helenlehndorf

'Only connect.' -E.M.Forster


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Kirtan Camp 2015 – love gets sweeter everyday …

A few weeks back, I went to Kirtan Camp in the Otaki Gorge. (Kirtan is ‘yoga of sound’, essentially.) It was three nights, three days of beautiful nature, yoga, music, chanting, vegetarian food and lovely people.

It was my treat to myself of deep ‘me time’ after the family-centred intensity that is the summer school holidays. It was restful, and both inspiring AND contemplative. It ended with a Shamanic sound healing journey by Sika Deer, which might sound like the waftiest woo woo thing ever, but I experienced as a powerful healing experience. Like most things which shake you to the foundations and change you forever….words really do fail and I am too protective of this experience to attempt to say too much more about it…but should you ever get the chance to experience Sika’s healing work – jump at it!

I had a love affair with the yurt at the retreat centre – I went to kirtan in it, went to a live flute meditation, did yoga in it and one lovely sunny afternoon, (accidentally) took a nap in the sunshine lying in the grass outside it, as music was being played within. I very much hope there are more yurts in my future – this one was very special.

It was kind of ridiculously idyllic….the chef looked like George Harrison, the kirtan music was sublime, I slept one night in a tent lined with sparkling saris with my head bathed by the moon, I meditated under a giant pine tree in the pitch dark of nearly midnight, ….and there was heaps of free time in the schedule so that everyone dropped the stresses of their lives off their shoulders and by the second day, everyone was moving slower, smiling more and looking very peaceful.

At one point, I’d been sitting beside the river having a heart-to-heart conversation with my friend Nat who owns the yoga studio I teach at, and as we walked (ssslllloooooowwwwwllllyyyyy) back through the forest to the centre, we came upon a group of people playing music together (this song) … dancing barefoot in the sun, children were blowing bubbles, it was ludicrously lovely. I actually had a slightly hysterical giggle/crying fit in response to the sweetness of the scene… it was like a little taste of how life could be if people just relaxed more, played together more and got along together. You know….utopian dreams made (briefly) manifest.

Anyway, have I made you ill with my gushing yet…? Ha ha! Here’s a few pictures…

The main part of the retreat centre…

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(Below) The saris I spent a night gazing up at …

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Lovely kirtan teacher, Chakradhyan of Chant Shack Melbourne. 

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Amazing percussion teacher - Douglas Brush: 

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Nat beside the river with the retreat centre pup…

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Little stone cairn beside the river…

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(Above) Brave people having their first go at leading kirtan…

(Below) The magical yurt, complete with babbling brook….part of me will be forever lying the the warm grass, napping in the sunshine outside this yurt.

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Another garden visit: Paekakariki School Garden

Another beautiful permaculture garden I visited recently, is the Paekakariki School garden. Lots of schools have gardens these days, but they are usually hotch-potch patches of vegetables gone to seed and a few calendula…not the Paekakariki School garden. It’s clearly lovingly and frequently tended, with huge compost and mulch piles, a working greenhouse and an effusion of vegetables, herbs and flowers. There is enough sowing and planting activity happening in this beautiful collective garden, that before Christmas they had a huge plant sale of plants they had grown in the greenhouse.

Below – greenhouse to the left, borage growing freely everywhere, herb and vege beds…somewhat inexplicably, old fridges used for storing tools to the right…

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I love how there are so many flowers – foxgloves, violas, chamomile, borage – growing around the vegetables. So pretty, and so good for the bees!

Below – chamomile….parsley seed heads. (Oh how I love a spindly seed head!)

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Below – Fine looking garlic crop! Strawberries growing in tyres…

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(Below) – This is intriguing – looks like they are constructing a greenhouse from an old jungle-gym frame and recycled plastic bottles threaded onto bamboo canes. Good upcycling, but looks very labour intenstive…

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(Below) One perfect viola – so so pretty… What an inspiring community garden! I didn’t want to leave!

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summer colours

We’re having days (weeks!) of consistent warm weather this summer – a change from the last couple of summers. I’m really feeling the summer vibes this year!

Raspberries and strawberries picked at a place we house-sat:

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I bought a sheet of googly-eyes made from icing, certain they would make for some hilarious baking. I was right. The kids went wild with the icing and silly shapes…

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This is what we got up to on Christmas Day (that’s my family in the water) – is there anything more Southern hemisphere than a Christmas Day river swim?

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Beach lupins ablaze…

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unfurling

To unfurl is to trust that the light and rain will both come as needed to aid your full blooming.

To leap is to trust there will be a safe landing…or at least one that doesn’t kill you.

To reach is trust that there will be something to grasp – a branch, …a tool, …a hand.

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a and s’s beautiful permaculture garden

One of my favourite things to do is to visit other people’s vegetable gardens and have a good nose around…I always learn so much and get inspired to go home and get into my own.

(See photographs from an organic garden tour I did in 2013 here.)

Here are some photographs from a beautiful, well-established permaculture garden I visited in late spring last year. (It belongs to friends of a friend. They were kind enough to let me photograph the garden but wanted to be otherwise anonymous. I think it doesn’t give too much away to say the garden is in the lower North Island.)

Here is their garden photographed from just beyond their porch, you can see this from the house:

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I loved the way they had their main crops (potatoes, corn) in large clear beds, their salad crops growing more ‘wildly’ in the shadey edges, and they had planted an orchard at the foot of the garden which doubles as the chicken run…the chickens keep the grass from around the base of the trees (most fruiting trees don’t like grass growing around their bases), and the chickens fertilize the trees with their poo…meanwhile, the trees offer shade to the chooks, and food, too. (Unfortunately for my chickens, the two huge trees in their run are feijoa trees, and it seems chooks don’t like feijoas, so no happy harvest for my lot!)

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Everywhere I turned there were different crops – here you can see salad vegetables, calendula, dark leafy greens and garlic…

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Near the house was an absolutely beautiful peach tree sorrounded by fennel, with flawless fruit dripping off it. I sat under it for a while – it sure was a special tree – and took a bazillion photographs…but I’ll just share a couple with you here as you may not find photographs of peaches so mesmerising as I do.

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Beautiful hand-woven baskets and seedling pots made from newspaper…

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I noticed they had a ground cover of red clover, too. Red Clover is a wonder-herb – read all about it here.  It’s also just pretty, as ground covers go, don’t you think?

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I have another vegetable garden visit to share with you, soon. I hope you enjoyed this one!


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How I do juicing…

(Before I get into this post where I write about my thoughts on juicing, I want to say that I’ve come to believe diet and health are completely individual and idiosyncratic and that while advice from the internet is great, the best thing we can all do for our health is get better at tuning in to our personal experiences and our bodies and acting accordingly. One person’s raw-vegan-diet will be another person’s path to anemia and stomach upsets….one person’s high-fat/paleo diet will be another person’s path to lethargy and gallstones…every body is unique and only experiential/intuitive awareness will lead us to optimal health. Tune in, self-educate, and do what makes you feel well.)

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So….I’ve had a juicer for a couple of years now, but I’ve only been drinking juice every day for about the last six months…I’ve tried lots of different vegetable and fruit combinations, and experimented with how best to consume the juice and here’s what I’ve ended up with…

(In November, I did a seven day liquid fast of juices and protein drinks (I used NUZEST which is vegan and gluten-free as I can’t drink cold dairy products, like milk (or even soy, which isn’t dairy but has the same effect) because they upset my stomach. I did it with a friend, and we did it to a) lighten up our diets leading into summer b) for fun – yes, this is the kind of thing I do for fun, baha! c) to see if we could! Because we were consuming protein drinks, neither of us got hungry but I did get bored (oh, yay, a drink for dinner, etc), realised how much I love TEXTURE in food (crunch, especially) and I haven’t been able to face a protein drink since…)

Each morning, I make about 600 mls of mainly vegetable juice (my favourite combination below) – which I then have a third of before breakfast. I put the rest in a covered vessel in the fridge, and use it to sip from throughout the day, in those times between meals when I feel a slight energy lag and feel like I need a snack or a drink. My body seems to respond well to having it like this, in a few bursts through the day…

When I started juicing, because most advice about juicing says you should drink it as soon as possible after it’s juiced to avoid oxidization, I would drink it straight after making it…but that just didn’t feel good in my stomach. I have a slow metabolism and the juice would feel like it was sitting uncomfortably, and sloshing, in my gut. The way I consume it now seems to make my body much happier. (But again, you might find this is not the case for you!)

Juicing creates a lot of waste, but I’m OK with it because I either compost or feed to my chickens the pulp from the juicing process. I’ve had friends say they feel it’s a waste of produce, that they’d rather just eat it and get the fibre, etc. I appreciate this point of view, but as I’m having this juice ON TOP OF my large servings of vegetables and salads, I do think it is worth it for me, for the extra nutrients, and I believe the alkaline properties of the juice is good for my gut health.

The pulp is of course, still absolutely edible – here is a great post about ways to use the juicer pulp.

You really need to tune into your tummy to get the right juice combination for you. If you drink juice and your gut aches, churns or feels heavy…or if your mouth feels weird – there is something in the juice your body doesn’t like. Lots of people use cucumbers in juicing because they are mild in flavour and contain lots of water so are ideal. Unfortunately, they make my stomach ache, so I don’t use them.  Similarly, I can’t have very much citrus juice in one hit. And people rave about kale in their juices, but kale juice makes my mouth go all numb and weird.

Here is a really great informative post about juicing basics, which also addresses the common concern that fresh juice is just a big fructose dump on the system and can lead to type 2 diabetes…

Here is my usual juice combination, occasionally I might change it up a bit depending on what fruit is in the fruit bowl, but this is pretty much what I have every day and what makes my stomach happy…

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HELEN’S HAPPY STOMACH JUICE

One large beetroot / one large (4-5 cm) piece of peeled ginger / one or two large lemons / one small apple / one small carrot / one very large bunch of greens – spinach, parsley, silverbeet, NZ spinach, lettuce, chickweed, dandelion leaf…whatever I can find in the garden, basically…

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I’ve learned from juicing to:

-when I’ve finished juicing everything, I take the pulp out of the catcher and put it through the juicer again. It garners another 50-100 mls of juice, so I think it’s worth the effort.

-aim for mostly vegetable juice, with minimal fruit juice added to make it taste better. Carrots pretty much count as fruits in terms of how sweet they are. Over time your palate will require less sweetness.

-I always clean and rinse the juicer straight away, it’s easiest to clean it then…leave it until later and all the detritus dries out and becomes a pain to clean…re-assemble your juicer right away…keep your juicing systems well-organised and you are more likely to keep at it.

-if I’m feeling unwell or my digestion is sluggish, I might replace dinner with a juice, which I sip at over a couple of hours.

-NEVER EVER EVER EVER juice radishes. They smell and taste like demon-bowels. GAG! (I did it once. Never again!)

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Be warned, if you consume a lot of beetroot, it may make your bodily wastes take on an alarming hue, as hilariously illustrated in this Portlandia clip ‘911 Beets Emergency’, ha ha!

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So, there is my experience with daily juicing – I’d love to hear your experiences or if you have any other tips…JUICE ON, sisters!

 

 

 

 


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Setting the year ablaze

For the last few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year – something to mull over, to set intention, to facilitate ongoing inner growth…

For a few years there, the word was ‘No’, as in learning to say no, to be assertive, to DISCERN what was and wasn’t important to me…

Last year’s word was SHAMELESS, read about it HERE and HERE. See my SHAMELESS Pinterest board HERE. It was somewhat successful, although I did slide down into several shame spirals over various things – I think shame is in my DNA, maybe it is for all women, given the culture we live in.

Since the solstice, I have been mulling over a word for this year…all words of a gentle, nurturing nature were not doing it for me…I wanted something with an edge, with big metaphoric possibilities, with high-energy. Energy is what I hope for for this year. I’ve had a few ‘damp’ years, fallow years, resting years, compost years – and I accept them as part of a life passage, part of an organic process.

‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.’

-Zora Neale Hurston

Some credit to this year’s word must go to my friend EMMA – as part of my Christmas present she gave me a box of fancy matches which have the saying ‘The inner fire is the most important thing’ on the box, as I unwrapped it she said: ‘Well, you are a pyromaniac.’

It’s true. I love a good bonfire and often have a big burn in the backyard. I love candles, and incense. I use matches rather than a lighter because I get a small thrill from striking a match.

In yoga-teaching, we talk about ‘igniting the inner-fire’ – meaning both physically, as the core warms up, an internal heaters starts to fire, deepening the breath and warming the body…and metaphorically – the inner-fire being our drive, energy, prana, shakti!

So my word for the year is FIRE.

See my Fire Pinterest board HERE.

Like The Pixies I’m DIGGING FOR FIRE.  Hoping that this is a year that answers questions, and hoping to light a match to all my desires… watch them turn into the biggest bonfire on the most beautiful beach under the fullest moon.

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Backyard hobo bonfire in a rubbish tin.

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Plant fire – calendula in my vege garden…

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Winter solstice celebration from some years back…

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Fire sky, Queenstown 

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Growing my fire and eating my fire… 

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Backyard fire at a friend’s place…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”

-Jack Kerouac

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