A’Kai Silks

  • elven capri
  • balance
  • on this one I let the pink colors trickle down on purpose to create a flower appearance
  • showing Stephen Kaminanda the vortex

Latest

stagnation.. letting go

Many people who have a near death experience witness their life passing before them in minutes.  I was not near death yesterday, but for the previous days I had been elevated in a dance induced euphoria.  The body felt weightless (and limitless) .. I often joke how I’m ready to trade in the human body form to take on another form.. preferably something that can fly. It was a very unusual day and as I settled back into a non-euphoria state, (no drugs or alcohol, this is solely induced by dance/music) , I felt as if the last 15 years of my life was not flashing but pounding like a heartbeat.

I had felt quite certain about where I was headed , suddenly every lesson (many repeated a few times for full impact) and some of the resulting experience/wisdom surfaced .  What I had thought were some tempting options with regards to career, lifestyle, balance of other things.. which before had seemed easy options to strive for, suddenly halted.  Like multiple doors slamming shut.  Slamming.

I do not understand where this sudden feeling came from but I was metaphorically balling up every wish, dream, idea, hope .. into a tangle of fishing wire, setting it on fire, and dispersing the ashes over the ocean.  Metaphorically.  Some of those dreams are decidedly outdated and must be put away.

But it left me feeling lifeless and I shut down.  I wanted to escape my own head but it was there to remind me all day.  I yanked a lifeless body around and tried to still my mind in the woods.. a temporary fix.  It leaves one breathless to have 15 years of life pounding on you, demanding attention.  I tried to let the waves take me out, surrender, go with the flow, roll with it.  I talked myself out of boarding a plane and heading to a remote location off the grid and disconnecting indefinitely to the cyber world.  I waited for the chaos of thoughts to soothe .

Today is a bit more settled.  Yesterday still hangs over like..well a hangover .  It’s too much to think about .  It’s too much to push aside.  I have no answers.  I don’t even know what to decide on.  15 years surfaced and slid into the ocean, threatening to take me with it, with no snorkel.

Letting go is a hard process, one I should have experience with.  I hoped for clarity after the storm but now it feels a bit stagnant.. so I wait.  And try not to think about it too much.  What a long strange trip it’s been.

are we getting close up and personal?

Have you ever experienced a sense of accomplishment only to realize you still have a long ways to go?  The sun has set on another day, now mid March 2015, and the tasks seem to have multiplied.

Sunset Hawaii

The final samples are due to arrive on March 23, making their global trek from Bali, Indonesia.  Which is great, I will have new, custom made clothing to wear and if all goes well, I can offer some really attractive pieces to the public.  I enjoy tracking the progress on the blog, but I’m quickly running out of teaser photos.  In October, I had a few photos of the clothing taken.  They were more useful as “concept” photos (and an excuse to be in the trees again).  Along the way, my team and I have had to work on dye color corrections, establishing a paypal account (we are still struggling with that one).  I did not anticipate so many setbacks.  When I have an idea in mind and have spent a chunk of change on initial investments (fabric, shipping, pattern making, dyeing and re-dyeing) , I get impatient and pray that things will work out.  I did not set out to make stylish clothing to get rich, it was a self serving need because I refuse to pay $70 for a basic black blouse at Macy’s that’s made out of cheap fabric and has no originality to it.  The perils of island living.  Stubborn behavior and a need for well fitting clothing has kept this wheel turning.  I want to get excited that it’s so close to completion, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Aside from straightening out a paypal account so that I can pay my team, I’ve been preparing sizing charts, finalizing prices, and researching various other online store venues.

Sizing: Part of my original motivation to have clothing made for myself.  At a tall 5’8″ body frame, most stores have sizes that fall short.  I need the length because I am tall, but a large size garment that will accomodate my height ends up hanging like a billowing tent.  Boooo!  After some experimentation, I figured out that layering separates is better.  Wrap tops have become my best friend.  Now I can wear a slim fitting tank and a wrap top that shapes nicely around the cleavage without hanging straight down like a potato sack.

Bear with me on the photos, since everything is still currently with the team in Bali, I am unable to take more photos.  I have discovered that photographing dark colored clothing is a challenge because it does not show detailing or stitching.  White can appear washed out too.  But I’m building a framework with what I have, it will all come together.

This is a close up photo of one of the wrap tops.  I was not able to close in on the detailing along the outer cuffs of the arms.  It’s super cute and is perfect for layering.   The ties allow for easy adjustment and look!  I do have a waist !

DSC_0107

Here’s a pic of the cranberry yoga top underneath.  I wish I could zoom in a bit more.  The cut outs are really cute .  This top is one of the most comfortable pieces I own.  Great for yoga workouts, absorbent for hiking, and it has a flattering shape without being too tight.  You can wear a yoga bra underneath it (pictured here with black , but for a fun color mix , a dark teal looks awesome and is so “A’Kai.”   An added benefit to this top is that it can be worn with the cut outs in back.  Unwrap the white top for aerial silk class and you have a form fitting top.  After class, the white top can be worn , instantly transforming the outfit into something with long sleeves in case it’s chilly out.

DSC_0091

I have never been a fan of shorts.  But occasionally it’s nice to mid length pants to hike in when the trail is muddy and you don’t want to drag the ends through mud.  I never thought I would wear something with “ruffles.”  A fellow hula hooper convinced me when learning knee hooping that it’s useful to feel the hoop around the back of your knees.  Voila, capri length pants.  No, I protested, tall chicks in ruffle capris, huh uh.  They look cute on petite girls.  After wearing them I was sold.

Here’s a pic that shows a bit of a close up along the ruffles.  I don’t like the word ruffles.  Can we call them.. petals?  Or leaflets?  I’ve seen something similar sold in the yoga shops, I tried them on and was shocked over the price, and the fact that in outdoor light, you could see right through them.  The fabric we are using is thicker.  It’s not bulletproof but you can relax knowing all the stretching you are doing is not going to split them down the middle.  Yeah baby!

ruffle capri

Versatility:  I have always been a fan of clothing that can mix and match up with other clothing separates.  I love having multiple users for one article of clothing.

The high low dress with its attractive lace up tie can also be worn as a long skirt.  Check out the back of the dress (I like to wear it strapless style for a sexy outdoor style).

high low dress

This same dress is also a high low skirt.  I love wearing it with the lace up detailing over the butt, it can also be turned to wear with the lace up over one side.  You now have something equally as perfect for the office.

high low skirt

Here’s another style of skirt I’m working on that is definitely more of a casual beach style.  The splits over each leg make it easier to walk in (or hoop in).  The splits over each leg allow for enough room to wear your favorite thigh high boots.  This one is still in progress..

double split beach skirt

Another clothing item you could not convince me I would wear is a snug fitting mini skirt over a pair of pants.  A benefit to these slim fitting pants is that the mini skirts (which will be sold separate so that they can be paired up with other pants) fit beautifully without getting all bunched up .  Again I will attempt to get more close up photos of the detailing but hopefully this photo shows off the somewhat scalloped style.  The white mini skirt in the photo below is worn over a pair of split leg pants that has a more relaxed fit.  The mini can be substituted out for a fringed hipscarf for a boho style.

mini skirt

Here’s another photo of the same mini skirt worn over the split leg pants.  The mini helps streamline the entire outfit so you can layer your outfit without adding more bulk.  Shown here with the sleeveless hooded cardigan.  Because you never know when you may need a hood.  This photo also shows the fun side split in the pants, held closed by buttons.  You see where I’m going with this?  Separates that can be layered in endless combinations and colors.  Are you cold at the office because someone has decided to use the air conditioner again?  That sleeveless cardigan wraps smoothly over a long sleeve top as well.  Layers not only add color but can be conveniently added to adjust your body temperature to the environment.

mini skirt with cardigan

There is one style of mid length pants that has an attached mini skirt.  They have become my favorite elven hike in the woods pants.  The mini skirt is sewn in to the pants and I like how the pointy corners of the skirt mimic the bottom edge of the pants.  These are really fun!  Shown here with the classic V neck princess top.

elven capri

Colors:  The use of color has always been an  important part of A’Kai Silks.  I have some ideas of what I’d like to do regarding color but I’ll be starting with some well liked basics.  For now I’m playing with photo editing to give an idea of how some of the chosen colors will look.  Except for the long sleeved hooded wrap, the clothing will be solid colors and lean towards earthy vamp shades in deep forest, burgundy, magical purple, jeweled teal, black, etc.  You might see some very subtle gradient colors on the long sleeve wrap, only because the shape of the garment lends itself perfectly to some excellent two tone ombres.  With the exception of white since I love how the split leg pants turned out, the color palette will be in rich, deep color hues.  This will require more photos once the final package is here.  For now, below are some general ideas of colors based on the lace up hooded black dress.

vampire red  forest green

In the next section I’ll share some ideas of how and where I’ll be listing items for sale to the public.  Although I have an open etsy store that gets a good deal of traffic, etsy requires a very long questionaire with photos and details about my team in Bali.  All information I have shared here in the blog post.  I’ll get on that soapbox next time around.  Stay tuned..

The flower is almost ready to bloom

I am not always the most patient kind of person, especially when I have ideas about something and I want to turn it into something tangible.

We are one step closer to being ready to offer the organic cotton blend yoga clothing to the public.  We have tested different fabrics, dyed colors, and I have had the fun job of wearing the sample items around to test their flexibility and durability.

A brief history:  A couple of years ago when I visited Costa Rica, I found a lovely boutique that sold a variety of shirts made from organic cotton fabric.  There was nothing particularly fancy about the tops but I bought four of them because they were loose fitting, comfortable, easy to wash, and were perfect for the humid environment.  They proved to be worth the cost of quality fabric.  I spent the rest of the trip wearing these tops.  Two years later they remain my favorite pieces to wear, and after multiple washings, they remain intact and wonderfully comfortable.

I toyed with the idea of sourcing organic cotton fabric to make clothing items but the idea went on the backburner since I was working full time as a registered nurse.  I knew I wanted to combine styles that were perfect for dance and hula hooping, offering flexibility and comfort but also stylish enough to wear outside of the studio.  Something like a cross between resort or island wear, and yoga/dance wear.  With the help of skilled seamstresses, we were able to create a simple but stylish line of separates, which will grow in diversity over time.

My team is my “second family” residing in Bali, Indonesia.  I had the opportunity to spend time with them a few years ago when I vacationed in Bali.  We remained in contact and I finally decided it was time to see if we could make this happen.  While China may dominate certain manufacturing markets (as I discovered on my trip to Shanghai many years ago), I discovered that there were many skilled artisans who work collectively in Bali.  It was a family style environment and was much smaller scale, enabling me to commit to a start up without taking out a loan and paying for large minimum orders.  Over the years I have enjoyed working with international suppliers, those in China who made the silk half circle veils in plain white (so that I could dye them) , we also experimented with nightgown designs and silk dresses.  I worked with a supplier in India as well, one who has become a long time friend and although she no longer makes the sequin skirts that I used to offer, we remain in contact.

Fast forward to Bali, and the wonderful family team I met on my trip.  My production manager, Ko, oversees the pattern creation, the color selections, and overall quality/production of the clothing.  When I visited Bali, Ko was an excellent host and we spent many hours traveling by motorbike to different fabric suppliers.  Ko and I spent a lovely day sightseeing as well, he took me to Tanah Lot, then we drove up north and enjoyed some of the best tea I’ve ever had.  We ended the day with a sunset dinner in Ubud, a place I fell wildly in love with and hope to return to again soon.

Life happened, and I was swept back into the nursing world with its stressful demands and long hours.  I had hoped to work on the creation of a clothing line in the evenings after work, but I was too emotionally drained and still wanted to maintain some of my other activities like sailing and hiking.  I allowed my health to suffer under the last job, until in November of 2014, I decided to enjoy a hiatus.  With money saved from the job, I sent the initial investment to the team in Bali and our work began.

As with any start up, progress can be slow.  My production manager was able to source the fabric rather quickly.  We decided upon a organic cotton blend that had the softness I prefer in clothing, combining enough stretch in the fabric to allow for unrestricted movement, and thick enough so that it was not see through.  I spent many days checking out other yoga clothing sources and was surprised at the thin fabric being used.  I love some of the more sculptured style with cut outs, attractive lettuce hems, lace up leggings.  Naturally those pieces are priced higher because more sewing is involved.  But I was disappointed that the fabric was thin and in certain lighting, was a bit see through.  So, although it cost a bit more, I decided on a thicker fabric that has all the great qualities of bamboo fabric (which is worth every penny, and if you own anything in bamboo you will agree);  the higher cost of the fabric was worth having something built to last.

Rainy season delayed the dyeing of fabric, the first test run did not produce the colors we wanted so we tried again until we were happy with the colors.  We agreed on some basics.. black, burgundy, red, teal, purple.. with more being added to the palette in the future.  I was on the fence about including white.  Every time I wear white I spill something on it.  However, after taking photos on Thanksgiving Day and seeing how the white color appeared so crisp and versatile, I decided to include it as a color option.   If all goes well, I will get more creative with the color selections.  I love to layer clothing and use colors.  Imagine if you will a canyon copper color for pants and a snug top, with a lighter colored sunset russet colored wrap vest in the same color family, but with a bit of contrast.  Top it off with golden accessories, and you have something that is stylish, comfortable, easy to care for, easy to pack and travel with, and has a lot of versatility meaning it can be worn for the usual workout or dance practice, but then also dressed up with a few accessories.    If you are familiar with the A’Kai Silks color designs on the silk veils, you will already know I love to use colors.   You can anticipate seeing some very subtle two tone ombres on select pieces but it will be a gradual smooth color blend.. less tropical than the silks that take on the glow of the islands, more earthy under the influence of the desert southwest.

So far, I have a few photos that have been posted but they do not show some of the detailing of the garments.  The photos have been rather spontaneous and usually just a quick run to get a visual so that I could build a basic framework.  It has been a good excuse to explore the many hiking trails we have in Hawaii .  Because there will be at least five colors to choose from, and I wish to present some ideas on how the separates can be coordinated according to style and color layering, it will take a while to build a complete portfolio, but that is part of the fun.  As I wait for the next package to arrive from Indonesia , I have plenty to do with building a introductory price list, descriptions of the items, researching the best shipping prices from Indonesia, and writing out the descriptions.  Wow, all the kinds of things I love to do.  As with the silk veils photographs, I’m aiming for a visual representation that reflects not only an article of clothing but a LIFESTYLE.  It took over 15 years to build the color catalog for silk veils, and the catalog is almost like a timeline of A’Kai’s evolution as well, starting in Arizona, blossoming in Colorado, putting the pedal to the metal in San Francisco, then peaking in Hawaii .  You guys will have to remind me to take close up photos of the clothing items.. the sewing is not overly complicated and I admit to being in new territory.  With veils, an outdoor area and room to dance, they took over and I was just there to hold them in the wind.  I’m certain to have a lot of dance/motion photos of the garments but I do need to exercise a different lens to capture the cut outs, the thickness of the folded waistband, the general size of the hoods, the lace up detailing on the dress.  So while I’m excited to splash a few photos here and there to get started, just know that more photos will be coming.

just a lyric/music share today

Cathedral Rock

 

“Holyground” ~Kan’Nal~

We walk on holy ground.
We are the temple thats not made by hands.
To change the world,
change your vision of it.
In this dream there is no blame,
we’re the creators of this mess we’re in.
Its time we seek to find some solutions,
for the old ways are killing us.
The most beautiful of all life lives within
the without.
And all places in between.
So lay me down upon the solid ground
and teach me somthing
from the ancient of days.
Your king of hearts wears a bloody crown.
Now I feel an open wound from a hidden sword.
Wait…I think its ok.
within the without.

 

 

spinning out of retrograde and maintaining boundaries

sirena dress

Who knows if the planets have an effect on us.. the sun makes us warm, the moon is reported as making us wacky.  So if Mercury in retrograde has really yielded a slow down effect over the last few weeks, then according to the astronomers, this is the last day.

Is it coincidence that I ended up down and out sick for almost a week, necessitating an IV of fluids at the clinic?  How about old friends appearing back again?  Losing keys?  Miscommunications?  All reported effects of M.R.

Shrug.  The days have been perfect unrushed bliss.  It has taken a few months to truly unwind from the pressure of the previous job.  The focus has been on dropping any residual anxiety, retraining myself to sleep at night (most nights have been pretty good), and being outside as much as possible.  I have felt energy surges and although my brain still feels like it’s in a bit of a fog, there has been an overall peace and happiness.  The layers really have to peel back slowly before the shoulders can drop and a deep breath can be enjoyed.

I have noticed a certain firm conviction in that old wise voice.  Communication with a certain friend has been tested and I am pleased that I can maintain a polite but very firm “I am not going to put up with that” .  I believe in second chances, in third chances, we all make mistakes as we evolve .  However as the adage says, certain repeated behaviors by people can’t and won’t be tolerated and it feels like successful growth to not react but simply to say “no more, you are blocked.”

I am enjoying the freedom of non-rushed days and feel it has been long overdue to step off the rushing train to re-evaluate priorities, and decide what is most important.  In the midst of a heavy work week, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirl of activity , then lay awake at night and try to sort out thoughts and feelings.  It starts to build up and becomes a tangled ball like a glob of black hair clogging a drain.  But once it’s removed the water runs clear again.

There are increasing windows of a quiet but very full feeling of happiness and not worrying about the ten thousand possible parallel lives.  There is a renewed interest in activities and a remembrance how a simple average day can be a great day.

So, retro.. you may be back again and in each rotation we can choose to climb up or fall back down and recirculate without moving forward.

I heard you loud and clear.  This last retro seemed to focus on returning patterns of health and toxic friendships.  I’m holding firm.

Colors of the big island, Hawaii

Gold

 

I dyed this set on the big island of ‪#‎Hawaii‬ I remember poetic days of ocean breeze rippling thru the trees as I worked outside of the most beautiful house . Quiet solitude where I could hear the whales and the tropic rain. Silks were in full production and each day saw a new bouquet of gold, indigo, lapis, marine, Ohia Lehua , mango. Mesmerizing lull of coqui frogs lava flow and the beginning and end of molten Earth. My new Asian eyed baby boy cuddled against me during afternoon naps and endless beauty of optimistic time blending with ribbons of light. Fire flowers green languid vines sugarcane twisting with honey hued skies powerful raw edged deep blue sea waves embracing abundant water life in the form of Dolphins and Gilled fairies . Mermaid siren song inspired dresses gracefully draped over sun sculpted necklines adorned with pearled seashells. Buttery soft cream colored sarongs entwined with plush velvet tentacles always lifting and rippling in the wind. Curled plumes of smoke gray with blood red sparks contrasting with the silver black crusted lava fields rich with the stories of the ancients. Dense mauna pua mountain flowers blanketing secret labrynths leading to the core vortex and gifting new eyes with interlocked tide pools generous with brush strokes of painted coral and a haven for the manta rays. In this place the rainbows had a scent and the purity of dance and breath replaced the ego facade of human civilization Music notes replaced words and the stars danced above the dusk soaked ocean forever humming its mystic wisdom.  

more silk veil options added to the store

Follow the link at http://www.akaisilks.etsy.com

These are made to order however check back for stock veils (they sell quickly)

I’m still hoping to add half circles again soon.

If you are in need of a smaller size for poi or spinning flags, I can create a made to order listing for you.

bint charisma crimson jem1 sunrisemerk tickle

 

Progress on clothing!

Ok just a quick update on progress .. currently selecting colors to use for the clothing line.. will be starting off with a few basic favorites..black, red, purple, teal, blue .. and since many folks liked how the white pants appeared in the photo I’ll probably offer white as well ..yes they can get dirty easy but white is soooo crisp and pretty. Delays are because we are working on offering excellent quality. The fabric we found is stretchy and sturdy.. I see too many yoga pants that are see thru so we opted for a more pricey fabric that eliminates this problem. What I’m wearing here is a very form fitting top with a sweetheart neckline and asymmetrical edges, it shapes nicely around the bust but still has the freedom needed for movement. The pants have a roll waistband and have side splits with button closures. I’m wearing a stretchy micro mini skirt over the pants. , the skirt is not attached to the pants so it can be worn over other pants or capris. It is slim enough to wear a belt over the top or as is. Soooo colors are coming together then the garments can be sewn up. I’d REALLY like to stock all colors and sizes but there are about 18 items total so far and keeping that much stock will be very expensive. For now items will be made to order in a variety of sizes from XS to XL. We will be putting together general measurements and tags shortly. The clothing won’t be custom measurements, but instead general sizes. Since there is stretch it should work great. We will be narrowing down how long it will take to place an order and have the order shipped, right now I do not have firm prices or a turnaround time. Creation from scratch is so fun!! Crossing fingers that I can roll out availability by end of February and have lots of time to have things ready by fest season. Tell your friends. Summer tour peeps. balance

Has Life Style ever been so important?

One of the things that entices an overworked person to move to a paradise island is the ideal of living a simpler more holistic lifestyle.  As I near my tenth year in the Hawaiian islands, I can say with  absolute certainty (and proof) that it has been forever life changing.  What first appealed to me as great weather and jaw dropping scenery has encouraged an outdoor lifestyle that is priceless.  Occasional island fever and fear of missing out on a mortgage on a large house on the mainland is always offset by the positive influence this magical place has made on health and how I view abundance and prosperity.

But you know, we have to make ends meet too.  Many other locals will attest to it being expensive to live in paradise, but our costs are often a compromise.  Many of us don’t care about your sports car or designer hand bag.  We have learned to pair down material possessions to fit in a small closet.  We don’t have to pay for heating costs.  We don’t have to buy winter wardrobes.  The beach.. is free!   But, we don’t spend every day dangling our toes in the turquoise water.  We do have to work.  We balance the need for income with the more important desire for health and a relaxed pace.  People live longer and are happier.

I sort of forgot some of these things with a recent job that wanted me to do 50 hours of work for 30 hours of pay.  One day off a week wasn’t enough and despite my best efforts at time management and creativity, there was not enough time in the day to enjoy the life I originally moved here for.

So I did the right thing and quit in November.  I had some money saved up and I quickly downsized by moving out of an expensive apartment, quickly remembering the bliss of being able to pack up my entire life into a few boxes and a suitcase.

It took me a few weeks to unwind.  I was exhausted.  But over time I started waking up with a sense of relief that I could have an enjoyable morning with my son before sending him off to school.  That I could walk the beach before rushing off to do errands.  I could rise with the sun, listen to music and put all my attention into the creative pursuits I always enjoyed.  I started dyeing silk again, I focused more on the clothing that I want created by my friends/team in Bali, I started dancing again.  I rediscovered the rainforests.  I love the beach as much as the next local, but I had so little time at the last job to step off the grid and soak in the tree energy we are blessed with.  I missed the tourist energy in Waikiki where I had happily lived for many years.  But I did not miss the night life with its smoky bars, karaoke machines, pool tables, loud intoxicated people, and that “need” to go out and socialize every night.  That novelty had long ago worn off.  My excitement became hiking a new trail, taking photos of places I may have visited in the past but now in an unhurried pace.

I started to BREATHE again.

And I got stronger and stronger.  And lost 20 lbs without effort.  I dropped red meat from the diet and burned off energy by clinging to muddy hillsides in the bamboo.  And experiencing that fragrant scent of rain in the woods.  I was hooked.  Did I mention I lost 20 lbs?  Not from hot yoga or disciplined workouts.  Just by breathing, feeling the layers of stress melt away, making better food choices because I had time, not watching the clock when I wandered near waterfalls.

I found a peace and happiness that I had not experienced in some time.  I stopped worrying about retirement and career advancement.  I prioritized so that being outside, away from smoke and toxins and lethargy and draining relationships, was the basic necessity.

For fun I started posting photos on instagram.  Soon the photos were a log of my outdoor adventures.  Weekdays became longer and more meaningful and not something to be dreaded.  There’s still habits that need to be modified but without the tense nature of a live to make money work week, I solidified boundaries and better understood my relations with people.  Basically, I didn’t have interest in being distracted by “filler” friendships or beer induced romance ( I don’t drink alcohol ).  With clear lenses I could quickly identify things or people that didn’t flow with the simple beautiful nature of living pure and happy.  This didn’t go over well with certain people.  For expressing a polite opinion in a calm voice, I was yelled at by someone the day before Christmas.

 Red flags are easier to see when one is surrounded by green trees and one can quickly sidestep out of THAT train wreck waiting to happen.  

The phone enjoyed the mute button and communication strengthened with those who were also in pursuit of peace and happiness.  No smoke signals to cough through, life literally aligned.  For the first time in a long time, I was content (still am) ..NOT complacent, not willing to settle for “almost good enough”.  My senses sharpened.  Sleep improved and the lovely colorful dreams I enjoyed as a kid quickly came back.

I stopped mapping out every day and month.  People would ask “what are your plans for this day” or “what are you going to do next” .  Go with the flow was not the answer they wanted.  Discouraged that I would not wait next to a phone as their convenience (because my phone was turned off) it became crystal clear how I wanted to enjoy the moment and it did not involve being inside.  The Halloween haze had cleared , the holidays were over, and I did not wake up to a new year with a hangover.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to hit the reset button on some things.  I’m not willing to rush back in and mar the quiet of the mind and body.  Unless a greater need dictates otherwise, moving forward will be gently and while maintaining the uncluttered baggage free last few months.  That may mean I won’t make it to Burning Man.  Shrug.  Oh well.  I’ll opt for this, every time.

My eyes are wide open.  I’ll see you in the trees.

Photo by Twu Yong Tan Thanksgiving Day 2014

roots run deep

roots run deep

silk veil dance ..that simple

Long before I danced with veils in a bellydance class, I was simply spinning, twirling, waving, flickering with a long silk veil.  Large open spaces, no audience or glory needed.  Just silk and that undeniable urge in the body to have a silk in the hands.

Many bellydancers use the silk veil as part of their dance.  I did too, when I danced professionally in Colorado and San Francisco (and a few gigs in Hawaii) .

But one does not have to be a bellydancer to understand and use the silk veil.  This is where the English language will fail me again because veil dance is a third eye imagery, a spiral of physical energy so pure and strong you feel like a conduit to the heavens.  It’s where your stage face drops into a serene expression and you prefer to NOT be watched because you are in your moving meditation.

I’ve been creating silk veils for dancers for so many years and during that time I get focused on their creation because I want others to experience the feeling…

A few weeks ago I was able to dance again with silk and it sorta woke me up.  I forget that I need to dance with them too.  There’s no choreography to simple veil dance.  There is an intrinsic knowledge that your Higher Self will pass on to you.

I truly learned how to connect with my veils under the instruction of Adnan Sarhan, Sufi instructor based in New Mexico.  One of his teachings included tying one silk veil over our eyes so we could not see visually with our eyes .. and we could not see others, they could not see us.

A second veil was in our hands and he drummed and played music.  It may feel awkward at first to new silk dancers but to this day I recommend it.  That adage dance like no one is watching holds much wisdom in it.

My physical body has turned into this endless coil , after dedication the mind is free of the racing thoughts.  Sleep returns naturally.  Physical energy peaks.  It becomes a daily priority to be back in that space.

Here’s some early photos , I was starting to increase volume of veil production as they were in demand by other dancers..  but I spent many hours in that large sunlit rooms dancing and dancing.  I remember once being told I had danced for six hours straight save for water breaks .

early2 early3 early4 early8 early6

 

quotes from the psyshamaniam

shamaniam

 

So I rediscovered Botanical Dimensions on the big island of Hawaii.  Score.  Part two of Curandera.  www.botanicaldimsensions.org  Sign me up.

And now for some festive favorite quotes from Terence.  The “language maker” .  I dig.

“We emerge out of nature almost as its finest work of art. The medieval mind spoke of the productions of nature. This is a phrase you hear as late as the 18th century. The productions of nature. And human creativity emerges out of that, whether you have a model of the Aristotelian great ladder of being, or a more modern evolutionary view where we actually consolidate emergent properties and somehow bring them to a focus of self-reflection.
Now, I’m sure that we couldn’t carry out a discussion of this sort without observing that the prototypic figure for the artist, as well as for the scientist, is the shaman. The shaman is the figure at the beginning of human history that unites the doctor, the scientist and the artist into a single notion of care-giving and creativity. And I think that, you know, to whatever degree art, over the past several centuries, has wandered in the desert, it is because this shamanic function has been either suppressed or forgotten. And we’ve… different images of the artist have been held up at different times: the artist as artisan; the artist as handmaiden of a ruling class or family; the artist as designer for the production of integrated objects into a civilization. This notion of the artist as mystical journeyer, as one who goes into a world unseen by others, and then returns to tell them of it, was pretty much lost in the post-medieval and renaissance conception of art. Up until the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, where, beginning with the Romantics, there is a new permission to explore the irrational. This really is the bridge back to the archaic, shamanic function of the artist. Permission to explore the irrational.” ~ Terence McKenna, Opening the Doors of Creativity 1990

 

More on language, if you read any Gusdorf you will appreciate ..

 

“There is the phenomenon of non-ordinary, or what I call visible language and this is very interesting to me. This is where technology, virtual-reality, cybernetics, human-machine interfacing can actually make an impact and explore a frontier. Visual language is a transformation of the physiological impulse towards syntax into a final product, speech, which is not heard with the ears, but beheld with the eyes. It’s very interesting that all our metaphors of clarity of speech are visual metaphors. We say, ‘I see what you mean, he spoke clearly.’ This means that at the organismic level we associate a higher signal clarity with visual input, and on DMT and other tryptamine psychedelics you actually experience the field of language both heard and self generated as something that is visibly beheld. It’s almost as though the project of communication becomes high-speed sculpture in a conceptual dimension made of light and intentionality. This would remain a kind of esoteric performance on the part of shamans at the height of intoxication if it were not for the fact that electronics and electronic cultural media, computers, make it possible for us to actually create records of these higher linguistic modalities. In other words it’s possible to imagine a virtual reality that was driven by a speech operated synthesizer where the various parts of ordinary speech adjectives, modifiers, subjects and objects were interpreted by the cybernetic environment as topological manifolds of various shapes so that speech would then generate a visibly beheld topology and it’s possible to imagine a future world where in setting up marriage contracts or in negotiating corporate takeovers, in areas where clear communication, clear expression of intentionality was very important, that people would actually go into the virtual reality to use the visible language because its capacity for conveying intent would be much greater than ordinary spoken language. It’s not for nothing that Plato connected up the notion of the Good, the True, and ultimately, the Beautiful. The beautiful of those three concepts is the primary concept because it is visibly beheld, because it is seen. This is the great convincing power of the psychedelic experience. That it ultimately appeals to us through the sense that we value most. That we existentially relate to as the most authentic and that is the visual. Visible language is a kind of telepathy because if I make a statement in visual language and then you and I regard my statement, we are somehow, in the act of regarding, made one. Because meaning is not being created out of interiorized dictionaries which we each consult in the privacy of our own mind but rather meaning is a visible manifold in the public domain. Meaning goes public and the differences between people then decline toward being insignificant. It’s a kind of final confirmation of the McLuhan apotheosis and I think visible language is coming. Life in the imagination is to be the life of creativity carried on through these virtual environments driven by linguistic engines.” ~ Terence McKenna, Ordinary Language, Visible Language & Virtual Reality

 

Dude.

Curandera

Susan Seddon Boulet

Susan Seddon Boulet

 

Years ago I read the book Bless Me Ultima, then later proceeded on to the Dan Millman books (did I spell that right) and of course a healthy sprinkle of Carlos Castaneda.  Mixed with living in pine trees, climbing copper canyons, experiencing the flight of a  red tail hawk, you know.. all the stuff college age people do.  I was accepted to a costly yet reputable medical university after graduating high school but chose to move to Arizona to be near my terminally ill father.  During that time I watched the progression of death gray out his life until he literally became ash in the wind in the Sedona area of Cathedral Rock.  A late teen daughter being the primary caregiver for a terminally ill man who was always her solid foundation made me grow up fast and learn how to be resilient.  Almost.  My father was strict with me but always told me “use your judgement” allowing me to fall down so that I could learn to fly.

I moved to Flagstaff to go to Northern Arizona University.  I had no money, no plan other than some thoughts about majoring in pharmacy.  College was a tough bliss.. I loved reading the books assigned by the professors, I loved writing, I loved connecting with the friends I made.  And I loved learning about life and death through various vehicles.  It was an eye opening time but reminiscing back, it’s more of just remembering what the soul already knows.  Heavy with classes in psychology, Jungian dream analysis, deviant sociology, philosophy, origins of religion ..yes I loved the science classes too but felt I could WRITE and live a thousand lives in each of those classes.  One student may see those classes as prerequisites , others may see them as a doorway to more.

I’ve always been a soul searcher, or vision quester.  I don’t readily accept what is told to me by the Hierophant or that there is one universal set way of doing things.  I recognize the archetypal symbols of Jung but also formed my own through past lives, dreams, future parallels.  Each soul is unique like a fingerprint.  Our practices will vary.  I went to a few church gatherings and it didn’t feel right.  I’ve been part of pagan circles and other ceremonial practices but didn’t feel the need for the structure.

The path spirals and my mind was processing quickly and going out on tangents that could be considered other dimensional.  I could not sit here and cite code or talk coherently about quantum physics but “I get it.”

The beauty of life, and a freedom that I discovered that I could in fact fly unrestricted from my father’s discipline , I remember those as the happiest times of my life.

At some point I switched majors to nursing.  I had soaked up enough reading and writing for the time being and needed to finish school to manifest the next stage of freedom.. income .  Nursing was not a far stretch from my original desire to be a physician, it was a shorter path without heavy school loans and years of extensive study.

Living near the reservations in Northern Arizona, I was deeply drawn to the Native American cultural practices in the area, mostly Navajo and Hopi.  My early work as a nurse assistant made me very culturally aware of how other people see healing, and death.  I remember a colleague nurse being reprimanded by a supervisor because she had cleaned the room of a deceased Navajo woman and had unknowingly tossed out the juniper bead necklace.  I maintained my studies in western medicine but leaned more towards the alternative healing that was prevalent in Flagstaff, Sedona, and other areas.

It occurred to me that a great pathway would be to earn the western medicine nursing degree/license but also study along with the Native healers.  Medicine women, curanderas, naturopathics, botanists.  I had a growing knowledge of the plants and herbs native to our Arizona area and how the Navajo used them for healing.  I was enthralled.  I envisioned a job where I would travel by covered jeep out in the remote areas of the reservations to assist with medical care, with the forefront mission of being within THEIR culture and honoring THEIR healing .  Blending.  I adapted willingly and loved it.  I read about their history and symbols.

Life forked however, and I moved to Phoenix to complete the nursing school program.  I’ve never really embraced Phoenix as anything other than a means to an end, a slow hot one but I got the job done and no sooner did I graduate with that license, and headed to Colorado.  A bigger Flagstaff.  I had not forgotten my thoughts of being a nurse healer on the reservations ..or the dreams about traveling to other countries and hanging with tribes way in the outback to learn their healing methods too.  It was a parallel life I may return to next time around.

I have no regrets about not choosing that path and I enjoyed the time in Colorado.  I was fortunate to achieve the american dream at an early age.. beautiful log cabin home in the woods (elevation 8500 ft) , a perfect son, an excellent husband who never once raised his voice to me though I did give him reason to, a cat and dog, enough security for us to be comfortable.

I was working in hospice care , we sometimes gravitate towards work where we feel we have had personal experience.  I knew what it felt like to live with a loved one with terminal illness.  I knew the range of feelings.  It’s like having a nurse who has gone through childbirth as your nurse when you deliver your own child.  It helps when someone has been in those shoes.

And so hospice care resonated with me.  I believed in the philosophy and patiently helped others understand palliative care.  My own experience with death didn’t make me a better nurse.  It did assist with empathy.  I do believe those who are of best assistance to others have experienced something similar.

This is to be continued.. because many things are coming into play and to describe them would open a new topic.  Let this stand as a preface .. ethnobotany, naturopathic healing, hospice, and I’ll toss out one tiny bit here .. assisting others with “mental disorders.”  In a holistic manner.  Enough said for now.

yup Hawaii will ruin you

I tried to move back to the mainland three times ..not sure if I will be here forever but this article is funny and pretty spot on.  At the bottom is a slide show of trees in Hawaii mmmm treeeees

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/moving-to-hawaii_n_4325058.html

Veils are handmade .. that’s what you wanted, right?

Over the many years of dyeing silks I have had to become quite creative in how I use either a small space in a high rise to a large tented backyard to dye silks.  Starting in Colorado with freezing cold temperatures, then enjoying the coolness of San Francisco, and finally the resting temple of Hawaii … all work spaces have required that I tweak my self taught method into almost impossible work spaces.  I’ll have to say dyeing veils on the seventh story lanai was probably my biggest challenge.  (A lanai is a balcony) .

The reason I’m writing this is for sort of an informal artist disclaimer.  When you order a silk veil or other silk item that I dye, it is HANDMADE.  There will be variations in all veils, that is what makes them unique.

I have a catalog of color schemes that number over 100 color designs.  It’s taken over 15 years to compile those photos (and some still are missing) , so to help my work flow when I was working with large orders, I used the photos instead of re-taking them each time.

But all of them come out different and the catalog should only be used as a guide.

I have been very FIRM about showing how the veils look in motion.  As dancers I am creating a pseudo visual display.  Motion photos do not always pick up all subleties.

As a result, some veils you will see have a very smooth gradient blend from one color to the next.. they are not stripes but smooth color gradients.  I am able to do this successfully with quite a few color designs because of the dyes I use .  But even the smoothest of ombres is going to have some variance.  Isn’t that what we like?

Other veils using different colors, or maybe more colors, will come out with a more jagged or streaked appearance.  If you look closely at a seashell that appears white, you will see many colors on the inside.  That is what the silk veils are like.

I used to sell veils that weren’t absolutely perfect like the photo at a deep discount.  I finally learned to value my time since I’m involved in so many activities now.  So unless it’s a glaring error, a misplaced spot, then all veils will be priced the same.  I may auction a few off on ebay but I’m no longer going to discount veils simply  because one has more jagged colors than the next.

I have offered veils at a very fair price since 2000 when I made an online presence.  I have covered the extra on shipping.  I have donated veils.  I see some veils made in China with bold stripes separating the colors dominate ebay (and sales).  I have seen other ombres sell for above $80.

What it cracks down to, I love the signature colors of A’Kai Silks.  Each one really has a story and a representation of a day I was having or an inspiration.

But sometimes..I get bored of dyeing those colors and want to … branch out..

So I am announcing my freedom as an artist to dye what pours from the hands like the mad little alchemist I am.  There have been too many days I have had to fulfill orders when I long to splash on something new.

So here’s the deal, by reading this (and I hope customers do) you are accepting that you are buying a handmade item by an artist.  At a very fair price.  And you are agreeing that it may not look exactly like the photo.  It follows the color scheme (for example Bird of Paradise is turquoise, dark pink and orange) but leave the rest up to me.

We will both be delighted with the process.

 

I’m going to post some photos of popular veils and provide a bit of detailing about how they come out different each time to give you a visual..

 

example of a very smooth gradient ombre from fuschia, red and orange

example of a very smooth gradient ombre from fuschia, red and orange

in this one the green jags down into the yellow to create a dynamic ripple

in this one the green jags down into the yellow to create a dynamic ripple

 

ah volcanic.. never did have a firm recipe for this one.. one mass of wild color

ah volcanic.. never did have a firm recipe for this one.. one mass of wild color

another good example of a bit of jag to the colors

another good example of a bit of jag to the colors

on this one I let the pink colors trickle down on purpose to create a flower appearance

on this one I let the pink colors trickle down on purpose to create a flower appearance

one of the first works of A'Kai where you can see the colors gradiate into each other naturally, this sets the veils apart from factory made

one of the first works of A’Kai where you can see the colors gradiate into each other naturally, this sets the veils apart from factory made

what I call the sandwich style with an eye or aura band in the middle.. you will see more of these as I love making them

what I call the sandwich style with an eye or aura band in the middle.. you will see more of these as I love making them

an example of one of a kind, in this one just a blast of blue on the edges, cannot be duplicated

an example of one of a kind, in this one just a blast of blue on the edges, cannot be duplicated

in a class all its own, this one is not an ombre and is dyed with jagged flames on purpose

in a class all its own, this one is not an ombre and is dyed with jagged flames on purpose

tangled up in blue

spin

At long last I was able to pull out a silk veil and spin until I nearly collapsed at the recent Kaminanda show in Honolulu.  Want to hear some really groovy tunes?

showing Stephen Kaminanda the vortex

                                                                               showing Stephen Kaminanda the vortex

Like the others, I was happy dancing on the limited floor space but I knew I wanted to fly without smacking into someone’s open beer or lit sage stick.  Hazards of spinning.  Hula hoopers have it better because if they use LED hoops we can spot them (and wow does it hurt to get whacked by a hoop.. get hit by silk and you will feel like you were kissed).

The long stretch of dance took over again in a suitable venue.  Grounding energy with limited room to spiral is a careful balance.

But towards the end when some participants were leaving the floor to get a drink or rest, I had a small box of space and I drew a tantric circle around it… out came the veil and in her light blueness it was like she had never left my hands.

Creators often get immersed in making healing tools for others.  If you doubt the silk veil is a healing tool I invite you to try it.  Some call it a flow toy.  Different words for a similar path.

Most often I have been creating veils and items for dancers without using the tools myself.  There really was no doubt in my mind that I would fall out of practice, you see, because dancing with a veil is like dancing with your spirit guide.. you hold hands with the vapor and weave in and around each other .  You breathe and ripple the silk.  I’ve seen the movement within festivals to own the next best toy, the biggest light up hoop, the baddest art car, the coolest motion app.

But the beauty of silk is that it is so incredibly simple

Yes, it is used by bellydancers and they incorporate middle eastern movements to veil and perform.

But the silk veil is a’veil’able to anyone.

It will change how you breathe.  It will change how you move.  It is like a spiraling form of yoga.  Yes.

buds for life .. before his show

buds for life .. before his show

lyrics Bob Dylan

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wond’ring if she’d changed it all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standing on the side of the road
Rain falling on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues getting through
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split it up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue.”

blue spin

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