Family Travel Adventures: Cruising Around California's Monterey Bay

Beginning of our journey in the foothills near Sacramento.

Beginning of our journey in the foothills near Sacramento.

Adventures Ahead!

Embarking on a Cross-Country Trip

In early April, as the snow melted from around our mountain home in Southern Oregon, we packed up our belongings and prepared for our family cross-continental adventure this Spring, driving all the way from the Pacific Northwest to Maine. 

We’re doing a smily face across America: driving south from Oregon through California along the Pacific coast, then across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma via Route 66 and I-40, and then northeast to New England via Memphis, Nashville, and Appalachia. I call it the “Make America Happy Again” tour. Hahaha! 

My husband Jahsah, 5 year old Jeva (who prefers to be called Guy), and my 4 month old Jasper (affectionately known as Lil’ Buddy) are all doing the big drive together, and my 17 year old son Ari (we’ll call him Dude) will be flying out to spend the summer with us on the East Coast when his school gets out. 

I grew up in New Hampshire with all my grandparents in Maine. After being born and raised in New England, I left for the left coast when I was 18 and have spent much of the past 20 years living all over the wild west in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. 

I’m so looking forward to getting to share with my boys this summer the things that I loved about New England and visit some of my favorite childhood places, as well as discover what’s new and up-and-coming in the region. 

From my husband's hometown in California to my hometown in New Hampshire, we're on a family adventure revisiting our roots and exploring America. 

My husband Jahsah & I love to travel and explore. 

My husband Jahsah & I love to travel and explore. 

There are several personal reasons why we are taking this trip. 

First off, I love to travel, road trip, and explore! Since my husband Jahsah and I have been together since 2009, we’ve traveled a lot, so this is a great opportunity to visit people and places we love, and connect deeper with our community. 

Second, we need to pick up some stuff in Maine and this is a good time for us to make the trip and be able to spend time visiting and exploring along the way. 

Third, my grandmother is 101 years old (she’ll be 102 in July!) and I’d love to be able to introduce her to her newest great-grandchild and get to see her again! 

Fourth, but not least, I’m SUPER excited to be speaking at the NH Mama & Baby Expo this June in my hometown of Nashua, NH! This is going to be an awesome event and I’m preparing a brand new presentation specially for the VIP Brunch on "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Parenting". 

Fifth plus: There’s more reasons too, but we’ll just say that the Universe has given us a lot of signs and synchronicities guiding our journey, and it’s been magical so far, with infinite possibilities are in store! 

The view of the Santa Cruz boardwalk and beach from the wharf. 

The view of the Santa Cruz boardwalk and beach from the wharf. 

California: North to South

We began our trip first heading south from Ashland, Oregon, into California, past Mount Shasta in a snowstorm (where Jahsah and I first met and were married), to the Sacramento region to visit his parents for a few days. That was a lovely way to start our adventure, with home cooked meals from grandma, warm weather, and lots of attention and play for the little boys. 

Then we drove westward to the coast, and begin our explorations along the Central California Coast from Santa Cruz, all along the Monterey Bay, from tip to tip, then across the Carmel Valley, through wine country, to Solvang, Santa Barbara and then Ventura. 

Visiting California was wonderful! Being near the ocean was rejuvenating. We spent the first two weeks of our trip just in California and we’re already planning our next adventures when we return there this Fall and Winter. 

Watching the waves at Capitola Village by the Sea.

Watching the waves at Capitola Village by the Sea.

Santa Cruz

The first time my 5 year old Guy saw the ocean was in Santa Cruz, from the ocean wharf when he was just a few months old.

That was the first place we went the morning we woke up on California's coast on our trip, and where our Little Buddy also got to experience his first gaze at the salty waters of the Pacific. 

Sea lions bellowed below posing through the viewing holes in the wharf, the rides of the boardwalk spun people around by the beach, and a dolphin leaped out of the water while swimming by. 

This is where my husband Jahsah grew up, in nearby Soquel, a small town with the relaxed surfer vibe and local food culture of Santa Cruz, but way less traffic and tourists. We love to visit here on our travels and bring our little boys here to connect with the ocean and community. 

The Capitola Venetian Hotel in Santa Cruz County

The Capitola Venetian Hotel in Santa Cruz County

In Santa Cruz county I fell in love with Capitola Village by the Sea. The colorful buildings of the Capitola Venetian Hotel were just so perfectly beachy and colorful, it can't help but boost your mood and brighten up your day. 

My 5 year old loved the beach at Capitola, there were kids to play with, sandcastles to build, driftwood to roll around, and surfers to watch. 

I enjoyed walking around the shops and galleries checking out the art and chatting with the locals. 

The historic and cozy Windmill Cafe in Santa Cruz, California.

The historic and cozy Windmill Cafe in Santa Cruz, California.

The flowers were in full Spring bloom along the California coast, especially abundant this year due to the increased rainfall this winter. I am a wildflower lover, and it was soul enriching to see all the colorful blooms and gardens. 

I loved stopping by all the sweet locally owned coffeeshops and restaurants along the way, talking to the people and enjoying the local beach culture. 

The Windmill Cafe in Santa Cruz was surrounded by abundant permaculture gardens front and back, and food and drinks are served in adorable mis-matched vintage dishes and mugs that the owners collect. It makes me so happy to see historical buildings being cared for and thriving as cultural meeting spots. 

The Capitola wharf with blooming spring flowers.

The Capitola wharf with blooming spring flowers.

Mermaid mural in Capitola, California.

Mermaid mural in Capitola, California.

The beach life feels so good! I love the mermaid vibes, artistic community, farm to table food, and laid-back creative culture.

We ate so much amazing food, there is an abundance of organic food, juice bars, natural grocery stores, and locally owned restaurants. 

One of my favorites was Discretion Brewing in my husband's hometown of Soquel, where they have organic brews and a farm-to-table kitchen with a delicious menu. It's a kid and dog friendly solar-powered neighborhood brewery with indoor seating, an outdoor patio with huge tree stump tables, and a toy box to keep the 5 year old entertained. I will definitely go back! 

Organic brews and farm-to-table cuisine at Discretion Brewing in Soquel, CA

Organic brews and farm-to-table cuisine at Discretion Brewing in Soquel, CA

I also loved visiting The Farm Bakery & Cafe in Aptos, which is where Jahsah had his first job as a teenager working in the kitchen. They have a wonderful menu prepared from scratch with fresh, local, organic and grass-fed ingredients. and I enjoyed a delicious and filling Cobb Salad and Iced Tea and chatted with sweet ladies about the baby and our travels. We admired the beautiful pastries and fruit tarts, browsed their cute gift shop, and found the perfect kids book for Guy with travel activities from California to Maine. How'd they know? 

Rainbow fruit tarts at The Farm in Aptos, California

Rainbow fruit tarts at The Farm in Aptos, California

Exploring the secret gardens along the riverwalk in Capitola.

Exploring the secret gardens along the riverwalk in Capitola.

We visited several beaches and spent several days eating and exploring our way around Soquel, Aptos, and Capitola. I definitely enjoyed the smaller beach towns with a strong local vibe, and the fantastic food culture of Santa Cruz county.

Rio del Mar beach in Santa Cruz county.

Rio del Mar beach in Santa Cruz county.

Rio del Mar has another great beach to visit with free beach parking, a huge sandy beach, and a long shoreline walking path where you can see the large concrete ship SS Palo Alto beached in the water.

In addition to beach hopping, we also enjoyed a wilderness hike to admire the old-growth redwood trees in the Forest of Nisene Marks. I was glad to have my bug-repellent essential oils on hand for our woodsy adventures, as you can see on the sign the warning about ticks. We only had time for a short hike, but I hope to return to explore more of their 30 miles of trails from sea level up to the coastal mountains. 

Essential oils are great bug repellents when hiking in the forests.

Essential oils are great bug repellents when hiking in the forests.

Santa Cruz: Hotel Nightmare

The first night in Santa Cruz we stayed at an unmentionable hotel, I won’t tell you where because I cannot recommend it, but let me tell you it was so gross! I remember Jahsah and I met up with a medical professional friend staying there years ago so I figured it would be a good choice. When checking in, it looked like new updates had happened since I’d visited there, and they cheerfully informed me that they'd recently done new renovations.

However, they didn’t renovate all the rooms, or someone went in and sabotaged the room we were in, because more and more little discrepencies became apparent until it went from annoying to disgusting. Despite the beautifully lit courtyard, palm trees, pool and grass, walking into our room was disappointing. It seemed okay at first, but not necessarily updated.

We checked in late at night, and the little boys were ready for bed. We got them settled quickly, and then I went to the bathroom to wash my face, I wet a washcloth, then unfolded it to find brown stains all over it, ewwww!

Next, I walked around the room and stepped in a sticky spot by the desk, ewwwwwwwwwww! Then noticed the desk chair looked like it had been attacked by a feral cat. 

Tired, I walked around the bed to go to sleep, I walked through a huge wet spot on the carpet by the wall - sooooo groosssss!!!! After sanitizing my feet, I finally fell asleep annoyed. 

The worst surprise came in the morning when I went to take a shower and as I reached for the shower curtain I noticed what appeared to be blood stains spattered across it, previously hidden within the folds. OMG!!!

All I could think about then was how the teen vampire movie "The Lost Boys" was filmed in Santa Cruz and called their fictional city of Santa Clara "The Murder Capitol of the World" (which Santa Cruz was in the '70's). Eek! I loved that movie and it was all too fresh in my mind as I went to check out ASAP and talk to the front desk with photos on my phone of the evident grossness. 

The hotel staff was shocked and kind, and assured me I would be compensated for the room experience. However upon checking out we went to visit and stay the next couple nights with Jahsah's buddy, a local law enforcement officer, who shared with me that it sounded just like blood spatters from a heroin user and that was an extreme biohazard and severe issue in the area. I immediately realized he was correct, based on the look and position of the spatters.

Upon learning this I called the hotel back, not having heard yet from the manager, talked to them, explained that this was an unexceptable biohazard, and was immediately refunded for our whole hotel stay. They were appalled and said they were going to use my photographs for further training of their staff. 

After that I needed an awesome hotel experience to change it up! What came next made up for that unfortunate stay, as we then experienced some wonderful lodging, and it was a good lesson in taking time to give our room a really good once-over before settling in, no matter how tired we may be.

Lounging in luxury at the Monterey Bay Inn. 

Lounging in luxury at the Monterey Bay Inn. 

Living it Up at Hotels in California

As we begin traveling down the Central Coast, I found the best and fastest way to compare and book hotels on the go is through Booking.com. It's been super convenient to use their website and app to look up the best deals and locations.

This is how I found good deals and booked our stays at beautiful and comfortable places including The Monterey Bay Inn at Cannery Row, The Carmel Wayfarer Inn, The Wine Valley Inn in Solvang, and the Pierpont Inn in Ventura.

I highly recommend it, as we've reserved all our wonderful hotels through Booking.com, most with no cancellation fees, no payment until you arrive, and the more places we've booked through them, the greater discounts we've unlocked.

I even called their customer service with a couple questions and was promptly cared for, which I always appreciate knowing that there is 24 hour customer service available in case of need. 

Use my link to book your next hotel, motel, or vacation home and get a $25 refund on your stay, in addition to the best deals online. 

At our hotel in Solvang we chatted with a lovely couple from Canada who asked us how we were finding places to stay along our route. When we told them Booking.com they enthusiastically shared how they used it to find rooms when they traveled across Europe. So seasoned global travelers confirmed - it's the way to go! 

I love that we can travel in the flow, and when we know where we want to be, it takes me about 5 minutes to compare available rooms online and book a place, knowing it will then be ready when we arrive. 

Monterey

We traveled around the Monterey Bay from Santa Cruz to Monterey itself. We stayed at the beautiful Monterey Bay Inn right on the harbor where you could hear the sea lions bellowing and see the boats coming into the harbor. It was so relaxing and beautiful, and conveniently located within walking distance of Cannery Row and the Aquarium. 

The Monterey Bay Inn dolphin sculpture overlooking the bay with morning fog. 

The Monterey Bay Inn dolphin sculpture overlooking the bay with morning fog. 

We spent an afternoon in Monterey enjoying the beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is truly the best aquarium I've been too. It's an immersive experience walking through the building, experiencing the different zones from the Kelp Forest to the Open Sea, and seeing all the amazing creatures from sting rays, sharks, and octopus, to the ethereal jellyfish and adorable otters. My absolute favorite thing about the aquarium is the beautiful sound healing music composed specially for each exhibit.

I got to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium when I was 11 years olds, and Jahsah grew up getting to visit often with his parents and on school fields trips, so it was a delight to get to take our children there and experience it anew. 

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Our favorite meal of the whole California trip was at The Poke Lab in Monterey. It was amazing! I could eat there every day, it was incredibly delicious. I had the Poke Lab Bowl with spicy tuna, ahi tuna, salmon and avocado, and Jahsah had the build-your-own poke bowl with tuna, salmon, and octopus, and both of our bowls were topped with Masago eggs plus fresh pickled ginger on the side. Plus, it was all so fresh, colorful, and artfully plated (or bowled).

The Poke Lab in Monterey - incredibly fresh & delicious! 

The Poke Lab in Monterey - incredibly fresh & delicious! 

After eating at the Poke Lab, we had to walk around for a while so we could build up our appetite again to enjoy some of the best handcrafted ice cream ever at Revival Ice Cream Shop. Jahsah and I shared the Bee's Knees, their special flavor made with local honey and bee pollen, while Guy had the most decadently rich chocolate ice cream, he's still raving about it! 

Carmel-By-The-Sea

After our adventures around the Monterey Bay, we headed just a few more miles south to the beautiful village of Carmel where we stayed at the quaint Wayfarer Inn, which was built in 1929 as an apartment complex, and is now a family run inn on a quiet street with a beautiful garden and patio courtyard, just 3 blocks walking distance to all the galleries, shops, and restaurants. 

The courtyard garden at the Carmel Wayfarer Inn.

The courtyard garden at the Carmel Wayfarer Inn.

Carmel is a fascinating combination of seaside gardens, hidden paths and courtyards, luxury lifestyle, European travelers, and fairy-tale architecture. We heard more different languages being spoken here than anywhere else on our travels.

There's much to see by walking and exploring the hidden paths through town, finding gardens and adorable little shops. I particularly appreciated The Pilgrim's Way bookstore (the last bookstore in Carmel) and their Secret Garden found through the alleyway behind their store which leads to fountains, a dome, abundant plants, wind chimes, and a gardening shop. 

The Secret Garden in the village of Carmel By the Sea, California.

The Secret Garden in the village of Carmel By the Sea, California.

Then we were headed south and drove through Carmel Valley to stop at the Earthbound Farm's farm stand, organic cafe, and gardens. This was a perfect place to get lunch, pick up snacks for our drive, and stretch our legs.

Their picnic area had a huge redwood tree perfect for climbing in, that my 5 year old absolutely adored.

Redwood majesty at the Earthbound Farmstand in Carmel Valley, California.

Redwood majesty at the Earthbound Farmstand in Carmel Valley, California.

I loved their Aromatherapy Labyrinth, as it combined two of my favorite things. I have long been amazed at the truly calming and meditative effect of walking a labyrinth, plus their's is designed with chamomile growing throughout it, so as you walk you can breathe deeply in the scent of calming fragrant herbs. 

As a huge fan of essential oils, and of the power of nature and sacred geometry, this was a true delight!

The Aromatherapy Labyrinth at Earthbound Farmstand in Carmel Valley, CA.

The Aromatherapy Labyrinth at Earthbound Farmstand in Carmel Valley, CA.

My husband Jahsah created this Google 360 image of the Aromatherapy Labyrinth at Earthbound Farms, so you can look around and experience a virtual view. Take a look around and see if you can spot my 5 year old Guy in the image!

We also enjoyed their abundant Herb Garden, and I loved smelling the abundant oregano, rosemary, roses and more. 

The Earthbound Farm's herb garden in Carmel Valley, CA

The Earthbound Farm's herb garden in Carmel Valley, CA

Our adventures around the Monterey Bay and California's Central Coast was inspiring and beautiful. I feel grateful for being there at the time when so many flowers were blooming and to get to share this with my love and littlest children.

This trip inspired us of all the potential that travel can bring to our minds, hearts and lives. Plus it was great to create new connections and revisit old places from Jahsah's childhood, and from my own. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our California Travel Adventures coming up next!

We're already planning to visit again later this year, because there is so much more we want to explore. 

Please help me out and let me know: what's your favorite place to visit, eat or play around the Monterey Bay? Share in the comments below. 

Many blessings on all your adventures, 

Kara


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Birthing Inspiration from April the Giraffe

Birthing Inspiration from April the Giraffe

This weekend I had so many people come up to me while I've been traveling in California with my family while my little baby was being carried on my chest in a sling to talk. First they would comment on what a sweet attentive baby he is. Then they would tell me excitedly how they watched April the Giraffe give birth live on the internet on Saturday morning! 

I was amazed how many people of all ages told me they saw April give birth, and how they'd been checking in to the live cam for weeks. I felt this openness of wonder toward my baby and desire to connect from these strangers, especially because they were recently awed by the wonder of natural unassisted birth. 

I just love that April the Giraffe gave birth to her baby on April 15th - because that's also the day that I first gave birth, to my eldest son Ari, who just turned 17 years old!!! I can't believe that I have a 17 year old son, a 5 year old, and a 4 month old! My boys all inspire and motivate me so much to work to make the world safer and healthier for families and children.

When Ari was born at home in Seattle, WA in 2000, it deeply committed me to the importance of supporting mothers, babies and families to have empowered gentle births. He was born at home with two midwives and a doula present. It was an amazing powerful experience that opened me to the incredible reserves of power and potential that we hold as women bringing life forth. 

I was already experienced as a birth and postpartum doula, and pre and perinatal massage therapist, which gave me the confidence at age 21 to choose a home birth with midwives, and after Ari's birth I continued to pursue deeper studies and experience in the midwifery and birthing arts, as well as holistic birth and women's health education and advocacy.

My 4 month old Jasper was born unassisted at home this winter in our cottage in the midst of a gentle snow.

My husband Jahsah played the didgeridoo (the long Australian wind instrument) during almost every contraction I had for the last 4 hours of my labor - which was the most amazingly effective natural pain relief to my great joy and surprise! He could see how significantly it would ease my pain, as soon as he started playing I would take a deep breath and shift from uncontrollable moaning to a calm centered space, and so he played the didgeridoo over and over again from midnight to near 4 am in the morning when he caught our baby as I pushed him out on my knees halfway between the kitchen and the front door.

It was absolutely amazing and I'm still soaking in the power of that experience. 

My 5 year old son Jeva (who prefers to be called Guy), was my first unassisted birth, in a warm tub of water with beautiful music playing who awakened me to embrace my sovereign power as a mother. You can read more about my birth experiences with Guy and Ari in my book "How to Have an Awesome Birth", which is a 300+ page bonus with the Awesome Birth Teacher Training.

Birth is a huge part of my life. I've been supporting moms, dads, babies and families for almost 20 years.

I believe every mother should feel safe in birth, and has the right to choose where and with whom she births.

I believe that all mothers should have access to affordable, mother and baby friendly healthcare in pregnancy, birth and postpartum, whether that's with compassionate obstetricians, midwives or family. 

Primal Birth Wisdom for Natural Mamas

I hope that April the Giraffe who's birth was witnessed by millions live on the internet, has opened people to remember that we are all mammals, and mammals birth best when they feel safe and undisturbed. Read this story on my blog about how elephants birth best with other female elephants present.

Mamas and babies are designed for birth, and when given the space, time and patience, instinctively know what to do. 

Did you see April the Giraffe give birth? What was most impactful for you about this experience?

Many blessings and gratitude, 

Kara


Be an Advocate for Mothers, Babies & Families Today

A holistic global program to support you in creating your vision of how you can best help mothers, families and babies. This course supports the birth entrepreneur, student, practitioner, advocate, and parent to expand their education, resources, language, clarity, confidence, and global network. This is a holistic and comprehensive program that is attended by a diverse student population from women's health and birth advocates from all over the world. 

Mercury Retrograde: Why It's Positively Awesome

Mercury Retrograde is Awesome

It's Mercury Retrograde!

What feelings does that bring up in you when someone says that?

Do you groan and think, "Oh no! That's why everything is so crazy." 

Why do we do this?

So that then we can blame life's mundane regular challenges on planetary forces beyond our control?

Then do you get worried about all the activities you've been planning and looking forward to over the next 3 weeks?

I want to share with you why Mercury Retrograde is an awesome time.

It feels to me that many astrology buffs play to the fear-factor element of the cosmic dance. Perhaps it's based upon honoring the remnants of our ancestral memories, when people feared the unknown forces of nature. 

Yet truly Mercury retrograde is just a matter of perception. For the planet Mercury is always moving forward in the sky. It just seems from our Earthly point of view to be going in reverse for a period of three weeks a few times each year. 

Retrograde isn't about Mercury actually going backwards, but about how we see Mercury. 

Thus, Mercury Retrograde is an opportunity to shift our point of view and change the way we perceive this whole situation and the happenstances of our lives. 

Mercury Retrograde Change of Perception

I have found that Mercury Retrograde is an awesome time for many things. Being a Gemini, Mercury is the planetary ruler of my Sun sign, so I always felt like Mercury Retrograde was a holiday that I got to be a part of, when Mercury was being talked about, and everyone was paying attention to what he was up to. 

Mercury is a very important Roman God, known as the son of Maia and Jupiter. He is the patron of finances, communication, luck, divination, poetry, travel, boundaries, and abundance.

As his mother Maia is the Goddess of midwifery, guiding souls through the journey to birth, he guides souls to the underworld. Mercury also carries the dreams of Morpheus to sleeping humans. 

Mercury is similar to the Greek God Hermes, the god of magic and messages.

He's also the archetype that the modern superhero The Flash is based upon (which is one of my favorite TV shows of all time - the recent Supergirl/Flash musical crossover episode was amazing).

The elemental energy of Mercury is about trusting in the flow of prosperity, words, opportunity, and higher spiritual forces at work. Mercury is a guide, he assists souls in their journey. 

Many people find plans go awry during Mercury Retrograde, as well as blame a myriad of random unfortunate events on this planetary perception.

I propose that one may need to loosen one's personal plans during Mercury Retrograde to have faith in the divine journey. 

This is an ideal time to align deeper with our soul mission and dedication to service for others. 

I love Mercury Retrograde! I get a LOT done during this time by harnessing the energy of this period. However, it's not always how I plan it.

A big part of maximizing Mercury retrograde is loosening your ideas of what you think is going to happen and trusting in the higher purpose of what is actually happening. 

Though you could speed through work and activities, this is a good time to slow down and go with the flow.

Why Mercury Retrograde is Awesome 

Mercury Retrograde: Why Retro is Awesome

Retro is Hot

I've been rekindling my love of retro style recently. The above photo is my 3 month old and I at the Ashland Hills Hotel in Oregon, which is recently remodeled and designed honoring the style of the original hotel built in 1978 (the year I was born!). 

Retro is all about reviving and imitating fashions of the recent past. 

During Mercury Retrograde, it's a great time to remember what you were excited about when you were younger. Maybe there is something that really inspired you that would be beneficial to bring back into your life in a new way, and could help you to appreciate how far you've come along your journey already. 

Through the path of life, it's good to reflect upon your progress, and take the time to remember what has been that's supported you to get to where you are. 

How can you reconnect with a part of your history at this time? 

Self-Reflection

Mercury retrograde is a great time to do some internal reflection: to process, learn from, and integrate the experiences of one's past.

It's a great time to go through old photos and writing, revisit your previous goals and see what you've accomplished, what you've been putting off, and what needs to be re-prioritized in your life.

It's also a perfect time for self-care and rest. 

Introspection provides the opportunity to reassess the direction we're heading in and make adjustments if needed, as well as prepare for what's ahead. 

Synchronicity

Mercury is a guide who is connected with magic and luck.

Mercury retrograde is a time when things may not happen as you expect, but can bring deep insights and prosperous blessings, if you are open to the possibilities. 

Be open to alternative doors opening in your life that are creating the connections for your soul mission and true path in life. 

Maximize the potential for synchronicity by being flexible with timelines, and allowing things taking their own time of completion. 

Keep a look out for signs of magic in the world around you of which direction to take.

Decluttering

I love getting rid of old stuff that no longer serves my highest joy and good during Mercury Retrograde.

It's a fabulous time for decluttering, organizing paperwork and files, cleaning out closets, and taking old items to the thrift store or consignment shop to find new lives. 

Taking the time to declutter and organize periodically helps create the space in our physical environment and our thoughts to focus more clearly on what we really want in our lives. 

Letting go of the old and bringing order to our past, clears the way for  the best of the future to have a place to enter in your life. 

Completion

Are there unfinished projects in your work, home, and life that need completion?

Take advantage of Mercury Retrograde by going back and focusing upon what you've already started. 

My dear friend Annie Botticelli is an internationally renowned astrologer whom I took a class on Mercury Retrograde with in Sedona 7 years ago. She recommended that Mercury Retrograde is a great time to continue what you've already put into motion and commit to goals you've already set. 

What have you been working on that needs attention? 

Mercury Retrograde is the best time to complete old projects. 

Mercury Retrograde

Maximizing the Magic of Mercury

I hope this inspires you to use the awareness of this astrological passage for optimizing what works best during Mercury Retrograde. 

There is no need to worry about what could go wrong when there's so much potential for self-growth, goal completion and clearing during this time. 

Feeling frustrated about the retrograde anyway?

It's okay! Life has challenges, that's a part of our human experience.

When upset or stressed out, I always recommend increasing self care, connecting with nature, journaling, and cleansing showers or baths, as well as the healing power of naps. 

Then take a look around and see: what small action step can you take towards your goals?

Keep moving forward, one step at a time.

It may seem that you are not going anywhere or moving backwards, but remember that's just a matter of perception.

Progress is not always linear, it's more like a spiral, like the cosmic dance of planets spiraling around the Sun. 

What do you do to get the most from a Mercury Retrograde cycle?

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. 

Many blessings,

Kara

The 7 Sacred Feminine Leadership Archetypes of the Seven Sisters

The 7 Sacred Feminine Leadership Archetypes of the Seven Sisters by Kara Maria Ananda

I've been fascinated with the constellation of the Pleiades for over 20 years. Before I knew the name of the stars, it was the small bright cluster that I would always search out with my eyes at night.

Later I discovered they were the Pleiades, and was compelled to research their mythology, stories, and meaning. Through learning about the mystery of the Seven Sisters, I have put together some amazing information about these stars known as midwives, goddesses, and priestesses in different cultures, and how these seven sisters correspond to the seven chakras and are encoded with wisdom for modern women today.

The Seven Sisters are 7 Ancient Archetypes for Women's Leadership that are embedded within our global stories, the patterns of nature, and our own women's bodies.

These 7 archetypes reveal a full spectrum of models of feminine leadership that have been encoded with the mythology of cultures all over the world, as well as within astronomy, astrology, biology, and numerology. 

As women are reclaiming our true feminine power and stepping into roles of healing, teaching, speaking, writing, and being change-makers in the world, it is essential to understand that there are many ways that we can embody our true feminine power and be leaders today.

The Alpha male leadership role that our modern culture sees as the typical model of leadership is not a pattern of balanced leadership for the new emerging conscious culture. New feminine leaders need positive archetypes for us to learn and be inspired from that resonate with our hearts and souls. 

This is why it is so healing and transformative to learn about the 7 Ancient Archetypes for Women Leaders Today - to know that we can be conscious creators of this global transformation in many different ways, and that our roles as women leaders will actually change as we embody different stages of our lives.

These 7 archetypes are fluid and move in a spiral or circle, thus you may resonate with different archetypes depending upon what project you are working on, or the time of your life that you are in. You will see how gentleness, creativity, and receptivity are also characteristics of leaders today, and that we all have a place in the feminine spectrum of leadership. 

The 7 Sacred Feminine Leadership Archetypes of the Seven Sisters by Kara Maria Ananda

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are the seven stars of the Pleiades and they correspond with the seven chakras. The Pleiades are recognized in every culture around the world, and central to the secret knowledge of ancient civilizations. 

The Pleiades is the brightest cluster of stars in the sky, and these stars have been noted in cultures as diverse as the Egyptian, Greek, Hopi, Mayan, Lakota, Japanese, Maori and Australian Aborigine, since the beginning of human history. Ancient cultures around the planet have long marked the cycles of ages through sacred calendars, pyramids, and astronomy, and every culture has marked the passage and appearance of the Pleiades in the sky through these ways. 

The Mayans, Cherokee, and Hopi believe that their ancestors come from the Pleiades. The ancient Mayans and Egyptians built pyramids aligned with the stars of the Pleiades. They are known in Egypt as the Seven Midwives.  In China and Greece they are known as the Seven Sisters. In Greek Mythology, they are recognized as priestesses, mothers, lovers, and midwives, and many ancient Greek temples were dedicated to the Pleiades. Humans around the world have honored, celebrated, and marked the passage of the Pleiades for many thousands of years.

The Seven Stars of the Pleiades constellation are known today by their names from Greek Mythology as the Seven Sisters: Maia, Alcyone, Electra, Celaeno, Taygeta, Asterope, and Merope. There are two other main stars in the constellation, the father of the sisters Atlas, and their mother Pleione, a goddess of the ocean. 

Beyond the sight of the human eye, there are actually over 300 stars in the cluster of the Pleiades. This constellation resonates with the human chakra system, as we have 7 main chakras in our body, an Earth Chakra below our feet, the Soul Star chakra above our head, and over 300 minor chakras throughout our body. 

The Seven Sisters hold the keys to 7 archetypes for women’s leadership.  Connecting with them consciously will support you to step into conscious feminine leadership to co-create peace, harmony, and healing for the Earth and Humanity now. 

Now is the time when the Sacred Feminine Energy that the Pleiades embody has come back into alignment with the Earth for the future cosmic evolution of humanity. This is a potent and powerful time for aligning with the wisdom and teachings of the Seven Sisters. 

This is the beginning of an era of great transformation, in which the Sacred Feminine returns and comes into balance with the Sacred Masculine. This is the birthing time of a universal consciousness born from the hieros gamos, the sacred marriage of the divine feminine and divine masculine. Through the union and balance of the Universal polarity we can find peace within harmonic consciousness, creativity, and vitality. 

Ancient cultures around the planet have long marked the cycles of ages through sacred calendars, pyramids, and astronomy, and every culture has marked the passage and appearance of the Pleiades in the sky through these ways. 

The 7 Sacred Feminine Leadership Archetypes of the Seven Sisters by Kara Maria Ananda

Which of the Seven Sisters do you embody? 

  1. Maia the Midwife - Root Chakra 
  2. Alcyone the Queen - Belly Chakra 
  3. Electra the Activator - Solar Plexus Chakra
  4. Celaeno the Oracle - Heart Chakra
  5. Taygeta the Storyteller - Throat Chakra
  6. Asterope the Visionary - Third Eye Chakra
  7. Merope the Priestess - Crown Chakra

Discover which of these ancient archetypes that you resonate with and step into your feminine power, strength and wisdom.

Now is the time for you to be a voice and leader for change, healing and balance in the world and you can do that in the feminine way that feels good for you. 

There is much deeper we can go into discovering the stories of each of these seven sisters and the meaning the archetypes hold, as well as the global mythology and stories about the Pleiades from around the world. 

But for now...

Tune into the energy, names, and associated chakras of each of the Seven Sisters and feel which intuitively you are guided to connect with. Consciously meditating and calling upon this Starry Goddess will support you in the work you are doing to embody and ground in this energy in your life. 

Take the Seven Sisters Quiz:


Learn more about the Seven Sisters in the Maia Mystery School:

The Maia Mystery School

Learn more about the 7 Archetypes of the Divine Feminine through the mystic stories, practices and wisdom of the Seven Sisters PLUS much more! 

Now is the time for you to shine your light, experience a conscious rebirth, and become a co-creator of peace, healing and transformation in the world!

Be the Hero of Your Own Life

You have within you abundant potential. 

The one you are waiting for to stand up and make a difference in the world is you. 

As you discover your passion, and follow that journey through to manifest your vision, you become a conscious creator both fulfilling your dreams and bringing inspiration and transformation to the world. 

You are complete the way you are, ready to embark upon your destiny. 

You don't need approval or permission from anyone or any institution. No certificates, licenses or expensive fees to go for your goals. You're the one to make the choice to do it. 

"Follow your bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Be the Hero of Your Own Life & Follow Your Bliss

When you discover the path that brings your heart joy and lights up your soul, then you're on the Hero's Journey, you're following your bliss. 

As you trust that deep impulse within you, the essence of the hero's journey reveals itself in the state of flow, serenity and integration that occurs when doing what you are destined to be doing. 

Chase your dreams. Seek out what makes you feel one with the world. 

You are the expert of you, the only one who can make the decisions about what's best for your life path. Luckily, you have a compass with you to help guide you on your journey every step of the way. It's within your very core, it's your heart, and it will lead you to the best adventures.

Just tune in to your heart any time you wonder which way to turn, or what road to take, and notice how you FEEL when you consider each option. 

When you feel a warmth, a fire, a pull, a flutter, a vibrant hum, a quickening, a lightness or a softening within your heart - than that is the path for you - regardless of what anyone else says. 

The Hero's Journey is learning the language of the heart and letting it guide you on an adventure to discover what is it that you love to do. 

By finding your path of love and destiny, you inspire others to adventure forth and seek their own way to the fountains of the heart. 

On this journey, we learn to know the meanings of the many feelings we have in life, and to trust our primal heart wisdom.

The hero's heart is their compass. Trust in this incredible force is what keeps our aim upon our big vision, as we navigate our way through our lives, creating our own path about this Earth. 

Trust your heart and opportunities will open to you that you could never have imagined or expected yet are exactly what you most deeply desire and need. 

That is the magic of following your bliss. 

When we embark upon the hero's journey, we activate a deeper discovery of who we really are and what we are here to do. 

As we create a new path for ourselves, we reveal our gifts, find joy and challenge in pursuing our mission, and strengthen our confidence, trust and belief in our purpose and self. 

We also grow a greater connection to the world around us, and a deeper compassion for the universal human journey of dreams, obstacles, overcoming, persistence, love and life that we all experience. 

What is it that gets you excited? What is it that adds sparkles to your world? 

The universe always leaves clues, follow the breadcrumbs of synchronicity, the signs and messages within the world that will lead you to your destiny. 

You are the hero of your own life. 

Take hold of the pen, and write your own story. 

Go for your dreams! Whatever brings you joy, do that, and keep doing the next thing that lights you up until you find your way to that big something that you grab hold of and then see how far it can take you. 

Just don't give up, or chicken out, or postpone your grand life goals for next week, year or decade. Every morning wake up and decide to make THIS day and every day - an adventure. 

Believe in yourself, your heart, your limitless potential and boldly claim your bliss! 

Now is the time and the adventure of your lifetime awaits! Are you ready?

Many blessings, 
Kara

Superfood Brownie Bar Recipe (Raw, Gluten-Free)

Superfood Fudge Brownie Bars with dates, walnuts, cacao, seeds and coconut oil.

When I made these bars and gave some to my kids, they actually clapped their hands in appreciation while they were busy chewing.

Not kidding, my 5 year old and 16 year old both applauded the deliciousness of these concoctions. 

Have you noticed the ever-expanding bar section of grocery stores today? There are so many different varieties and flavors from paleo to raw. 

However, it's simple to make your own bars at home - with just the ingredients you love. Personally, I am a huge fan of all things chocolate.

I also love the all-natural nut and fruit bars from the store. I've found that I can easily make my own version at home. This way I can also upgrade the quality of the ingredients to organic, and add more nutrient-dense superfoods for extra nutritional boost. 

Dates are the sole sweetener in this recipe, so it's naturally sweet and sugar-free. Organic dates are delicious and provide fiber as well as iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and more essential micro-nutrients and minerals. They support healthy digestion and elimination of the body, promoting colon health. 

Eating dates in late pregnancy, has been linked to favorable labor outcomes. Thus I created this recipe during my recent pregnancy to make a great way to eat dates, while also balancing the sweetness with the sustaining energy of the nuts and seeds.

Walnuts provide protein as well as omega 3 essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, folate, Vitamin E, antioxidants, and much more. Walnuts are excellent for supporting the health of the brain and heart, and they may promote prostate and breast health as well. 

Raw cacao is an excellent source of antioxidants, as well as magnesium and iron. It also contains anandamide, the bliss molecule, which improves mood. High quality cacao is a superfood, and may even boost your brain power and enhance memory

Chocolate is conventionally made with cacao, sugar, and milk, but the nutritional benefits of cacao are diminished by processing, dairy, and refined sugar. Raw cacao has all the best benefits of eating chocolate, and exceptional taste. 

Hemp seeds are a highly digestible source of plant based protein. The non-psychoactive seeds of organic hemp are a nutrient-dense superfood.

Hemp seeds are rich in Omega 3's and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which have been shown to support hormonal balance and help PMS and menopause.

They are also a great source of fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B6.

Chia seeds are also a great plant protein source, along with fiber, Omega 3's, antioxidants, and a variety of minerals and vitamins.  

Black sesame seeds are highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote beauty, longevity, and youth. Postpartum women are encouraged to eat them to replenish their energy, health, and spirit.

Sesame seeds are packed with protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, and the black variety are specially prized for anti-aging. 

I love adding nutritious organic seeds to my bars for extra energy and nutrient diversity. However, if you don't have them, they are optional. 

These bars are delicious. I make double batches because they go quickly. 

Raw Chocolate Brownie Bars with dates, nuts and seeds.

Superfood Brownie Bar Recipe

Ingredients:

1.5 c. organic pitted dates, medjool or deglet

1.5 c. organic walnuts

1/2 c. organic raw cacao powder

1 T. hemp seeds

1 T. chia seeds

1 T. black sesame seeds

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 T. raw organic coconut oil

 

How to Make:

Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and run until everything is mixed thoroughly and has created a consistent dough that sticks together. 

Spread the dough out into a pan and smooth flat and even. I used a silicone mat on a cookie sheet to spread the dough onto. You could also form into balls.

Chill in the fridge until firm, 1 hour or more, and cut into bars or squares to serve. 

These brownie bars store for weeks in the fridge in a glass-lock container (if they last that long!). 

Enjoy! 

Superfood Brownie Bars Recipe - healthy, fast and delicious.

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The Gifts of Simplification & Self-Care

I am so excited to welcome in this new year ahead!

2016 was transformational and challenging.

I was pushed in my personal and professional life to let go of so much, including travel schedules, speaking engagements, and just about anything involving a plan.

I did not expect that my pregnancy would lead me to be nauseous and vomiting from late March through early December of this year. I was throwing up persistently through most of this entire year, for almost 9 months straight, including up 'til past 42 weeks pregnant and in labor. 

So, you can feel then, how grateful I am to have my baby in my arms and to feel GOOD again! 

Yet, 2016 brought unexpected gifts through the near constant queasiness (besides the sweetest little baby boy).  

The most valuable transformation of this year was SIMPLIFICATION.

Being no longer able to do everything all the time, I had to minimize, streamline, and organize my life and work in a more optimal way. Truly I've wanted to do this to a greater degree for a long time, but I recognize now that I have had a hard time saying no to invitations, opportunities and projects.

This year the Universe gave me an opportunity to really get to it and focus on what was most important. In order to say yes to self-care, I had to rearrange my life.

It's amazing, now that I have embraced a streamlined creative flow, I have time to breathe and enjoy my new baby, and still grow my business, serve clients around the world, and nurture my whole family.

A significant synchronicity that supported this year's minimization was the guidance by a mentor to read the book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" - just at the same time as the first waves of morning sickness started hitting. I highly recommend it if you want to take back your time, focus on your goals, and learn how to politely avoid giving your energy away. 

The Gifts of Simplicity & Self-Care

I've also deepened my practice of the art of SELF-CARE.  

Rest, nourishment, and essential oils have all been huge supports for me this year. Through diligence and care, I kept my mind, body and emotions strong, resilient, and thriving, despite near daily nausea. I was able to manage my pregnant wellbeing through daily routines to support my energy, digestion, and spirits. 

I am so grateful for all the natural health support that I have at my fingertips, to be able to meet the always changing needs of myself and my family. 

I've been called to teach more about self care and thus created the new course this year, The Pleasure of Pampering: Sacred Sensual Self-Care for Women, sharing the powerful health promoting benefits of feminine self-care. 

As we go into 2017, I will bring with me the gifts of simplicity and self-care which I gained this year.

I am so happy to be grateful and inspired heading into 2017, and with all this new energy you can bet that I have much to share! 

I'm also incredibly grateful to all my clients and community who have graciously been patient and understanding with me this year as I was unexpectedly hit with ongoing nausea for months. Your ongoing support and caring has been incredible and appreciated!!!!

What lessons did you learn this year that you will remember in the years to come? 

I am wishing you a thriving, vibrant, creative and active new year! 

Many Blessings, 
Kara

My Top 10 Essential Oils for Pregnancy

Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby

Mama's Essentials

I am so grateful to have an abundance of the highest quality essential oils at my fingertips to support my current journey through pregnancy, birth and beyond. 

I've long valued the benefits of essential oils for mamas and babies, using aromatherapy massage oils with my pregnant clients and blending beautiful labor oils and mists to bring along in my birth bag as a doula. 

The experience of growing and birthing a baby is an extraordinary one, in which a mother experiences changes physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

It's also a sensitive developmental period, in which women are very aware that chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pollutants, and environmental influences can effect our baby's health significantly. 

Thus, natural and pure essential oils from plants are a nurturing and gentle addition to a women's self-care tool kit during pregnancy, birth and beyond. 

In early pregnancy, my most used oils were for digestive support, emotional support and skin care. I also used other specific oils for immune and respiratory support as individual issues came up over the months. 

Here are my top essential oil recommendations for pregnancy & birth: 

doTERRA Essential Oils for Prenatal and Postpartum Wellness

Essential Oils for Pregnancy

Ginger

This spicy earthy root creates a beautiful energizing essential oil produced from fresh ginger in Madagascar. Ginger became a strong ally to me during this year, as I experienced pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting throughout the entire length of my pregnancy. Thus, ginger has been on hand - by my bed, in my bathroom, by my desk and in my purse. I have not been without ginger oil for months and months and it's been greatly valued and appreciated to calm my digestion and queasiness while also promoting courage and confidence. 

Lemon

This essential citrus oil is bright and refreshing and is a great combination with ginger to smell or diffuse. I loved diffusing ginger and lemon essential oils together in the morning first thing, to help me start off the day with greater ease. The combo is like ginger lemonade, so good! Lemon is also naturally cleansing, so a great oil to freshen the air with. 

Bergamot

Bergamot is another beautiful citrus oil which is very beneficial for boosting mood and emotions. Pregnancy can bring lots of emotions along the journey, and bergamot is one of my favorites to reach for to smell or to mix in blends for massage or diffusing to brighten my spirits. 

Peppermint

Peppermint is one of many pregnant women's favorite oils for digestive support and calming the tummy. Avoid peppermint during breastfeeding, as it could reduce milk supply. 

Cardamom

Cardamom creates a spicy sweet aroma that is very effective at suppressing queasiness, and thus another great supportive oil for the digestion. Cardamom also blends well with ginger to smell or diffuse, with a scent evoking chai. 

Lavender

Lavender is the most popular essential oil used in the world for good reason. It supports calm, relaxed feelings as well as having benefits for the skin and body. Lavender is a wonderful oil to have in your essential oil toolkit for a multitude of purposes, but especially for reducing stress and enhancing restfulness in pregnancy. 

Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang is a beautiful floral essential oil that is calming and uplifting. It's a favorite oil to blend with bergamot, lavender and other relaxing oils for an emotionally balancing aromatherapy experience. One of my favorite uses for ylang ylang in pregnancy with with lavender and geranium in a warm foot bath with epsom salts and baking soda - this is a great way to ground and release stress at the end of a day, as well as to ease tired pregnant feet. 

Melissa

Melissa is the essential oil of the lemon balm herb, and thus has a lemony sweet and green scent. Melissa is a precious oil that is very gentle, yet highly effective at calming the nervous system as well as supporting the body's immune system. 

Geranium

Geranium is a sensual floral essential oil that is balancing for the skin, supportive of the immune system, and has calming and grounding effects on the mood. 

Immortelle

Immortelle is an amazing doTERRA blend of essential oils, including frankincense, Hawaiian sandalwood, myrrh, and rose, which is wonderful to massage on the growing pregnancy belly to support skin appearance and tone. 

Essential oils for pregnancy

Quality Matters

It's especially important during pregnancy to use the highest quality of essential oils available.

I use doTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils, because they are comprehensively tested in their labs and by third-party independent labs to ensure they are of optimal purity and potency, and free of pesticides, heavy metals, toxins, synthetic chemicals, GMO's and molds.

Find out more about how to get pure essential oils here at 25% off, plus join my essential living community to help you to naturally thrive in wellness. 

Contact me with any questions! 

Many blessings, 

Kara

P.S. Thanks to Shades of Stone for the beautiful and elegant onyx essential oil holders in my photos! I love having my favorite pregnancy and birth oils ready in such a gorgeous display. 


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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