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90 Day Dairy Detox

 Dairy free coconut chai tea 

Dairy free coconut chai tea 

Milk is not my friend and cheese is my nemesis. A Chicago girl and a pizza lover, I will never be 100% vegan because I like to indulge in every once in awhile. I also eat eggs occasionally but I hadn't had cow's milk for over ten years until I went to Kenya. That's when dairy crept back into my life and it seemed like everything started going downhill. 

In Kenya chai tea is a staple. Upon entering most people's homes you will immediately be offered a cup of chai. I adore tea and chai, however, almond milk is not readily available.  So what started as a way to be polite quickly became an addition. Over the next 9 months I started drinking and even craving chai with cow's milk every day. I'd usually drink about 4 cups per day. The effects on my body were horrible. 

My fibroids started to grow to a dangerous size causing me a lot of discomfort and pain. My face endured acne breakouts and I gained quite a bit of weight. After leaving Kenya I traveled to India, another milk loving country. In India chai is also a staple in the daily diet as well as paneer. There are also many sauces that contain fresh milk, yogurts, and cheeses so dairy is not easy to avoid there. My already lactose body reacted violently to the fresh cheese and twice I became so ill I thought I would have to go to the hospital. 

Upon coming to Malaysia I decided that it was time to get serious about my health and take a 90 Day Dairy Detox challenge. No cheese, definitely no milk and no ice cream or yogurt either. This is the second time I'd done a 90 Day Dairy Detox however, I have not had so much dairy in my body for over a decade. It had been at least 10 years since I'd stopped drinking cow's milk and living in Thailand naturally cut a lot of cheese out of my diet since it's pretty rare and expensive. The effects were far more noticeable this time around. 

What I didn't realize is exactly how much I would be affected. The first couple of weeks I was met with migraines, acne breakouts, mood swings, and cravings. However, once I got past this hump the benefits were quickly visible. I switched to almond and coconut milk for chai and breakfast cereals, sorbet instead of ice cream and eliminated butter, pizza, and cheesy dishes altogether. 

In order to assist my motivation to get healthy, I also started an exercise program along with this detox. My goal was to work out 20-60 minutes per day, with 60 minutes being the goal but allowing myself to workout only 20 minutes on days that I didn't feel well or was traveling instead of taking a full day off. Without dairy, it actually seems that I am losing weight faster and easier than before. Within as little as 10 days I noticed a huge difference and loss in cellulite in my problem areas. 

So far it's been 30 days since I've had dairy. As a sufferer of osteoarthritis, I can finally feel a lot less pain in my body since I stopped the dairy. My mood overall has finally improved and my digestion is also back on track. Updates at the 90 day mark! 

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Stay on Skill India

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Travelling to India is often a dream of many wanderlusters. The food, the colors, the beautiful dance and sari-clad women has always been interesting to westerners. India is the land of my great-grandmother's birth and has always been a dream desitnation for me, however I've put it off for years because I've read what feels like a million horror stories online of women travellers being sexually harassed, groped and even raped. Although I traveled with my husband Stay on Skill made our experience in this country truly special. 

The concept of Stay on Skill is that for a small fee you get hosted by a Indian family and share a skill. I decided to share one of my biggest passions, Latin dance. I am a positive thinker and went into the trip thinking that it would be a good time however I was not expecting a truly life-changing experience. 

Our first host was the startup founder Arjun and his wife Prerna im Chandigarh, Punjab.  Arjun is sweet and quiet like my husband Boni and Prerna is fiery and sassy like me.  A match made in heaven! We got along instantly. The couple's engagement and wedding dates were also close to ours so we were all a bit on a honeymoon buzz. We stayed with Arjun's family which included his wife and parents. His father was a funny guy that was a great sport about learning Latin dance and his mother was an elegant and beautiful woman whose laughter I still miss. 

Each night we'd have a dance class with additional friends and family members who ranged in age from 11 and up. In America we don't usually think of Indians as the most open group but this family showed us that not only was this family interested in learning about our cultures they were also interested in knowing us as human beings.  Arjuna and Prerna showed us an amazing time in Chandigarh hanging out at Sector 17, a fantastic shopping area with a French design and light show. We literally felt like we were in a Europe for a bit there. We also visited the Rock Garden, an inspirational hand built artistic garden built by Nek Chand and did a sunrise walk around Lake Sukhna which was a beautiful insight into how Indians are fitting wellness and self-care into their daily life. 

Chardigarh is an amazing city and honestly, if I lived in India it would be at the top of my list of places to live. It has so many great restaurants and shopping centers as well as many parks and outdoor activities. We'd never have found this gem of a place if it wasn't for Stay on Skill. But we weren't done yet. 

Next we went for a short trip to Bathinda with Ahbinav, a young man that we wished we could kidnap and bring back to the states with us. Ahbinav is a perfect combination of quiet and crazy, just the kind of people we love. We stayed with Ahbinav's family where we were able to visited a textile manufaturing company with beautiful silks and brocades as well as visit a 40 aacres farm! It was so inspirational to hear about his father's life story and see the way he's been able to buiild his farming business in only 10 years. 

Then were on to our next location, a place I never thought I'd be able to visit in a million years, Dharamshala. The bus ride was long and winding and challenged your ability to keep your lunch down. We arrived exhausted in the middle of the night after I'd had 2 days of stomach issues to meet Puja. As soon as I saw Puja's face I felt a connection, like I was with my friends back home in Chicago. A familiarity that I can't explain. 

Puja's family consisted of her mother, whose name I don't know because I only called her Mama from day one, her 10 years old daughter Aloka and family friend Sonika who is another one of those wonderfully quiet but crazy people. Puja and I have so many similar interests in life and style that it's uncanny. One thing we both love besides the color orange is children. Puja would later take us to meet the under-privallaged children she worked with at a local school teaching them English. 

It was cold as heck in Dharamashala but Mama and company all made sure we stayed warm. While in  high in the Himalyas we went on an amazing hike in the mountains, were sernaded on Valentine's morning with Mama singing the most beautiful traditional songs and little talented Aloka playing tablas! I couldn't help but cry like the cheeseball I am. We also went to Norbulingka a gorgeous temple complete with shopping center and cafe . The dance classes here were especially rewarding as were joined by local kids and friends, however one woman whose name I won't mention for her privacy, danced with me for the first time in her life on her 42nd birthday. To share such a liberating moment with someone is truly a gift and has helped me to remember my purpose in this world. 

Our final night in Dharamashala included a presentation of traditional Indian dances and delcicious Indian food. By the time we were leaving Dharamashala we had made friends for life. Puja's family felt like our family and we know that we will be back just to visit them. For anyone a little nervous to travel through India alone, or people who are looking to make real connections with real people, learn about culture, food and community, this program has really made our trip to India worth it. I'm so glad we've connected with these guys and made life long friendships. Until we meet again. 

 

 Sukhna Lake Chandigarh, Punjab 

Sukhna Lake Chandigarh, Punjab 

 Chelcie at the Rock Garden by Nek Chand in Chandigarh, Punjab India 

Chelcie at the Rock Garden by Nek Chand in Chandigarh, Punjab India 

 Nek Chand's Rock Garden Chandigarh, Punjab 

Nek Chand's Rock Garden Chandigarh, Punjab 

 Touring a fabric maufaturing company in Bathinda, Punjab with Stay on Skill 

Touring a fabric maufaturing company in Bathinda, Punjab with Stay on Skill 

 In the chilly mountains of Dharamshala with Puja and Aloka through Stay on Skill

In the chilly mountains of Dharamshala with Puja and Aloka through Stay on Skill

 Visiting Puja's students in Dharamshala 

Visiting Puja's students in Dharamshala 

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Village Living in Painkulum

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The life of a digital nomad is not all plane-hopping and sight-seeing. Sometimes you need a quiet place to wind down, relax and actually get some work done. We still work an average 30-40 hrs a week, but we just do it on the road. After taking a week off in Mumbai to hang out  we needed a quiet place and peaceful place to grind. We rented Skreekala's house in the Painkulum to do just that and are beyond. 

Little did I know when I arrived that I would fall ill to traveler's belly. Between working and recovering we didn't really have time to take Skreekala up on the waterfalls and hikes that are a bit ouside of the village but it pays to be cheaply entertained. There's a beautiful river at the end of the road that served for great nature walks in the morning. For a tiny village the infrastructure is great! 

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Skreekala was the sweetest host and made sure that we had everything that we needed. The closest town is Cheruthuruthy  so you can get any snacks or supplies from there. If you want to eat in Skreekala can set you up with a personal cook who can deliver food to you, which we did for a few days. 

This is the kind of travel that stays close to your heart forever. The kind villagers saying hello and chatting in English or in Hindi- regardless of our understanding will always be a fond memory. There's nothing better than being welcomed in a foerign land. 

If you'd like to rent Skreekala's place she has listed it in Airbnb at a very reasonable price. Please don't ask for discounts, that's just rude. https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/22418495

Painkulum is located in Thrissur and is closest to the Shoranur train station. We made a mistake and got off at Thrissur but it wasn't too hard to grab an Uber and get going thr right way. While in Painkulum you'll need to use tuk tuks or auto-rickshaws to get around, but we found the drivers reasonable and friendly.

 Sign to the nearby temple 

Sign to the nearby temple 

 Fruits from Cheruthury and a papaya from the garden! 

Fruits from Cheruthury and a papaya from the garden! 

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Turmeric & Coconut Face Mask

 Organic turmeric powder and coconut oil

Organic turmeric powder and coconut oil

Being on the road in remote areas often means that you have to fend for yourself in the beauty department. Unfortunately I wasn't blessed with an even skintone nor a pimple-less face. At least once per month during my moon cycle usually I can count of a break out. Luckily I have learned some ways to take care of my skin, hair and nails while traveling with ingredients that are both natural and easy to find. Here is one I'm currently using in India, the turmeric and coconut face mask. 

If there are two things that are always easy to find in India it's turmeric and coconut oil. I think countries with inexpensive coconut oil are usually at the top of my list. I basically use it all over my body, in my hair, on my feet and nails and for oil pulling and in my tea! This skin mask takes only a couple of minutes to make and works great for treating your skin after a long flight or train ride across a beautiful country. 

Take two tablespoons of organic turmeric powder and add enough melted coconut oil to mke a paste. Apply to the skin, I suggest face and neck but this is great for armpits and butt too. You can use a brush if you don't want to get orange fingers. Leave on for 15-20 mintues and rinse, any longer and you might develop a temporary orange glow. 

Always be careful when using turmeric, it can ruin clothes and towels. Store in a small container for up to a week. I like to use this once every few days when I'm traveling alot and I know that I've been sleeping on unsanitary pillows and beds. 

 Turmeric and coconut oil paste

Turmeric and coconut oil paste

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Black Nomads: We've Been "Outchea"

 In Ella Sri Lanka 2016 

In Ella Sri Lanka 2016 

The digital nomad community is far too often an arrogant bunch and usually the types that I stay as far away from while traveling as possible. Usually they frequent any English speaking bar or cafe and either ask you a million questions about how you make your money, attempt to engage in a pissing contest over how many countries you've been to or lament about how the culture or poltics of whatever country their currently in is so much worse than wherever they've come from. If you're black you will get a whole new list of questions and micro-agressions like "What are you doing here?". What are any of us doing here? Aren't we all traveling, living, exploring, gaining experience in our areas of interest? Then there's the questions about how hard it must be to be from Chicago. As I recall there's some pretty crappy neighborhoods in London as well, so if I'm not assuming you're dodging bullets in Westminster, why would you assume that I'm coming from a hard knock life in the Cabrini Green Projects. Hey digital nomads! You're not the first and you're not the last, and yes some of us are black too! 

Black travellers will tell you that there is rascism along the nomad trails just like everywhere else in life, and it's not always from the locals, but sometimes it's from your fellow nomads and travellers. I recall when I was in Prague earning my TEFL certification a fellow student asked me "Don't you feel weird here because you're black." He was American as well, and acted as if I had come from some utopia of blackness where I had never been the only black person in a room. Every time I opened up my mouth to tell a story about my past experience in any subject he waited with baited breath for stories of living on government funding with a crack-addicted mother and a pimp for a father. He'd say things like "Oh it must have been really hard growing up then huh?" searching for a sob story to tell his friends how I'd overcome all my adversity and landed in Europe to make my "people" proud no doubt. 

In actuality I come from a fashion model mother and a military father who both have always traveled their whole lives. In fact I'm still trying to catch up with their visited countries and experience.  I have no memories of being on my first airplane ride and my first passport was filled up long ago. Travel has always been a part of my life and at this point it always will be and actually this lifestyle was engrained in me from the start.

The black travel phenomenon is something that I can't really support because while I was a child in the 80's and 90's travelling with my mother, there were other young black kids that were there living the same lifestyle I was. Their parents we models, designers, dancers, actors, musicians and I'm sure many other professions. We had no idea that by the time we were in our 30's people would pretend that our lives never existed and that before 2015 black people were simply not traveling. Like we had no passports of experience outside of our home country at all. 

While I think it's great that black people are embracing the idea of travel, I can't subscribe to this narrative that black people never traveled until recently. The shock and awe from both the black community and the non-black community needs to cease and decist. Black folks have always been "outchea" and lack of knowledge on a subject doesn't make it true. We need to continue to travel sure, absolutely but once again black history needs to be recognized and discussed. Black travel is just another topic ike black kings and queens, inventors and artists, on which we and the public at large are ingnorant about.  

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Mumbai On The Cheap

I've been travelling 8 years straight now and never have I had a truly backpacker experience. You know staying in a super cheap place, eating the cheapest meal you can find. While I enjoy carrying a backpack when I travel, truthfully I've only stayed in a hostel once in Prague in an emergency.  My friend owned it and I had the room all to myself, so does that really count? Nah not really. So my husband and I decided to have as close to a backpacker experience as we could get short of staying in the room with other people, for two whole days. That was about all I could commit to. 

Usually when I travel I like to rent apartments from locals on websites like Aibnb, VRBO or do homestays to gain a local perspective, benefit the local community and not have to deal with  questionable cleanliness that come from quick hotel turnovers.

I often look at backpackers and wonder what their experience is really like. Do they actually find good deals, are they staying in safe places, what are the accomodations like in the cheapest of the cheap places? 

We booked an air-conditioned room at Al- Muviaaya Guesthouse for two days and it was by far the least expensive accomodation I've ever had. Yes, only two days but that was about all we could risk for such an experiment, this was our first time in India and I'd heard plenty of horror stories. This place had some okay reviews but I still didn't really know what to expect. After landing in Mumbai and resting and working at a private house in a more residential part of the city for a few day we took an Uber to Al-Muviaaya. I looked at the crowded dirty street from the back of the car and looked at my husband and said, "Oh no, I might have made a mistake here."

We lugged our bags down the road went inside, notified the man at the desk of our booking who in turn  told me that they were booked up and that our reservation had been changed to their sister property down the road. "Oh just great!" I thought.

A young guy in this early twenties quickly helped us carry our bags through the crowded roads to meet Abdul at Hotel Kausar on Zakeria Masjid Street. Everything was rushed and confused with motorbikes zooming back and forth, tons of foot traffic and cars everywhere. We arrived at the next hotel a bit of a mess and I peeked in the room while my husband sternly guarded the bags to ensure it wasn't a rat trap. It was a matchbox of a room, but it had an air-conditioner that was ice cold and a private bathroom and it was shockingly clean. I told my husband Boni "Okay, it's two nights, we can deal." 

Over the next couple of days this little experiment would prove to be one of the best decisions that we've made in a long time. Firstly, Abdul, a Swhili speaking Indian came to our room personally, more than once to make sure that we had absolutely everything that we needed from food to information on buying our "dongle", or wireless modem, to taxis and etc. His service was truly five star. 

We explored the neighborhood which is full of shops and basically a giant marketplace. Everyone is busy all day and all night selling things, providing services and there seems to always be an abundance of traffic. During the days we worked, ran errands  and did a bit of sight-seeing in Kala Ghoda, the arts district. We found out that we were actually conveniently located and never more than about 100 rupees away from anything we needed in the city. 

Being in this area allowed us the opportuity to stumble upon another great find, cheap local food. Worried about catching the old "travellers belly", I didn't want to jump into the street food head first, but having been eating Indian food my whole life I did want to eat plenty of it. Chakla Restaurant right down the road operates at a quick yet professional pace, the goal is to get as many people in and out as fast as possible. However, they manage to do this with great service. 

The locals at Chakla also were polite and welcoming by motioning for us to join them or pulling their chairs out. I loved people watching here and even being watched a bit as well. Watching men pour their chai into their saucers in order to cool it effectively and drink it quicker so they could move on to their next destination I found unique and fascinating. The waiters were always prompt yet friendly and we never had a bad meal here. The food was cheap and absolutley delicious! 

By the time it was time to leave Hotel Kausar we were actually sad to go. Abdul had become our friend and had given us better service than we'd received in places we'd spent way more money on. The neighborhood had grown on us too and we were greatful for the insight into no-frills daily Indian life in Mumbai. 

 Hotel Kausar: An inexpensive hotel with 5 star service 

Hotel Kausar: An inexpensive hotel with 5 star service 

 Vegetarian Fried Rice and Lollipop Chicken from Chakla 

Vegetarian Fried Rice and Lollipop Chicken from Chakla 

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Leelee Limon Chai Tea

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Leelee Limon Chai Tea

You can enjoy the amazing health benefits of lemon grass or lemon verbena in this yummy chai! 

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This chai tastes delicious with either lemongrass or lemon verbena or a little of both. Lemon grass is great for aiding in digestion, the regulation of blood pressure and the relief of menstrual pain.  Lemon verbena is wonderful for calming the stomach and clearing up congestion in the chest. Both are said to help anxiety, clear the skin and aid in weightloss. 

Combine two parts milk of your choice with one part water in a pot and bring to a boil. I love to use coconut milk with this tea which enhances the flavor and health benefits.  Coconut milk is good for the heart and provides a great deal of electrolytes to the body. Add 1-2 tablespoons of black tea per desired tea strength. I like a strong tea so I add two table spoons however this may be a bit strong for you if you're not used to drinking black tea. You can always add more later. 

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Allow the tea to boil until it develops a rich brown color which may have a reddish hue to it depending on how much tea and what type of milk you use. This should take about 20 minutes. Strain and serve in pretty cups with biscuits. Enjoy! 

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Turmeric Masala Tea

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Turmeric Masala Tea

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This chai tea is a bit complicated but the end result is delicious so I'd suggest making a nice portion so you can sip and reheat throughout the evening. Turmeric is great for inflammation but the tea has such a bitter taste that I have to choke it down. I knew that if I found a tastier way of enjoying turmeric I'd be able to benefit from it's healing properties more often. 

In one pot I boiled two bananas for about 20 minutes or until the water became murky and thick.  Then in a second pot I added freshly grated turmeric and ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I added 2 cups of water and  let this simmer for about 20 minutes to get a nice rich and spicy tea going. Then I added a cup of coconut cream and a 1/2 cup of almond milk. One my bananas were done I added the hot banana tea to the first pot along with 2 teaspoons of black tea. I now let all of this cook for another 10-15 minutes. 

Strain drink and than me later. 

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St Thomas After Irma: Yes, I'm Still Going Back

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St Thomas After Irma: Yes, I'm Still Going Back

"Why in the world would you want to move back there now that everything is destroyed?" I've heard that a few times since Irma and Maria bombarded my beautiful island with category five hurricane rain and winds. St Thomas is like that lover, that you just can't seem to leave. The one that just holds onto you and no matter how angry you get or how far you go, you just want to turn around and come right back. 

There's no way that I can tell my travel story without talking about the U.S. Virgin Islands. Five years ago I moved to the Caribbean as a job transfer from Alaska. I had been working in the fine jewelry industry on and off since 2001 and found a boss and a company that I loved working for. I was trepdatious though to say the least. All I knew of St Thomas was that it was going to cost me more than my Chicago apartment did, and it was hot as hell and everybody liked to party. It took some convincing but eventually I decided to give in and gave it a shot. 

The first few months were hard, I even can't lie. Watching my best friend of 15 years who came with me get addicted to drugs, from an obsessed island stalker and then turning right around and falling in love with "the wrong guy" was just rough. Even though I was prepared for the culture shock I still had some of the bumps along the road. Then there was of course the heat, which felt like a sad cloud from the comics was following me around and sobbing right over my head because no matter what I did I just could not stop freaking sweating. And last but not least there was the cultural difference. Now you'd think that since I'm still in my own country this wouldn't exsist but oh yes it does.  I am and I sound like, a Chicagoan.  I was judged harshly as a "statesider" or a "Yankee" because far too often people from the mainland come down to the island, like best friend did, just to find the dirtiest seediest parts of the island and then leave. 

When I moved to St Thomas I had been widowed just barely two years before, on December 27th. I didn't know what I needed I just knew that I was trying to figure things out in the healthiest way possible. After about 3 months I started to settle in and of course carnival time rolled around. I danced, I drank Brugal, I survived a shooting downtown, which simply made me feel like I was back in Chicago and suddenly it was time to fly out and go back to Alaska. It was five months of a whirlwind and I found myself on the plane, sobbing, like a stupid baby. 

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I went back to Alaska and talked about being in the Caribbean all summer long. I was purely obnoxious I'm sure. We tend to complain constantly when we're in a situation but once we are removed from them we tend to remember only the good parts. When I left I didn't think about any of the stressful or dangerous things that seemed like a big deal at the time. I remembered waking up at the crack of dawn on my off days, grabbing a cold beer, hiking down the hill to Havensight, hopping on the safari $1 bus and going to Emerald beach. I'd lay down my towel under one of the coconut trees and go back to sleep until the bar opened up for lunch. I'd eat lunch at Emerald beach and crack jokes with that great bartender that they used to have from Boston and go home to do laundry. In my morning of lesire I'd managed to get beautifully tanned, sun-kissed hair and a solid workout from swimming.  This was the life. 

Five months in Alaska passed and I went off to Prague to obtain my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. After my course I taught for ahwile in the Czech Republic but I started missing the island too much. When I returned, I found a house to rent that I planned to stay in until I was ready to purchase on the island. Although I didn't exactly know when or how I'd be able to do so I felt that I was going to be here for awhile.  The next winter season began and I started working on Mainstreet again and during my off time I'd travel to the British Virgin Islands. A whole new love affair started up. I spent time going sailing with my girlfriend and her husband. We'd chill out in that brilliant turquiose sea for 3-4 days at a time. Every chance I got I was on a boat or hanging out on the British Virgin Island expanding my love. 

The following year I decided to explore Thailand. I rented out my house and went off to Thailand twice during the off season that year and I loved it! It's a beautiful, and peaceful country and I managed to meet many loving people there. I still missed my St Thomas though and Thailand became my off season location for three years. In fact many of my Thai friends are very familiar with local artists like Pressure, Cool Sessions and even the carnival "Kick in She Back Door" by Onyan & Burning Flames. Oh yes! I taught them the absolute best! 

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No matter where I go in the world I miss St Thomas, Virgin Islands. When first came to St Thomas I had lost all sense of security and community. St Thomas gave me that back. I hated Christmas. St Thomas' beautiful and genuine celebrations have made me love Christmas more than ever. I was blessed enough to meet neighbors that became my extended family. I've never been on island away from my Mama's cooking and another Mama hasn't offered to feed me. The sense of community is truly beautiful and loving and if I don't go back, I will miss it for the rest of my life.

Currently I'm living in Kenya. If I hadn't moved to the Virgin Islands I'd never have been strong enough to endure what's going on here. I know that St Thomas has so many more gifts for me still and I vow that I will return to my beautiful island. I will be praying for Jah to guide me back home. He always does. 

 

Please get involved and donate to help restore these truly beautiful islands. I am encouraging people to please participate in the Adopt a Family Program , a local initive that can be trusted to appropriate funds honestly. 

 

 

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Healthy Beetroot Chai Recipe

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Healthy Beetroot Chai Recipe

 Kenyan Tea Farmers

Kenyan Tea Farmers

Tea lovers like myself will appreciate this drink. I love a hot beverage and enjoy both the health benefits and calming effects of tea. I've been drinking tea for as long as I can remember. All of the pomp and circumstance that surrounds tea drinking- the tea pots, cups, spoons, saucers, tea napkins, I find it all lovely. Last year I rode throught the beautiful sprawling tea farms of Sri Lanka and it felt like a dream come true. 

Currently I'm in Mombasa, Kenya and although Kenya is one of the largest producers of tea in the world, this not a city where you're going to find an abundance of cafes to make a variety of flavored chais or lattes. Kenyan chai consisting of black tea and milk is a staple of the diet. Most Kenyans have chai every single morning with chapati, a flat bread or mahamry, a sweet triangle shaped pastry.

I really enjoy experimenting so I have been playing around with the traditional Kenyan chai by making it with coconut milk and almond milk and by adding different flavors like ginger and cardamom to create a flavor similar to Indian masala chai. The other night I decided to use some beetroot powder to make a beetroot chai. Beetroot is is great source of iron, magnesium and is powerful in lowering blood pressure and enhancing energy. There are many additional benfits of beetroot like cleansing and detoxing the blood of heavy metals and cleansing the liver. If you have a loved one that doesn't like beets this is a delcious way to introduce the benefit of beets into their diet.

 Beetroot chai produces a beautiful pink color and is a tasty and creamy alternative to hot cocoa. It's so pretty you can also try introducing it to your little ones in replace of the high fructose strawberry milk products.  You can choose between beetroot powder or juice however if you're using a beetroot powder be sure to add it after you've taken your milk off of the stove. Boiling the powder will remove the nutrients.  

 Beetroot Chai

Beetroot Chai

Ingredients

1/2 cup of milk of your choice

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup of beetroot juice of 2tsp of beetroot powder

Honey to taste

 

 

How to Make It

Pour all ingredients into a saucepan.  Place over medium heat.  Allow to heat until small bubbles appear around the perimeter of the milk.  Stir the shai. When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir well. If you're using beetroot powder you will want to add this now. Strain care and serve. 

Avoid adding too much sugar or honey as beetroot is already high in natural sugars. 

 

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Inside the Mind of an Mexican-Amaricón

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Inside the Mind of an Mexican-Amaricón

 "Kia" by Gabriel Garcia Roman 

"Kia" by Gabriel Garcia Roman 

Through the power of social media and the grace of Jah I stumbled upon the brilliant artwork of Gabriel Garcia Roman. His artwork spoke to the honarary Chicana in me and reminded me of my days in the Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen Chicago. I later discovered that his flava runneth ova and he was indeed a native Chicagoan raised on the north-side. I can always spot my people. I began following Gabriel and instantly found him fascinating. Some days, it seemed like he was doing everything I was doing, laying out fabrics, designing, stumbling upon textiles goodies. Other days he was doing everything I wished I was doing, getting his hands dirty, playing with clay, creating jewelry.

Gabriel has quickly become one of my favorite artists. His works speaks volumes to this Cubana and makes me miss my late Colombian husband Andresito and my Mexican bario all at once. The only reason I haven't purchased on of his works is simply because I don't know what to buy! From his necklaces, to his shirts, to his prints everything is fantastic and ties together in his truly  Mexican-Amaricón style. His "Queer Icons" series showcases queer people of color with beautiful halos and give honor and visibility to a population rarely shown as such. I posted two of my favorites "Kia" and "Jahmal". 

I squealed when Gabriel agreed to answer some questions for us and am highly anticipating the addition of his work to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, Chicago. 

See more of his work at http://www.gabrielgarciaroman.com

IG: https://www.instagram.com/gbrlgrcrmn 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ggarciaroman1

 

TT: Where do you call home?

GGR: I currently reside in NYC, Harlem U.S.A. to be exact!


TT: What is your favorite medium or style to work in?

GGR: That's like asking a parent who their favorite child is!  I can't name one as they all bring me joy when my hands are moving and creating.

TT: If you could have any talent or super power what would it be?

GGR: My super power would be to be rested while needing very little to no sleep at all, so that I could continue to work on all the projects without needing sleep!!


TT: What inspires you the most?

GGR: I’m inspired by the textures and patterns of my environment, no matter how mundane.  The patterns created by light being filtered through a lace curtain, the cracks of paint in an old painting, the texture of the concrete sidewalks, etc.


TT: Is your studio in your home or in a different location?

GGR: My studio is in my home; my kitchen and backyard are where I do a lot of my work.

TT: What do you do to keep yourself healthy?

GGR: I practice yoga to keep me centered, I ride my bike through the crazy streets of NYC to feel alive, and I go out dancing to work out any negative energy out of my body.


TT: Was there ever a time when you almost gave up on creating and if so why?

GGR: I don't think giving up was ever an option or a thought.  Creating is the way I communicate and respond to the world and not doing that would surely wither away into nothingness. 


TT: What is your creative process?

GGR: My creative process is not overthinking and getting your hands moving.  I probably waste a lot of material that way but I find that I waste so much time thinking and overthinking a new idea and lately I have given that up and start working on it immediately.  It’s the mistakes I make that help me improve on the project and also a lesson is learned in the process.  I also don’t tend to throw things away even if they are “mistakes” because I can reuse them for something else.


TT: How has social media affected your creation process?

GGR: I have been more open to sharing my process with people.  Prior to social media I would create work in my own bubble and only my friends would see my work.  Since the advent of social media I post not only the final piece but behind the scenes and process shots and videos of whatever project I'm working on.  I find that people respond positively when you let them into your process.


TT: How has social media affected your sales?

GGR: Social media has been the vehicle that gives my work visibility.  All if not most of the opportunities that I’ve gotten over the last couple of years has been through people connecting via Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr and a lot of that has turned into sales.

 "Jahmal" by Gabriel Garcia Roman

"Jahmal" by Gabriel Garcia Roman


TT: Where is the most inspirational place you’ve traveled and how did that trip affect your work?

GGR: The most inspirational place I’ve traveled to definitely has to be Mexico! My family left Mexico when I was 2yrs old and I didn’t return until I was an adult.  I’ve been travelling back every year for the past 10 years and am always inspired by the handcrafts, the colors, the sights and sounds of my motherland. 


 

TT: What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever gotten about your work?

GGR: A few weeks ago during the opening reception I was standing in front of my work and a woman approached me to ask if I was the artist and when I said I was she simply put her hand in my shoulder and shook her head as tears started rolling down her eyes.  She said my work touched her so much she couldn’t find the words to express it.  I just held her and said her emotional reaction was enough.

TT: What artists are you inspired by?

GGR: Some of the artists that pop in my head are Pieter Hugo, William Eggleston, Yinka Shonibare, Jan Van Eyck to name a few.
 

TT: What season do you like most or feel most creative in?

GGR: This one is easy.  I love summer!  I love hot and humid weather when people are half naked on the streets and glistening in their sweat.  I love beach trips with friends, eating dinner al fresco, weekend BBQ get-togethers, etc. 

TT: Have you been influenced by any culture that is not your own? If so which one and how?

GGR: I have lived in Harlem for over a decade and there is a sizable Senegalese and Ivorian population and I can’t help but be influenced by the vibrant colors and patterns the men and women wear. Those textiles have made it into the shirts that I make and that color sensibility has made it into my prints as well.

TT: What do you hope people take away from your work?  I work in so many different mediums but I have a very strong voice and there is part of me in every project or work that I make and so I would say that what I would hope people take all of the love and effort that goes into each work that I make, whether it be a print, a ceramic necklace or a piece of furniture.  It’s all made with so much time and care.

TT: How long does it take you to create a piece of artwork? 

GGR: Because I am all about the process when I make artwork it can range from an hour to a month.  It all depends on the project and or medium I’m working with.

TT: When did you realize that you were a creative being?

GGR: believe I took my creativity for granted most of my life and it wasn’t until I started making artwork in my mid 20s when I realized it’s always been inside of me but I didn’t use these magical powers until later in life.

TT: What is the one thing that most people assume about you that’s not at all accurate?

GGR: Most people assume that I’m a social butterfly because I have a large group of friends and am often out dancing.  The reality is I’m an introvert that enjoys one-on-one interactions over groups and when I dance it’s really a conversation between the DJ and me and nobody else exists.

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Healing Through Tantra Workshop

 Contact us at info@traveltherapytours.org 

Contact us at info@traveltherapytours.org 

In an effort to combat trauma within the communities of people of color Chelcie and Priest will be offering a workshop called "Healing throurh Tantra". This workshop addresses sensitive issues around sexual abuse and teaches skills in tantra, meditation and intimacy to allow  parters to connect and release fears. 

These workshops will be private and limited to the cities of Chicago and New York only. If you are interested please contact directly at info@traveltherapytours.org to schedule your workshop. 

 

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Artist Spotlight : Anthony Burks

Somehow I discovered Anthony Burks's work via Facebook the way folks usually discover things. Someone somewhere posts something and you click add out of curiosity. His work has slowly become one of my favorites to to see floating through my timeline. 

Anthony Burks a disctinctly unique conceptual artist from Florida. His paintings mix colored pencils, watercolor, pen, and ink. He often mixes a unique palette of color with black and white. Beauty and strength are common themes through his work and his images have a softness so human they long to be touches. Anthony says that he chooses his subjects because of what they mean to him, and he tells their stories through his combination of realistic forms, bright colors, and abstract images.

 A graduate of the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Anthony has exhibited at galleries, museums, and events for over twenty years, including: the Endangered Species of Florida Exhibition at the Paul Fisher Gallery; Collaboration: African Diaspora at the Armory Art Center; juried exhibit at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens; CONTINUUM, a gallery that was an extension of ArtSynergy and ArtPalmBeach; Wild Things, an art exhibition benefitting the Rare Species Conservancy; and Elements, a collaboration with three artists to promote the understanding of South Florida’s ecosystem and The Everglades. His painting “Freedom 2001” can be found in the Cornell Museum Permanent Collection.

Although we are not very familiar with each other personally he has agreed to let us as him a few questions about his work. Please enjoy and follow him online at the links below. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amp.burks

Website: https://www.anthonyburkscollection.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amp_burks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ampburks/

TT: Where do you call home?

AB: West Palm Beach, FL

TT: What is your favorite medium or style to work in?

AB: Colored pencil is the Medium I prefer to work in?

TT:  If you could have any talent or super power what would it be?

AB: I would have loved to have been a musician, preferably a drummer.

TT: What inspires you the most?

AB: My family inspires me.

TT: Is your studio in your home or in a different location?

AB: My studio is in my home.

TT: What do you do to keep yourself healthy?

AB: Take walks.

TT: Was there ever a time when you almost gave up on creating and if so why?

AB: Yes, because it was not financially rewarding. I decided instead of giving up & getting angry, I   would put that energy into my drawing.

TT:  What is your creative process?

AB: I dream it, I think it, I create it.

TT: How has social media affected your creation process?

AB: I have a larger audience now (nationally & internationally), which provides a better opportunity for my work to be seen.

TT: What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever gotten about your work?

AB: Anytime someone connects with my work positively, it is always a compliment each & every time.

ABurks4.jpg

TT: Do you have a muse and if so how does that person inspire you?

AB: Multi-media artist Nzingah Oniwosan & model Aiyze Hanif are my human muses because of their strong features.  Wild life animals (i.e. birds, big cats & African animals) are also my muses.

TT: What do you hope people take away from your work?

 AB: I do my work for me. If they are intrigued or inspired by what I create, that is a plus.

TT: How long does it take you to create a piece of artwork?

 AB: Average 22 hours. However I have taken as long as 36-48 hours

TT: When did you realize that you were a creative being?

AB: Since I was about 3 years old. I use to watch my mother color in coloring books all the time & I wanted to do thaat.

TT: What is the one thing that most people assume about you that’s not at all accurate?

AB: Many people assume when they see my wild life work, that I am Caucasian.  Not all black artists have to paint the “struggle” to be an authentic artist.

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Greetings!

Thanks for stopping by our new Travel Therapy Tours Blog! This is a space where we can share all of our information about wellness, creativity and travel with you! There's so much going on in our world right now as we prepare for our Roots and Culture Retreat in Kenya all while laying the groundwork for our retreat center in Tennessee. We've just purchased 20 beautiful acres of land in the mountains of eastern Tennessee and we are hoping to one day have this space the United States location for our healing and creativity services and projects. There's so much work to be done, but we're positive and plan to continue moving forward! 

 

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