Marco Island – A Place Where Sea Meets Spirit

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Do you dream of unspoiled tropical beaches and miles of endless sand and sea?  Hidden amongst modern condominiums and high-rise hotels on Marco Island, Florida, lies a hidden treasure called Tigertail Beach.  Secluded from urban America and detached from life stressors, this beautiful secluded beach is where heaven meets sea.

When you arrive, you can either walk along the vast white sandy beach, or you can cross the lagoon, avoiding condo’s and hotels, wading waist deep through warm salty waters, finding yourself amongst southern Florida’s unique wildlife including; tropical fish, ospreys, egrets and dolphins.  After you cross the lagoon you walk through a sandy trail that leads you out to the ocean front, where you can walk and explore three miles of beautiful wild, unspoiled natural beach where you will find yourself one with nature.

I travel to Marco Island every year and spend days walking the beach on Tigertail.  It is a place that rejuvenates my body, mind and soul.  I walk for hours as I only pass a few other explores along the way.  I swim in the salty warm ocean waters and sit on the sun blessed crystal sands becoming immersed in the land and sea as I totally forget my worries and cares.

I know most people go to Florida for the big theme parks or for the many popular beaches it offers, but Tigertail Beach is for those who seek to find nature in its rawest and most natural form, and for those who are also seeking a connection within through the power of nature.

Since my first visit, Tigertail has become a part of my soul, a place I return to year after year as part of my personal spiritual pilgrimage, a place where I reconnect, be still, and heal.

Tiger tail is truly a sacred place for the spiritual seeker.

The Psychology of Fun

When was the last time you played?  Play is not only for kids, but is just as important for adults.  Play has many physical and mental health benefits.  Research indicates that play:

  • Relieves stress and depression symptoms by releasing endorphins that make you feel good
  • Builds connections with others through sharing fun and laughter.  Play can also alleviate stressful situations during awkward or new introductions.  Team building activities in business or social situations can break the ice and make everyone feel more relaxed
  • Improves brain function through challenging activities that require thinking or problem solving
  • Promotes creative thinking by stimulating your brain and imagination
  • Increases your energy level and immune system, building resistance to illness

There are many forms of play and it doesn’t matter which one you participate in, but what’s important is that you actually schedule play into part of your day.  You can play with your kids, your partner or your cat, it will not only benefit you, but will benefit them as well.

What do you do to have fun?  What makes you laugh and makes you feel good?  Whatever it is, go do it! Healthy, happy people, have a good balance in life.  Play is an integral part of life.  Now go have some fun!

 

 

 

Dr. Garlic

Maplewood Gardens

Dave is known as the “Garlic Man”, or “Dr. Garlic”, in the Stevens Point Farmer’s Market and his certified naturally grown organic garlic is, “beyond organic”. Dave explains that he rejects USDA organic’s guidelines and doesn’t use anything unnatural. He has been growing garlic and other veggies for over 33 years. Dave said he didn’t set out to grow garlic, but that, “Garlic found me”. He actually builds the soil, not using any pesticides, which often kill beneficial insects, and claims to have the “purest” soil around.

Dave grows and sells a variety of garlics including Montana Giant, Georgian Fire, Persian Star, Killarney Red, Music, Chesnok Red, Romanian Red, and Georgian Crystal, all which have a distinct and unique flavor. People come from miles around to buy his garlic. Garlic is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Health benefits include being, anti-flammatory, antibacterial, cancer prevention, can reduce blood pressure, prevent colds, improve bone health and most recent research says it includes antioxidants that may help prevent Alzheimers and dementia.

Maplewood Garden’s is a division of Whistling Candleman Enterprises. Dave has been making pure maple syrup for over 44 years. His label was self designed and originated many years ago when Dave made and sold candles out west. He used to play a whistle while he sold his candles, once bringing the attention of someone who was so inspired by Dave that he wrote an epic poem titled, “The Song of the Whistling Candlman”.

Dave said that at an early age, he, “Formed the habit of excellence.” and “Explores things seriously”. Dave has also made wine, making golden raspberry wine sweetened with maple syrup, where he grew and cultivated the land, planted the berries and made the maple syrup.

Not only is Dave a gardener but he is also an Artist, Wine Maker and Opera Singer. He is a man of many talents and has lead an interesting and self sufficient life. At the age of almost 74, Dave has worked 90 hours a week for most of the summer. He believes the work is good for him but hopes to slow down some day to return to other passions including singing opera and wood working.

“Don’t just be one thing in life, be many things.”, Dave said, and explained that often times, “People separate themselves from their work”. Dave believes that we all have many skills and talents but often times people get lost focusing on one thing, while other interests or passions get lost along the way. Dave truly inspired me to continue to pursue my many interests and to fully embrace all of them.

Dave is truly one of the most inspiration people I have ever met. He acknowledges his many talents and interests and makes a point of excelling in them. He said he loves the farmer’s market because he gets to meet people and educate them on organic farming. He also shares his passion for healthy food and for sustainable gardening, excelling every inch along the way.

Next time you’re at the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, stop by Maplewood Gardens for some great garlic, pure maple syrup and words of wisdom about organic gardening or life in general, you won’t be disappointed.

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Starbuck’s Star

Jamie

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I know that Starbuck’s gives out stars to customers who have their online app, but I would recommend they give them out to star employees.

I met Jamie at my local Starbuck’s this summer when I started to hang out there writing and drinking matcha green tea frappuccinos.  After only a few visits, Jamie quickly remembered my complicated drink order, 1.5 scoops of matcha, soy milk and no sweeter or dairy.  I unfortunately developed a diary allergy and caffeine and sugar intolerance over the past few years so I’ve been experimenting with different drinks at Starbuck’s and fell in love with their matcha green tea frappuccinos.

It’s obvious that Jamie is on the right career path as she excels in customer service and has a natural ability to connect with customers.  Jamie said she makes it point of learning what her customers want.  I was impressed when only after a few visits, like magic, she appeared at the counter with my drink in hand, even before I ordered it.  Now that’s great service!

I shared that I had read that Starbuck’s in Japan had a red bean frappucino that I would love to try.  Jamie said she was also a lover of red bean paste and makes her own sweet bean dumplings.  We both expressed our excitement over the possibility that Starbucks may eventually get their red bean paste frappucinos in the USA someday.

Jamie has worked as a Barista at the Stevens Point Starbuck’s for over a year now, and prior to this, worked at a Minnesota’s Starbucks for five years.  Jamie is a student at Arizona State University where she is majoring in Operations Management, through Starbucks free bachelor’s degree program.  She hopes to become a Starbuck’s District Manager some day.  I can clearly see Jamie meeting her goals in the near future, but until then, I will continue to enjoy her outstanding service and my match green tea frappucinos.

Thanks Jamie!

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Costa Rica – The Hand of God

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Costa Rica was never a place that I had planned on travelling to. In fact, I really didn’t know much about the country, other than it was supposed to be beautiful and natural.  Without much knowledge or preparation, I soon found myself traveling deep into the mysteries of the Costa Rican rainforest for a week long yoga retreat.

I have travelled extensively throughout my life, backpacking through Europe, hiking mountains, swimming in oceans, walking in deserts, but never did I ever want to go to the rainforest.  I visualized poisonous snakes, flying bats, and large insects.  The rainforest, no thanks, not for me…

Then one day I decided to attend a yoga retreat in Costa Rica.  After a long and stressful winter, I felt emotionally and mentally exhausted and knew that I needed to practice self-care, something that I often teach clients to do, so without delay, I signed up, not really knowing what I was getting myself into, nor did I have any expectations, but I packed my bags and headed for the airport.

For some unknown reason, I assumed we were heading towards the coast, and when I found out that I wasn’t going to be anywhere near the ocean, my brain went amuck and I visualized being claustrophobic and trapped inside the rainforest.  I even started to think, “How do I get out of this?” I had never wanted to go to the rainforest in the first place.  Why was I going?  Why didn’t I read the itinerary?  Panic sunk it, I tried to rationalize the situation and knew that I had to move through the fear. I just needed to take one day at a time and remember that it was a new adventure.

I invited a good friend to come along on the retreat. She had never been to the rainforest or Costa Rica either, and also had a fear of insects and snakes. We both were excited and fearful at the same time.  The day of our flight, we knew that we would be stranded in Houston overnight, so to save money, we decided to sleep in the airport.  Huge mistake!  We couldn’t find anywhere that was even remotely secluded. We had to sleep on the floor on our yoga mats under bright lights, blasting televisions, floor sweepers, and ongoing noise and chatter from passing travelers and airport workers.  Needless to say, neither one of us slept at all that night.  At 5am we dragged ourselves to our gate and boarded our plane.

We were the first to arrived at SJO Airport, so we hung out at an outside café taking in the warm Costa Rican sunshine. Eventually we all met up and crammed ourselves into a small shuttle and drove four hours to Finca Luna Nueva, an organic farm and echo lodge.  The city was full of people, cars and traffic going in all directions.  Eventually we left the city and drove through green lush mountains and countryside and passed colorful villages where people sold fruit and veggies on the roadside.  My friend pointed out that we were driving out of the sunshine and into thick dark clouds. I later came to fully understand the meaning of the word “rainforest”, as the rain truly became a part of me.  It cleansed my body, my mind and my spirit.  I had never loved the rain so much as I did in Costa Rica.

After a four-hour drive, we arrived at Finca Luna Nueva, the place was breathtaking, set deep within the heart of the rainforest.  The farm had private cabins and bungalows, a beautiful wooden pavilion for yoga, a swimming pool, hot tub, and outside kitchen and dinning room.  My fears quickly diminished and were overtaken by the healing forces of nature, as I felt truly alive and completely at home within the womb like confines of the the Costa Rican rainforest.

My travel companion and I quickly found our cabin, unpacked our bags, and excitedly went exploring our beautiful new world which in comparison to the snowy white and gray landscape of Wisconsin we had left behind, was now alive, colorful and green.

Dinner time was always a wonderful experience with healthy food and great company.  Our meals were eaten outside in the dinning room where we ate vibrant, delicious, organic meals grown directly on the farm.  Meals consisted of a beautiful variety of colorful fruits and vegetables including a staple protein and desert.  Fresh fruit juices and smoothies were also available along with Costa Rican grown organic coffee.  Sauces and salad dressings were made of turmeric and other healthy spices.  The food was fresh, full of life and about as healthy as you can get.  After dinner, we sat in the hot tub unwinding after a long sleepless night in the airport, excitedly chatting about our upcoming adventures for the rest of the week.

The clouds that we saw and drove into on our first day of travel remained and for the rest of the week at Finca Luna Nueva, and we experienced nonstop rain.  Normally I would have been upset about the rain, but somehow the magic of the rainforest captured my spirit and the rain washed away thoughts and worries from the past. After a few days of hiking and living in the rain, it felt like the rain was a cocoon.  We simply became a part of the rainforest.  We practiced yoga in the rain, hiked the trails of the rainforest, went to the hot springs in the rain and even zip lined over the rainforest canopy as we flew high and fast from tree to tree.  We even hiked up a volcano in the rain.  None of us knew at the time that we were going to Costa Rica during the rainy season, but it didn’t matter as the rain seemed to enrich our experience and created a sacred space that could not be found anywhere else.

Costa Rica breathed life into my depleted soul, giving me energy and passion again.  Through the beauty of the rainforest, mountains and volcanoes, to the simplicity and minimalism of the local people who offered to share their homes and their meals with us, the country offered me adventure, excitement and spiritual nurturance, that I so desperately needed at the time.  This yoga retreat turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. My roommate and I spent a week laughing together, I met and formed new friendships with a great group of people and experienced things I had never done before, including white water rafting, climbing a volcano, hiking in the rainforest, swimming in hot springs and zip lining above the rainforest canopy.

White water rafting was an exciting new adventure for me.  Although fearful, I moved through the fear and jumped into the raft.  From the first moment that we paddled off, excitement created a spark in my soul and I once again felt fully alive!  We rode over huge waves and dodged large submerged rocks, and hung on for dear life at times, but I loved every moment of it. Half way through our trip, we stopped at a sandy beach and ate fresh native grown watermelon and pineapples.  We then jumped back into the raft and continued our journey down river.

As we paddled, our rafting guide pointed out a beautiful large tree on the river’s bank and said that it was the Ceiba tree and said that it meant, “Hand of God” reaching up into the sky.  The Ceiba tree is sacred.  My spirit was touched.  Costa Rica turned out to be, “the hand of god,” for me in a way that it provided me with passion, excitement and exploration into unknown territories again.

In the beginning, I had no expectations about Costa Rica, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.  Like the hand of god, Costa Rica lifted my body and soul up in a way that I will never forget.

People and Pets

 

 

Jeanette – Cat Sitter Extraordinaire

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Jeanette is an extraordinary woman.   By day she is a cat owner, by night she is a cat sitter.  Actually, Jeannette is both a cat owner and a cat sitter during the day and night, and comes highly recommended.  If you are looking for someone who is a huge cat lover, gentle, kind, warm and fuzzy, then Jeannette is the perfect person.  We don’t want to leave our beloved pets with just anyone.

Actually, Jeanette is a retired educational assistant who worked in the library for 26 years.  Holding one of her grandson’s favorite books (above), and one of her own, “The Fire Cat”, is a story about a cat named Pickles.  Jeannette decided that when she adopted a beautiful blue eyed cat eight years ago, that she would name her Miss Pickles after the book.  Miss Pickles quickly became a loved member of the family, and is very particular about who she likes.

Jeanette also plants sits and would be happy to take good care of your plants if you go on vacation or take a weekend away.

For more information about Jeanette’s services, please email me directly and I will be happy to forward all information or requests to Jeannette.

Miss Pickles is wondering why this dinosaur is invading her space.

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Carob – A Healthy Alternative to Chocolate

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I have been a chocolate connoisseur for most of my life, starting at an early age, eating Lindt chocolate rabbits at Easter time.  My appetite gradually increased to all forms and varieties of chocolate including; chocolate covered donuts (I had a cat that loved them too!), chocolate cookies, pies, cakes and candies.  Ok, I was an addict.  I eventually started eating tons of chocolate and when I moved to England, I was spoiled by a variety of wonderful English, Belgium and French chocolates.  I could easily sit down and eat a large Cadbury bar in a single session or a Christmas chocolate orange.

For years I consumed truck loads of delicious smooth, velvety chocolate until one day after my excess consumption I developed a bad headache.  This was the beginning of my food intolerances and allergies.  Within a short time, I could no longer eat chocolate, cheese, red wine, sugar or coffee.  People often say, “I couldn’t live without coffee, cheese or chocolate!”, well YES you can!

I have looked into several options and found an answer to my chocolate prayers. Carob!  Carob is actually a healthy alternative to chocolate with a variety of reported health benefits including that it boosts the immune system, aids in digestion, and is a powerful antioxidant.  It also contains twice the amount of calcium than cocoa and has no caffeine.  It is full of vitamins and minerals including A, B-2, B-3, B-6, manganese, potassium, zinc, selenium, magnesium and is high in protein, pectin and fibre.

So now I make my own “carob” which is delicious and nutritious.  It’s fun to experiment with different recipes.  I also make an old favorite of mine, chocolate (carob) stars, which I add mint or orange oil to, reminding me of Christmas when as I child I ate chocolate stars.

Here is one of my own reicpes

Karolee’s Carob

(makes a small batch)

1/2 cup organic coconut oil (heat in microwave)

1/4 cup Bob’s Roasted Red Mill Carob powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup cashews (or nuts of your choice)

1/2 cup Dandies plain or pumpkin marshmallows

Mix together and pour into molds or large ice cube trays and freeze.

This recipe can be altered any way you like, adding more or less of any ingredients.  I eat them right out of the freezer as sometimes the carob can melt in your hands.

Even if you are a chocolate lover, give Carbo a try, you will be surprised at how similar the tastes are!