Cool Like Detroit

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The Detroit River Walk was once lost but now is found.

It was recently brought to my attention that Detroit is now “cool.” The poster child for come back cities, Detroit is going through a renaissance. Money is literally being pumped into the city at mind blowing rates and it is nearly impossible to keep up with all the new projects, restaurants and retail locations popping up on a daily basis.

But it wasn’t always  “cool” to be from Detroit. For most of my life I watched people cringe whenever they talked about Detroit. Many suburban residents were terrified to go anywhere near the city and most of them, when asked where they were from when visiting other places, would give their suburban town name rather than just saying they were from Detroit- even though they lived within 10 miles of the city. They were too embarrassed to say they were from Detroit even though it would have clarified things geographically to people they would most likely never see again.

I’ve always known that Detroit was cool. My first blog, Little Miss Detroit, was dedicated to promoting the parts of Detroit that lived on despite what the rest of the world thought of our city. Detroit is and always has been a place of grit, vision and hope. It is not being reborn, regardless of what some might say, because it was never dead. I know this because I have been a part of Detroit my entire life. I was born in 1967, the year of the 12th Street riots and the beginning of white flight from the city; My parents packed up our house on Joy Rd and Southfield and moved to the suburbs when I was four-years-old; I watched as buildings were boarded up and vandalized and trash blew down the streets like tumbleweeds. And I volunteered in soup kitchens and shopping programs for elderly Detroit residents and blogged about people starting businesses and gardens and art projects while other suburbanites would repeatedly check the locks on their car doors anytime they were forced to cross the border into Detroit.

One of the things that I have always loved about Detroit is that it seems to breed creativity. At first the creativity was born from necessity- people started gardens and bakeries because all of the major grocery chains pulled their stores out of the city. They started schools and food banks and art installations because the government failed to provided adequate services for the people. Now that things are changing, creative people are coming to Detroit for different reasons. Detroit is one of the only large cities that is still affordable and creative types are coming in droves to set up shop. They are starting community letterpress studios and distilleries and non-profits. They are opening restaurants and retail stores and chocolate shops. I meet these creative entrepreneurs all the time and it nearly makes me cry to see what they are doing and the impact they are having on others and their communities. These are the people that make and have always made Detroit cool. Everyone should be able to live in a place that lets them have a chance to live their purpose and succeed-not just people with money. If you have and idea and a dream you should be able to make that happen. We all need to support these people and places-whether they are in Detroit or Honolulu or anywhere else- and in doing so make the world a better place.

Here are some places worth supporting in Detroit…

detroit pop shop
Samira Ray is a student at Detroit Food Academy.

Detroit Food Academy

A non-profit that works to give young entrepreneurs (ages 13-24) self-directed experiences and skills in the food industry. From learning how to cook to taking their artisanal products to market, they are growing and educating our next generation of community leaders. Samira Ray is a student at DFA. She was excited and proud to talk about all that’s going on at her school. She told me that The Detroit Pop Shop is a brand that was given over to DFA when the owners left the state. Now it’s run by students such as Samira. Learn more at http://detroitfoodacademy.com

 

 

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Local growers sell their produce at the Grown in Detroit stand at Eastern Market

Keep Growing Detroit

A non-profit concerned with food sovereignty, KGD has programs ranging from gardening classes to free seeds to their Grown in Detroit market program. This is one of the most comprehensive, versatile and down right amazing social justice agencies that I have ever come across. I have some serious love in my heart for this place. Learn more at http://detroitagriculture.net

 

avalon bakery
Just pick one…they are all delicious.

Avalon International Breads

This bakery opened its doors in Detroit when others were fleeing. When many saw only ruins and despair, they saw an opportunity to fill a need and be a proponent for change. Not to mention their breads are amazingly delicious! You can find them at Eastern Market on Saturday mornings or at their brick and mortar location on Willis St. in the Cass Corridor. Website: avalonbreads.net

 

Support places like these in Detroit, your home town, or wherever you may roam. Or better yet, live your purpose and change your own community by starting a business, non-profit or restaurant of your own. Be cool… Like Detroit.

 

 

Sunshine

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Short periods of time (10-15 mins.) in the sun without protection are actually good for you.

Like plants, we need the sun. Our bodies produce vitamin D through being exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important to your body in many ways: it helps with the absorption of calcium, helps fight disease and depression, and surprisingly may even help with weight loss. Most people are deficient in vitamin D, due to lack of exposure to the sun. This is due mainly to two things: spending too much time indoors, and using copious amounts of chemical sunscreen. Despite being toxic to your body and the environment, chemical sunscreens block out most of the sun’s rays which our bodies need to produce vitamin D. Take a look at who is making these products (large corporations who care more about money than they do about people or the environment). And then stop using them.

Mike and I live in Hawaii. We are outside all the time. We never use chemical sunscreen. We use a mineral based sunscreen and we take astaxanthin and almost never burn (unless we are in the water for long periods of time and forget to reapply). Astaxanthin is a supplement made from marine algae-It is derived from microalgae which produce astaxanthin as a protective mechanism to shield the fragile algae from harsh ultraviolet (UV) light and other environmental stressors. It is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. We have found it to be helpful as an internal sunscreen in addition to all its other benefits. We like Nutrex Hawaii Bioastin Hawaiin Astaxanthin – 12mg, 50 Gel Caps (pack of 4) because it is locally sourced (from Hawaii) and pure.

sunscreen

As far as mineral sunscreen goes, we have tried several brands. Our favorite by far is the new sunscreen from Young Living. It is SPF 10 which is strong enough to prevent sunburn while still allowing your skin to produce vitamin D. It smells good, doesn’t leave any white residue, is reasonably priced-and costs even less when you have a wholesale membership. Mike and I are Young Living members and business owners and we are happy to help you get started with this amazing company-whether with a retail or wholesale membership (for more information or to sign up send us an email or check out our page here).  Whatever brand you decide to go with, make sure your sunscreen is mineral-based and natural… Your body and the environment will thank you.

Sunshine is good. Embrace it-go outside, do fun stuff. Live your life with aloha.

Fraud

I am a fraud

I am a fraud. On the exterior I am all love and light and namaste but on the inside there is darkness. There is self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness. There are thoughts of “I’m not good enough” ringing through my mind like church bells to mark the passing of time. The books I read talk about the power of changing your thoughts; words and thoughts hold mana, spiritual energy, that can affect your entire world. I know this is true; I’ve seen the power that changing my belief system has had on my own life, but there is still that tiny bit of darkness that grabs me by the throat at times and won’t let go.

In the book, Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Third Edition by Gerald Jampolsky, Lesson 3 in his Lessons for Personal Transformation says, ” I am never upset for the reason I think.”  The lesson is this: We think that our feelings are caused by what’s going on around us, but in fact what we see and experience is determined by the thoughts and beliefs in our mind. I think about this every time I get upset.

I’ll give you an example. Today I was upset because my business is not growing at the pace which I had anticipated. I’ve been working harder than ever and have had one of the lowest months in awhile. When I mentioned to my husband that I was feeling sad about this, I felt that he blamed me. I became even more upset and started to cry. I knew I needed some time to think so I took my dog for a walk with tears streaming down my face.

As we walked along I thought about why I was really upset. My whole life I have struggled with feeling unsupported, unworthy and alone. I suffered abuse as a child which was ignored and allowed to continue; I was in an emotionally abusive marriage where I was often left feeling unworthy, unsupported and alone; After my divorce I was a single mom and pretty much had to do everything myself. So this situation today reminded me of all that. I felt alone and unsupported. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I was getting crushed beneath it. But I recognize that those situations from my past are not only different from today’s situation, but they are over. This helped me to disassociate from my current feelings of disappointment and lack of support. I decided to see things differently (Lesson 12 in the book).

So, rather than feeling unsupported I am thinking of how I can offer support to others (Lesson 1: All I give is given to myself). Rather than feeling alone I am thinking about how I can encourage team bonding. Rather than blaming myself for things I can’t control (the past, other people, etc.) I am dreaming up ways to reach out and teach and help and inspire others to have a life filled with abundance, wellness and joy. I am writing down all the things I am grateful for and all the goals I’m looking forward to achieving. I am letting go of a past that no longer serves me and living in a present where I am loved, supported and worthy. I am consciously choosing the light and letting go of the darkness.

Maybe I’m not a fraud after all. Maybe I’m just human.

Privilege

I am privileged. I accept and admit that. Being a white, middle class, educated woman has granted me access to people, places, situations and things that others do not have access to. I have never been asked to leave somewhere or been denied a job because of how I looked. I have never known what it feels like to be hungry and not have access to food. I have always had a place to rest my head at night. I can walk into nearly every establishment and be treated as if I belong there (even if I don’t). I often take these things for granted and forget that not everyone has these same comforts and privileges.

Living in Hawaii is a bit different than what I’m used to. I am not in the majority here. I have, on occasion, felt people’s anger and hatred towards me because of my color. I have been in places and situations where I am accepted only because I am there with my husband (who is Hawaiian). I have seen, first hand what complete assholes white tourists can be and I am embarrassed sometimes, many times actually, to be white.

But just like people of color cannot change their color, I cannot change my whiteness. Despite the fact that I have always gravitated towards people who are different than me, have always had interest in learning about other cultures and have a deep love and respect for those cultures, I am still white. At least on the outside, where, to many, many people, it counts the most. And that is sad because the inside is really where it’s all at. You can look one way on the outside and be someone completely different on the inside. I have to be reminded sometimes (usually by my children) that I’m white. Which is funny. Except not really.

Many of us “whites” have lost our own cultures through the process of assimilation into the American culture. My father’s family came from Poland and France but neither the languages nor any of the traditions that my great grandparents brought with them are remembered or practiced by any member of my family. I know people whose ancestors came from the Middle East or Latin America who see themselves as white now because they can pass as white. And they want that privilege of being white. They want the country club and the big house and the access and the stuff and they don’t care what they have to give up to have it. Some even vote for politicians who create laws that oppress the people with the same racial and cultural backgrounds that they themselves have. And they don’t even realize that they are contributing to the oppression of their own people by giving up who they are to have what they have. My ancestors did this too and I am privileged because of it… but at the cost of losing where I came from and, as a result losing who I am

So yes, many times I am embarrassed to be white: When I read about the atrocities committed here in Hawaii by people who look like me I am embarrassed. When I witness first hand the damage caused to the environment here because of the selfishness and greed of people who look like me, I am embarrassed. When I see white tourists appropriating the Hawaiian culture for their photo ops or enjoyment, I am embarrassed. When I am either ignored or greeted with hostility by people of color when I attempt to speak to them I am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed by that last one but I get it. I get why some people dislike me. People who look like me have been oppressing other peoples for hundreds, if not thousands of years. People who look like me have caused the near extinction of virtually every indigenous people on the face of the Earth. People who look like me have raped this land, poisoned its people and continue to do so because of pure greed. People who look like me continue to benefit at the expense of others and many do horrific things to insure that they continue to benefit and exert their power over others.

There is good reason for me to feel embarrassed for my whiteness; I continue to experience privilege from being white and I most likely will for the rest of my life. I did nothing to earn these privileges and I can’t give them back but I can acknowledge that they exist, I can give back to my brothers and sisters of color with my time, my talents and my resources. I can be an ally to people of color in how I think, how I speak, how I vote and what I do. And I can encourage other people who look like me to do the same. So I encourage you now (whether you look like me or not) to acknowledge the privileges that you benefit from and think about what you can do to be an ally to those who don’t benefit in those same ways.

Sending you much aloha,

Shelly

PS. I know this blog seems random…  one post on Hawaii, then some on energy and one on privilege… I just share what I’m experiencing and if that makes me random, so be it. I hope you’re enjoying my randomness, and if you learn something along the way, that makes me happy. Namaste.

Get Your Chakra On

chakras stock
Chakra is a Sanskrit word which means a point of energy or power. You have many energy points or centers in your body but there are seven primary chakras that are referred to most often. These are referred to by both their location and by the order of ascent in your body. The higher upwards you travel, the higher the number of the chakra. They are generally described as spinning wheels or vortices of light.

If your chakras are spinning well, they are considered “open” and you’re healthy. When the energy in your chakra slows down or stops, it is considered “closed” or “blocked” and you may show signs of illness in that area. Eventually the whole system suffers as all of the energy in our bodies is connected.

Here’s a quick overview of the 7 chakras:
1st: Root Chakra- This is at the base of your spine, deep within your pelvic area. Many times in yoga this chakra is referred to when discussing “grounding” as it regulates your ability to collect energy from the earth. The colors associated with this chakra are red, black and brown (earthy tones).

2nd: Sacral Chakra- This is in your lower abdomen and sacral area. Many people hold onto pain in this area resulting in lower back pain. Second chakra issues tend to pertain to your community and your perceived place within it, as well as issues of security and safety. It is associated with the color orange.

3rd: Solar Chakra- In your solar plexus, your third chakra carries fireenergy, and is the center of your will and direction. It is associated with the color yellow or light green.

4th: Heart Chakra- In the middle of your chest at heart level, this chakra houses your intent to love and acces unconditional love. It is associated with both pink and green (pink for love and green for healing).

5th: Throat Chakra- This chakra is centered above your clavicle bone in your throat, and houses your intent to create and manifest your dreams as well as to speak your truth. It is associated with a clear bright blue color.

6th: Third-Eye Chakra- This is located about an inch above the bridge of your nose between the eyebrows. It is your highest creative energy center, where your spirit meets creativity. It is associated with the color violet or indigo.

7th: Crown Chakra- This chakra is on the top of your head near where your soft spot was as an infant. It is where you have the intent to receive wisdom and receive your Qi from the universe. It is linked with the color white.

There are many, many essential oils that can help with chakra health. I will be posting some over the next few days on my Instagram feed (follow me @thealohalounge) but you can always GTS (Google That Shit) and find a TON of ideas! Haha

Namaste oily peeps!

Vibes=Vibrational Energy (It’s a Thing)

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Places of worship tend to have calm, peaceful energy.

You’ve heard people talking about “vibes” at one time or another I’m sure. “She has good vibes,” “He has bad vibes”… it really is a thing. Vibes=Vibrational Energy or the frequency at which the energy of a “thing” vibrates (I just have to mention that there really is no such thing as good or bad vibes; it’s all just energy. It’s just our perception that we put on things that makes it good or bad to us). Just to recap… Vibrational energy (or vibes) is the frequency at which a substance is vibrating. And we, at some level, can sense this.

Have you ever been in a certain space and felt calm? Or in another space you feel energized? That is vibrational energy that your body is sensing. Higher vibrational levels can make you feel uplifted while lower ones can have a calming effect. The same with certain foods, or thoughts, or pretty much anything else.

Okey doke… so we’re all clear now- everything is made up of energy and that energy vibrates at different frequencies. These frequencies are measured in megahertz. Just like everything else, essential oils also have vibrational frequencies. Higher frequencies are helpful for emotional work while lower frequencies are beneficial for physical healing. I’m still figuring all this out but I thought it would be fun to take you all along on my super nerdy energy journey. Sound like a plan???

Here we go…

To get you started here’s a quote by Gary Young, founder of Young Living Essential Oils: “Clinical research shows that essential oils have the highest frequency of any natural substance known to man, creating an environment in which disease, bacteria, virus, fungus, etc., cannot live. I believe that the chemistry and frequencies of essential oils have the ability to help man maintain the optimal frequency to the extent that disease cannot exist.”

Want to learn more?
Check out this article about the vibrational frequencies of essential oils. Prepare to have your mind blown.

http://www.biospiritual-energy-healing.com/vibrational-frequency.html

Want to get started using essential oils? Join our oily ohana and have an instant support group of likeminded, healthy people. Check out our About Young Living page to find out how to join us on our journey towards health and wellness.

Eat Good Food

veggies

A great way to boost your energy levels is to increase your consumption of raw organic vegetables. The greener the vegetable, the more nutrients, so vegetables like kale or green or red leaf lettuces are much more nutritious than iceberg lettuce. Cooking diminishes the enzymes and the inherentenergy in your vegetables (it kills them) so eating your veggies raw is best.
Here are some ways to increase your green vegetable intake:

Salads
Juicing
Smoothies
Fermenting
Sprouting
Young Living Multigreens supplement

Fermented vegetables are delicious and have an added benefit of having probiotics. And if you’ve never sprouted your own seeds you need to try it! It’s so easy and pretty cool to watch! We have an easy sprouter (you can buy one on Amazon) which is great and makes it easier to drain and change the water for your sprouts but you can also use a glass jar covered with cheese cloth.

The Multigreens supplement is an easy way to increase your green vegetable intake and to give yourself a boost of energy throughout the day!

Cheers to living foods that give us great energy!! How will you add more veggies to your diet?

multigreens
This supplement supports a healthy circulatory system and boosts vitality! Yum!

Meditation

Big Island 2017

Meditation is something that I have done off and on for much of my life and I am really working on adding it as a daily practice. I truly feel that taking time to clear our minds is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. I think that some people are afraid of meditating. Maybe this is because they think they don’t know how, maybe they feel “bored.” maybe they are just so used to filling every second of their life with busy-ness that the idea of sitting in stillness for 10 minutes completely freaks them out. My own husband is one of these people. He said that he tried meditating before and he felt like he got nothing out of it. To that I say “phooey!” But he still won’t meditate.

Personally I think that meditation is the best way to get in touch with our inner selves and collective conscienceness. But be warned, sometimes the things that we shove down deep come out when we quiet our minds. This can sometimes be painful, but it is a necessary step in recognizing and releasing toxic emotions. You have to let those painful emotions go. If you push them down deep they cause all kinds of havoc.

An awesome way to get meditation into your life is to create some rituals with your meditation time. Put an uplifting essential oil in your diffuser. Make a special oil blend that you can put on your pulse points or chakras (to get you some oily goodness, contact me or check out my About Young Living page). Choose a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Put on some quiet music. Maybe even start with reading a few affirmations. I like to hold some of my favorite quartz crystals while I’m meditating. I feel that their energy helps to clear and focus my mind. Whatever floats your boat people! Just be sure to…

Meditate… it’s what your mind needs.

Do What You Love

city of refuge
An ancient Hawaiian game at The City of Refuge, Hawaii Island

One way to ensure a joyful life and positive energy flow is to do things that you like. Eat what you like (in moderation), listen to music that makes your soul sing, find activities that you love and do them.

One thing that I’ve finally learned about myself is that I despise going to the gym. It is just a giant energy sucking nightmare for me. I started to think about the kinds of activities I liked to do a child. I realized that most of the things I did as a child were outdoor activities. I rode horses, played outside, swam, danced… Today I prefer activities outside. Thankfully in Hawaii we can be outside pretty much everyday. We even go to yoga classes outside! I realize that most of you live in a place where the weather isn’t so accommodating but you can still go outside (I lived my whole life in Michigan so I know this). Bundle up, take a walk and hug a tree. Connect to the earth!
When you are not enjoying what you’re doing, it is not in vibrational alignment with the real you. When you are joyful, you are in full alignment to the real you. You are filled with source energy. You are at peace. You are full of joy. Maybe you love going to the gym- do it! Maybe you love walking- do that! Whatever it is that makes you feel happy and connected; that’s what you need to do. Fill your life with joyful activities and watch your energy soar! Add some oily goodness in there and watch it soar even more!!

Live aloha change the world

Revolution

Most people like food. Pretty much everyone I know eats on a daily basis. So you would think that people would be more interested in their food, specifically what they’re eating, how it was produced and where it comes from. But clearly people are not that interested because the situation with food is clearly out of control. It’s pretty obvious by what’s on the grocery store shelves; most people happily spend their money on processed and genetically modified foods without giving it a second thought.  The problem is immense and dangerous and out of control. This quote from John Robbins, author, activist and humanitarian sums it up.

Our food chain is in crisis. Big agribusiness has made profits more important than your health- more important than the environment-more important than your right to know how your food is produced.

To me this is beyond disturbing. Because I cannot for the life of me understand how or why this happened. And I really can’t even begin to wrap my head around the idea of how to fix it. Except we must. We must fix it and soon because our very existence depends upon it being fixed. This is the stuff that only a revolution will fix so we must, all of us, become revolutionaries. We must revolt against the status quo of factory farmed, genetically modified, cruelly raised, earth destroying and chemically altered food that most of us consume on a daily basis. How do we do this? We make choices that support change by refusing to give our money to companies that put profits above what’s right. Read my husband Mike Spencer’s blog to learn the power of a boycott.

taroOn a recent visit to Kauai we had the great fortune to visit a lo’i kalo (taro farm) run by Kaina Makua and his nonprofit Kumano i ke Ala. It’s so remote that to get there you either have to walk across a swinging bridge or drive your truck across the river- there’s no road that crosses the river to the property. But it’s beautiful, peaceful and sustainable. It’s also free from genetic modification. We spoke with Kaina for some time about his vision to grow taro on a small scale and to provide unpasteurized poi and other taro products through their partner business Aloha Āina Poi Co. He spoke of his dreams and his hard work and the community he is building there. He told us that the water from the river near his farm is being diverted and that the river is flowing less and less over time.

This taro farm is a reminder of the roots of Hawaii; a place that was, not so long ago, free from contamination. The Hawaiian people had one of the most sustainable food systems ever developed, the ahupua’a. The water was channeled from the mountain to the taro fields. It would then drain to the fish pond and out to sea leaving in its path food for everyone. Then the colonizers came and diverted the water for sugarcane and greed and began the process of stripping the people not only of their water and land, but of their culture and dignity as well. It is the same story told too many times in too many different settings. I’m sure you’ve heard the story before. If not in the context of the Hawaiian people, then certainly in the context of Native Americans or Mauri or Aboriginal or indigenous people everywhere. The story always ends the same… greed wins and everyone else loses.

Now we have a chance to write a new story. We can do this by being mindful of who and what we support with our dollar. We can buy food from small farms with big missions like Kaina’s. We can grow our own food. We can tell our friends and families to do the same. We can make a difference in the small things we do each day because the small things done by the many will be greater than the big things done by the few. We can be like David, who with his tiny stone, defeated the giant. We can and we must. Our entire existence and the existence of our future generations depend upon it.

As we stood in the lo’i kalo speaking with Kaina that day about why he was growing his taro there in that remote and beautiful place I was reminded of this quote I had read some time ago…

In our society growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest. One that can-and will-overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world. We change ourselves.(author unknown)

I pulled up the quote on my phone and gave it to Kaina to read. He was thoughtful for a moment and said, “I don’t know about all that activism stuff… I just like to grow food.”

 

Support Kaina’s mission by shopping at Aloha Aina Poi Co (website for the nonprofit Kumano i ke Ala is being developed and will be available soon).

lo'i 2
My husband Mike (far left) standing next to Kaina with the crew of taro lovers.