The Longest Night of the Year: Winter Solstice

The longest night of the year is upon us and I am ready for what comes after.

The days start getting longer. I am ready for the light. I am ready for it to get warmer, already. Although for me to complain as a California resident, it’s a little bit ridiculous. I am ready to get back to exercising in a tank top and feel the sun on my body. You never know though–that weather might happen next week.

The first time I stayed up all night and didn’t go to sleep was on Winter Solstice. I was in my twenties and living in Santa Cruz. It wasn’t at a party. I wasn’t getting drunk or dancing all night long at a rave. It was to keep a “Yule” log burning all night long to keep with true Winter Solstice traditions. I was with my partner at the time and our good friend who were committed practicing Pagans and we wanted to do it right. The idea is to keep the log burning all night as a prayer, so that the sun will come out again after the longest night of the year. We burned a log in our pseudo-working fireplace and talked long into the night. I think Jack played guitar. I remember being tired the next day and trying to sleep during the day which was weird. We went out for Chinese since we didn’t want to cook after that and because Chinese food cures all.

I’ve been telling people lately about another origin of Christmas. That one being of Amanita Muscaria mushroom. You know that little red mushroom with white spots that is poisonous? Christmas colors. It shows up on antique Christmas art and ornaments. Evidence is shaky but NPR reports that Harvard professors ponder the possibility that there is connection between Santa Claus and the Shamans of Siberia and that hallucinogenic mushroom could make reindeer fly. Or at least make it seem like they are flying. We do know that reindeer like to eat Amanita mushrooms.

One website states that Amanita was given by Shamans in Siberia to help people trying to get through the winter. The mushrooms were placed in stockings to dry by the fire since they needed to be dried before consumption. A dose would keep them warm and make it easier to get through the cold night. It is also believed that Shamans would drink the piss of reindeer for a smoother trip on Amanita without side affects such as vomiting.

Every time this week when I feel the humdrum of what Christmas has turned into (commercialism, family obligations, religious wars) I am going to think about Amanita Muscaria and people making it through the winter.

What each of these scenarios bring up for me is taking us out of our normal ways of thinking about things to connect with something greater. I wouldn’t mind seeing some flying reindeer this week. I wouldn’t mind seeing with absolute clearness a drip of moisture off a pine/redwood/coastal oak tree or the brightness of the sun rising on 12/23/2015. Whatever we can do to rekindle our magic, our love for the earth, to break down boundaries that we have within ourselves and with others for a better world and for one that is more alive, more in touch with our senses and with the planet.

More about Amanita and the origins of Christmas here.

Dia de Los Muertos at Garfield Park, San Francisco


It’s been a few years since I have attended Dia de los Muertos altars at Garfield Park in San Francisco. The last time I went it felt a little Burning Man, enjoyable but less the event I thought it should be. Continue reading “Dia de Los Muertos at Garfield Park, San Francisco”

SFO has a Yoga Room

I stumbled upon the Yoga room at SFO (San Francisco International Airport) when I was on my way back from NY.

It seemed especially poignant coming from visiting my parents who faithfully do yoga every morning. Don’t ask me where it was–all I know is I was flying on Delta.

You know that jet lag haze when you got up at 3:30 in the morning to catch your flight and you went to bed at midnight.

Just kidding. Here is some more information on where to find the 2 different yoga rooms at SFO. 


Vamola: Seattle Center After All These Years


I got to see my “old” samba troupe perform in Seattle a few weeks ago.

They were still jamming and sounding pretty good on that Brazilian beat. Memories of my formative best-time-ever moments came flooding back. Dancing with Vamola is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. We samba-ed our butts off for the Seattle Folk life festival, Seattle Pride parade, Bumbershoot and a bunch of other things in the earlier part of the 2000 decade. Memories that include:  our talented director Tom Armstrong (what ever happened to Quasi-Nada?), Kate our dance leader, dating a fellow Vamola-er, making a costume of red–one of which I have never been able to throw away. I am still carrying the feathers around. What do I do with them? I can’t throw them away.

We saw them at Brazil fest held at the Seattle Center which was sleepy compared to any Latino gathering in the Bay Area but we had a view of the Space Needle and it was still fun.

It is timely and has come full circle–as I hope to make it to Brazil this year after 23 years of loving Brazilian music and dance. Will I be able to keep up samba wise? I doubt it. I better start practicing.


(Vamola means let’s go in Portuguese) 

Gold Chairs on Duboce/Church San Francisco

If you live in San Francisco or have visited the lower Haight or Duboce park you then you have seen these chairs and this post is nothing new. But if you live far away and haven’t seen them then you can enjoy the sights of these gold chairs from afar.

Homeless people are often seen sitting in them and less not-homeless than you’d think. They are too busy waiting to board the N Judah, the popular Muni train that stops at Church and Duboce where these chairs are located. It could be said that we have gold chairs for the homeless in San Francisco but enough beds.

Have a seat.

30 days of Lemon Water for Beauty and Health

016-Why Lemon Water?

It’s alkaline. The body thrives in a slightly alkaline state–yet just about everything we eat and drink is acid. Stress and exercise can create acidity. Lemon water is one thing you can do to counteract an over acidic state. Even though lemon juice is acid when consumed it creates alkalinity.

It’s a boon for the liver–it can help the body detox and lead to weight loss.

It’s also said to help mood and be anti-aging as it removes toxins.

I’ve just completed 30 days of lemon water first thing in the morning and my skin looks great! I use fresh squeezed juice of half an organic lemon into approximately 8 ounces of water.

I have to admit that I started doing this partially out of vanity. That may sound superficial but I admit it–I want to look healthy and radiant. In the last 6 months I have felt that I needed some kind of physical change and this feels good.

It feel a little funny admitting being concerned about looks as we are too image focused in this society. But I am happy in taking a more active approach to my health. One thing about the drinking lemon water every day is I am starting my day with a practice of something positive and that helps me maintain the commitment overall.

I’ve also started increasing my exercise too and I’ve noticed that after I do aerobic exercise I glow! I swear it releases a bunch of oils into my skin or neurotransmitters because I look different on the days I do aerobic dance.

I admit that I sometimes suck at drinking water. I forget to do it or just don’t have the urge. By drinking lemon water I am getting more water into my system.

I also have cut back on drinking coffee during this time. I still get my caffeine fix on with a cup of black tea or mate so this is why I do the lemon water first thing so I am ready to drink tea 30 minutes later. I feel the lemon water has contributed to my desire for less coffee.

I’ve been wanting to do a deeper juice cleanse or fast but it can be hard to do on a work schedule or just challenging in general so doing lemon water is a mild way to cleanse with not too much effort.

Lemons! So many things! Read more here. Let me know which ones you’ve tried or you’ve benefited from doing a lemon cleanse, share away!


San Francisco, should we all just move on?

SFist posted a piece the other day suggesting that we need to move on from the pains that ails us regarding San Francisco’s massive sea of change in culture and real estate greed. Like a relationship that didn’t work out, we need to stop bemoaning our vanishing city and just get over it.Continue reading “San Francisco, should we all just move on?”