Still Glowing After an Amazing Family Reunion

I’m sitting in a little laundromat in Savannah, Ga on our way home from a family reunion in Jacksonville, Fl. It’s a homey little washhouse with wood paneling on the walls and counters, and no change machine to speak of, meaning the operator of the laundromat must personally change bills for quarters all day… I like it. The laundromat operator has just asked me if I’m reading something funny or if I just like to smile. “Definitely the second option,” I reply with a grin.

The Reunion

Little Lotus on Aunt Vivian's lap

Our family reunion was phenomenal! I expected it to be amazing, but I had no idea just how much effort had gone into this year’s event. My Jacksonville family, Auntie Monie, Uncle Arthur, and cousins Emius, Essie, Kevin, and Alicia did an amazing job organizing. We got to connect with family members from all over, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we were children and some of whom I was meeting for the first time. What is it about being around cousins that brings out the playful child in me? My favorite part was seeing Little Lotus cuddled by aunties and uncles that hugged and cuddled me as a youngster.

Great Grandmother Essie

My amazing cousin Essie researched and wrote an almost 200 page book detailing the generations of our family complete with pictures of great-great grandparents. It turns out my great grandmother, also named Essie, was a mother and land-owner who built her own home on her land. When my great grandmother Essie lost her first plot of land (through eminent domain), she relocated to Georgia, worked, and sold vegetables until she could buy another parcel of land on which she built a home, a school, and a church. Hmmmm I wonder where I get my determined and incurable homesteader streak?

The Forest Garden
Things at the Forest Garden were amazing, although not as permanent as we had hoped. We learned so much and we plan to go back soon to help build the necessary structures for the farm. Visit my fundraiser page to learn more about this project http://livingourbliss.net/GreenBuildingFundraiser.aspx
Wishing you a day full of magic and fulfillment!
Asante
www.LivingOurBliss.net
Read more of my articles at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/954076/asante_george.html

A Quick Trip to Tuskegee Institute

I’m writing from the Kellogg Conference Center at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This morning, Uzuri, Little Lotus, and I found we had received scholarships to an organic farming conference held at Tuskegee Institute, complete with hotel room reservations, so we quickly packed and drove for several hours stopping at fruit stands along the way. The conference actually began today, but we’ll attend a day of organic farming classes tomorrow.

I love being here. There is a bust of the founder Booker T. Washington in the Lobby and lots of cultural and historical art decorating the walls. It feels profound to walk on ground that Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver stood on. I am humbled.

Things at the farm are going beautifully. We’ve finally finished weeding the hoop house, and we’re beginning to harvest zucchini and sweet peas. Uzuri and Little Lotus harvested two big drinking cups full of sweet peas to eat during our ride to Tuskegee. They were delicious. After eating sweet peas fresh from the garden, we are all baffled by the thought of cooking them. They are so tender and flavorful when fresh and raw.

Our happy household has decreased by two. The lovely Rasta couple moved last week. Beginning an organic farm from scratch is an adventurous idea, but the reality is a lot of work. It’s not easy, but it can be a wonderful growth inspiring experience.

In love, joy, and peace,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

Unkowingly in the Mississippi Delta

While watching the news in our hotel room last night, I learned that Little Lotus and I are in the Mississippi Delta. I also found out about a music festival happening in Greenwood, Mississippi commemorating the 100th birthday of blues legend Robert Johnson “The King of the Delta Blues”. The festival is free, begins tomorrow, and we are less than 120 miles away! Two of my favorite musicians, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Keb’ Mo’, are playing.

Last night, after learning of the festival, I completely talked myself out of going with arguments like, “I didn’t budget for two extra nights in a hotel,” and, “It’s a bit out of the way.” When I awoke this morning my first thought was, “What am I thinking?! We are very close to the historical home of one of my favorite musicians when two more of my favorite musicians are playing at a free outdoor festival!” So… we are on our way to Greenwood , Mississippi to visit the Robert Johnson museum, at least, and perhaps stay for the festival.

At Little Rock, Arkansas our journey took us from driving on an interstate to driving on a highway. Interstates are much busier and flanked with hotels, gas stations, and chain stores, but by traveling on a highway one gains a true sense of a region. While driving on the open highway I felt as if I has been transported back through time.

I must admit, it’s hard for me not to judge this region for its past. As I drove through Little Rock, I thought of the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Arkansas public schools. While passing large beautiful trees, I thought of Lady Day’s Strange Fruit. Shells of burned houses reminded me of nighttime riders in white sheets. I look forward to exploring the southern U.S. more deeply and rounding out my knowledge of this region that saddens, intrigues, and inspires me. Our trip to the Robert Johnson museum is a great start.

In love, beauty, and peace,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

A Teary Beginning to a Wonderful Adventure

Little Lotus and I are in a small town in Arkansas. We’ve stopped here on the way to our friend’s land in Alabama. The adventure we have prepared for over the last several months has begun!! We envisioned our project, plotted the steps it would take to get here, worked really hard, and here we are at the beginning of what we call our ecoadventure. Amazing and exciting, right? Not exactly. As the last steps of our preparation became a reality, we realized that embarking on this new beginning meant saying goodbye to people and a place we had come to love. We left Oklahoma in tears that left me wondering whether I had made a very wrong decision. After about fifty miles passed under our adventure-mobile tires, we were both able to catch sight of our dream again. The vision of our plan came back to us in small glimpses at first, and before long we were both smiling again.

We are excited, once again, about our road trip with our cat Max (who travels on a leash) and about our plans to build an eco-house, but we’ll never forget the folks we love that we hope to see again very soon.

In love, adventure, and bliss,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

The Gifted Greenhouse

The world outside my window is covered in a snowy white blanket, and the wind is whipping. A stormy day is a perfect opportunity to sleep in, reflect, and write.

Collecting materials for our recycled lean-to greenhouse has been very successful. As I stated in my last post, we had most of the wood for our greenhouse frame in our yard already. After watching an informative video called ‘How To Build A Greenhouse From Recycled Materials’ I was inspired to call the commercial greenhouses in my area to ask if they had large pieces of plastic sheeting that where no longer suitable for a large commercial greenhouse, but would work for a small lean-to structure. The first place I called didn’t have any materials for me, but they offered wonderful advice on maintaining a greenhouse. Calvert’s Plant Interiors was the second place I called. The manager was out when I called, so I left a message explaining my project and the reason for my call. The owner, Mr. Bob Calvert, returned my call the next day. After a lively game of phone tag, Bob told me that Calvert’s may have materials to donate to my project. Mr. Calvert called me back on Friday to let me know I could pick up my plastic sheeting on Monday.

Bob explained that the rolls of plastic sheeting used at Calvert’s are 100 feet long, this is about 20 feet longer than their greenhouses. They were willing to donate a roll with the remaining 20 feet of sheeting on it to my recycled greenhouse project. When my five-year old assistant and I arrived on Monday to pick up the gifted plastic sheeting Bob Calvert helped me load it into the trunk of my car. He even smudged his suit in the process.

This project, and this experience specifically, have reminded me of the many reasons to support local businesses. In a nutshell, local businesses are more likely to support you. According to Local First Chicago locally owned businesses put 70% more money back into the local economy. Non-profit organizations receive 350% more support from locally owned businesses than they do from large chains or non-locally owned businesses. Business owners who live where they work are more likely to give to community groups and organizations, or in my case, a small greenhouse project. Anyone who visits Calvert’s, with their elegant yet shabby chic vibe, can attest to the fact that locally owned businesses give an area character, and help maintain what makes a neighborhood distinct. Big-box stores can’t do that!

Wishing you creative adventures and profound abundance,

Adventurer Extraordinaire Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

The Upside of a Failed Modem

What began as a failed modem became a wonderful break from the computer that I didn’t know I needed. It has been a wonderful and productive few weeks. For example, I’ve partnered with The Health Food Center (one of our local health food stores) to offer my Raw Brazil Nut Tacos in their deli every Tuesday starting in March. I also began counseling with a really wonderful woman. I’m so excited about this. Like most of us, I have “stuff” that blocks my joy at times, and I’m ready to work these things out and step fully into my bliss.

This week we placed our first order for Azure Standard. Azure Standard is a company that ships high quality food to food buying coops at a discount. A good friend of mine suggested that we order food from them, and we’ve finally placed an order. We’ll go the drop point on Monday with all the other families who’ve places orders and help unload the truck and pick up our pounds and pounds of organic nuts, grains, and dates…yum.

Today I’m on a mission. I want to find barrels with which to build a simply water catchment system. I also want to find plastic sheeting to reuse as a cover for a greenhouse. I want to make the greenhouse out of found materials, and I believe I’ve collected enough pallets for the frame. Now I need to find a cover. I’m so excited about this idea and about gardening in our yard. Perhaps we’ll create a little urban homestead. I’ve always wanted to do that, and there’s no better time to begin than now!

Love Love Love to you,

Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

Juice & Water Fast Days No.9 & 10

I’m on day number 1o of my 10 day fast! This has been a really amazing experience. We scheduled to have some work done on our house early this morning, so I didn’t get enough rest last night. What a difference that made. This is my first time fasting this long, so I should have scheduled the work for another day so I could focus on rest and self-care on the last day of my fast. Several times today the thought has crossed my mind to make this a 9 1/2 day fast rather than a 10 day fast…lol.

This fast has been a wonderful cleanse and a great exercise of will power. Here is a picture of my shining face after fasting for 6 days. I feel so much lighter and on purpose. My face is shinier, my body is leaner, my mind is clearer, my skin is smoother, I have even been more patient with my little girl. Over the last 10 days I’ve realized just how much I think of food each day and how many times I eat almost mindlessly. There were several times when I was getting bowls of good things for my little girl that I would have, at any other time, taken a few bites out of habit. That was an interesting observation. Another observation, which was quite funny, is that my stomach growled yesterday for the first time during my fast. Yesterday I began thinking about my first meal after my fast and all the wonderful raw foods I want to eat over the weekend, and my stomach growled!

Completing this fast made me think about the first time I fasted. It has been a slow and gradual growth. I thought back to a 2 day fast I did in my early twenties with a friend. After our fast we went to Whole Foods and gorged ourselves on vegan food…lol. Not the best way to break a fast, but it was a good beginning. But that was not the first time I fasted. I can remember a couple of 2 and 3 day fasts in my earlier twenties, but as I thought back even further I was able to remember my first experience with fasting. I was about 18 and I had just purchased a copy of  The Master Cleanse by Stanley Burroughs at a new age store for around $5. I read through it and immediately wanted to try this spicy lemonade cleanse. Several days after buying the book I developed a cold and I decided to try The Master Cleanse to release the cold. By noon of that day my cold was gone and my lemonade fast was over! My first fast was 1/2 day long. That is a great beginning.

Over the last 10 days several people have asked how to begin fasting if you are a beginner. I am still a beginner, and I’m very happy to share what I’ve learned. Here are three great ways to begin fasting:

1. Start juicing everyday. Get in a routine of juicing and get familiar with juice combinations you like, and add lots of greens to your juices.

2. Begin with a 1/2 day fast or a 1 day fast. In comfortable baby steps you can become comfortable with the discipline fasting requires.

3. Join a fast or cleanse group. Many fasting groups are available through raw food forums and on Facebook. The moral support is very helpful.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over this fast that will increase the ease of my next fast:

  • Make rest a priority.
  • Shop the day before my fast for loads of produce.
  • Drink juice before I begin feeling hungry.
  • Don’t schedule a major event during a fast.

For others that are more experienced with fasting, these tips my not apply, but for someone new to lengthy fasting like me, these tips may be helpful.

As an added bonus, I feel very clear about the direction of my business right now. This makes so much sense to me, as everything about this time period seems cosmically aligned. For example, I did not plan my fast to begin on the day after the solstice and end on the last day of 2011, it really just happened that way. To honor the new year my book Living Our Bliss: An Introduction to Sun Food (the ebook version) is on sale for $8. I also have plans for lots of freebies to give away on my website, the first of which I made available last night. Visit my site linked below if you’d like a free gift.

Wishing you abundant joy and vibrant love,

Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

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