Friday, 31 May 2013

The Beauty of Island Life

I just want to reflect on some of the incredible beauty I have seen and experienced here in Dominica. Not only is this place full of enchanting nature, but also very kind people. In Dominica I've found community. A community of open hearted and compassionate peoples at Ross, and communities of accepting folks all over the island. We greet our neighbors and often stop for a short chat, even when in a hurry. Why? I've never had "time" for this before, but suddenly I feel compelled to stop and exchange a few meaningful words. And I've witnessed myself say this now multiple times: for the first time in at least eight years I have time... time to breathe.

Dylan in bright sunlight, sucking down a coconut & lookin' like an angel.

The highest point on the boiling lake hike.

In Trafalgar Valley on the day of my birth.

At the mouth of Picard River at sunset on Mother's Day.

Purple Orchid/Lilies in the pond at our house

Thank you Mother Earth for revealing your endless bounty. May we never take for granted the workings of nature and the process for which life delivers us. 

Jai Ma!


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Nostalgic for Texas

This morning, as I gazed into the bay from Purple Turtle Beach, I felt a real longing for home. With so much beauty here, I always want to knock myself a little for thinking like this. Waiting for a yoga class to come and talking to the local grounds keeper, Desmond... I was feeling that life just wasn't easy. I know that each day is a gift, but what I wouldn't give for a steady business... and some Austin vibe within reach. The class never showed, and while I waited I began to envision the design of a shop I'd like to build and open in Austin. Beautifully rustic-hand crafted interior, Indian (in all sense of Indian - native, East & West) style clothing, and provisions related to healing arts. Today... I miss Texas, but I know that this is just an emotion along the path to freedom.

Still, some relived Texas love:

I love restored victorian homes that double as music venues and triple as haunted houses

I love kittens under Christmas Longhorn trees

I loved when we brought all of our friends to Austin for a wedding

I love the oak trees, and the smell of mesquite

I love Blair and Gypsy 

I love music festivals under oak trees

I love ice skating on the Whole Foods balcony when it's 60 degrees F out

I love biking across the pedestrian bridge over Town Lake

I love romantic nights amidst outdoor christmas lights and sparklers

Now with my welling of tears, I'm chokin' em back. I'm taking a deep breath... listening to the chirping of the birds that turns to rain. I'm turning on some Bob Marley. I'm seeking that happiness from within. Seeking freedom while full of nostalgia, not a bad place to be... and then I find this video. A proper way to close.

One Love. 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Mamma Says: Don't Forget to Drink Your Salt Water

What's that mamma says? Drink my salt water, elhhhh!

Actually you should, and here's my story to share to prove why:

Not too long ago, in March to be exact, I was traveling in India when I had a funny thing happen. After flying from Rajasthan --> Chennai, taking an ambassador taxi from Chennai --> Thirivunamalai --> Climbing a steep sacred Shiva mountain (Arunachala) --> Driving back from Thirivunamalai to Chennai in the span of two days, I had an intense headache and some symptoms of vertigo overcome the body. Woah. I'm not going to go into details beyond offering the dizzy travel schedule, but trust me, it was a strange hazy weird experience.

Visiting Fatehpur Sikri outside of Agra

Well, thank the good Lord that we were staying at the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Chennai, where the angel of a director, Haripriya, took us in and give us a comfortable place to stay. I was feeling horrible for feeling horrible at the Chennai Centre. I had hoped that I'd be of some service there. I had wanted to close off our trip with some hefty last minute India shopping before coming back to the States, and I had wanted to teach a Yoga class of two. Well those desires were nubbed by the trippy illness that had overcome me. And, anyway, thank god I didn't buy a bunch more stuff that I didn't need to carry around with me for the next 2 to 5 to 10 years. But importantly, what did I learn from this?

Drink your daily salt water! I was experiencing an intense level of dehydration. Like Dominica, South India has a hot tropical climate. I hadn't enough water during the travels, nor on my way up and down Arunachala. It got to me. Big Time. Haripriya had also experienced dehydration when first moving to Chennai a few years back, and salt water is what now keeps her healthy and balanced.

Even if we do consistently drink water throughout the day, sometimes it just wont be enough because of the high level of perspiration the body releases.

Here's the solution:

1. Really good salt, the good healthy stuff. Not table salt that is highly refined. What she recommended to me was Himalayan Rock Salt. In Roseau, there is a health food store called Fresh Vitamins on King George V that carries Himalayan Salt. I snagged this. Before I found Fresh Vitamins, I was using sea salt from IGA.

2. Heat about a cup or so of water of the stove and stir in one teaspoon of salt at a time. Continue stirring in spoons of salt until the water is fully salinated, hence the salt no longer dissolves. It doesn't take too much, maybe three spoonfuls. Maybe a little more or less depending on your location and other various factors.

3. Store that salinated water in a cup. I keep mine in a tea cup and store it in the fridge.

4. Daily, Take another small cup of water and add one teaspoon full of the salinated water.

5. Drink.

6. Listen to your body. If it wants more, you can add a little extra of the salinated water, or drink a whole additional cup.

You may want to supplement your salted electrolyte beverage with a coconut water - I get some from the shacks - or some sugary fresh juice. You need both salt and sugar to replace that Gatorade. BTW this is much healthier than Gatorade...

In still adjusting to the heat of the island, I have experienced the body actually feel that same dizzy sickness, and I know now it's from dehydration. Drink lots of water, and please don't forget your simple, healthy salt water.

I mean, I guess you could just go down to the sea, take a swim, and swallow a few sips. It's up to you!

Just one side story before I go: founder of Guerney's Inn, a famous inn in Montauk, NY lived until 90. You know what he swore by? A nice solid gulp from the Atlantic Ocean everyday of his life. From India, to New York, to Dominica. Go figure.

Peace ya'll. Try it and let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear your experiences. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

"I wish I could share All the love that's in my heart..."

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I present to you the Goddess herself, a true genius of modern time, the one... the only... Nina Simone...

"I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free" 

I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holding me
I wish I could say
All the things that I should to say
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole round world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that's in my heart
Remove all the bars
That keep us apart
I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then you'd see and agree
Everyone should be free

I wish I could give
All I'm longin' to give
I wish I could live
Like I'm longin' to live
I wish I could do
All the things that I can do
Though I'm way overdue
I'd be starting anew.

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be
If I found out I could fly
I'd soar to the sun
And look down at the sea
And I sing 'cause I know

And some commentary:

After a really lovely time this morning on a trip with the Ross Spouse Org, I returned home sleepy but happy. Often when I go out for some time, chatting and playing, then return home, I like to do a little (let's call it) mindful check-in. I assess where I am, how I'm feeling, and see how I can help myself... you know soothe hunger with a papaya fruit smoothie, pet the kitten cause she's being super cute and cuddly, nothing too eccentric. Today, I came home and read this super sweet blog post by a fellow Sivananda teacher, Danielle Snoddy, and I felt inspired. Like Danielle, I felt that right now, in this present moment, I am a great path. Danielle opened up her heart to share, with humility and gratitude, how she is fulfilling her dharma. Then...doo dih doo... I scrolled through facebook and saw this youtube post of Nina Simone. More inspiration came. I thought, "Yeah, Nina, me too! I feel that." 

Combining an adventure to waterfalls, happiness from another's success, and this Nina song, I got to thinking: I have so much love in this little heart for everything and everyone. Although I work so hard to keep it very open, it often gets crushed. And despite my efforts, I cannot always say or do the things I want to do. Little things make me easily sad, not like emotional breakdown sad, just a disappointment kinda sad. And I get bummed when I cannot properly share what's in this mind and heart. I just want to give all my love to everyone and in everything I do. But when I can't for one reason or another, bars build up around my heart; I get stepped on or I let myself down, and then I become guarded. 

Building bars around our hearts keeps us more distant from others due to negative experiences in our past. When we dwell on these bad experiences and think about them in a continuing negative way, we not only harm ourselves but those around us. Why? Well, thoughts are powerful. They originate in the subtleness of our minds, and then actually take energetic forms. When we send out negative thoughts, we directly effect those we think of, as well as those in our relative space, of course not to mention ourselves. And in terms of thought forms, like attracts like. Wwhen we have "bad" thoughts we attract more of that... however, fortunately when we have good, happy thoughts, we attract more light and love in our lives and for those around us.

 I don't want to attract any dark thought clouds, life has enough challenges! I want to be free! So, in thanks for some profound inspiration, and in dedication to the grooviest Song Goddess of all time, Nina Simone:

Though I'm way overdue, I'm starting anew, I'm striving to do all those things I can do. I'm going to learn how it feels to be free. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013


I can't believe, it's actually been one full month since we arrived in Dominica. So I want to give a recap of the cool things we've done.

Day 1 - We ate vegetarian curry rice while gawking at the beautiful Picard River. While waiting for our food, we anxiously attempted to capture a shot of a cow crossing this bridge. We saw hundreds of cows all over the streets of India in January & February, so we felt right at home here, but the setting now seemed surreal in a different way.... like this:

Why did the cow cross the bridge? To get to the next field of luscious greens, before taking a refreshingly clean and cool bath, before hopping over some brush to bask in the warm Caribbean sun on a volcanic-black sand beach. All more or less clean and sanitary.

Weekend 1 - Despite the downpour, we were too excited to see more of the island. So, we headed down to the Rosseau Valley & Trafalgar Falls. We couldn't swim in this delightfully warm water, but we did meet a Rasta Man who sold us a wooden flute. I'm pretty good. Okay, I can't play any full songs, but I'm working on an interpretive piece inspired by the local birds. It's gonna give you chills, I promise! 

Week 1 - We ate breakfast on this porch every morning at De Champs Comfortel. The staff spoiled us with custom, made-upon-arrival breakfast of gluten free corn-bannana pancakes. 

Week 2 - We were so delighted to move into our beautiful duplex style apartment/cottage at Kootney Resorts. This place was designed like a super aerated yacht, and it sometimes reminds me of my aunt Pat's old house in Madisonville. I'm not quite sure why, but it must just be that yachty influence in the architecture. I think she would really like this place, and my landlords, Trish and Angus. So when we first arrived, Trish, Angus, and their son Kyle took us out to their "country home" in Syndicate. Holy cow, the view was breathtaking. Their sweet little A-Frame camp style home is high up on the mountain overlooking the sunset of the Caribbean Sea. The property was once some kind of fruit farm, so edibles were abounding. And the cutest touch of all, the lawn was beautifully maintained by the family of goats. Here's some pictures from Syndicate.

Weekend 2 - We went on two tours organized by the Ross Welcome Committee. Saturday we went to Syndicate Falls (just up the road from Trish & Angus') and Sunday we did a big tour. We stopped for scenic views of the Atlantic, went to the Carib Indian territory, and stopped in for a swim for the UNESCO world heritage site, Emerald Pool. We travelled on buses which made for quite the interesting journey. Highlights on the bus included: a smoking bus engine, driving over bridges covered in water..... Hugging tight turns, and our driver pulling over to pick lemon grass for those of us feeling a bit queazy. It was all stunning. See below! 

Week 3 - Steve's first week as a medical student. Okay so orientation counts right? I had to take the Jackson-traditional first day of school photo. Here he is on his way to school!

Weekend 3 - The big, the furious, the rumored... the BOILING LAKE HIKE. Steve was so stoked about this hike from the day he learned about Dominica. So, of course, before the first day of classes, he HAD to do it. He was afraid of sitting in class daydreaming about the day he would finally get to the Boiling Lake, so it was important to stomp out this potential distraction, and make a trip of it ASAP. It was amazing. I will do another post just about Boiling Lake, but for now, here's a picture of the lake. Yes, it is boiling.

Week 4 - Steve's first week of classes, the White Coat Ceremony, my birthday, a trip to Boeri Lake, Papillote, mother's day.... I promise to give all the deets. 

Week 5 - Getting in the groove... setting into motion some work, ie teaching yoga and dance!! Yippeee! And drinking smoothies with Rikki (among other things of course)!

I'll leave you with my most uplifting moment of today: After teaching a trial class with Trudy of Rainbow Yoga, and my neighbor and fellow yogi, Hannah. Hannah complemented my teaching style saying (something to the effect of) "it's so nice to be sung to in a yoga class." Made me realize that all that singing I've done over the years is playing out in my yoga teaching style, and that just made me feel plain good about my life thus far. 

Love to all. Peace to all.       Jenny

Hiya World!

Greetings web-world! I'm here to share my explorations in Dominica; to give healthy living tips as I come across them or experience their success; and to share whatever divinely inspired knowledge crosses this life's path. In April, my husband Steve, our kitten Bhindi, and I moved our bods down to the "Nature Isle of the Caribbean." We are all learning so much, continuing to grow and transform. I hope that our discoveries during this part of our big adventure called life may help others in some way: maybe just a smile or one pensive deep breath. Love to all. Om Shanti Om Peace.      Jenny