The Tobacco Protection Act of 2015

As I sit here trying (unsuccessfully) to work (so I can: Pay my debts, recover financially, do good, be productive, and provide for my family) when another plea to sign a critical petition to protect my rights to: (fill in the blank here.) This
time it’s about my right to vape, and to make and sell eLiquid. 3 years ago it was over something totally different and I still haven’t seen the end of the scorched earth of that battle. I keep reinventing myself over and over again, but can’t seem to find a way to survive and provide for self and family that isn’t deemed “illegal” eventually. If it helps people, saves lives, makes too much money or gets too much attention…it’s doomed. But we’ll go there another day…today…it’s all about vaping.
IMG_5121The article and petition that were sent my way are critical and so, my productive workday is once again derailed by my government trying to steal/shut down/cripple my chosen career and industry and so, I have spent an hour (next to Alex who has also spent the past hour copying/pasting & sharing) this plea to sign this petition and this critical informative article. I’m feeling exhausted by the constant mind-fuck of the question that keeps circling around my head and burning my brain:   Do “We the people” even exist anymore? Do “We the People” have to rise up and fight?  I believe the answer to all of those questions is “YES”, We definitely exist…and “YES”,  We must unify and fight for our rights or we simply won’t have them anymore. Our “unalienable” rights seem to be disappearing one by one. I suppose I notice more than most people because of the hell I’ve been walking through for the last 3 years.

I often wonder, if Facebook disappeared, would the masses suddenly
wake up from a dream-like state, look around and get seriously pissed off??  Or, would they go grab popcorn and turn on satellite TV and put it on ignore? Is everyone just numb and choosing distraction over seeing the truth?  I read a brilliant blog post today by Michael Siegel that concluded with:

“…FDA must be out of its mind. These deeming regulations should really be called “The Cigarette Protection Act of 2015.” The regulations are an embarrassment to public health. They create stringent requirements for electronic cigarettes, while allowing the much more toxic real cigarettes to remain on the market, unencumbered and unchallenged by competing products that are much safer and that could have otherwise transformed the nicotine freaking_outmarket away from combustible tobacco products, thus saving thousands of lives.

The regulations will decimate the e-cigarette industry, forcing thousands of small vapor shops and e-cigarette sellers out of business. This will no doubt result in many vapers returning to cigarette smokers and many potential quitters from trying to quit using these products….The regulations will also force e-cigarette companies and businesses to lie about the primary purpose and benefit of their products (an aspect of the regulations that I believe violates the free speech rights of the companies and could be successfully challenged in court).

Finally, the regulations do nothing to directly address the known hazards of electronic cigarettes to users, such as lack of battery safety which has resulted in battery explosions, and the presence of carcinogens like formaldehyde in the vapor which could have been prevented by setting standards for proper regulation of voltage and/or temperature.

I can only hope that the OIRA will disapprove the regulations, requiring major changes in the regulatory approach that bring it in line with the concept of public health. Otherwise, thousands of innocent people are going to be harmed in the short-term, and perhaps millions in the long-term.”

That excerpt comes from the article titled: FDA is Out of Its Mind: Deeming Regulations Should Be Called “The Cigarette Protection Act of 2015”; Regs are an Embarrassment to Public Health and Will Decimate the Vaping Industry Read More

12193875_10207704280105484_1293900565477354404_nWe need 17,00 more signatures on the petition to urge the President to reconsider the proposal being put forward by the FDA.
This “Tobacco Protection Act” will kill vaping as we all know it.
Take action today and sign this petition.
Share it with all your friends and family.
With 9 million vapers in the US alone
It will be no problem gathering 100,000 signatures.

If you have not done so please CLICK HERE and take 2 minutes of your time to sign this petition and share it everywhere.   

Every signature counts whether you vape or not.


Little Rock Farmer’s Market

We made a trip to opening day of the Little Rock Farmer’s Market on Saturday May 2nd.  We did so after talking about it for over 5 years and now that Alex and I are eating Paleo and are both on the Whole30, we are eating ultimately more fresh veggies than we can keep in stock, our garden was just planted and D_Alex_LR_050215we committedly support local. I totally miscalculated our morning and family obligations (typical) so, we got there around 2:45pm and found out it “closes” at 3 (not 5pm as I had estimated.) so we only did a portion of the market – however, what we got to see was chock full of fabulous!

We were there til well-after 5pm (because as anyone with a booth-based sidewalk/festival business knows…you don’t close til the last people leave if you want to make extra money.  As Alex and I were jewelry and craft vendors for many years, we often made the most money during the last hour of the last day (when everyone else was closed)…because people come late or wait to make purchases to see everything before they buy “something” and if you are the last booth standing – your something is simply the something they’re buying!  We IMG_1320stumbled upon a few amazing and very cool vendors with super high-quality stuff for great (last hour of the market) prices.

We bought our veggies first and then headed down to the top hippie attraction of the day; Mr Bamboo.  This guy quite literally taught us everything we ever wanted to know about bamboo and then some. We’re getting in touch with him this week to schedule a time to wander a bamboo forest and learn exponentially more.  Our fascination with bamboo came from Bali Indonesia where it grows in major abundance and people are building actual full-on homes out of the amazing (constantly self-replenishing) grass.  It’s brilliant stuff.  You can eat it, build your house with it, landscape with it…the uses are endless…and it’s a grass so you can cut it down and it grows right back!

IMG_1256We walked to Riverfront Steak House (after yelping and finding Whole30 compliant meals we opted for steak and after choking on some of the prices, some of the steakhouses were asking – $60+ for a ribeye?? Please!) We found our location over the river bridge – with AMAZING service, great steak and a totally accommodating staff for our dietary restrictions. The best part of our chosen dinner (time and location) was the walk back over the Arkansas River bridge.

It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve experienced in a very long time. Td_sunset_best_LR050215here were a ton of fantastic quotes in the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon but this one strikes me for the moment:

‘There’s a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it — you can put yourself in the way of beauty.”  

I find myself getting lost in sunsets again.  There’s nothing like letting myself get drawn into their beauty, and up and out of my mitote (me-toe-tay: Described in The Four Agreements as the cacophony of voices in your head. See below.) Alex and I have a pinky-swear agreement to stop everything we’re doing and take the time to be with each other (whether we are together or apart physically), in totally zen space, watching it set.

I am also very grateful to sunset for the gift of being able to dump my baggage (on one of life’s less than perfect days) into that big ball of fire at the end of each day and watch it extinguish into darkness. I often hear the voice of one of my very dear friends (that I haven’t had the honor of speaking to in far too longsaying “When you have a truly lousy day D, just remember…you’ll never have to live through that one again.”

Back to Little Rock…

d_LR_templeguardiand_HULee_exitWe decided to find some good live music, so we googled what was happening and found what we were looking for at Club Rev, so we walked back over the bridge, feeling nourished, relaxed and happy.  We stumbled on a very cool garden space that reminded us of Thailand on our way to the music.  It was a groovy little space that was well-thought-out and felt totally zen and isolated from the hustle and bustle on the city street right beyond it’s very cool, authentic gate.

Until next time,  Peace…xo  




The Dawn of the Dread

392272_4383437664571_537099055_nIn 2007 Alex & I took off on an adventure. I had ALWAYS wanted to back pack the planet and the kids were with their dad, so for the first time in 19 years I had the ability to do it and took the opportunity. It was the most spectacular 2 years of my entire life.  I have way more to see and pray that another (possibly longer) tour is in my cards.  Fingers and toes crossed.

When we traveled, the way WE liked to do it was to pick a place and stay as long as we liked. We hit places on the way to and from one destination to the next, that sounded cool or that caught our eye on the road. We had the best experience that way. We either slept or rested up or stayed awhile, depending on the vibe and surroundings. Sometimes it was just over night, others (like in the Transkei of South Africal at the Backpackers called Amapondo or at the Sanctuary on Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand it was a full 6 weeks. We spent 12 weeks living in the rice paddies in Ubud, Bali Indonesia doing detox and cleanses and touring the island. Our last stop was Kathmandu Nepal, where we lived (and worked) for 8 solid months. 223291_1055492588024_6070_nMore on that later. There were a ton of amazing people and places in between and it was during those 2 years I increased the ink art on my skin and fell in love with dreads.

In my experience some of the most conscious, intelligent and unique people I’ve met in the world to date (aka., many of the people I want to be more like) were dreadies. Beyond the fact that I find them to be utterly beautiful, I found that most of the dreadie women that I met possessed so many beautiful and attractive qualities; they eminated the kindest and humblest juju, operated in both patience and wisdom…and confidence exuded from them as if simply knew who they were in the room and in the world.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t meet amazing people without dreads.  I did.  I met brilliant, beautiful souls that taught me incredible things that I will cherish for eternity…in every body style, fashion sense, culture, gender, race, creed, color and sexual orientation. However, I didn’t want to become one of them…I wanted to become a dreadie.  I wanted to gain access and acceptance into the dread community and to experience the process, and the freedom. I wanted what they had and there was only one way to get it.

Follow Dawn Wright-deBrantes’s board Dreads on Pinterest.

Fast-forward 7 years, into and through returning to the US, my “come-back” in the business realm, my fall in said realm and the transformative process of scorched-earth days, 3 years of (the other kind of) dread, and a total annihilation of life-as-I-knew it. Gone was my liberty, money, home, car, pretty much everything I’ve worked for for 25 years including the respect I’d earned among my peers…poof…gone. (More on that later) Suffice it to say that I prayed (and still pray) for the wisdom, patience, strength, courage and well…a deeper connection to God & Mother Earth to get through it all, because it’s not even close to done yet. All of the hammering (by self and others) had left me with a desperate need to feel connected to the earth, those women, the travelers and the other side of the planet (where my spirit and body healed once) and I simply could not/cannot/choose not to go there physically at this time without paying a price I’m simply not willing to pay. I longed/long 554761_3566823729733_1364221945_nfor; the drums and wildlife of Africa and the seas, pirates and islands of Thailand, the volcanoes and rice paddies of Bali and the healing waters, fire and freedom of them all. However, I needed them delivered to my landlocked doorstep right here in Arkansas. I wanted dreads. I needed them.  I needed to do this for all of the reasons above.
But, (yep, there wasn’t just one “but”… there was a huge list of them…which was why I hadn’t done it in years 1 through 7!) I had grown up a hair bear since birth and have toted long, silky hair most of my life…so my pull to tangle it all into individualized “rat’s nests” and the knowledge that I would either have to cut or endlessly untangle them if I didn’t like them was terrifying.  I wrestled with myself over the decision (I decided to get married without blinking…but THIS? This was my HAIR! 🙂 (get the picture?) So, I made the jump…with both feet…after torturing myself over it for a solid 7 years. 🙂

I am happy to say that I am finally a full-fledged dread-head. At 18 months into the process I have gone through every emotional response I can have to them.  I have experienced triumph, exhilaration, frustration, pain, relief…and many more (some all of the above in a single day.) I talk to them and refer to them like they are living, breathing entities with mind of their own (notice the use of “them” instead of “it” which is how I used to refer to my hair.) This is a totally accurate pronoun however, because they are alive and have a serious mind of their own!10404664_10203735268042663_333818943_o

I have to say that without a few killer YouTube tutorials and Pintrest pics that gave me a tip or ten – and ALOT of Tiger Balm for my tendonitis and arthritis 🙂 – I would’ve given up.  I read somewhere that baby and toddler dreads under 2 years old were just that…”unruly toddlers.” I want whoever wrote that to know that THAT one statement actually supported me in keeping them and sticking it out.  I am closing in on the 2 year mark and sincerely look forward to it.  I (more than anything) look forward to my super long 8yr dreads that I can pile up perfectly without so much tucking.
When I began on this journey, I thought “piece of cake” – but the first year was a TON of work.  I don’t have a head of hair that simply tangled and said “oh hey…no problem” when I teased it. I have a head of SUPER healthy, shiny, beautiful hair that many people ooo’d and aaaahhhh’d over so it was resistant (and still can be) to simply staying put. I enjoy not HAVING to wash it all the time – but when I do…I look like Garfield coming out of the fluff cycle of a tumble dryer. 🙂 Thank you layers and breakage.  I color my hair every 4-6 weeks with a temporary color because I hate the big line of regrowth – but I could 2014-08-23 17.46.24use the damage (damaged hair dreads easier) so it’s a lot of learning to think differently.  I think the most significant thing I’ve realized about dreading my hair was the attachments and projections that OTHER people had/have to my hair and that so MANY people react to them – either positively…or negatively.
I once had a man I’d never met call me a rooster and tell me I look stupid.  I had to refrain from my NY Italian hot-bloodedness taking over and DIDN’T tell him that “at least I can fix my hair” with the seething up and down look thing. (See Exhibit A. Growth) 🙂  I DID however question why what I chose to do with my hair (being a woman he didn’t know and has no relationship to whatsoever) bothered him so much that he would socially accost and demean another human being with the desire to make them feel bad?  I mean seriously…why would he care?  I then realized that he ALSO had an ego SO BIG that he felt that somehow I would care enough to change my hair for HIM.  LOL People can be really silly.
Then there was family.  Alex and I have one rule really.  It’s “I go…You go.” So, I asked if he would go with me, he said “sure” and he did.  3 weeks later he had taken every last dread out of his head.  He hated them in every way. I was on my own.  My hair was almost touching my ass and that left me humbled and begging for the support of my family (and specifically Alex)2014-03-23 17.18.27 when I knew that each one took at LEAST an hour to just get SORTA done. One of my daughters resisted me fully.  I have pictures of her resting “I’m so pissed I’m doing this” face.  See Exhibit B  on the right (gulp).
My Cancerian daughter (who despises change) was really angry with me over it 18 months ago…but seemingly (hopefully)
loves them as much as I do now.  (I don’t actually know that, because I’m afraid to ask).  Sometimes I find it’s simply easier
not to ask and assume the positive feedback exists silently (the alternative is that I would have to not care which I’m certain is more in-line with the point of dreads.). My other two off-spring decided it was cool in a hot second and I’m SO grateful for all of my family’s support because they and “they” mean the world to me.
On the flip side of the resistance of others, other dreadies, and people who understand fully the commitment they are and what it means internally to dread ones hair, are insta-family. 🙂 That part truly rocks. My first first experience of it what when I was 6 months in.  I was extending them so I didn’t look ridiculous for my son’s wedding and I had business to look semi-professional for.  Enter this guy on a massive fork-lift at a vape event in Las Vegas. I hear a booming “YO DREADIE SISTAH!!” and I look up 40ft up and there is a beautiful dreadie male of some SouthEast Asian heritage who pounds his fist to his heart twice and yells; “RESPECT on the dreads!” I beamed like sunshine the rest of the day.  I never got a chance to thank him.
I suppose that’s where a great deal of the growth and spirituality inherent in this process comes from. There is little understanding out there in the first world about dreads.  People thought I’d be dirty, that I wouldn’t care anymore about my appearance and that I would be the apology they’d have to make at the next dinner party. Some of the members of my family thought I had done lost my mind.  My BFF who own a salon in CT (who I count on for support on all of my “looking good” stuff) also thought it was a terrible idea. She simply didn’t like dreads. So those things made the decision to take the plunge ALL about ME.  What did I want and what did I think?  I wanted dreads.  I knew why.  I thought they’d look awesome and Gypsy HippieDivathat I could totally pull them off.  Fashion + spirituality.  I’ve never had my HAIR actually MEAN something until now.
I’ve never really been the fitting-in type.  I’m more of a “step-up and stand out” personality, so I want everything about me to be unique and to represent who I am, and who I intend to be.  I find conformity deadly to creativity and believe FULLY in self-expression through every available channel which for me, includes my accessories. It’s a true state of beingness.  So for me…this an extremely worthy process to undergo.
To the countless women (and quite a few men) who have walked up to me and marveled, touched and communicated how much they love my dreads and want them themselves, thank you.  Thank you for being my “feel good”, balcony people.  They get me through the maintenance days and the times I want to cry over not having thought through the water-jet head massage. 🙂 They keep me going…really.
I will do my best to offer advice on dread products, how to dread, dread maintenance, dread frizz and dread resources…as an ongoing series and as I have it – it will be yours.  I commit to do my very best to save you some of the headaches (both literally and figuratively) that come flying solo with this process, by writing about what I have found did and did NOT work for me in upcoming posts (pinky swear). However, I’m saving that for another day and another post. It’s time to water our BRAND NEW GARDEN!! (Thanks to Carrie Delaney – Pintrest cdelaney77) for all of her amazing tips and her leading me to: How to use pallets (instead of tilling!!) Woooo Hoooo! My Whole30 just got $600 a month cheaper :).
Always remember to love yourself unconditionally.
Once you can do that, you can unconditionally love others.
We all have our own shit to deal with, it goes with the territory.
Learn the lesson. Put the hammer down.
Ignore the haters.
Learn to hear and accept solid feedback given in safe space with humility and gratitude.
There’s a big difference between the two.
Know who you are.  If you don’t…go figure it out.
Choose to be comfortable in your own skin.  It’s yours…you may as well wear it with confidence.
If you don’t like something…change it.  You created it and you can eliminate it.
The choice is ALWAYS YOURS.
That’s it for now,
I’m outta here! Peace…xo