Love As Fermentation

“Food tastes better when someone else feeds it to you, that’s what they say in Ethiopia. So before someone takes a bite they prepare the best bite and feed it to someone else,” you tell me as you prepare a fork of Indian food to feed me at a restaurant in New York City. It’s the gift of giving and receiving. Being willing to receive without quite knowing what you’re going to get. You were the first person to tell me that as we shared Indian food in a city far away from Ethiopia, far away from here. You told me stories about traveling in Latin America, sleeping in hammocks, sailing from Central America to South America, working at a hostel on the beach, teaching English in the Andes. You were the first person I met who traveled through Latin America, who followed your heart and the spirit of adventure.

You didn’t tell me the part about giving and receiving. I figured that out on my own later. But this act of feeding, of giving to another person, giving the best bite you called it, the best piece you can give, the best part of yourself. This Ethiopian custom became one I passed on to other lovers, to friends, to anyone I shared food and nourishment with. Passing you on everywhere I went. Now at a fermentation class in Asheville, 6 years later, this same Ethiopian custom comes out the teacher’s mouth.

Pulled between watching the cooking demonstrations and the greater need of sleep, I hazily remember that first night we spent together. I start writing before I even realize I’m thinking of you.

“In order for a seed to germinate it has to be warm, moist and slightly acidic,” every so often the teacher says something that speaks directly to my thoughts. A seed needs warmth in order to grow. We need warmth.

“It’s a wrap,” I just glanced at the worksheet and notice the title of the workshop. It’ a wrap: our story. Maybe not our story per see, but the romance between us, the things I’ve created in my head, the you I’ve longed for . I chuckle out loud as the reality of fermentation hits: slow process. Do something, create something and then let it sit and do its own thing. Slow food. Just like the drawn out process of our relationship: slow, over many moons and years, different lessons and growth with every encounter. Fermenting. Fermentation tastes better. It adds flavor. Fermenting grains lets you get the most nutrition out of them.

How can we get the most nourishment out of something? You could never give me the best bite, the best of yourself. But I’ve finally realized that it’s okay. I’ll give the best of me to others instead. I’ll give the best of me to myself.

Next I attend the workshop, “Gardens That Give
and Give.” A garden
I’ve been
relentlessly tangled around the idea
of you.
Perennials come back
year after year,
are more self-maintaining
over time. You’ve become
the perennial in my mind.
With deep root systems
I want to fall in love
and remain there.
“You’re helping me thrive; let me help you thrive,”
the teacher says and then shows us another slide. Strawberries.
You taste so bitter and you taste
so sweet. Love
ripped away at the seams.
Fresh and ripe and destroyed.
Always falling; I’m ready to land.
And still be on my feet.
Are these connections only meant to last in fleeting moments?
Six years. Six weekends. So many muddled thoughts in between.
Slow process.
Create something
and then
it takes on its own life.

This is part of the Choosing Vulnerability Series. Read more about it here. This is an unedited excerpt from the notes I took while I was at the Organic Grower’s School in Asheville. Sometimes out of nowhere, in the most unexpected places, a former lover finds their way into my heart again.


New Moon in Virgo: Surrender to being

After a beautifully busy and full past few weeks I’m finding time and space to ground down again. This re-rooting coincides with the new moon in Virgo, an Earth sign. The more I pay attention, the more I realize how aligned my emotions and actions are with the moon cycles and the cycles that exist around and within us constantly.

Divine Encounter by Simon Haiduk

Divine Encounter by Simon Haiduk

We are interwoven with the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the moon and the natural cycles of life. As human beings we represent the cycles of life. As beings on this planet we live by the cycle of the sun every single day. We are cycles. Our whole existence as we know it is a cycle. Often distractions and busy day-to-day details pull me out of this connection to source. I want to take this time and this new moon cycle to remember and to honor the cycles and our connection to them.

This new moon cycle is about taking time for stillness, for mindfulness, and for healing.

The previous moon cycle spun and blazed a ball on fire, constantly catching momentum and moving. The cycle ended with an eruption: one of the largest earthquakes in 25 years to strike San Francisco. If that’s not a sign to pay attention then I don’t know what is.

During the previous moon cycle I skipped, pranced and danced from one gathering to another. Every moment struck with such fierce and precious intensity as a reminder to wake up, as a reminder to how fleeting and chaotic and beautiful life is. Yet everything kept moving so fast that I rarely had a moment to myself to ground and center with this information.

I felt a strong pull in multiple directions. And I’m still navigating these feelings. I feel the need to root, the need to ground, yet I feel the pull of wanderlust again, the desire to kiss the lips of the unknown and hit the road, to head back down south to Latin America.

I’ve also felt myself getting swept up in other people’s stories, imaging how I can weave my way into other people’s paths. I’ve had to question why I’m interested in venturing to Latin America for another winter and if it’s coming from a heart place or a desire to be around friend’s who are going. Last week especially I spent a lot of time questioning where I want to be, what I want to be doing, worrying about what’s going to happen next, how I’m going to make money, how I can live more align with my beliefs, how I can contribute to the greater good, how I can be conscious in every aspect of life, and how I can balance it all out.

Bloom by Ashley Foreman

Bloom by Ashley Foreman

In my community in Asheville I’ve talked with a lot of people lately about the previous cycle. Most people felt the same intense energy and momentum, the same pull in multiple directions: the desire to ground, yet the pull to leave. The collective consciousness continues to build.

As the heat from the summer winds down, let’s all take a moment to build this consciousness into stillness. Let’s bathe in the subtleness of the end of one cycle and beginning of another. Let’s recognize the slight changing in vibrancy of the leaves, the cool air slowly inching in. Let’s pay attention to what is actually happening.

This is an invitation to surrender to the doing, the questions, the doubts, and just be. Give yourself permission.

As this Virgo new moon sets in, focus on what’s necessary for you to do to heal yourself. What do you need to do for yourself to heal? What do you need to do to heal others? How can you balance your standards, your desires, your needs and your commitments while still going with the flow of life?
Give yourself the nourishment to stop the doing and embrace the being. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for the life and love you want. You weave your reality. Be compassionate and loving with yourself. Forgive yourself. And then forgive again and again. Surrender. Let yourself surrender. Let yourself let yourself.

A new moon is empty, how will you fill it?

Go For A Walk In The Woods Today

Today I was en route to a meeting when it got rescheduled. Errands to run flooded my mind. Before I had a chance to reroute Plan B with my GPS, I ended up at the Asheville Botanical Gardens. Before I turned in, for a split second the thought crossed my mind, “Maybe I should Google to see if they’re open.” This thought partially stemmed from thinking I had too much to do to spend time elsewhere. It also showed me the unnecessary reliability I’ve had on technology lately.

“But, I’m already here,” I thought and turned in.

Trust that life organically takes you where you need to go.

It’s okay to let go of control.


Once I started walking around, I realized how much I needed fresh air, green plants, trees, and grass. How much I continually need these things. Nothing else I “needed” to do just to “fill my time” mattered.

Trust in the path even if it seems confusing, painful, challenging or impractical.
flowered path

Sometimes it looks like the path goes nowhere. And sometimes the path goes nowhere. It’s okay to take that path anyways. You never know what you’ll discover along the way.

Being outside is the best medicine. I grew up with acres of woods in my backyard. Being in the woods surrounded by plants and trees has always soothed me. Sometimes I spend so much time indoors that I forget how nourishing and replenishing life outside is. Spending time in the woods helps me understand that what we are a part of is so much more than broken hearts, aggressive drivers and to do lists.

tree river

Watching a dragonfly flutter from one plant to the next helps me appreciate the depth of a moment.

Getting up close to a bug reminds me that life exists in so many other realms.

Trees remind me that sometimes beauty can’t fit into frames and parameters.
tree at botanical

It shows me that we’re not the only ones who get all tangled up.
tangled plants

Even in the prickly places life blooms.

Wild bleeding hearts can still be beautiful.

Today I walked into the woods feeling hurt and upset about recently discontinuing a romantic relationship in my life. I left the woods feeling hopeful, replenished and happy.

At the end of my walk I saw this quote in the information display case:
do not let the world make you hard

The world is still filled with so much sweetness. Sometimes the best way to figure this out is through having a broken heart.
botanical bumper

Asheville Botanical Gardens:

The Botanical Gardens at Asheville is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. They aim to preserve and promote plants native to the Southeast with an emphasis on the Appalachian region. The Southern Appalachians have the richest diversity of native plants outside of the tropics. The gardens are open from sunrise to sunset. There’s no admission fee, but donations are appreciated.

Directions: (Or you can just trust that life will guide you)

151 W.T. Weaver Blvd.
Asheville, NC 28804-3414

From Downtown Asheville
Take Broadway/Merrimon Avenue (US 25) north for approximately 1.5 miles to the traffic light at W.T. Weaver Blvd. Turn left. Pass the entrance to University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) at the traffic circle.  Entrance to Gardens is the about .2 mile on the right.

From the South (Hendersonville)
Take I-26 West. As you approach Asheville, I-26 will be joined by I-240.  Continue to follow signs for I-26 (future I-26). Once the road begins to cross the Smokey  Mountain Bridge, move IMMEDIATELY into the left  lane. Take LEFT Exit 4A. Go to Exit 25 which comes up quickly.  At the bottom of exit ramp turn right. At second traffic light turn left on to W.T. Weaver Blvd. BGA’s parking lot is first driveway on left.

From the North (Weaverville)
Take I-26 East to Exit 25.  At the bottom of exit ramp turn left. At second traffic light, turn left on to W.T. Weaver Blvd. BGA’s parking lot is first driveway on left.

Once I got in my car I put on the Sim Redmond Band’s Live at GrassRoots album. When I can’t get outside, Sim Redmond and GrassRoots will usually do the trick for an uplifting, soothing outlook. Here’s the soundtrack:


One more reason to trust and know that everything’s going to be okay.  Once I got home I saw this quote a guest left:

happiness is a choice

It’s okay to be private; it’s okay to cry.

Some days I just need to hear this song.

These words have comforted me, encouraged me, made me cry, and inspired me.

Expression is okay. Sadness is okay. Loneliness is okay.

Thank you, Ayla Nereo for oh so many things.

Learning How to Love Chocolate (continued)

The first part of this story is about my realization that chocolate really isn’t so bad. For as long as I can remember I didn’t like chocolate. But things are starting to change. Read Part 1 here.

The second cacao ceremony was a complete heart-opener.

Before the ceremony started, I was having a great day at the Mystical Yoga Farm, the spiritual community in Guatemala where I spent the winter. I woke up and stayed in bed to write myself a love poem (read that here). Then I fasted for the ceremony. Fasting is supposed to intensify the experience.

Cacao, or chocolate before it’s processed, has been used ceremonially for centuries in Latin America.

Continue reading

I release so I can recieve

I manifested a sexy man to make out with at Envision Festival. But he ended up being a jerk. Then I learned to be more specific in what I ask the Universe for.

Let’s just call him “dream body.” That’s what I told my friends, “I met my dream body.” As soon as I saw him I knew Continue reading

Dear Leela

Here’s the glorious lady I got inspiration from to write my self-love poem.

Zen Bootcamp

I led a poetry workshop at the yoga farm the other day and gave the prompt to write an ecstatic  love poem to yourself, which was prompted by Claire’s intention of self love during morning asana.  What a radical practice ~ I think this resonates with honoring the divine light within all of us. please share your own self-love poem!  namaste


Dear lover, you are moving
like honey through the world.

I love you. I am
ecstatic for you like the way
elephants come to water
to bathe all day
in the hot sun.

You are my water
I wait for you.
You are my fire
wood just sparks when you’re around.

Dear Lover,
you and me are one
we swim through the vast ocean
with strength, beauty, compassion
as the whales & the dolphins
sing their low songs
that echo all through
the ocean floor.

I keep waiting
for you to…

View original post 99 more words

Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you very much.

Feeling the spirit of love and friendship all around at the Mystical Yoga Farm, I decided to indulge this Valentine’s Day. As I was growing up I enjoyed having a special someone be my Valentine. This year I’ve decided that that special someone is me.

Leela, a lovely Karma Yogi who inspires me every day, led a poetry and yoga workshop last week. It was my day off so I missed the workshop, but Leela gave me the prompt: write an ecstatic love poem to yourself. Be as mushy and loving as possible. Read Leela’s gorgeous love poem at her blog Zen BootCamp.

Love and acceptance are broader themes to personal subjects I’m working on constantly. Loving myself is an important part of that process. Happy Valentine’s Day to the people I love very much, including myself. Please share your self-love poems in the comments section. Click to read my poem and be swept away in self-love

LASIK Eye Surgery Review

It’s been one week and a couple days since I got LASIK eye surgery. So far it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Here’s a video review of the procedure and the recovery process:

In the video I forget to mention a few things. After the eye is forced open by those hooks, the doctor puts a suction ring over the cornea to help stabilize the eye. That pressure is what caused all my broken blood vessels. While the laser was operating there’s this clicking noise that also freaked me out.

Update 12/17/12: I spent all day yesterday watching movies and my eyes were extremely dry. They still are today. I still don’t think my eyes are ready for too much screen time yet.  As far as medicines go, I’m taking the Pred Forte, Refresh and Restasis. No more Ofloxacin.

If you’re brave and up for it, check out the video of my LASIK procedure:

Here are the eye drops I mentioned in the video:

-Pred Forte, the anti-inflammatory

-Ofloxacin, the antibiotic

Restasis, to combat dry eye

Refresh Optive Advanced, for lubrication

After I use the drops I get a metallicy taste in the back of my throat.


I went to the doctor for a free consultation to see if I was even a candidate for LASIK. I stopped wearing my contacts 3 weeks before the surgery. During that time I had to use Restasis every morning and night.


No exercising for the first week or so; no hot tubs or swimming and no make-up. I had an eye appointment with my regular eye doctor one day after and one week after. I just scheduled my one month post surgery appointment.

Surgery Details:

I got my surgery at Clarity Refractive Services in West Orange, NJ. Dr. Fox was my surgeon. I would recommend him to anyone. The surgery was $4,850, which covers all the pre- and post-doctor’s visits and insures you for life. Some insurance plans offer a special plan, which reduces the total cost.

If you have any questions about the surgery feel free to ask me!

How To Heal A Second-Degree Burn

The first part of the blog is the story of how my skin got burned. The second part, “The Healing Process” is where you can find information about healing burns.

Warning: This blog post contains graphic photos of burnt skin.

Update from October 26, 2013: This blog now includes the most recent photo of the burn. It’s a picture from one year and three months later. 

This past summer I got a second-degree burn on my thigh while I was at my favorite music festival. It was horrifying and upsetting as it happened, but I was more concerned with making sure I saw my favorite acts play and being able to dance all night. I was also pretty upset about my maté.

The burn all started with my desire for an early evening pick-me-up. Eager to make some maté (a South American tea known for its energizing properties), I approached boys at a neighboring campsite to boil water. Once I got back to my camp, between juggling my maté gourd, my thermos with an unscrewed on cap and other items that have no significance now, the water in my thermos spilled down my leg. Luckily I was wearing pants. I just changed into silk pants from a sarong. I sprung up, pulled my pants off and saw my skin start to sizzle. At first I was in shock. Then I broke down, crying, “All I wanted was maté.”

At first the burn did not hurt. It stung, but it was not overwhelming painful or unbearable. This continued to be the case throughout the duration of the burn’s life.

My superhero friends leapt into action. One grabbed my hand for support (even though I ended up being the one telling him it would be okay), one poured cool water on the burn and another ran for first aid. Well two ended up running in different directions for first aid. Luckily a woman who happened to be a nurse was camping close by, and she came to my rescue.

Once I found out what time it was (7:45 and my main squeeze, Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited were scheduled for 8) I really started to cry. For months I’d been looking forward to dancing to their show. The camping nurse wrapped gauze around my leg and told me I couldn’t dance for the rest of the festival. Now this only made me cry harder. The burn was the least of my worries.  As soon as she walked away I said, “I’m dancing no matter what.” Hopping on one leg while clutching my thigh, I made it all the way to the main stage.

Once again, I was in luck. The band was running late. As they sound-checked I wobbled to the official first aid tent of the festival. The first-aiders wrapped a new bandage around the burn, and I danced like a wild animal throughout Thomas Mapfumo’s set. I didn’t stop there. I ended up dancing throughout the night, all the way until the sun came up the next day.

I was extremely mindful of my burn throughout the night (and early morning). I can’t even count how many times I went to the first aid tent: between every other song, if not after every song, after every set, etc., etc.

Back at first aid after Thomas’ set, the burn looked much worse than it had originally. The first-aiders determined it was at least a second-degree burn, if not third. They kept calling people over to look at the burn like they had never seen anything like it. More raw skin appeared, more burnt spots surfaced. What started as one spot that looked burnt, now turned into two spots the size of silver dollars with a huge blister underneath. The blister liquid moved up and down. The area of burnt skin just kept growing, revealing itself with each unraveling.

The first-aiders reassured me that even though the burn looked worse as the night went on, it was getting better. It was going to look worse as it got better. Each time we unwrapped the burn I could have sworn it made faces at me. You’ll see in the pictures. The only time the burn didn’t bother me or I forgot it existed was when I danced. So I didn’t stop dancing.

The next day before I left I got the burn re-wrapped again. The first-aiders said they were shocked at how good it looked and that it was already healing very well. It must have been all that dancing and the magic of GrassRoots. I can’t express enough gratitude for the first-aiders, my friends and everyone who helped. Who knows what would have happened if they weren’t there.

The Healing Process

Here's the view of my burn two days after.

Here’s the view of my burn two days after.

Close-up 2 days later

Close-up (Doesn’t it resemble an alien head?)

Once home I researched everything I could about burns. I wanted answers about what to do; I wanted burn advice, remedies. I was disappointed with what I found. I couldn’t find enough detailed or in-depth advice. That’s when I decided I’d track my progress and blog about it. Even though I’ve only gotten one second-degree burn in my life and I’m no expert by any means, I thought this post may be useful to people and could offer some more advice about healing burns. Remember: everyone heals differently. What worked for me may not work for you.

For starters: I found it was best to let my body do what it was doing naturally without me interfering too much. So I didn’t pop the blisters no matter how much the liquid moved. I didn’t pull off the charred skin. I took cold showers for the first week or so because I didn’t want to risk the burn getting any more heat. I kept the burn covered at all times. When I changed the covering (morning and night and random times throughout the day) I let the burn air out for 20 minutes or so. But I did this in the safety of my bedroom without too much movement.

After getting a burn, the most important thing is to make sure it does not get infected. So I applied Bacitraycin Plus with Aloe to the affected area. Bacitracin (one of the key ingredients of Neosporin) is an antibiotic that stops the growth of certain bacteria. Aloe is soothing and known to have healing properties.


I asked everyone I knew if they knew the best way to heal burns. Vitamin E came up in most conversations as the number one remedy. So I bought Vitamin E pills and took them orally everyday starting two weeks after the burn. I also opened the capsules and poured the Vitamin E oil on my wound. As an antioxidant, Vitamin E neutralizes the effect of free radicals. When skin is damaged your body can produce free radicals, which damage skin. Free radicals are thieves in the night, stealing electrons from healthy skin cells. Vitamin E is the detective that cleans everything up.

Every time I showed someone the burn they told me to go to the doctor immediately. I wanted to see how long I could experiment with healing myself using natural remedies before the doctor got involved. I knew I was taking care of the burn well enough that it was not infected. I figured the doctor wouldn’t tell me anything I didn’t know.

But going to the doctor ended up being a good thing for three reasons:

-They gave me a tetanus shot just to be safe.

-The doctor told me to put lavender oil on the burn.

-They wrote me a prescription for Silvadene Cream, which contains the antimicrobial agent silver sulfadiazine. This is the cream nurses use on burn patients in hospitals. The only way to get it is through a prescription. Silvadene started instantly helping the burn. My prescription didn’t have any refills so I was only able to use the Silvadene cream until it ran out. But I highly recommend this cream if you have a second- or third-degree burn.

My routine for over a month:

Witch Hazel

1. Clean the burn with cool water and sometimes Witch Hazel, which is an astringent, a natural skin tightener. Witch Hazel also contains soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. It didn’t sting, but it was a little tingly.

2. With a towel pat dry as carefully as possible.

3. Use a Q-tip to apply Bacitraycin with Aloe or Silvadene to the affected area. Once the blister was completely drained and the skin wasn’t as raw, I started using the Vitamin E oil on the burn instead of Bacitracin. I also I added a few drops of lavender oil and rubbed the mixture together. Lavender oil can also act as an astringent. Not to mention that the scent alone is very soothing and relaxing. Pads, tape, gauze

4. Cover the burn with one large or two small sterile pads. Wrap the pads with gauze and tape to skin. I tried latex free gauze and gauze that stuck to itself. I liked the gauze that stuck to itself but if I moved a lot, I had to also tape it.

I repeated this process around lunchtime and before bed. During this time I never wore tight-fitting pants or jeans. I wore dresses and long flowing skirts. Tight fabric would irritate the burn. I did not go swimming or exercise (yoga, hiking included) for the rest of the summer.

An Overview of Burn Remedies:

-Silvadene Cream

-Vitamin E: either pills taken orally or oil applied directly to the skin.

-Lavender Oil

-Grapeseed Oil (usually mixed with lavender oil and sometimes coconut oil)

-Bacitraycin with aloe

-The gel from an actual Aloe plant

-Witch Hazel

Materials needed:

-Adhesive Tape: I tried a variety of tapes. ShopRite Brand (ShopRite’s a supermarket) Adhesive Latex-Free Waterproof white tape stung the areas that were taped. It stayed really tight if I was still, but once I moved the tape came undone. Wouldn’t recommend it. Cloth tape stuck to the gauze and ripped the gauze. It didn’t stick that well to my skin either. NexTape moved with my skin and was very stretchy.

-Sterile Pads

-Gauze or a cloth covering


Something to think about: It got pretty pricey keeping up with all the sterile pads and gauze I needed.

Post-burn, 4 and a half months later:

Four and a half months later

Four and a half months later

The burn has shrunk in size and blends into my skin like sun spots would. You can barely notice it. Most of the burn is a light pink, while the bottom part is slightly redder.

I’m not as diligent as I was in the beginning, but I still apply cream on my burn. I apply whatever is in reach in my bathroom: grapeseed oil, lavender oil, lotion packed with vitamins, scar gel. My leg hasn’t been exposed to the sun yet, but for the rest of my life I’ll make sure the burn has sunscreen on it and is covered.

Post-burn one year and three months later:

Burn year later

Here’s the burn one year and three months later.

For the most part the burn has blended into my skin. The outline of the burn is a slightly different color tone than my skin. Some of the insides are a paler white; some of the insides have merged with my skin tone.

When I get out of the shower I apply Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E and mix in Lavender Oil. I try to do this whenever possible, but sometimes I miss days. I’m very happy with the way my burn has healed. To me it looks like a birthmark.

Here’s an overview of the burn’s progress.

Please feel free to share your burn stories and burn remedies in the comments section. Have you ever tried any of the remedies I’ve mentioned? What were the results?