Thursday, April 28, 2011

Basa Body Giveaway!

Last Friday, I hopped in the "matatu" (Swahili for "rickety van w/ no air conditioning") with my group and headed over to the Coast Coconut Farms factory to see just how extra virgin coconut oil is made. I'm a holistic kind of a gal and I'm really into essential oils and the best kinds of cooking oils, so I was excited to see just how they extract it.

We met the sweet people that work there (did I mention this is a company with CEOs who don't take any payment? The factory is there solely to provide jobs for the people. All profits go back into the company and into the hands of the Kenyans who work there. Pretty sweet.).

When the coconuts are harvested, the workers slice them open by hand with their machetes. The milk is de-lish!

The coconuts are dried in an enormous oven to take out the water and make it easier to extract the oil.

After the meat is cut out of the coconut, they shred it and press it into 100% organic, extra virgin coconut oil. The oil is sold to the health food industry or put right into Basa Body skin products.
It's quite remarkable to learn about the MANY health benefits of coconut oil. I have used it to cook with for years because it is one of the few oils that doesn't get denatured in the heating process. But now I'm just learning how much my skin loves this stuff! As my pregnant belly has been growing, I've been putting it all over my tummy when it starts itching and it takes the itch away immediately. I'm hoping it helps reduce any possible new stretch marks as well. I've also been loving it on the dry patches of my face. And how can anything else compete with the amazing scent?

I tell you what, I'll give a package of some Basa Body products away including hand-crafted soap, a moisturizing coconut oil stick, Raspberry-Coconut lotion, and delicious peppermint lip butter. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me that you found Basa Body on Facebook and "liked" them (and if you're extra cool, you'll tell me a positive factoid about coconut oil - just because I want to learn more). The giveaway ends Sunday night. I'll announce the winner on Monday, May 2nd!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sugar = Poison?

Photo by Ryan Gledhill

My stay in Kenya has caused me to pause and think more deeply on my culture. I love my culture, but I am beginning to conclude that my continual exposure to it has made me blind to certain aspects of it that may not be serving me. For example, as silly as it sounds, I've noticed that most of the village people here in Kenya have amazing teeth. Yet, the villagers don't brush their teeth. Genetics? Maybe. But I can't help but think about the fact that they don't eat any sugar here. The same day I was pondering on my little observation, I came across this article by Dr. Robert Ludwig, claiming that refined sugar is a poison just as toxic as alcohol and cigarettes are to the body. Do you think that's true? I think I might. The fact that I can hardly stand the thought of giving it up makes me also wonder if it's an addictive substance as well. Does this thought make you uncomfortable after you've just indulged in Jelly Bellies and Peeps? Sorry! I'm only thinking out loud. Hope you had a wonderful Easter! I spent mine in the Masai Mara on Safari. More on this soon. Internet access has been very limited. Isn't it wonderful?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kenya: Chapter 2 - Yehu

(All photos courtesy of the one and only: Ryan Gledhill)

I have spent the last two days in a frenzy of tribal song, dance and food with rural village women and their young ones. These women meet every 1 to 2 weeks as part of a micro-credit organization called "Yehu" (meaning "Our Bank" in their native dialect). "Yehu" began in 1999 as one of the many brilliant ideas of Luis Pope and friends (below). Luis, along with 4 other donors, chipped in $5,000 each to start a micro-credit lending program to 300 eager women. Now, the organization has flourished into 20,000 women in 200 different villages. These women meet every one to two weeks in small groups called "Centers," many walking more than 10 kilometers in bare feet on native dirt roads to the meetings. At the meetings they make payments toward their loans, bond with their "sisters" and catch up on the latest gossip. When a woman takes out a loan for her business, she does it as part of a group of 5 women who act as co-signers for each other. That way, if a woman can't make her payment, everyone has to chip in to help her. This also creates a certain level of responsibility for each woman to hold up her end of the bargain. Statistics show that women who take out a micro-credit loan through Yehu are eventually able to at least double their daily earnings of about 50 cents a day to $1-$2 a day. Pretty amazing, right?

Meet Luis Pope: founder of Yehu, Basa Body and Coast Coconut Farms (all organizations that provide jobs for the people of Kenya. He takes no salary from these businesses).

A "Yehu" Center Meeting

A village "Grandmother."

The colors here are so vibrant. The women wrap their bodies in these gorgeous "kangas."

Women in Yehu groups typically sell things like mangos, coconuts, makuti (thatched roofing), fish, donuts, kangas, cashews, coal, and a few might run a small hotel.

We sang and danced with each other after all banking transactions were taken care of (my favorite part!).

The children here are so well behaved and adorable. During the meetings, older siblings will look after the young ones and carry the babies on their backs in a kanga wrap.

If you'd like to make a donation to Yehu, then click here. To receive 10% off of any scrumptious Basa Body pure coconut oil product, click here and use the code: mindy. Want to try the products first? You can find Basa Body products at Cherry Lane Boutique in Provo, UT on 500 N. University Ave. Tell them "Large Marge sent ya!" Just kidding. Tell them that Mindy sent you :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kenya: Chapter 1 (and some big news!)

Last year, I was reading one of Cjane's blog posts as I so relish doing in the mornings. My heart nearly leaped out of my chest when I read one particular morning that she was to be making a journey to Africa with Basa Body.

"TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!!" I swiftly typed into the comments section next to 334 others with the same plea.

I'm not sure how it all went down after that, but I do remember a phone call where I begged one more time.

"Let me see what I can do," the Ceej replied.

Really? She's actually going to see if Basa Body would let me tag along? I wished hopefully, not ever really thinking she would take me seriously. But in my past experience, Cjane has proven to be a grantor of many wishes for me, so why should I have been surprised at her generosity? I do love that girl. Anyhoo, it seemed that months had passed until I heard from her again on the subject. I received an unexpected call from her one afternoon. She explained that Basa Body was going to Kenya in August 2011 and she didn't feel right about going because she and Chup were feeling it was time to try for a baby again.

"Would you be interested in going in my place?" she queried.

YES. YES. YESSSSS!!!! My joy could not be contained.

Not more than a few weeks later, I was very surprised to find out that I was actually expecting a baby myself; a baby that was due in August 2011. With mixed feelings, I called Cjane to tell her that I could not go to Kenya anymore. BUT, by some great fortune, Basa Body changed the trip to April 2011 and invited us to both come. Once more, my joy could not be contained.

THEN, Cjane found out that she too was expecting. She had been very sick and I believe that she still is, the poor dear. You will send a prayer her way, won't you? So, sadly, she is not here with me now. But I am thinking of her and want to express my gratitude towards her and her wish-granting ways. Hence, although I still don't fully comprehend how or why I was chosen to come on this trip, I can definitely trace much of it back to my dear friend. Thank you, Courtney!

So, without further ado, I'll give you my first day here in pictures. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about these sensational people and what I am learning from them (with new and improved pictures!).

P.S. When this trip is through, I will be exactly 6 months along.

P.P.S. If you are reading my posts, then Basa Body would like to offer you 10% off on any purchase that you make with them online. The redemption code is : mindy. If you live in Utah County, you can buy their products only through Cherry Lane Boutique on 500 N. and University Ave. in Provo. Tell them I sent you. Trust me, you will die for their lotion and you will feel good knowing that your money goes towards providing the people here with sustainable jobs, not just a one time hand-out.

Mombasa, Kenya, Day 1

My morning walk on Diani Beach where I observed fishermen casting their nets and collecting mussels in the tide pools. (Side note: I ventured out into a wasteland of seaweed, washed up on the shore that I somehow got stuck in. Yes, I walked through rotten seaweed up to my knees for 200 yards. Don't ask me how.)

Played with the children of the workers at Shamba La Salama.

This is Clinton. Too bad I didn't get a shot of his brother, Nixon. Honest.

Visiting the Coast Coconut Farms factory where the coconuts are pressed into oil.

A woman cuts open the coconuts with her machete.

The coconuts are pressed into 100% organic, virgin coconut oil and stored in drums.

We visited some of the homes of the factory workers and met their families. Meet Monaisha and her new baby. Isn't she gorgeous?

A typical home of a villager. The interior is dark (no light, no plumbing, no water) with dirt floors. Seeing the way these people live and observing how loving and happy they are makes me question whether or not it matters that they go without the creature comforts I have come to expect in my life.

A village woman weaving a mat.

The lovely Page Checketts, walks with the village grandmother. Page is ready to give up everything and transport her family here to live in the village.

Page and I have had many discussions on whether or not people from developed countries are helping or harming these villagers by bringing "relief" to the people here. They seem so incredibly happy. While I think that providing clean water, education, jobs and some basic health care needs are valuable, most everything else seems unnecessary. More on this tomorrow. I'm curious as to what you think . . .

Kwaherini! (Goodbye, everyone!).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Law of Attraction?

"Shamba la Salama" (The Peaceful Farm): our host family's haven here on the beautiful coast of Mombasa, Kenya.

Do you believe in the Law of Attraction? On the drive from the airport to Diani Beach in Mombasa, I marveled at peddlers, trash heaps, colorful buildings, the occasional clan of bony milk cows and women balancing baskets atop their heads.

"Will someone remind me how I got invited on this trip?" I asked the team of people in the van while pinching myself.

Truth be told, no one could really answer. The hosts of this trip hardly even know that I'm a professional musician, so surely, that's not why I was invited. While preparing for this voyage, people kept asking me why I was going to Africa, and I hardly knew how to answer. I like to think that it's a manifestation of a scene I have envisioned in my life over and over; a true confirmation that the Law of Attraction is real. "What you think about, you bring about," just like the saying goes. Do you believe that this is true? I'm not saying that I'm on this journey because of my own doing. I do believe that God gives blessings undeserved. But by the same token, he also gives us the power to create our own experiences on this earth, whether they be positive or negative.

During the next 9 days, I'll begin to unravel the mystery of how this journey through villages, beaches and coconut farms came to be, what treasures of knowledge are waiting to be unearthed and how some amazing people who thrive on risk and adventure started it all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Hotel Cafe

Stumbling into bed now.
Tonight's show at The Hotel Café was literally a dream come true.
Joe Corcoran is my hero. My guitar hero.
Many thanks to all who showed their support and came!
Leaving for Kenya in the morning.
Fading fast.
Must sleep.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feeling It All

Lately, I've stuffed my life so full of commitments and obligations that my buttons are fixing to bust any minute. The dizzying haze surrounding my head forced me to my bed this afternoon, where I lay, staring at the diagonal wooden slats in the ceiling. All I could feel was a numbness from head to toe.

This isn't how I want my life to be. I thought to myself. Yet, hadn't I been the one to create this blank void where nary a feeling could abide?

Yes. I had created it.

Then, I got to thinking that if I could create such an intense void, I also had the power to create an intense space of joy. This moment of enlightenment was further confirmed to me when I had a visit with my, ahem, therapist. She brought to light the fact that I have been allowing someone in my life bully me. What about life itself? Have I allowed
it to bully me?

Yes. Perhaps I had allowed it to do so.

So, tonight, I did what is so very hard for me to do, and I picked up my phone and disappointed a few people by canceling some things. Fascinating how my muscles have already relaxed in my shoulders a little. Interesting how I'm feeling my own breathing pattern again.

By Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., all I want to do is take the stage at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles and feel
everything. This is the joy that performing is for me and I don't want to waste it for a minute as an overly-scheduled, basket case-zombie girl. It will be magic, because I am willing to feel it all from the vibration of my lips near the microphone to the tips of my fingers on the keys. Here's hoping that you who come will feel it too.

This show means a lot to me and if you know anyone in the Orange County or L.A. area, I would surely appreciate it if you would kindly let them know about it. I have such great readers. All the show details can be found HERE.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Leaving for Africa

Tonight, after I put my boys to bed, I came downstairs to find the sunroom door cracked open, displaying my 6'3" husband, teaching himself to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on ukulele. It kind of melted my heart. But knowing why he was learning a song on the ukulele was the real clencher. You see, this week, we're going on a trip to Kenya where we'll be doing music time with school kids and teaching business workshops to women. I asked him if he'd learn some songs on the uke to accompany me with. The lovely thing about my husband is that he can teach himself to do anything (and no, he's never picked up a uke before in his life).

Why and how did we get this opportunity? A very amazing company by the name of Basa Body is taking us on this adventure. Basa Body is a company that was established to provide economic wealth and opportunities to women in Kenya. The women harvest wild coconuts on the coast of Kenya and extract the oil by hand. With this organic, virgin coconut oil, Basa Body makes the most delicious lotions, soaps, lip butters and facial products, all with minimal and natural ingredients. They also donate a portion of the proceeds back to these women in Kenya. My hands crack easily and I have absolutely loved their lotion (Raspberry is my very favorite). I keep a bottle on my nightstand and rub it all over my hands before I go to bed every night.

As I prepare for this trip, I want to know if any of you have been to Kenya or anywhere in Africa, for that matter. What advice do you have for a girl who has never been? I would love to know how you survived the long trip over there.

Follow along with me here on my blog as I document my preparations to leave as well as my adventures during my time there.

Much Love,

P.S. I still have one show in L.A. on April 14th at the Hotel Cafe the day before I leave for Africa! (details HERE).

P.P.S. Right now, Basa Body is offering a 10% discount to my readers if you buy any of their yummy products online HERE. The coupon code is : mindy. Now, you can also buy Basa Body products at Cherry Lane Keepsakes Boutique on 500 N. and Univeristy Ave. in Provo, UT.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekend Plans

My Lovelies,

I had one of the most endearing concerts I've ever had last night at Velour. Thanks to all who came. If you missed it, then you might like this tidbit of news:

TONIGHT: I am giving a FREE workshop on developing your talents at the oh, so darling Cherry Lane Keepsakes Boutique on 500 N. and University Ave. in Provo, UT. I'll share my story of how I became a singer-songwriter and recording artist and give you tips on how to develop your own talents while building self-confidence. And yes, I'll be singing a few songs as well. This would be the perfect girls' night out. (But gentlemen, you can totally come too). The workshop starts at 7 PM. Come one, come all!

And now, a few photos of last night's show:

The crowd!

Julie Feeney and her rainbow stockings are amazing.

Me and Julie!

Had the honor of singing "Saddest Song" with Parlor Hawk.