Posts Tagged ‘raw cacao’

Interview with Chef Mia Dalene (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of an Interview with raw food chef Mia Dalene. For Part 1, please click here.

Raw Food Chef Mia Dalene

Mia is not only a chef and instructor, but also a fellow brain injury survivor and all-around inspirational leader. I love supporting other people who have turned tragedy into triumph, so please check out her links and services below. This portion of the interview addresses two of my favorite topics in the world: the spiritual side of brain injuries and … you guessed it! Raw cacao. 🙂

How did your concept of Self change after your brain injury?

Before I found the nutritional difference with raw vegan cuisine.:

With the injury I switched from Type A to Type B personality in that instant, but I was not aware of what had happened and so was figuring it out as I went along. I found this a painful experience at the time. As well, I was no longer able to do tasks that before the injury were things I defined myself by and had taken my ability to complete them for granted. It was a very difficult time for me as I saw myself as someone that I and others could no longer count on.

It took some time but in the years that have followed, I have come to see my Self as more than the job title, the amount of pay I once commanded, and the number of times I was interrupted during the day to fix problems. (and in 2009 have been experiencing more of the essence of Self.)

I had liked being counted on in those days but I let it define me, along with being a single mother of two rambunctious boys. I defined myself and assigned my value to my abilities to behave in certain ways. With the injuries I could no longer allow my children to climb on me like a human jungle gym and rough house play with them, or allow them to jump into my arms as had been our normal greeting to that point. It wasn’t just a brain injury, my neck, back, and left shoulder were also injured. These injuries affected my children’s concept of what they meant to me as well.

In conversations I would forget their names. Miles, the youngest, caught me and commented, “How can you love me anymore if you forgot my name?” He was 6 at the time of the injury and it made no sense to him or to me, although I did know that I loved him – I was having difficulty conveying it in the terms we had been doing so to this point. It took a year for me to figure out holding him in my arms while I sat down was our new way of expressing affection beyond the words.

His older brother, Tony, was 9 and was able to assist me in caring for his younger brother. I now needed absolute quiet and sometimes the solitude of a dark room (or coat over my head) when I would get neurologically over stimulated. Something my very vocal Miles could not immediately understand. Tony could assist me to get Miles to be quiet during those times in the car when I needed immediate quiet so I could bring myself back down to calm.

During those early years, I often hated my new life and myself for not being able to do the things I once had. It took me some time to adjust and I find myself still in this daily adjustment process. It has helped to release expectations and be open to what is in each moment.

Two things happened that were pivotal points:

1) I read a book, Choosing Joy in the Midst of Chaos, by Dorothy Mae
My choice was to live a joy-filled life and so I decided that even though this tragic thing had occurred, it was still my life and no matter what… I wanted to live that Joy Filled life. So I did.

Not knowing what I could do, I wrote down a list of things I could focus on, keeping this list on a piece of paper in my pocket so I could refer to it often and remember. As I read through it, I would feeling the Love bliss consciousness that comes through me when I do these things. Looking back, I see that I included all my senses in my remembering moments.

I enjoy…
spending time in nature among the plants,
smelling scents of fragrant plants
seeing colorful flowers
feeling the different texture of plants under my feet and on my fingertips,
hearing the stillness
experiencing beauty all around me

2) I started doing some things that I had always wanted to do. One was to learn tap dancing. I soon found that the symptoms of TBI followed me everywhere. I was not able to remember the dance steps … but I did find joy in the movement and the clicking of the taps on the toes of my shoes.

So I reframed my definition of success. In the corporate world, my personal success mantra was “exceeding excellence”. Now, it transmuted to, “if I am enjoying what I am doing in this moment… that is success.” And so my new job became finding joy in each and every moment.

At this point, I was redeemed in my eyes and I became successful again. And my perception of myself shifted toward more positive aspects. My abilities were no longer found in the Doing but in the BE-ing. And I began to see the gift of being different; both amongst people and different from who I was before.

Would you consider your injury a spiritual experience? If so, in what ways?

Yes.

It provided the freedom from focus on doing and into the experience of BE-ing. It allowed (forced) me to slow down and experience the world in a different way- calm and ultimately peaceful.

I was able to see and experience a different definition of who I was. My value came from the simple fact of being alive instead of having to do something, become someone in order to have value; the job title, the amount I received in my paycheck. There is something magical and liberating about living in the flow.

I learned that I can still have a positive impact on society, even with an injured brain and its symptoms. Providing information and teaching skills that others can use to better their lives, health. I am a catalyst for joy- something I wanted to be since I was a child. And definitely making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Please list five things you do or know better now than you did before your injury.

1. Take time to focus on and experience a joy centered life
2. Connect with people around me in real and profound ways
3. BE as opposed to DO
4. Consciously create
5. Type about as fast as a person can talk

What kind of classes and services do you offer, and where do you offer them?

For a listing of our calendar of events:

Meetup.com/Seasonal-Raw-Vegan-Cuisine

SmartRawFood.com (under construction)

DavidHempseed.com (quality Transformational Superfood ingredients)

Where:
1) all around the Puget Sound region of Washington state. I have spoken and food demo’s in Oregon & California as well. I will travel.
2) Online. We are planning some classes online to reach a wider audience. I will have information on that as it unfolds. There will be Live stream online preparing Live food. Showcasing recipes and SmartRaw Food Prep techniques and will be archived for those not able to make it to the live event.

(SmartRaw Food is a way of preparing food that saves money, time and energy. I created these techniques as a response to the myths I was hearing from people that this type of food is expensive and takes too much time)

What: *Recipes *Classes *Products *Quality Ingredients *Lifestyle Coaching & Raw Business Consulting
Some classes we teach include;
dalene’s Certified Raw Food Chef Course

SmartRawFood Prep Course; Phase 1, 2 & 3

I developed SmartRaw food Prep techniques that are efficient with time, money and energy.

Cacao (Raw Chocolate) Party class
Entertaining with seasonal Raw Vegan Cuisine

Transformational Superfoods

Water Wisdom

Live Cuisine Series: Italian, Mexican, Thai, Asian.

I co-teach with my partner, David Hempseed. We have teaching styles and personalities that complement each other. Our students often report that we “make a great team!” While I am more creative and less analytical than before the injury, I find I perform best with assistance from David’s gentle guidance as he assists me with organizing and staying on task.

David and Mia

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Pacific Northwest?

Nature! -The beautiful outdoors.

Cacao or not cacao?

Raw Cacao has the three major minerals that most Americans are lacking; Iron, Magnesium and Chromium.

I definitely Cacao! And make no judgments for those who choose to abstain. While I love raw chocolate, I have noticed a decrease in the amount my body desires lately.

An important note: As with any ingredients, the purer the better. Not all Cacao is equal and so may affect the body differently. As with any ingredients, the better the quality, the better the recipe turns out. My body has a radar for pure vs. adulterated raw cacao. I can tell if it has been tampered with. Some raw cacao companies may cut their ingredients (or get it unknowingly from a supplier who does) – cuts it with Guarana (sp?) or Kola seed powder. All three powders look similar: Guarana, Kola, and Cacao. But each act differently on the body.

**Raw cacao affects the cardiovascular system (not the nervous system) so if you are feeling jittery or anxious after eating what you think is pure raw cacao… it might actually be cut with another substance that affects the nervous system. Also, when cacao is roasted, toasted or otherwise cooked, it will affect the body in adverse ways.

I LOVE raw cacao so much so that I developed several recipes. Many of them are featured in my upcoming ebook, dalene’s Easy Raw Chocolate Recipes. Two examples of what you can expect from the book are Seduction, a chocolate sauce (one bite and you know why this is its name!), and Raw Ecstasy, a chocolate bar.

Seduction has been praised for its contribution to many who report “it helps [them] stay raw.”

My partner, David Hempseed, and I developed a chocolate bar we named, Raw Ecstasy. When we teach people how to make this, we caution, “When you tell people you were at a party and were eating ecstasy, make sure you put the Raw in front of it… we don’t want any misunderstandings here..” usually gets a laugh or two. And then they taste it. Eyes roll to the back of the head. A quiet hush falls over the group as they go inward and enjoy the experience. Raw Ecstasy, our raw chocolate bar.

Recipe for Seduction here

Seduction
Mia Dalene’s chocolate sauce

Ingredients

1 ¼ Cups Agave nectar (I prefer Ultimate brand, clear)
¼ – 3/4 Cup raw Cacao powder (depending on how dark you like it)
2 Tablespoons Coconut oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla (I use non alcohol flavoring)

Preparation

1) Place all ingredients into high speed blender (put agave nectar in first so the cacao doesn’t stick to the blades) and process until silky smooth. It should have a shean to the top of the mixture.

2) Adjust ingredients to taste. *after it settles it may harden slightly. If this happens, simply use a spoon, fork or chopstick and mix vigorously until it becomes viscous.

3) store in glass jar with sealed lid. This will keep out of refrigerator for over 2 months.

**This makes a great quick and tasty gift. Simply pour out into several small decorative jars, attach lid and affix your homemade label.

Tastes great drizzled over everything! For quick chocolate milk; add some to your nutmilk (or dairy) beverage. Even coffee can be transformed.

One woman told me she “takes a teaspoonful every morning, like medicine.”

Enjoy.

(Believe it or not, we still have more to this interview, so stay tuned for the third installment. In the meantime, please check out Mia’s wonderful offerings here and especially here.)

And if you need some extra support on your traumatic brain injury journey, please feel free to check out If I Only Had a Brain Injury. Many Blessings and Much Love to Mia and all of you!

Starting Thanksgiving Early

I just took a much needed day off! Yes, I had a weekend getaway last week at Bodega Bay, but that was a working, brainstorming, manic-writing kind of weekend in a relaxing location. Today … now that was a day off.

It actually began last night with some henna action on my hair. Something about that warm, goopy mess of chai tea, paprika and henna just makes my brainwaves slip right into relaxation mode. While the henna did its thing, I watched two Netflix instant downloads: Management and Bickford Schmeckler’s Book of Cool Ideas. Maybe it was the relaxation talking, but I really enjoyed them both. I rinsed out the henna, dried my hair and slept blissfully well.

This morning I awoke, turned a dream into a fictional dream sequence, and watched another movie: Step Up 2: The Streets. OK, closet confession here: I love dance movies, especially street dance and Bollywood. It’s a little embarrassing just how much I love such movies. Also embarrassing: the fact that I then love to “show my moves” to my hubby for several days afterwards.

Yes, I took many, many years of ballet, tap and jazz, and I spent my fair share of time dancing into the wee hours of the morning with my restaurant buddies when I waitressed my way through college. But in elementary school and (ahem) beyond, it was all about the break dancin’. I used to do that stuff until my double-joints cracked backwards. Anyway, this morning provided a wonderful trip down memory lane as poor Stephen witnessed renditions of “the moonwalk,” “the banana” and some bizarre moves I learned by osmosis just today! OK, I have officially outed myself. 🙂

Then, my friend Shana called to see if I might love a jaunt to Cafe Gratitude and a trip to the Sonoma County Coast, in this case, Jenner. Um, was that a rhetorical question? She picked me up and we went to Cafe G where it was 2-for-1 wheat grass shots. Who knew four ounces of wheat grass could be so much fun? Followed by a sushi bowl full of kale and kim chi? Followed by a miraculous pecan pie, aka I Am Perfect?

It was bliss. Followed by more bliss as we drove along the Russian River all the way out to the pristine sea of giant boulders and seaspray. We arrived just in time for sunset.

This was such a pleasant day that it has officially inspired me to begin Thanksgiving two and a half weeks early. Here’s my gratitude list so far:

1 ) I am so thankful that we live in a world where I can pick out a movie while wearing nothing but pajamas and a shower cap over a henna muddy head, download the movie, and when I’m done watching it, download another … and another … all for $9.95 a month. I remember when we had to go to the actual movie theater or Blockbuster. We take such things for granted, but today I’m feeling the love for online movies.

2 ) I am grateful for NaNoWriMo, because this insane quest to write so many words this month made me realize way sooner rather than later that I’ve been trying to squeeze two full books into a single novel. I now have plot, character and themes for books 2 and 3 of the Schizandra Series. If I hadn’t pushed myself to keep writing when I hit the wall, I might not have noticed that little glitch for months. Book 2 seems much more manageable now, and I’m really excited to write book 3!

3 ) I am grateful that I have a husband who loves not only the intuitive, psychic, coaching, writing and energy work I do, but who actually enjoys my spontaneous a.m. dance recitals in his office. And if he’s faking that enjoyment, then I’m even more grateful because he encourages me to be me no matter how old or young or silly or amazingly rhythmic I look doing it. 😉

4 ) I am grateful for my friends, who are always up for an adventure, experimenting with raw food goodies, juice and/or fascinating conversation. I am truly blessed to have so many diverse, compassionate and high vibe people in my life.

5 ) I am grateful that we live in Sonoma County with its unique access to stunning coastlines, open space, misty seascapes, redwoods, and more raw food restaurants than I can count. OK, normally, I can count higher, but once I start eating those desserts, I’m too blissed out to care. We have one: whichever one I happen to be eating in, and I’m so thankful that I momentarily forget just about anything and everything else. Now THAT is gratitude. 🙂

6 ) I am grateful for raw cacao. This may seem redundant to number 5, but au contraire, raw cacao deserves its own spot in my pre-T-Day gratitude list. Because raw cacao fuels happy, open hearts, and novel writing and just about every other fun thing I can imagine. Breakfast not only tastes better with chocolate; it feels better with chocolate; and we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The more cacao the merrier in my book, especially during NaNoWriMo.

7 ) I am grateful that people continue to send me such generous and supportive feedback on my writing. Stephen still calls me “the hardest working lazy person” he’s ever met. Truth is, I may be a Lazy Raw Foodist, but I pour my heart and soul into my books, especially my fiction. Thank you for noticing, and thank you for asking (so often) about Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar (book 2). I joke about the pressure of a 9-part series, but I honestly feel honored people want to read that many novels by me. Really, truly: thank you.

8 ) I am grateful that Cafe Gratitude’s having a FREE Thanksgiving meal on T-day and that they need volunteers. Another little outing of myself: I totally love waitressing, always have. Eating a raw vegan Thanksgiving feast and then serving food to others as a pseudo-waitress? I didn’t think I could top last year, but this one might just win.

9 ) I’m grateful that I get to teach a combined Reiki Level 1 and 2 class next Saturday. I love sharing Reiki with people, and this intensive class is particularly fun and rewarding to teach.

10 ) I am grateful to be alive and thriving after a brain injury destroyed the life I knew. November 6, 2009 marked the 11th year anniversary of the neuropsychological tests that showed a 40+ IQ drop and confirmed in an irrefutable way just how disastrously injured my poor brain really was. At the time, recovery looked unlikely.

From where I sit now, every day’s a miracle. I love my life! I have so much more freedom, joy, clarity and love than I ever had pre-injury. I feel smarter, quicker and more intuitive now than I ever did before … and I’m living my dreams. Shortly before my 1998 car accident, I set an intention to write a novel. Not nine novels. Just one. And you know what? When I started writing, I found that I had nothing at all to say. The day of my accident I asked the universe to rectify that situation. I asked for more freedom, joy, clarity and love so that I’d not only have something to write about, but something remarkable to live for. It took awhile for it all to fall into place, but the universe delivered.

Happy Thanksgiving Both Now and Later! Blessed Be.

Interview with Daniel Aaron

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Bali-based yoga teacher trainer, astrologer, writer and raw food enthusiast Daniel Aaron. I normally offer a longer introduction, but his answers are so thoroughly intriguing that I’ll let Daniel’s words speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy this inside look as much as I did.

Daniel Aaron

Let’s set the scene. For those of us who’ve never been, please share a little bit about Bali. How and why did you come to live there? How’s the food?

A fine beginning – us writer types love setting scenes. Ironically enough, I myself knew little about Bali before moving there. I think most of us in the Western world would have trouble even picturing it, other than imagining it was exotic and different. In many ways – some subtle, some obvious – it is very different from the West.

Bali has been known as ‘the island of the Gods’. It’s a small, tropical island in the midst of 13,000 Indonesian islands, and the only Hindu populace in a sea of Islam. How I came to move here is one of those intriguing moments in life, where some greater wisdom points you in the direction of ‘where you’re supposed to go’ or ‘what you’re supposed to do’. The time had come in my life, around five years ago, when suddenly I found myself with an urge to sink roots. I’d been living a nomadic life – always moving from teacher to ashram to school… part of me had been on some mission to find the next experience or opportunity I felt would push me to expand and grow further.

Just before Bali, I’d been living in Hawaii, asking myself, asking my friends, seeking the next phase in my life, the perfect place to relocate to. I remember I was in the middle of a noni juice fast, and my friend Miracle Jay said ‘why don’t you go to Ubud’? It was a landmark moment for me – immediately I felt a tingle run from head to foot, and I knew my direction had been set.

As great as the travelling and seeking life had been, these ‘planted’ last five years have been fruitful. The Balinese people say, “We have no art, we simply do everything as beautifully as possible.” This piece of wisdom so accurately reflects the vibration and philosophy of their island, and much of my experience in Ubud, the Balinese village in which I live. Ubud itself is known as the cultural and creative heart of Bali, which, in turn, is often thought to be the heart of the planet.

It’s a sweet and powerful mix of cultures and times. In one day I meet rice farmers working the fields as they have for generations, tourists and pilgrims, expats from around the world. My daughter and I walk at sunrise and find ducks working the fields, a dozen varieties of orchids and return to drink coconut water. The community based, heart-centered people of Bali are compassionate and incredibly generous hosts to Westerners sharing the island – and even though the local culture and devotional religion is foreign to most visitors, one can’t help but be fascinated by the graceful, smiling nature and spirituality of the Balinese people.

Local cuisine tends toward simplicity, as the culture is centered around rice cultivation and consumption. Yet the rich spices for which Indonesia became famous, pervade the fusion cuisine that’s also become famous in recent years. At my house we include much of the pungent local goodness into our raw food delights, especially the amazing raw cacao (the root of all chocolate).

I love that you’re so diverse! Astrology, yoga, fiction, raw food … you obviously have many interests. So many people try to fit their gifts into one neat package. How did you begin to “find your path” and what gave you the courage to pursue multiple career trajectories at the same time?

For as long as I can remember I bucked the common advice of practicality (in some ways) by pursing what was most interesting to me regardless of whether it apparently led to a job, career or income. In college I earned degrees in philosophy, religion and English. Some years later, after life shook me up and set me onto a spiritual ‘path’ of growth and discovery, I became a ‘training’ junkie, reveling in the depth of learning that these new (to me) forms of education provided. ‘Trainings from Transformational Breathing to Yoga, raw foods to transpersonal psychology, writing to astrology (and many more), my life became a roving romp into a kind of learning that I previously hadn’t imagined.

Eventually all that training – whose initial draw had simply been as means to understand and develop myself – started making sense as means to assisting others; I realized I’d developed skills and insights that were helpful to others. Even the college degree started making sense as part of what had prepared me for the multi-faceted and blessed role of getting to help others discover new possibilities in themselves and the world. I feel incredibly lucky to spend my days, my life, passionately immersed in such a wide range of topics, continually growing and expanding, always bringing me variety, learning, satisfaction and gratification.

You have quite a list of well-known clients. What do you consider the key reasons someone would want to find a yoga instructor? What qualities should they look for in their search?

It’s an exciting time for those of us passionate about sharing yoga; the popularity of – and really the global need for – yoga keeps rising. Even in the last 15 years that I’ve been immersed in it, popularity of yoga has continued to exponentially rise – and I think this is a reflection of the shift of the global culture – that so many of us are beginning to wake up, to realize that the potential for us to truly experience the life we wish to create is so possible, so close. That who we REALLY are, what we are REALLY capable of, is actually far beyond what society has presented, to all of us, as normal. Most people find yoga as a way to either to move away from some sort of pain, or to move toward some form of enhanced living. People find yoga to relieve stress, get more flexible, because it’s become trendy… or find enlightenment. And often regardless of their initial interest, they find more and different components as their involvement continues to feed them.

It’s inspiring to be part of the yoga world these days – there are plenty of styles and teachers sharing all over the world. Part of what I offer in the spectrum of yoga, what’s important for me to share, is the holistic approach to practice, that ‘practicing yoga’ is really a life style that leads us to ever greater vibrancy.

This broad view of what yoga can be led me create a revolutionary yoga teacher training, and – luckily – to bring together an amazing team of people with whom we create many different events and resources, from 2-4 week trainings to retreats to workshops. We’re inspired to provide people opportunities and tools to be more radiantly alive.

We aim to create opportunities that emphasize this philosophy by bringing humor, challenge and spiritual insight into every yoga class as well as every event we produce.

What to look for in a yoga teacher? What a great question! It’s one we explore often. Probably the best advice I’d give someone looking for a teacher, is to find someone with whom you resonate. So that after taking a class, and spending time with them, you walk away feeling uplifted, inspired and energized.

I’m a fan of ‘whatever works.’ I highly recommend exploring many teachers, styles and methods, to continually find what works for you. And then periodically asking yourself again: ‘is this working?’ ‘What would be even better, be more effective, to lead me more and more in the direction I want to go in my life?’

On your website you share that you’ve “gone far beyond asana.” How has your personal practice grown with mantras, meditation and reading sacred scriptures?

I’m incredibly grateful for the rich opportunities I’ve had to study with and be around phenomenal teachers. From yoga asana (postures) to satsang (meetings) to nutrition gurus, many wise and generous beings have shared their wisdom and their experience with me. For years I lived at ‘consciousness centers,’ and dived into courses, teachers, knowledge and learning. I’ve loved combining time-honored scripture with modern psychology, all embedded within my own experiences and insights. I revel in finding the sacred in the ordinary, and the ordinary in the sacred. The yoga classes I lead might include a reading from the Vedas, hip-hop music, a joke I heard last week, a story from my own life. Again: whatever works. Whatever is authentic and uplifting to all of us.

What sort of Astrology services do you offer? For someone who has never explored this area, what benefits might he or she expect from a reading?

One client with whom I consulted, the director of a psychology clinic, summed it up well: “One session brought me a clarity in understanding myself that took me two years of weekly therapy to find.” What I love about astrology – and I’m a fan of many systems of self-understanding – is that it’s as complex, rich and individual as each of us. And it works. How and why it works may be debatable, yet the evidence is clear that it does.

My main interest and specialty with astrology is looking into people’s evolutionary path – meaning, exploring the biggest reason for them being here. Once we’re more clear on what our soul wants for our learning and growth in life, many of the other important and pressing matters – work, love, health – fall more easily into place. I love astrology’s natural complexity, its ability to illuminate so many different parts of ourselves and to help us balance, harmonize and optimize those components into ever more radiant lives.

Once I’ve looked into the most essential parts of someone’s astrological make-up, its then possible to delve deeper into cycles that indicate more of what’s happening now and in the future – less to predict it, more to simply become more aware of planetary ‘weather patterns’ that help us both take better advantage of opportunities, and avert the less desirable aspects of challenges. Astrology is also useful for better understanding relationships – why they exist and how to get the best out of them.

Raw food diets are so diverse, and some Eastern philosophies really emphasize cooking foods. As a yoga teacher and for you personally, what tips can you share for balancing raw foods and yoga?

I’m glad you asked this. In my years of working with people in the raw food world, I’ve seen many people succeed and some have more trouble with raw food. I’ve grown into the understanding that eating living foods can work beautifully for everyone, if we approach it intelligently and find what is right for us individually. This is one of the greatest teachings of many of the Eastern medical systems – in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda: that we are all unique, and have specific dietary (and lifestyle) needs that will keep us in balance and healthy. We can call it biochemical individuality.

Success on a living food diet – meaning that we feel great, healthy, rich in energy – as with any aspect of life requires us to experiment, to find out what really works for us. Whether one chooses a macrobiotic, vegeterian, pescatarian, or breatharian diet, no two people will be (nor would benefit from) eating the same way.

Confusion often comes in when principles devolve into dogma. Some people need the fire element more than others. Some have weaker or stronger digestive tendencies. Principles often get reduced when people don’t understand them and want someone to simply tell them what to do. Dogmatic thinking can turn wise Eastern nutritional wisdom into saying people need to eat cooked food. Yet a higher perspective on it shows us that we can work with those principles while still taking advantage of the benefits of living foods. For instance, I’m visiting upstate New York right now, and the weather just turned cold. Last night I felt a craving for cayenne pepper, and so I included some in my hot (warm) chocolate drink, which quickly brought my body an internal sense of warmth.

The wide variety of approaches to living foods these days is a result of 1. its increased popularity and 2. the fact that many people need different approaches. It works differently for different people. Many of the raw food leaders simply prescribe their way of eating, which will work perfectly for some and not so perfectly for others.
Pardon my repetition, and it does bear repeating – success comes from learning what works for us individually. Education helps. Experience is key.

What sort of retreats do you offer?

Every retreat – every event of any sort, actually, whether it’s a 1 hour yoga class or a 4 week training – is aimed at creating opportunities, experiences and education that helps people create more and more of the life they want. Of course most everyone wants more energy, vitality, health and excitement. We want to be fully alive, to experience our potential as vibrant beings.

Our retreats vary in length and intensity. They almost all include Vibrant Living Yoga classes. All of our residential retreats include gourmet, organic living foods. We like to be in amazing beautiful places, so often our retreats take advantage of that with excursions into the nature and culture of those places, whether in Bali or elsewhere. Because I love creating experiences for people together with great teachers and presenters, and because collobating is both more fun for us and creates powerful events, we include amazing people on our ‘faculty’ from all over the world. Yoga teachers, nutrition gurus, musicians, body workers and healers.
The more I respond to that question, the more grateful I become. It’s a truly divine life where I get to play with such phenomenal people in the creation of our maximum delight in life.

Please tell us a little about your novel.

It’s been an educational and growthful process to write this novel. I’m now in the midst of the 3rd draft of it and still don’t like to speak too much about it, lest I dilute some of the alchemical energy I prefer to focus on recreating and finishing it. However, a writer friend did encourage me to write a ‘teaser’ for it recently. Though teasers – the little blurbs found on the back of a book to get people to buy them – generally aren’t so appealing to the authors themselves, I will share it here:

Locked against his will in a psych ward, on the heels of spiritual awakening tainted by well-meaning if misunderstanding friends and health-care professionals, Samuel confronts the ghost of his paranoid schizophrenic sister 8 years after her suicide (and reads to her), tracing his mind’s plummet along-side a rise in heart and spirit, while healing and rewriting their family history backwards from the ward, and potentially forward to new world of freedom.

What’s next?

Wow. A delightful question that one. I love imagining and creating the future. And then seeing it unfold in myriad ways even better than my imaginations. I’m at a wildly exciting time in my life, right in the middle of some fantastic creative projects. Aside from the novel and our trainings and retreats, we’ve just launched a line of raw chocolates. After years of playing around with making chocolate for myself and my friends, the combination of how good it makes us feel and how much people love the taste inspired me to take it public. In parallel with that, another long time love – the alchemical blending of essential oils (and specifically for use in yoga) – just turned into a line of products that went public in this last year. Both of those new ventures will be leaping to their next phase of evolution soon and be available around the world (right now just in Bali).

As if that all weren’t more than enough, we’re excited to be building spaces to house all this and more. We’re creating both physical and virtual space right now. Before long those who come to see us in Bali will be able to do so at our retreat center, and those who would like to connect with us more without coming to Bali, will be able to do so through our Radiantly Alive membership community online. I’m so excited in that both of these spaces will give the opportunity to reach more of the people who are motivated to increase their vibrancy. I love the image of our Radiantly Alive family growing and expanding, each of us sparkling more radiance into the world.

Thanks, so much for sharing your wisdom and a slice of your life with us, Daniel!

If you’d like to read more about Daniel Aaron, please visit his website. And now for a little trivia in case you’re wondering how I encountered Mr. Aaron all the way in Bali: we were introduced online by the lovely Shazzie when she learned about my novel Schizandra and the Gates of Mu. Daniel’s daughter’s middle name is a variant of Schizandra! What a small, interconnected world …

interviewed by Laura Bruno, author of The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide and Schizandra and the Gates of Mu (the world’s first raw cacao-yoga-astrology-novel).

Blessings and Synchronicity!

Pruning Roses, Garden Paradise & Schizandra

Those of you who have read The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide know I’m not too much of a gardener. LOL, I rarely even grow my own sprouts! But this doesn’t mean I don’t have great admiration for those who do. In particular, I have always wanted a rose garden. My maternal grandmother lived in Irvine, CA for most of my youth, and she had the most beautiful roses in full bloom on her patio. A former opera singer, she would sing her arias while pruning away, offering me, her sixteen year old granddaughter, mimosas and chocolate for breakfast. In retrospect, Gramma Irene was a pretty cool grandma!

My grandmother has since moved somewhere that maintains the rose gardens for her, but she still has lovely rose pillows and garden paintings in her apartment. When Stephen and I moved to our new home in Sonoma County, one of the first things I noticed was a woman singing arias while she gardened. It totally reminded me of my grandma! As things turned out, we have our own rose bushes, too, many of which needed pruning. I finally went outside today with some pruning sheers — my first ever — and had a go at them. I think I did pretty well, but we’ll see how many new blooms we get. 🙂

While trimming off the old blooms, I remembered some old thoughts I’d had regarding the whole concept of pruning: the idea that in order to grow, sometimes we need to cut back more than we think is necessary. Some of those leaves looked just fine to me, but I needed to prune them back to the first 5-patch if I wanted the bush to continue blooming.  During life coaching sessions, sometimes that same principle holds true. Parts of someone’s life may look just fine, but in order to invite the big blossoming, they still need some cutting out and reshaping.  I love how nature reminds us of the abundance of life — that we can remove parts that sap energy in preparation for the tremendous blooms in store for us. We need not fear some discipline or change. Giant, fragrant petals are on the way!

While pruning roses, I started thinking about a Garden Paradise, and quickly those thoughts turned to humanity’s attempts to return to that original Garden Paradise — our personal Eden. Of course, this reminded me of Schizandra and the Gates of Mu, because Schizandra embodies that potential. She’s a 13-year-old orphan with a cosmic destiny, and that destiny means awakening others to their true potential for bliss and transformation.

As synchronicity would have it, Schizandra arrived at just that moment. More precisely, proof of Schizandra arrived. Yes, I do mean proof: my very first “proof” copy of the paperback novel is now in my hands for review this weekend and release into the world next week:

Schizandra and the Gates of Mu

Schizandra and the Gates of Mu

I made a late decision to switch from iUniverse to my own publication company, designer and interior formatting. Gwen Gades and Cathi Stevenson did such a beautiful job it made me cry! I’m so pleased to present Schizandra in her new duds. Anyone who would like an autographed copy before the book becomes available on Amazon and in bookstores, please click here.

After my hubby and I skimmed through the book, he decided we needed to celebrate by taking me to Seed. (I know, more garden imagery!) Seed is a totally vegan, mostly raw food restaurant in Santa Rosa, CA. They have weekly boxes of food, as well as a fab and ever-evolving menu. Today I brought home a zucchini marinara and rutabaga alfredo pasta duo with Caesar salad, some watermelon mango soup, portabello (eggplant) bacon cheezeburger and my very favorite, cacao-custard-caramel pie. Mmmm … mmm … feast at the Bruno’s. It’s not every day that a novel comes out about raw cacao, and I’ll only get to premier my first novel once. Stephen said it was time to live it up.

Many, many blessings and much love!

Laura Bruno

www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com