Feel lighter, spring forward

5 03 2014

Mercury is out of retrograde, I can tell. My spirit is better. I started to Spring-clean the studio today, de-cluttering and rearranging the furniture, props, and inventory to make room for something new, although I don’t know yet exactly what. It feels good. This happens every once in a while, usually after the Winter holiday, when my surroundings are such that I can barely move. It’s a good time to get rid of what no longer serves me, so I can turn the page, so to speak. I challenge you to take similar steps forward.

Rebekah's Studio 2014

I created a new desk area against this window for the first time! Studio props for my still life classes are out in the open for easy access. The desk is a six-foot folding plastic table dressed up with a soft, textured blanket. From here I enjoy cooling trade winds and a small view of the ocean.

A new print rack displays my repros professionally below "My Corniglia," an image I made of the Ligurian coastline. Studio props for my still life classes are out in the open for easy access.

“My Corniglia,” an image I made of the Ligurian coastline, hangs above a new print rack that displays my art reproductions professionally. DH built the tasteful picture frame that happens to be a design repeat of the hardwood chairs.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Wake up call: maintaining my terrain

6 02 2012

Now that I’ve overindulged by eating carnival food containing sugar, white carbs, and meat last Saturday, as well as caving in to pizza and a chocolate eclair on Super Sunday, it’s time to focus on my health again. The message is clear, but, unfortunately, I’m a slow learner.

I phoned my friend and classmate Piikea last night, as I had not heard from her in a while, and she missed her Punahou Carnival work shift with the Class of ’67. She called back, having just returned from Paris where she went to see her friend in the hospital who, as it turns out, has pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver. Not good.

Piikea’s report was, after the oncologist had prescribed chemotherapy, her friend’s daughter convinced her mother to try a raw vegetable juice diet — sorry, I don’t have the name of the diet — that claims to have cured 4,000 or so people. Specific vegetables are recommended.

In a few days, the patient eliminated all sorts of nasty-looking stuff — gall stones, mucus, black substances — and started showing improvement. Her tumors have shrunk. (In sympathy, Piikea did the diet too, and feels better. She has decided to change her lifestyle. We’ll help each other.)

Of course I am oversimplifying the situation by leaving out the emotions of our conversation, but the story has reminded me of the diet advice presented in the book by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, Anticancer A New Way of Life that I wrote about in a previous post, the book that speaks about “maintaining your terrain” to discourage cancer cells, that we all have in our bodies, from getting a foothold.

It’s the one my glee club sister Lois encouraged me to read, and I’m glad I did. And darn, I should follow it. The advice worked for Lois in her recovery from cancer, but isn’t it better to take care of our terrains before we become ill?

The number one diet advice, backed by scientific evidence, is NO SUGAR. Cancer cells feed on sugar. It’s not just diet alone. Other factors weigh in too, though, including one’s spiritual well being.

Which brings me to let you know that besides practicing Reiki (hands-on healing technique), there will be occasions when I will offer instruction in the “Unlimited Reiki System.”

Reiki Master Teacher Lori Wong, who along with Alice Anne Parker gave me my own Reiki certification, will teach Reiki Level I, that focuses on self healing, on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, at my healing space, and I will assist her.

The cost of the day-long training is $150 and well worth the amount for instruction, attunements, certification, and lunch!  Lori is a professional chef, and I am a good cook. Please contact me (phone 808-237-7185 on Oahu, and I will return your call) for information about joining the Reiki I class. This complementary therapy is available to all, and you can learn to do it too.

Be well, everyone. And thank you for visiting the studio. ~ Rebekah

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

Feel better by looking toward the stars

9 08 2011

You'll likely be pleasantly surprised at the food from this hut at the end of Heeia Pier.

Sometimes life makes me grouchy. Other times it feels like the stars are aligned. Today my lucky stars aligned.

My frequent route from the studio takes me to Kaneohe for water exercise at Pohai Nani’s heated pool.

Last month I was sidelined with a physical pain that I can only be sure is a characteristic of aging, as neither my physician, naturopath, physical therapist nor radiologist can pinpoint anything else.

Just because something shows up in a test doesn’t mean it’s the cause of pain, they concurred.

My trainer Malia (I call her my trainer, but her correct title is exercise specialist) at Pohai Nani said, “It could be anything.” She suggested a visit to the doctor. A couple days later, my cousin in his 80s assured me, after I mentioned my problem, “You know, this is just the beginning.”

This “problem” made me grouchy. All I felt like doing was … well, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

With the various therapies and time, including Reiki on myself, I’m improving, feeling finer. Hallelujah! Still, though, as the saying goes, there are some good days and some bad days.

This morning Malia said she was outfitting her bicycle and planned to add some cycling to her exercise routine. She was also in a competition to lose some weight. On an impulse I said I’d join her.

Bicycling on the tandem is something I can do with DH. We used to do that a lot when he raced, even taking our bicycle on neighbor-island and continental trips. We were our thinnest then.

Malia’s goal is to shed 30 pounds. Mine is to reduce by 20. That’s a total of 50 pounds between us, all by Thanksgiving Day.

I reloaded the free Lose It! ap to my iPhone to show I was serious. All I do is program my goal, enter what I eat and my daily activity, and it automatically calculates the remaining calories I may have. I think I have a good chance of meeting my goal because I’ve already started to change my diet after reading the book Anticancer. Please see my previous post.

After the pool and some errands, I swung by Heeia Pier for lunch and scored a good parking place, step one. The place has become popular with the breakfast/lunch crowd, and sometimes I have to park on the far side of the boat ramp. Looking at the menu board and considering food choices and my lack of cash — pay day for me is tomorrow, and I robbed my parking meter fund of quarters today — I picked “stir-fried veggies” for $3 and an honest cup of coffee for 50 cents.

Chef Mark Noguchi, formerly of the restaurant Town in Honolulu, is a hard worker. He prepares food fresh and from scratch, so usually there’s a wait. Darn it, I wasn’t quick enough to put in my order ahead of five firefighters (firefighters — that in itself is complimentary of the good grinds at Heeia Pier), and when it became my turn, the word was “no more.”

Gooch — that’s his nickname — must have seen my face fall. Or I must have looked hungry. He said the vegetables didn’t look good enough to serve, so he’d just pulled the item from the menu. “What kind of vegetables do you want?” he asked. “Anything. If they’re fresh,” I said.

Returning from the reefer he said he’d make me some. Before the firefighters got their plates, Gooch brought me a light and tasty medley of eggplant, turnip, onion all from JAWS (Just Add Water, a CSA community-supported agriculture group) in Waimanalo, and watercress from his relative’s farm.

Watercress stir fried with eggplant, turnip, and onion

Half way into it he brought out—on the house—another dish on a real ceramic plate, not a disposable plate: a slice of pan-fried pa‘i‘ai (hand-pounded taro from Daniel Anthony and Anuenue Punua of Mana Ai), topped with a fresh salad of chilled local tomato and cucumber, very very lightly dressed in a barely sweet sesame vinaigrette,  and sprinkled with a little pepper and sea salt.

Taro tomato cucumber salad

Can you believe it?!  Now that’s classy. Not just the food, but the customer service too!

Committed to serving organic and/or locally grown food as much as possible, Chef Noguchi sometimes goes into the field to harvest the ingredients personally.

If you go to Heeia Pier and he’s not busy, ask if there is anything else not on the regular menu that’s being served up that day. You never know!

I think if you caught a fish out there from the pier, he might cook it for you too (if you cleaned it first ;-)), just like it used to be local style.

So healthy. So delicious. So unprocessed. Thank you for bringing beautiful food to the windward side. Thanks to the local farmers (we can patronize the farm bureau-sponsored farmers markets). And thanks to all who support local farmers by buying organic or locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats.

The stars align, but I suspect intention helps.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Time for a new way of life

28 07 2011

My latest wellness kick—taking to heart the advice of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, in his book Anticancer A New Way of Life. His message has convinced me to change my ways. Seriously.

Our friend Lois will be so delighted I read the book.

Two Sundays ago, Lois invited her friends to a barbecue at her son’s house in Niu Valley, where she was staying, to thank everybody for their prayers and support in her recovery from breast cancer and conventional treatment. Hallelujah! She looked radiant!

To everyone she greeted at the front door, she passed out a calling card with the image of the Anticancer book cover.

“I moved in with my son, and he cooked for me,” she said, attributing her new health to “the book.”

The day before, news came from another friend Sue in Tulare that she was clear of her throat cancer. So grateful. Thank You! Great news from two friends in two days!

So I found the book at Borders and finished reading it today. I’ve heard the brave doctor’s message in bits and pieces for a long time from various sources. We all have. Diet, nutrition, exercise, less stress, balance, etc.

A neuroscientist who battled his own brain cancer, Servan-Schreiber explains how cancer cells behave, what turns them into disease, and how to keep them from growing.

His work ties all the information together, describing the “terrain” our bodies, minds, spirits and emotions need to be well and thrive—before, during, and after illness—citing study after study by other scientists.

He presents the findings in such a way, this time I’m paying attention. For starters, NO SUGAR. (Did you hear that? ;-))

It’s a do-able formula, sounds simple, but can I execute it? I’ll try harder to be good to me, myself, and I. A challenge, to be sure, but it’s time for a new way of life.

“All of us have cancer cells in our bodies” are the first words on the book jacket. “But not all of us will develop cancer.” It’s good to be more aware.

The new edition of Anticancer was written in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-670-02164-2).

There is a short-cut summary of action steps in a subsequent article, “20 new anticancer rules,” at this link, but it leaves out the background (the why) that I found interesting and comprehensive.

Readers also can go to http://www.anticancerbook.com for more information.

Thanks for stopping by my studio.

P.S. Just two more days to see my paintings in a downtown Honolulu exhibit. Here’s the info: https://rebekahstudio.wordpress.com/paintings.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Foods my ancestors ate

20 05 2011

Hakka menu

The theory of eating the foods my ancestors ate for good health came to mind when I saw two board menus recently: a Hakka dinner menu planned by the Tsung Tsin Association in Honolulu, and the day’s local specials at the Heeia Pier General Store and Deli on Oahu.

They reminded me of a model for sustainability presented at the “Chefs & Farmers Facing Future” forum I attended last month: create tighter communities and make friends with your neighbors.

At lunch with Cousin Millie (see my 5/15/2011 post) she asked if we would be interested in joining the Tsung Tsin Association, an international club that practices and preserves the (Chinese) Hakka culture.

We have Hakka genes. Hakka people descend from the Han people and migrated at various times for various reasons from northern China to the south and beyond. Hakka people are still migrating. They are nomadic.

Cousin Audrey Helen and I decided we would go to the Sunday meeting in Chinatown (Millie couldn’t make it) to check it out—for Millie—and report back. What do they do? I asked. Millie said she was told they eat and learn about Hakka culture (in that order). I chuckled.

Everyone the world around agrees eating has priority. There it was on Sunday—a Hakka Dinner Menu posted in the clubhouse. There are no Hakka restaurants on Oahu, but the association found a restaurant in Chinatown that would cook the special menu for them. I thought of my friend Linda.

I met Linda in the Sunset magazine food test kitchens in the Seventies. I left the magazine after a couple of years, and she enjoyed a long career as food editor. When she retired in 2005 Linda planned a trip to China to research Hakka cuisine. It was an eating tour with all the arrangements made, right down to the chef of most meals, by Linda. She needed two more travelers to make up her party of 10 for a group rate, so DH and I did not have to think twice to accept the invitation. All we had to do was pay and show up in Beijing on the appointed day.

There are some basics to Hakka cuisine, but we also found that food took on added flavors from whichever region Hakka people lived.

Both Linda and I will have food books out in 2012—hers the product of her Hakka cuisine research, and mine a reprint of Everyone, Eat Slowly that has recipes and anecdotes of my family. The Tsung Tsin Association members might want copies, I’m guessing.

So that’s the Chinese side.

The other side is part Native Hawaiian. What’s native on the menu below is the “kalua pig,” “guava,” “kalo” and  “o‘io.” And it wasn’t lost on me! These foods are not the traditional plate lunch fare. How refreshing to see what the new chefs like Mark Noguchi are coming up with.

Looks good to me

The eatery that served up local-style food at the end of He‘eia pier, has reopened under new ownership/management, much to my delight. It had been closed for months since the previous owners retired. It is one of the very few ocean-front restaurants on the long coast between Kailua and Haleiwa. DH and I used to bicycle there from the studio for breakfast and watch the fishing boats come and go, or stop there on the drive back from town. Its scenic value is popular with artists.

From this menu, though the other diners recommended the guava chicken, I tried the fried rice. It’s a sautéed mixture of onion, green onion, carrot, egg, bacon, Spam—all diced finely—rice, and (I think) a little oyster sauce.

Island fried-rice breakfast at the counter decorated with snapshots. Wow!

You can sit at the picnic tables or the small counter and listen to the folks talk story, or meander down the dock and watch the people fish for their own food. A man offered me some dried aku he made to go with my fried rice.

He‘eia pier

All this seems to fit in nicely with the message received from the “Chefs & Farmers Facing Future” food forum, organized by shegrowsfood.com and Leeward Community College, whose food service students wanted to give back to the industry that gives so much to them. The event brought together farmers, fishers, aquaculturists, ranchers, chefs, and media reps to explore promoting and using locally produced food for sustainability in our island communities.

The meeting started with the sobering fact that there is only about a 10-days’ supply of food here with most of it arriving by ship or plane.

What I took away from the meeting was the notion that to sustain we should form tighter communities and make new friends with our neighbors within them.

As the Hakka association that takes care of its clan. (My grandmother took care of her own family of 15 and neighbor bachelors by growing vegetables in her victory garden.)

Or the young creative chefs serving dishes with local ingredients, or the man who gave his fish to me, or my own developing garden that sometimes produces enough to share with the neighbors. It’s a great life.

Sweet potato in my garden

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Weekend reflections

24 01 2011

Got up early this morning to write a longer blog post, reflecting on a relaxing weekend.

FRIDAY. How honored I was by a lovely visit from Karen who stopped by after taking her wife Pat to Buddha-Buddha in Hauula for a weekend writing retreat with Mark Travis. Karen and Pat are authors of Courting Equality and spend part of the year in Massachusetts and part of the year in Hawaii. We’ve traveled to Kahoolawe together more than once, and a couple of years ago they stayed in the studio to take care of Alice Brown, Ula and the garden while DH and I went on vacation.

Among other things, Karen and I talked about tai chi over lunch. She left and then I cooked for seven.

I like to cook, especially for others, so I invited my hanai mom Ivalee and her son David and his wife Cherie who live in Alaska, and my friends Becky and Susan. I’d not seen them in a while.

The rain stopped, and it would be a nice drive for them from Honolulu to the windward side of the island. We all had to go to work on Saturday, so it would be an early evening, I promised.

The rain started in December—see my post “Waterfalls and the wet season”—on the day of DH’s birthday dinner, and  most of the guests didn’t make it out. The weather made driving treacherous. I had a bit of food left, plus I’d gone to Costco for that party. I haven’t had to do major shopping since. I just had to look around the freezer and pantry for inspiration to create Friday’s menu. Which was:

Hummus and pita chips / pork casserole with prunes and onion / veggie lasagna / bread /mixed field greens with housewife’s dressing / sachertorte / coffee or tea

Afterward my foodie friend Linda said the menu was “ambitious.” That is often the case with me, and it did feel like TV’s “Dinner Impossible” at times, except that it was possible and I’d planned and envisioned well, figuring out when to prepare each dish so they would all come out at 6 p.m.

I had made all the recipes before. Hummus is easy, I learned from DH’s daughter. The recipe is on the jar of tahini, one of the ingredients. Just make up a batch now and then and keep it in the fridge ready to serve.

I baked the dessert first, giving it time to cool and to free up the oven for the hot dishes.

The pork casserole is more elegant than it sounds. I first made it at Sunset magazine where I worked a long time ago, and where I met Linda—so great that we’ve remained friends. It’s in Quick and Easy Dinners. It bakes in prune juice, but to kick it up a notch I substituted umeshu, Japanese plum wine. Choya brand in the green bottle with the green plums at the bottom is my favorite. It’s from the same fruit, right? 😉 DH always says, “You can make that again.”

While most of the diners are carnivores, Becky is not, so I always like to have something especially for her. The lasagna recipe was meatless. Three kinds of cheese, red pasta sauce and roasted red peppers both from jars would have been adequate to layer between the noodles, but I had some long eggplant to cook up, so I sautéed slices and added them.

The two main dishes baked in the oven at the same time.

I purchased the greens already washed and mixed to save time. To save money, I whisked the dressing myself, using a little olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, a smidgen of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Minced shallots would have been great but I didn’t have any.

I learned to make sachertorte after sailing with Viking River Cruises to Vienna a couple of winters ago. It’s a classic, to be enjoyed with coffee in the ubiquitous coffeehouses there. It’s very chocolatey and meant to be slightly dry. Click on this word recipe.

What I hadn’t planned was a table setting, so I just served buffet style, and seven of us managed to gather around the coffee table to break bread together.

SATURDAY. I gave mini Reiki sessions at the Hawaii Wellness & Healing Expo in Aikahi Park. I do health fairs sometimes in addition to private sessions at my healing space. Although well advertised, the fair was tiny in terms of number of vendors and attendees. Faithful Lori, one of my Reiki teachers and now friend, stopped by with her mom.

There was a high booth vendor fee that I paid to get in, though it wasn’t an issue, really, because I wanted the opportunity to do energy work on people. Channeling Reiki helps me heal, harmonize, and balance myself as much as it helps my clients. There was no charge for folks to experience the Reiki; I worked on a freewill donation basis.

In the end, because of the low turnout, the sponsor gave me a free booth for next time! That will be at Koko Marina in the spring. Thank you so much!

DH, who helped set up and break down the Reiki tent, and I came back to the studio and crashed. In channeling Reiki, I have plenty of energy while with clients, using techniques to clear old stuff and refresh. However, it is work, and at the end of the day, as it is for everyone else, a warm shower and a good sleep are in order. Even the neighbors sipping wine across the driveway at happy hour couldn’t lure us from bed.

SUNDAY. Karen and I agreed to attend a lecture on tai chi chuan together given by Pastor Chris Eng at Waiokeola Congregational Church. The lecture was part of a “Ministry of Healing” series of eight talks. I will be presenting about Reiki at the church on February 13.

Besides being interested in tai chi, I wanted to preview the venue and audience. Karen and I practice Yang style, but we have different teachers and we thought hearing Dr. Eng’s perspective could only add to our knowledge. I said hi to my cousin Barbara who directs the church’s music and healing ministries, and I ran in to my friend Dorothy, a poet, from years past. She looks the same!

Because I don’t drive over the Koolau Mountains for just one thing, I went to Barnes & Noble across the street at Kahala Mall to spend a gift card. My bag included a book on bass playing, O The Oprah Magazine, and Your Chinese Horoscope 2011 by Neil Somerville.

The Chinese fortune reminded me that Rats such as I have a tendency to “become involved in too many schemes and chase after too many opportunities at once.” Haha! “If he [the Rat] can slow down and concentrate on one thing at time, he can become very successful.”

I am not a good multitasker. As 2011 is my year for “expansiveness” too, it looks like I’ll have to be disciplined as well and stay balanced in the upcoming Year of the Rabbit.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Taiji for health

18 11 2009

The WCC Taiji Class had a lovely visit from its master Alex Dong this week. He is a fourth generation Taiji master who was born in China, moved to Hawaii as a boy and attended school here. From Hawaii he moved to New York City and opened schools in many parts of the world. He travels from school to school.

I’ve been attending the class at Windward Community College in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu for only about three years. Class is twice a week and tuition is $40 a month. Once or twice annually, Master Dong returns to teach weekend workshops from which we learn the finer points of the Taiji form, that is “Dong Style Orthodox Taiji” evolved from the Yang and Hao styles.

When he’s not in town, his senior students or appointed teachers lead the class. Students may advance their study during the various workshops taught by Master Dong wherever in the world he gives them. Many combine the workshops with vacation travel abroad—New York, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Brazil, Great Britain, China, Hawaii, for example.

To become more acquainted with Taiji, I’ll refer you to the website alexdongtaiji.com. There I read that Alex Dong comes from a family of Taijiquan masters. His great-grandfather, Grand Master Tung Ying Jie was the national champion of China for many years, and he was a leading disciple of Yang Cheng-Fu, the main proponent of the modern Yang Long Form. Tung Ying Jie also studied with Li Xiang Yuan who was a disciple of Hao Wei Jing founder of the Hao style Taiji. Alex Dong’s grandfather, Grand Master Dong Hu Ling, spread the art in Southeast Asia and the United States, and his father, Grand Master Dong Zeng Chen, is world famous for his skills, especially in Taiji push hands.

Taiji had been recommended to me for exercise, and I do think my health has improved since I began. Balance, concentration and memory, strength, breathing (I am asthmatic, but less so now), energy, grounding, flexibility, posture—these are just some of the aspects of mind, body, and spirit that Taiji addresses.

To give you an idea of how whole Taiji is, I asked the master sifu (teacher) what he did to cross train. He replied, “Nothing. Only Taiji.”

So far I practice all three sections of the slow set and the sabre (knife) set; I practice between classes, read articles and books, and watch the videos of the master performing. My first Taiji teacher Lois explained that learning Taiji is like peeling away the layers of an onion. That is so true! A warm “Thank you!” to all of my teachers.

At this stage of my practice, I have a personal interest in relating the energy work of Taiji to Qigong to Reiki and healing.

For related posts, please see my 9/3/09 entry “Learning about energy healing.”  From the menu bar, Reiki Healing by Oelen, tells about my Reiki practice.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

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