sounds. I tend to busy up my free time.

When Natalia set her massage table up in our kitchen hallway (the only space to do it) she got a phone call that brought her to tears. This afternoon, her 10 week final, in which she has to perform 10 systematic therapeutic massage sessions called Structural Integration, was to begin. Her client had called and cancelled their first session 2 hours before the session was to start. Dan, getting ready to head outside to trim the ti trees, looked at me and said if you want to do it, go for it. I wasn't sure, I needed to know if she was any good. 15 minutes into the session I told her I would do it. I was mostly following my heart. After all, I need body work, she is passionate and clearly good at what she does. I needed her and she needed me. As I lay on the table, her gentle hands seeking out the knots and muscle tension and strategically melting them away (sometimes creating a lot of pain in the process) she tells me it's not about the money. When she graduates, she wants to have a private practice in which she can heal people, including people who can't afford massage. She wants to go about doing this with trades. If she worked at a spa, it's all about the money, not her primary concern. But we all know, when you follow your heart, the money will follow! Natalia tells me to breathe into the pain that is being created when she hits a really tender spot and to see if it triggers anything emotionally, maybe a memory. Breathe into it and let it all go. The pain, the fear, the worries, any past negative memories.

Between stressing myself out and the pain it caused me, I was lack luster. Lethargic. Now, as Dan gets his massage and I sit outside typing this, I feel alive again. Convinced that I need to just be...and listen.

This Saturday, the teacher of my raja yoga meditation teacher, led the class. My teacher Deborah had a hula dance to attend. This is a service provided for free on a donation basis. His name is Michael and he is fantastic. I have been practicing yoga, reading, and meditating for 4 years at home. I have always wanted a teacher, I have so many questions. I thought my teacher was to be books. In Parker, Colorado there aren't a lot of gurus around! Well, Michael is it! From England, he started learning when he was 18 and became very successful. He looks to be about 27 and is very grounded. None of that airy fairy stuff that makes me really nervous, I'm not interested in joining a cult. I am interested in letting go of habits and attitudes that block me from being the best version of myself. So, I'm really excited about that and again, it reinforced the decision to just be. Between my kind, loving, patient, understanding, wonderful husband, Michael and Natalia I am sure to find the healing I need before I can embrace who I am and let my heart guide me to finding work that matters.

Last Tuesday, Jillian took us to Secrets beach. It's called Secrets because it's clothing optional! We didn't have to take the normal tourist route. There are some million dollar estates on the same street as the farm, in fact, Will Smith just bought a place on her block! Jillian knows the folks whose yard we cut through, and after she called to let them know we'd be cutting through it, we headed out. Down a cliff to a perfectly secluded beach. Secrets has 3 beaches. Beach 1 is easily gotten to. Beach 2 and 3 require you to cross over pounding surf, reefs and cliff like rocks, but not if you know someone whose back yard is Secrets! We were pretty much alone, Jillian, Dan, Teo and I as we strolled down the beach admiring the 18 foot swells pounding on the reef, so much so you can hear it at the farm. Sometimes in the winter, at night when Jillian is in bed, the surf literally pounds so hard she can feel it.

This week at the farm I harvested kale with Stew. We also went on a field trip to see 2 local farmers, both on the north shore. Jamie's farm was the last to visit. We made a terraced garden for him and he fed us grilled Kauai steak, baked potatoes, grilled chayote, a salad and some local beer. The chayote was new to Dan and I. Jamie showed me how to slice in into 1/4 inch pieces, peel it with a knife, (which I later did at home with a veggie peeler) and toss it with canola oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce before throwing it on the grill to get all tender and caramelized.

Turtle was here! Our jeep dashboard splashed with some flowers Turtle picked.

Lotus at the bakery

Belladonna at the farm

Jillian's decked out bike, they just put the handle bars on for Azure

Secrets beach with the Kiluea lighthouse in the distance

Jillian beckons

Down the steep staircase

around the bend

there's still more!

Ahhh, it's worth it!

We came from up there!

The surf washes into the rocks we were walking on


Monk seals come to shore for up to 3 hours to digest. Tourists, thinking they're dead, reach out to touch them. The seal wakes up, and having not finished digesting, heads out to sea where it dies. Lesson? Don't pet sleeping seals!

Huge 18 foot waves, the roar of the ocean made conversation difficult

Heading back. Dan and I need to get some lunch before we head out to the garden to weed and shape some beds! I slept good that night!

Rest break!

Anole on a Ti

Kale before harvest

Stew and I harvested 4 bins or 40 bunches or 35lbs of kale!

1 harvest bin of kale

13 leaves to a bunch, I worked opposite of Stew

You twist the bottom leaves off making sure not to tear the stalk, these have been in the ground since January

Harvested kale bed that has been weeded, fed compost and cultivated

Dan harvested turnips

Counting for a total of 36 bunches

And then some celery

Eileen ready for the post harvest meeting

Basil (whose plant never flowered) can be put in water and roots will grow. We are doing that with some oregano we got at the farm.

Teo, Stew and Dan make the post harvest lunch

Tiana takes amaranth leaves off for a salad

Lunch; lentil curry with beans and broccoli. Sautéed kale and brown rice.

Lee, the owner of North Shore organics

A private oasis on the farm

The main garden

The house

Those are loofa's growing above the chicken coop.


Avocado tree

This hard core 55 year old probably weighs 170lbs. Surfing, walking and eating healthy keeps this native american from Texas in shape. His generous, kind heart keeps his spirit aflame.

Grapefruit tree with 1 lonely grapefruit

Tiana picks a ripe star apple

Teo goes in for a bite

These are white pineapple, they are less acidic than the yellow ones we are familiar with and the locals covet them, I can't wait to try one, it's pineapple season!

Various sweet potatoes including the hawaiian sweet potato

Belladonna tree

Poi is made from taro root

Eileen's son caught an anole

It's tricky to grow tomatoes and squash because the fruit flies "sting" them. This squash has been stung several times.


Jamie's farm

Trees mulched with palm leaves line the walk up

The deck of Jamie's home, classified as an agricultural dwelling

The view from Jamie's deck, the ocean in the distance

We all head down for a tour

Jamie's main garden is terraced

Jamie gives us the low down about what he has in store for us. Magdalena, the little red head, has a fiery temper!

Jamie's trying to grow tomatoes where the fruit flies can't get them, I hope it works!

Down to work. Jamie uses this as a way to find the level areas and marks them with a flag. There is a coconut opener dangling on a string and a middle spot marked on the bottom board.

All marked off

Stakes are made from guava trees and logs have been prepared before hand

Assembly begins

Everyone does something

And it's up in 30 minutes!

One of the 2 snakes that live in Hawaii. This one is blind, the other (not shown) is a sea snake.

I used my foot as a reference for the base of this banana tree. Banana trees are a type of grass! Please forgive the dirty feet, they spent the morning harvesting!!

The view from the toilet in Jamie's house (if you're a girl)

Some kind of crazy flower

Dan's turnips

Braised in chicken stock, tasty!

There is a lovely couple, albatross. Tom works at Starz. He and his wife are retiring here. They own a condo in Maui but 2 days into their first visit to Kauai they bought a house and invited us over for dinner. This is the view from their back deck, the ocean in the distance.

A vine on their deck that needs identifying 

Roasted cauliflower, potato, turnip and chayote tossed in pesto. The cauliflower and turnip is from Jillian's farm, the chayote is from Jamie's. Seared ahi tuna with papaya (from Jamie's farm), mint salsa. 

This weeks promises to be fun. Tomorrow (Monday) we are having a private Earth Day dinner with Jillian, her husband Gary, Eileen and her friend Ralph who is visiting from Colorado, John a local farmer and his wife and Turtle. We are dining at the Hukilau Lanai, they use produce from Jillian's farm. Tuesday is Dan's first day at work. He is going with Chris (the guy he is replacing) to Nawiliwili to pick up the imported produce. I will spend the day walking the dogs, meditating, journaling and doing yoga. Wednesday after harvest, we learn about compost making. Thursday at the farm is Earth Day and we will be working with the kids. Saturday after meditation class I meet with Natalia for my first of 10 sessions. Sunday Dan turns 41!!! We plan on going for an outdoor adventure and a fancy dinner afterward. There are about 10 places we are trying to choose from, fun!