Ayahuasca…Aya-what-sca?

It took me over a year to write this post.

Too raw, deeply personal and far out there to even think about sharing.  Way too vulnerable.  An emotional television host recording her journey into the Peruvian rain forest for an ayahuasca retreat?   No way.  I’m a third generation Japanese American woman- we aren’t raised to DO things like this, let alone talk about them.  No. Just no.

For those unfamiliar with ayahuasca, it is a medicinal brew made from two vines, employed by the indigenous people of the Amazon for healing purposes.  It has psychedelic properties, from its active ingredient, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and can induce vomiting and/or an emptying of the bowels, known as purging.  Non-addictive, with no adverse side effects (aside from the purging, we’ll get to that later…) ayahuasca can elicit visions and is considered in some circles to be an effective tool for enlightenment.

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I have zero experience with recreational drugs.  I am as straight as they come.  I have been a good girl my whole life, ticking off lists and doing exactly what’s expected of me… and then some.  Going to the rain forest to have a spiritual awakening with Peruvian shamans seemed so far outside of my box, beyond my wildest dreams,  truly unbelievable…and all the more reason to stay home in my safe little life.   I’m a single mom, what if something happened to me?    What if I came back forever changed and couldn’t be the mother, sister, daughter that I am?  What then?  I couldn’t possibly.

While researching ayahuasca, I was intrigued by the access to higher spiritual dimensions, the opening of the pineal gland- the “seat of the soul”, and the opportunity to expand my consciousness.   The accounts I had read both terrified and intrigued me.  What if my years of spiritual skepticism could be contradicted?  What if I was shown something so dark and terrible, I would never be the same?  Could this foster the spiritual connection that I had always longed for, but never allowed myself?

I toyed with the idea, and once I began to investigate the possibility of going, things fell into place very easily.  Very easily.   I could actually book my plane ticket using miles. (That never happens!)  My family could watch my son for a week.   I was about to turn forty, I had just gotten out of a relationship. I was aware that I was repeating patterns but didn’t know how not to.  I was down for some profound healing.  Childhood, divorce, co-dependency, lack of self-love and self-esteem, were my own personal demons, so when I read that ayahuasca can be comparable to ten years of therapy, that clinched it.  I can fast track healing and spiritual learning to just one week away from my son?  That didn’t seem too crazy.  Efficiency speaks to me.  I’m all about results.  My pro-Peru reasons were undeniable.

One year ago, I flew to Pucallpa, Peru for 9 days.  And had the biggest experience of my life.

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Hair trigger

I’ve had an explicit all-honesty-all-the-time policy at my house.

Exhibit A:

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The Tooth Fairy rewarded my son’s honesty with full price for his sub par tooth, (can you believe it’s $5 these days?) Yup, Mom engineered that one, smugly creating a “teachable” moment where full disclosure is rewarded…albeit by a mythical tooth-stealing fairy.

My nickname is Hair Trigger.  We all have them, triggers that can take us from zero to sixty in no time flat.  Mine is dishonesty.  Lie to me and there is no faster way to board a bullet train to Crazytown.

Acute vigilance manifested these past few months, as I maneuvered through a custody modification, 5 years after divorce.  I’m not at liberty to share details, but…

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Or so I thought.

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Angel

I love the Moth Radio Hour.  If I catch it in the car I’ll stay parked wherever I am because the stories are so compelling.  I caught their live show this spring in Hollywood, and I so appreciate the simplicity and courage of a person taking the stage with nothing more than a mic and a story to tell.

Tonight I heard one that brought me to tears.  Especially because for me, it reinforces that everything happens for a reason, and when you feel at your lowest, a greater plan could be in place beyond your wildest dreams.

I am a reformed skeptic, just starting to believe that something larger than myself could be at work in my life and Darryl DMC McDaniels’  story about how his obsession with a Sarah McLachlan song changed the course of his life is just, well…divine.  Give a listen and enjoy.

CLICK HERE to listen to DMC’s “Angel”.

DMCAn unlikely, yet totally divine crossing of paths…

Follow up 9/12/14…

Fan girl geek out!  I thanked DMC on twitter for his story and he tweeted me…

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Opening Day! Edge PAC

Edge Performing Arts Center opened its doors yesterday to a ground floor, light-filled, brand-spanking-new studio. (4 studios, to be precise)   Excited to take my first class in the new space, walking through those doors felt more like a homecoming, than a grand opening.  Familiar faces were everywhere- generations of professional dancers, from ones I looked up to on my first big job, to the crew I took 15 classes a week with when we were Edge scholarships, to the ones I’ve shared early morning call times and folding chairs with on set, to the newest of the newbie kiddos who’ve just moved to town.  I love this community.

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Scott Hislop, Regan Patno, Bill Prudich and Colleen Craig.  All legends in their own right.

 

 

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My bitchin’ teacher who rocks the hardest, Helene Phillips and the lovely SYTYCD choreographer, Mandy Moore.

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Urban Garden

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1.  I love food

2.  Because of aforementioned love for food, I try to eat healthy.

3.  If I’m gonna eat healthy, it’s gotta be tasty.  Non-negotiable.  Zero tolerance for cardboard or fake lo-cal substitutions.

Billed as a “modern Lebanese kitchen” Urban Garden is my newest find, fulfilling all requirements, serving up vegan, gluten-free, organic options for a fast, casual, and very tasty lunch, that won’t leave me needing a nap.  Created by the team behind the Bowery, ingredients are locally-sourced, high quality and authentic to Chef Abou-Daoud’s family recipes.

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BEST SMOOTHIE EVER!

 

On my trip to Peru last year, the retreat served up a green smoothie which was so unexpectedly…NOT green tasting.  We drank it up for breakfast, poured it over granola, and looked forward to it every morning.  After months of trial and error, I think I’ve just about replicated that recipe, so I invited Mommy Greenest, Rachel Sarnoff into my kitchen to give it a try.   An easy breakfast, it’s stealthily healthy, vegan and full of fiber, anti-oxidants and vitamins, all while tasting like a chocolate shake.  Yum!

Diane’s Ugly Green Smoothie Recipe:

1 banana
1 1/2 cups organic kale
1/4 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1 tablespoon sunflower butter
1 cup coconut water (feel free to substitute your milk of choice here)
1/2 cup of ice

Blend it all up and you are good to go!  (Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your smoothie after blending, and you are REALLY good to go. 😉

What’s your go to breakfast?

Weekend Escape: Sequoia National Park

Weekend Escape: Sequoia National Park

A last ditch trip out of LA to cap off the summer, K, the Man and I headed up to the small town of Three Rivers, just 15 minutes outside of the Sequoia National Park.

Friday:

After the 4 hour drive from LA, (including the requisite stop at In N Out Burger) we were ready to chill out, cool off in the river and get our nature on.

 

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The river flows right behind the Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast, a tiny and affordable B&B we booked, with only 2 rooms, a pool, and homemade breakfast included.

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Plant Medicine

Plant Medicine

As the days of summer slip away, I’ve got one last week with a very active 7 year old and no camp, no nanny, no help.   Mano a mano.  To limit screen time, and avoid constant wrestling and pillow fighting, I have tried, pleaded, begged, even bribed my way into teaching K the value of good old-fashioned chores.  Listen kid, summer ain’t just about lounging in front of the tv, eating hot dogs and french fries all hours of the day, or gallivanting around Legoland twice in one week, yes, I said TWICE in one week- all of which we have done this summer.  (I may have overachieved on the concept of “staycation”.)   This last snippet of summer is about learning how to iron, cook, vacuum, do anything that might help your single mama out around the house.  i.e. help her keep her sanity.

Today’s chore was to re-pot some of the succulents around the yard, and to my surprise, K loved this activity.  The words, “This is fun, Mom!” actually escaped his sugar-encrusted mouth.   IKEA pots, my home grown worm compost, a bag of aquarium gravel and succulent cuttings from our existing plants, were all it took to let our imaginations play.  After a very rough summer in the co-parenting department, this simple connection with my son and some little plants lifted my spirits exponentially.

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A couple pots next to the door add welcoming cheer to my porch.

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#EatPeruLove Episode 2: Soul Food

 

With just a night in Lima before heading into the Amazon rainforest, I had one singular objective.  To. Eat. My. Face. Off.  I knew the upcoming retreat included fasting and vegetarianism and probably wouldn’t be much of a culinary indulgence, so with less than 24 hours to gobble up Lima, I went big and took a friend’s recommendation, booking a table for the tasting menu at Astrid Y Gastón.

Food is art.  Like great theater, or a sculpture that brings tears to my eyes, or dancing, food stirs my soul and makes me feel alive.  Pull up a chair and indulge with me!

Chef, The Line Hotel & POT

Chef, The Line Hotel & POT

It’s a Roy Choi kind of week!  I’ve long been a fan of the L.A. son’s cuisine, from Kogi, to Chego to A-Frame and Sunny Spot, and this week, I got to try his newest restaurant, POT at the Line Hotel.

Roy and his team consistently deliver on details and cool, creating spaces you want to see and be seen in.   And the Line Hotel sure is a pretty one.

 

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Roy’s next restaurant, Commissary opens later this year, and will occupy this greenhouse on the rooftop deck, smack in the middle of K-town overlooking Wilshire Blvd.

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The Line Hotel’s pool: a sure bet to be a mid-town hot spot this summer.

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