This newsletter arrives as summer draws to a close and the
school year begins. Having been in Santa Fe and Maine during August,
writing this newsletter has been quite the logistical challenge. Away
from my computer, from e-mail and the technotools I have come to depend
on, I have turned to pad and paper to write articles the old-fashioned,
The experience has felt both fulfilling and disjointed. The
good news being that my writing can follow me wherever I am. The bad
news being the short windows of time to input my handwritten notes, run
drafts by the people I've interviewed and then get everything onto this
template. All very grounding and perspective-
The articles this month include a look at how in our culture
today we are perhaps, not entirely consciously, redefining our basic
needs in What Are Our Basic Needs: Redefining Food, Clothing and
Shelter, and two profiles of people making a difference in their
local communities and in the larger world: my graduate school friend
and colleage Luigi Sison Cooking As Connection: Feeding Body and
Soul, and Spirit of Change's founder and publisher Carol Bedrosian,
Making Connections Locally and
Globally: Spirit of Change Magazine at 20 Years.
Your comments and contributions are welcome, as always.
The Tuesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group is actively
seeking one or two new female members. If you would like the
opportunity to do deep, healing, heartfelt work in a safe committed
group, this is a wonderful place to do it. The group meets from 7:15 -
9:45 pm in Newton. An interview and one EKP session are required to
apply. Please contact me at (617)965-7846 or LSMHEART@aol.com.
The Thursday night group also has room for new members of
And the monthly EKP Process group that meets from 2:30 - 5:30
pm one Sunday a month, has room for one or two new members.
The EKP Cape Retreat November 16 -18 promises to be a
nourishing experience for all. For more information, contact Gretchen
Stecher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, if you are interested in being part of a HeartSmarts
emotional literacy workshop for kids or parents and kids, let me know
| What Are Our Basic Needs?
Redefining Food, Clothing and Shelter
Recently, in one of my EKP groups, a very interesting thread
of conversation emerged about food, clothing and shelter. As the
conversation unfolded, I came to realize that in our culture today, how
we have come to understand food, clothing and shelter is very different
than when I was growing up. This difference was underscored poignantly
as I recently spent some time with Native Americans in the Southwest.
When I think of the words, "food, clothing and shelter," I
think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "Food, clothing and shelter" are
at the bottom of the pyramid of needs for life, providing the
foundation, our most essential needs. "Self-actualization" is at the
very top--the icing on the cake when all other basic needs are
When I was growing up, food was something you bought at the
grocery store and then prepared and cooked at home. When I had a chance
to go to a farm, as I learned how to milk a cow or tend to vegetable
plants, I got to see where food "really came from."
As a child, I spent a lot of hours gardening and growing
vegetables in my backyard. Clothing was something I learned how to sew
from McCall's or Simplicity patterns in Home Economics class or
something one could purchases at stores like Sears or Filene's
Basement. The goal was to take care of whatever clothes I made or
purchased, so they would last a long time. And plenty of kids provided
or received "hand me downs."
Shelter was a simple, yet sufficient home. In the 1950's and
1960's, ranch and Cape Cod style houses were built, and served as the
warm vessel for home and hearth.
I have found, over the years, that in some ways I have
become a dinosaur, an anachronysm, as the practices associated with
food, clothing ahd shelter have changed drastically, in our "crazybusy"
commerical culture. I still prepare home-cooked meals every day and
grow vegetables in my garden. I have come to see how rare this is. When
my son was in pre-school, he had a friend over for dinner. I had made a
home-cooked dinner, and my son's friend didn't recognize any of what
was on the table. Steamed vegetables. Cut fruit. A carefully prepared
The boy exclaimed, "What is this food? What we have at home
is Chinese take-out, KFC or McDonald's." I explained what I had
prepared, and the boy said, "My mom never makes home-cooked meals." I
guess that was one of my first initiations.
Recently, I heard someone comment, "Dinner means I give
someone a twenty dollar bill, and they give something back to me." With
the burgeoning of prepared foods and restaurants of every possible
cuisine imagineable, "food" for many of us is something someone else
prepares, and we purchase to eat--either in or out of the home. The
cost of prepared food can be much greater than the cost of a
home-cooked meal. But time has become even more precious than money in
many circumstances. And when both time and money are scarce, the
quality of food one can have diminuishes.
And then, there is clothing... About eight years ago, a
friend of mine who was going through a divorce asked if she could stay
with me for a few months while she transitioned and figured out her
next steps. I said, "Yes." So, in moved my friend, along with her
At first, I was taken aback. One day when I went to her house
to help her move, I saw that she had filled an entire room with
clothes. I soon discovered, that was only the first course on her menu.
She had filled two walk-in closets, a bathroom, and the bedroom she
shared with her soon to be ex-husband. How could she fit all of those
clothes in the spacious, but nonetheless, solo bedroom she would be
staying in at my house?
My friend decided to put half her clothes in storage,
delegate her second tier choices to my basement, bought a special
armoire to supplement the brimmingly full closet, and considered
herself "roughing it." As someone with an eye for fashion, my friend
thought she had just what she needed to be "current."
Then, came the woman who had a great corporate job and a six
figure income, but never enough money. A major woe for her was that she
spent a fortune on clothing, because once she had worn an outfit a
couple of times, it was time to throw it out and buy a new one. I was,
once again, surprised, feeling at the very least naive, and perhaps
even Polyannaish. I asked her why she didn't wash her clothes or take
them to the dry cleaners. She replied that would be too much work. In
her busy life, it was just easier to buy new clothes. And besides,
they'd always look fresh.
I recently learned from a man working in the corporate
world, that even though his best intention is to dry clean some of his
expensive professional suits, some sort of coating is put on the fabric
that breaks down at the dry cleaners. So, in essence, he has little
choice but to wear the suit til it is dirty, and then throw it out and
buy a new one.
In each of these cases, the definition of "clothing" is so
different than what I ever imagined it might be, and what is
"necessary" to have "enough" feels wasteful at many levels--be it
through people's definition of what "being okay" or "professional" or
"current" means...or even through the planned obsolescence that comes
with clothes that aren't made to last--but rather to break down.
And finally, there is shelter. Chances are you know what's
going to come next. In my town, even in my neighborhood, so many of
those cozy, homey ranches and capes have been torn down in favor of
On my own street, just a handfull of years after I moved
into my house, a lot of land was sold to a real estate baron. Suddenly
a gigantic two-family unit was constructed, that didn't fit in with the
character of this Victorian-lined "historic district" location. Several
years later, the same folks who sold the parcel of land, most likely in
a time of financial difficulty, sold a tiny strip of land in back of
their house, moved their carriage house onto the adjacent street to
become a garage and allowed a tall, thin luxury two-
condominium structure to reach into the sky. A copper beach tree that
was hundreds of years old was lost in the process. But a lot of money
was to be made and spent by real estate developers and consumers of
luxury condos. I was very sad.
That took place a number of years ago, and seems tame
compared to the 10,000 square foot home the parents of someone in my
son's school now live in, having torn down a perfectly good 1950's home
and built their MacMansion. Do these huge homes really provide shelter?
And if so, from what? Surely not the same elements the Native American
folks I spent time with were referring to.
As someone who still sees the merit in the definition of
"basic needs" I came to understand as a child, I find it scary and
overwhelming to see our "supersized," "crazybusy," "commodity-based"
new definitions of these essentials. I think the essence of our basic
needs gets lost in the "packaging" of what we feel pulled to "consume."
Perhaps another kind of empty calories, translated beyond the realm of
food and nutrition?
Can we find more meaningful ways to "feed," "clothe" and
"shelter" ourselves, and even enrich these concepts to include true
nourishment, protection and expression, and home/hearth?
| Cooking As Connection
Feeding Body and Soul
Luigi Sison, 52, lives in Northfield, Minnesota. We met in
graduate school more than 25 years ago. We had a lot in common then.
And it's funny how it works with some people, that with the passage of
time, our common threads remain and have grown. One of our common
threads is cooking. But not just ordinary utilitarian cooking. Rather,
cooking that creates connection, bringing people together and nourishes
body and soul.
"When I came from the Phillipines to go to Sloan, I had been
used to home-cooked meals every day. My family support was now gone. I
was on my own. To maintain my standard of living, I needed to learn to
cook. I was fortunate. Julia Child was on PBS. And I lived in a house
with other students and needed to cook for them once a week."
Over time Luigi found his love of cooking encompassed more
than just preparing community meals. "Because cooking means more than
eating, it opens up a whole host of other things. First, there is the
element of culture. Food has a context in the people who prepare it.
Second, there is economics. In preparing food, you are part of a value
chain from the farmer to the table. You become part of the chain from
the people who produce the food to the people who consume it."
"Third, cooking is an art form. I look at cooking like the
performing arts. It is temporary: here now, then gone. Lots of elements
go into cooking. The final product appeals to multiple senses, just
like a performance would. Fourth is community service. I work for the
natural foods coop in my town and do regular food demonstrations there.
I interact with parts of the community and am now part of many people's
lives. I ask them what's for dinner. They ask me questions about
aesthetics and economics. It's a connection."
"When I am aware of where I am in the food chain, I educate
others to. Coops are known for having more expensive food. I can
explain in the context of the chain why the eggs are more expensive.
This builds awareness about the people who raise the food for us and
who serve us."
Fifth, cooking provides Luigi an opportunity to do things
with his 15 year old son. "We cook together and do food demonstrations
together. We do cooking classes for his peers. Our house becomes a
meeting place, since I cook for my son and his friends. Food becomes a
draw for the kids to be at our house, and provides a very soft way of
supervising him or being in touch with his peers.
There is still a deeper meaning to cooking for his
community, his son and their friends. "When people come to your house,
you're not just feeding them. You are offering something of yourself.
Cooking can be an expression of yourself towards others. So, you want
to offer something special."
Luigi shared a beautiful quote from a Mexican cookbook, The
Food and Life of Oaxaca. "Oaxaca is a poor state, but is rich in
culinary history. Indigenous people there resisted Spanish rule. The
book quotes a father who had a party for his graduating son."
"I present this offering to thank you for helping us to
celebrate this special occassion, for you know that alone we cannot
share life. Others must be there."
And in this communion, this sharing, we take in nourishment
for body and soul.
more articles...and a chance to add your thoughts...
| Making Connections Locally and Globally
Spirit of Change Magazine at 20 Years
I count myself lucky to have been introduced to Carol
Bedrosian just over 20 years ago, as she and a group of friends and
collaborators were setting out to launch what has become a key resource
for people interested in holistic health, healthy living and making our
world a better place: Spirit of Change magazine.
Carol was from Central Massachusetts. Aware of a holistic
magazine that covered another geographic area, Carol realized there was
a need for a holistic resource in Central Massachusetts. Carol and her
friends founded Spirit of Change, and it grew from there.
"It really grew on its own and intuitively, like a plant,"
reflects Carol. "It's not so much I had a vision or goal in mind that I
wanted it to be this big. The articles came to the magazine
organically, although we also reached out and requested things. It has
always drawn resources that come to it and serve as nutrients. The
fodder. And it grows. And like with a tree or plant, at certain times
you need to prune things, and a new growth starts. It has always grown
Today, the magazine's circulation is 75,000 copies per
issue. And because magazines are in households with multiple readers,
the readership is several times the number of copies printed. Spirit of
Change also has a website, where Carol and her staff continue to add
archived articles. So, the cumulative knowledge gathered in the
magazine can reach many more people over time.
Spirit of Change has made a profound difference in many
people's lives over the past 20 years. Having a vehicle to bring
resources and ideas to people to help them lead healthy, fulfilling,
satisfying lives has been Carol's goal.
"Over time, different themes have come to my attention,"
notes Carol. "Someone sends in an article or a letter, makes a phone
call, identifying issues that should be explored or brought before a
larger audience. My vision for the magazine now is to continue being a
vehicle and a forum for people to address important issues--for us to
communicate and evolve--whether it's as a community, a species or as
Spirit of Change has surely enabled many people to make
meaningful connections over the years. "The most visible example,
acknowledges Carol, "was that Spirit of Change brought James Carboni
into contact with Guatemalan Elders, Felipe and Elena Ixcot. This
allowed a midwife center to be built in their hometown of Concepcion,
Guatemala. Prior to establishing the center, this area had no medical
care for well over 100,000 people. There was a group of people in that
town that wanted to preserve the traditional Mayan ways of living,
healing and mid-
wifery. When the Ixcots were introduced to Jame in 1998, the funding
could be arranged. Land was purchased in 2000. The building was built.
The center opened in 2004."
"The project, which is now 3 years old and very successful,
is now being held up as a model of what can happen when traditional
people and financial support come together. American mid-wives have
gone and learned from traditional mid-wives in Guatemala. And American
mid-wives were also an important part of this opening. There is
on-going support both ways--sharing knowledge and information from both
American and Guatemalan cultures."
In addition to building such a poignant cross-cultural
bridge, Spirit of Change has surely opened many doors closer to home.
"At least 50% of the staff members who have come and gone through the
offices of Spirit of Change over the past 20 years have come in not
knowing about this work, and have found it so interesting they have
becomne users of holistic medicine or even practitioners themselves."
acknowledges Carol. " It's a great learning tool!"
And, Spirit of Change has also been a great learning journey
for Carol. "I have always been aware that it is really about me and my
watching how I conduct myself on a day to day basis with all the
individual people, as well as with the larger task of communicating
with the public. It's about how in balance I can stay in my mind, in my
emotions, because it's very easy to get sideswiped, to be thrown off
balance. The 20 years have been a wonderful practicing ground in that
respect. For those people with whom I was off balance, I apologize and
try better next time. I really appreciate everybody who has contributed
to Spirit of Change over the years and read it and enjoyed it. It has
been an adventurous and awesome journey."
read Spirit of Change on-line....
The Boston Area Sexuality and
Spirituality Network is currently developing its programming for the
2007-2008 season. Visit www.sexspirit.net later this month for our new