10 Ways To Celebrate National Kale Day!!

This is now my favorite day of the year!  How are you going to celebrate?

October 2 is National Kale Day! Finally, your favorite cruciferous veggie has its own (for now, unofficial) holiday. Kale has risen to #1 on the (Vitamin) A-list of superfoods and is the most ubiquitous leafy green in American health food aisles today. Looking for ways to celebrate the Queen of Greens?

Here are 10 great ways to ring in National Kale Day wherever you are:

1. Turn your kitchen into a kale spa.

Put a handful of loosely torn kale in a bowl, pour some olive oil and lemon juice over it, sprinkle some Himalayan salt and cayenne pepper on top, then massage. Yes, you heard me: Give your salad a massage!

Then, give it some avocado and some seasonal veggies of your choice. Top it off with some nuts or seeds and … voilà! Yourkale is now relaxed, and hopefully you are, too!

2. Make a kale smoothie.

Not quite sure what to do with that HUGE bunch of kale in your fridge? When in doubt, blend, baby, blend! Kale is the perfect smoothie addition, especially in early Fall. It’s a hearty way to add more protein, fiber and nutrients to any shake.

Easy kale smoothie recipe:

  • 1 to 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 cup of coconut water
  • 1 banana
  • couple of tablespoons of almond butter
  • Half an apple
  • Half a pear
  • Pinch of vanilla powder
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Fresh ginger (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of mesquite powder
  • Half to 1 tsp of matcha powder for a creamy and satisfying, but also healthy and energizing fall morning treat.

Blend everything (preferably in a Vitamix) and enjoy!

3. Make a kale juice.

Juice some kale with cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger and apple for a delicious cruciferous cocktail. It’s a great way to inject your body with a large dose of kale quickly.

4. Dress yourself in kale.

Green is the new black. Opt for a simple but elegant green shirt with a modest “Kale” written across the chest, or be daring with tees that say “Kale is the new beef,” or “Kale yeah!” or “Real men eat kale.” (They do.) Or get your style straight from the Paris runways with très chic trends from my friend Kristen Beddard’s The Kale Project.

5. Start a kaleversation.

Join a series of Google+ hangouts featuring info on kale history and its amazing health benefits, hosted by Dr. Drew Ramsey and chef Jennifer Iserloh, the authors of must-read book 50 Shades of Kale, and featuring more exciting guests … including, me! Come and hangout with us on Google+ for a “Good morning, National Kale Day!” breakfast chat at 8am. You can also declare your love for kale on Twitter or Facebook with hashtag #NationalKaleDay

6. Help a friend lose his or her kale virginity.

You always remember your first time eating kale. Sometimes the first time can be a bit awkward and strange, but you get used to it and soon even enjoy it as you mature. Be a friend and help your veggie-deprived friends fall in love with this sexy vegetable. Luckily, kale is a polygamous food. One minute it’s in bed with a raw, vegan meal and the next, wrapped around a meat or fish-filled entrée. If your friends aren’t turned on by raw cruciferous veggies, try introducing them to some crunchy kale chips. Or turn up the heat on your stove and sautée some kale in coconut oil, garlic and onions for a simple side.

7. Get downward with your kale and do some yoga.

Make sure to feed your body and your mind on National Kale Day. Scarfing down a bowlful of kale on the run as you stress about your job and 451 different things on your to-do list isn’t the way to ring in this holiday. Kale consumption should be part of a healthy lifestyle all year long.

So, before you sit down for your kale-inspired meal, make sure to connect with yourself, connect with your body, and connect to the world around you. Breathe in, breathe out. Add some good karma to your kale.

8. Host a kale party.

Invite your friends over for a kalebration!

Start with kale-inspired mocktails. Juice some kale with lime, cilantro, cucumber and celery for a refreshing way to toast to your health.

Move on to appetizers. Think: kale chips, kale hummus, kale guacamole.

For the main event, enjoy kale in all of its splendor—massaged, sautéed, mixed with quinoa or lentils then stuffed into seasonal squash, grilled in a kale and millet burger or …. you choose—the possibilities are endless! Try my Kalearoni & Cheese recipe here.

Finish off with a sweet kale-avocado chocolate mousse or kale cupcakes.

9. Spread the kale love.

Don’t be shy. Express your love for kale any way you can. Belt out “Oh Say Kale you see…” with your hand over your heart. Write a kale-flavored poem. Or recite my ode to kale. Dance through your local supermarket aisle holding a bunch of kale.

10. Vote for kale!

Seriously! You can sign a petition asking the US government to make Kale Day an official national holiday. Check it out here or sign it on Change.org. 
For more National Kale Day info, head over here.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday!





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Letting Go

Meditations before Kaddish: From the Mishkan T’Filah (A Shabbat Book of prayers)

“When I Die give what’s left of me away to children and old men that wait to die.  And if you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you.  And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me. 

I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds.  Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.

You can love me best  by letting hands touch hands, and by letting go of children that need to be free.  Love doesn’t die, people do. So when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”

Recently two friends have passed away, unexpectedly and without warning and way too young.  Jeff was lucky enough to go doing what he loved, on his motorcycle.  He left a legacy that is beautiful, his community work, his family, his heart, and the big purple “Commercial Neon” trucks driving around.  Then my friend Dewey, one of my swim mentors and dear friend was swimming in a swim meet and got to go doing something he was passionate about.  Dewey leaves a beautiful legacy in his community work, his family, his friends and the many laps he swam and the many swimmers lives he touched at Fig Garden Swim and Racquet Club.  These two men lived their lives with compassion and kindness for family, friends and community.  They were very yogi like even though I know I could never get Dewey on a mat and Jeff might have thought about it and maybe tried it.   My heart weighs heavy with sadness, not for them, but selfishly for me and the ones they have left behind.  Today was tough, walking into a yoga class with everyone sad and teary eyed.  This was a class that Marie (Dewey’s wife) always attends.  I started class by asking everyone to be in child’s pose.  Mostly because I couldn’t stop the tears and could not look in their faces.  I talked about how yogic wisdom states that we are all born with a certain number of breaths and when we have used them we are done.  So make sure to make all your breaths and moments count, extend the length of your breath and be mindful. 
Someone came in late and didn’t catch the first few minutes of my meditation talk. It was one of the toughest classes I think I have ever taught and also one of my best, I had to gather strength which was a challenge. 

As I was leaving a while later, someone handed me a card that a student had left.  In it she wrote: “Dear Joanne, I came to class today in need of your strength, like a greedy child not realizing that you might need us as well.  I’m so sorry for your sadness…your loss.”  Her words touched my heart because sometimes I don’t realize how much I need my students in front of me to guide me through, to give me strength.  I called and filled her in on the situation and she was grateful as was I for her presence.  

My friends will always live in my heart as they will in many other hearts as well. 

Another wonderful poem that makes this a bit easier:

“Do not stand at my grave and forever weep, I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. 

Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.

I am not there, I did not die.”   ~ Mary Frye

Say “I Love You” often.  Hug often.  Smile at strangers.  Fill your heart with kindness, then take it and sprinkle it all around you.  

“Hear blessings drop their petals around you” ~ Rumi




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Day 3 in paradise!!

Day 3 – Tuesday
Calm cool morning.  Giovanni is leading us through a nice easy morning practice with laughter and stories.  

A breakfast of banana pancakes as we listen to Jack Johnson’s banana pancake song.  A great morning after yoga.  

The clouds have taken over the sky and rain seems to be on its way.
I decide to venture into town with Elizabeth, Liz, Lisa and Brittany for some plantanes.  The river is much clearer today as we head out on our way. 
Those who chose to stay hiked the waterfalls and walked the river again.
We arrive in Montezuma after a walk that included iguanas, a green gecko, lots of monkeys in the trees, and a pack of German cyclists with just enough time to order some Plantanes and a beer at Sano Bonano, buy some chocolate and then fetch a cab to take us back in order not to miss lunch.  As we arrived at base camp Bhodie was right there to meet us and walk us back home.  it was as if someone had sent him to fetch us for lunch.  speaking of lunch, It  was backed tofu, a curried rice with veggies and a guacamole dip on top.  So incredible the food.  After lunch and with full tummies, at least those of us who indulged with plantanes before lunch we headed off for siestas.  Some went off to have massages with Warren.
We met in the pagoda around 5:30 for some yoga.  Class ended as the sky drew dark and it was time for dinner.  A wonderful salad of cucumber, mango, cumin seed, pineapple, peanuts, and coconut oil on a bed of red cabbage leaves.
Only to be followed by a red lentil soup.  Some yummy wine to compliment dinner, hanging out with the puppies and enjoying each others company.
After dinner Elizabeth gathered us back in the pagoda for a talk on cd.  We all relaxed and listened to the words of wisdom. 
Afterwards Gunner, Aga, Gio and myself stayed and chatted until the sprinkles started to fall.  After a wonderful cool shower, we crawled into bed and the rain started to fall. A peaceful night of slumber.  


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24 hours, a car ride, 3 planes, a bus and a walk up the river………

24 hours, a car ride, 3 planes, a bus, and a walk up the river, we were greeted with the most beautiful sites and sounds of The Sanctuary.  Okay, let’s back up to the car ride.  My car included myself, Elizabeth, Lisa, Rebecca and Liz (poodle).  We laughed so hard all the way down, the  conversation was hilarious and of course, is now forever locked in the vault of friendship.  LAX is very busy at 11 pm on a Friday night.  Liz, (poodle) had to repack some items in order not to check her bag…it was the classic pick up the bag, forget to zip it first and then watch all the items fall on the floor in front of everyone.  After that incident and Robin leaving a bag by the check in (having to run back to retrieve it) we make our way to a bar.  Wine is definitely in order.  Heidi and Pat order two virgin drinks with juice and the waitress didn’t understand too well because the bill was $35.  I know things are really expensive at airports but geez!  They promptly sent them back.  

We went to the gate with all the other people who were on this red eye to San Salvador.  
The plane was full, we were all pretty much sitting close to one another.  Gio, Elizabeth and I were together.  Time to sleep, or try to at least.  As the sun came up we were descending down into El Salvador.  We had a couple hours of lay over before heading off to San Jose.  
The coffee is not good in El Salvador.  The airport was nice, we recharged our batteries, personal and electronic ones.  Then boarded our next flight.  The breakfast was um…….lets put it this way, the French toast was not anything I had ever seen before, the egg dish looked a bit better.  The best thing was having a free vodka OJ, that will get you up and running first thing in the morning.  
Landing in San Jose, we are greeted by our charter air flight person.  They whisked us away to a separate line for customs for diplomats, okay that made us all feel pretty important.  They then walked you through the airport, showed us where to have lunch, then back into the airport to to through security where Val was detained. They took apart her bag, making her empty everything out and looking for something that was causing the beep.  It was almost as bad as Liz’s bag opening up all over the floor, but this took much longer.  They finally found a tiny pocket knife in a front pocket.  She borrowed the suitcase and it wasn’t detected on the flight from LAX.  Hmmmmm.  
We were then taken to the charter air strip, got on a bus to our little plane for the 25 minute ride to Tambor.  Nature Air, very nice people from start to finish.  Except the 16 seat plane was a bit rough on mine and Liz’s (poodle) ears. It took us both a day or so to get our hearing back.  Valerie wore a nice maxi dress that was great on the plane but the 25 walk up/through the river, not so much!!
We finally get on the plane? There  are so many shades of green dotted with accents of pinks, reds, yellows and oranges.  A beautiful black butterfly with a orange nose just landed on my hand, he followed us over from the yoga pagoda.   Mother Nature has an amazing pallet of colors and textures.

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En route to Costa Rica!!

En route to Costa Rica.  Could not get comfortable sleeping in my seat,  luckily our seats were next to the emergency exit which means we had extra leg room in front.  After an hour or so of tossing and turning, I finally decided to to lay on the floor with my head on my back pack and my feet up on the seat.  I must say that being a yogi and being flexible comes in very handy.  I was actually able to snooze peacefully for awhile.  Stay tuned, this is only the beginning.

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7 Habits for an Empowered Life

7 Habits for an Empowered Life

LifeHabits are behaviors we choose both consciously and subconsciously. They define the outcome of our days. Positive, productive habits give us better outcomes than destructive habits, and the most powerful habits are those that begin with understanding and controlling your thoughts. Though the following habits are not often discussed in common dialogue, they have been critical in all of my work and personal transformation. Each can be quickly adapted and easily applied — so long as the ego does not overrule your desires.

The solid foundation of change, growth, and evolution begins with a commitment to being more mindful. Once you become more mindful, you can expand your awareness. Paying attention to how your every thought causes actions and reactions, you can effectively evaluate which behaviors are serving you well and which are damaging and holding you back from the results your truly desire. Become aware of every word you chose and the outcome it can create. Be thoughtful about who you surround yourself with and how they affect your energy and sense of self. Become in tune with how the foods and drinks you consume affect your energy, mental clarity and moods. Even be mindful of what you watch on TV and what you read and how it can affect your perception of the world, positively or negatively. Eliminate the people and exterior influences that drain you and increase the people and things that increase your energy and lift you up.

Forgiveness equals freedom. When you hold onto anger and resentment, the only person you are hurting is yourself. Forgiveness allows you to grow, expand, and evolve. Once you can forgive easily, you can fully realize the benefits of your ego being in check. The silliest part of holding onto anger is that usually the people you are mad at don’t care anyway, so it is a total waste of energy that can be used more positively and effectively elsewhere.

My mom had a mantra, “You are not allowed to complain about something unless you are going to do something about it.” This mantra was a gift to teach me to have a “solution-driven” mindset which is positive and productive vs. a negative, complaining, and draining mindset which only holds you back. A day without complaints is like being on your favorite island, where everything is perfect.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions that brings peace in every situation. It gives you a mindset of abundance that brings more of what you desire into your life. Be grateful for everything that has happened in your life, good or bad, because all of these circumstances have led you to where you are and where you are going to go.

The journey of self-transformation begins once you decide to no longer live by the rules, constructs, or beliefs of others and, instead, dedicate your time and energy to discovering your strengths, challenging your courage, and empowering your perspective to find wisdom in all circumstances. The most profound transformation begins once you discover the true gift isn’t about gaining power for yourself, but in giving, empowering, and inspiring others. To empower and inspire another is the greatest give we can give.

True compassion exists when you give your strength, guidance, and wisdom to empower another so that you can see who you really are and live in a greater capacity and expect nothing in return. True grace exists when the “teachers” realize that the gift was really theirs — to be able to teach another. Exercising compassion can awaken another’s mind and soul to their true potential.

I know this may sound simple, but hopefully it also sounds profound. Smiling is one of the simplest gestures that can not only turn around the lives of others but can also create a deeper connection between people, giving them a reason to pass on the smile. A smile increases your mood and makes you appear more approachable and engaging. It can instantly make your life more successful but, more importantly, the positive impact for others can be life changing.

As with developing any new, positive habit, time and patience are key. Know that every step is a step in the right direction. Continued awareness brings you closer and closer to the new habit becoming your standard operating procedure and providing a greater sense of peace and happiness.

Empowerment and Business Expert, Creator of The Butler Bag, Author of “What If? & Why Not?”, Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, Spokesperson & Media Contributor

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stepping into the present moment (From Yogi Times)

A nice way to begin Spring! Enjoy.

stepping into the present moment

by deepak chopra m.d. a david simon m.d.

Be Spiritual | Meditation

You can retreat every day

The human mind perpetually precipitates thought-forms in reference to the past or future. Just as a cow chews its cud, the human mind engages in the digestion of experiences by thinking. In those rare moments when our mind is in the present, it either becomes silent or generates the vibration, “Aah!” Present moment experiences reflect gaps in our perpetual, inner mental dialogue. Through these gaps, our individuality connects with our universality.

A new or powerful experience can bring us into the present. Seeing a shooting star, hearing a powerful piece of music, receiving a nurturing massage, tasting a delicious meal, or making passionate love can provide engaging sensory experiences that can stop the mind for a moment, but usually leave an impression that generates subsequent mental activity. That delicious chocolate truffle inevitably generates the desire for more.

Meditation is the technology to enter the gap directly. Shifting into a witnessing mode begins by separating the thinker from the observer. As our internal reference shifts from the engaged mind to the witnessing soul, the past and present are recognized for what they really are – mental constructs given substance through our attention and intention. Immersion into present moment silence, where space and time lose their hold, enable us to carry the timeless in the midst of time-bound awareness. This is what William Blake refers to when he encourages us:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

At moments throughout the day, stop what you are doing and tune into the sounds, sensations, sights, tastes and smells around you. Take time to close your eyes and quiet your inner conversation through meditation. Staying present brings enthusiasm to every momentary experience of life.

Within your yoga practice, bring your attention back to the silent space within you between every movement and every posture. Remain in a state of mindful witnessing as you perform each pose. Between poses and movements, bring your attention to the quiet stillness within you. Observe from the inner stillness of your soul the dynamic activity of the world. Taking brief retreats every day will bring new perspectives, enhanced vitality and awareness.

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