Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Hanging of Angélique (My summary and paper thesis)

Afua Cooper and her astounding book

This is the summary of a book I analyzed for my last paper. It's a great piece of Canadian history which I think everyone should know about. I've also included my paper thesis/intro in the same format required for my class. Hope you enjoy it and are inspired to read this book!

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell

The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal, written by Afua Cooper (2006), tells the story of the life, trial and execution of an Afro-Portuguese slave woman named Marie-Joseph Angélique in New France during the early 18th century. Cooper (2006), a Jamaican-born Canadian historian, poet and author, uses her academic power and expertise to reconstruct the memories and narrative of Angélique’s life that is rooted in the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade. As a result, she unveils a history of slavery in Canada that has been systematically written out of official history – therefore out of the collective consciousness – and covered up with the national myth of Canada as “freedom's land” (Cooper, 2006). While Canada did exist as a refuge for many runaway slaves escaping a life of bondage in America, its colonial history consists of over 200 years of institutionalized slavery of African and Indigenous peoples, shared between both the French and British colonial governments that were in power (Cooper, 2006).

When Angélique arrived to the New World in the year 1725, she had already spent her young life as a slave in Portugal, the country that had “initiated this Atlantic commerce in human flesh” (Cooper, 2006). She was soon sold to the wealthy fur trader François Poulin de Francheville and his wife, Thérèse de Couagne, with whom she spent a majority of her life as a slave in their home in Old Montréal (Cooper, 2006). Angélique openly resisted her position as a slave and declared her hatred for the French and her slave owner, Madame Francheville (then widowed), whom she threatened on numerous accounts to “roast” by fire after being denied permission to be freed (Cooper, 2006). Then, one April evening in 1734, the Francheville home lit up in flames and spread rapidly causing mass destruction to Old Montréal, all of which was immediately blamed on Angélique (Cooper, 2006). The next chapter of Angélique's life was spent in prison and on trial for allegedly causing the fire, and enduring horrendous torture before she took her final breath at the gallows on June 21, 1734 (Cooper, 2006). From this chapter, Cooper (2006) was able to capture Angélique's actual testimony from the trial and add her voice to the growing collection of both historical and contemporary stories of Black resistance that have been silenced and forgotten for far too long. 

This paper will highlight how Cooper succeeded in unearthing a history of slavery, deeply buried in Canada's consciousness, which subverts Canada's hegemonic “master-narrative” of Whiteness as the norm, as well as contributes to a positive representation of Black women in Canadian history. Through telling the story otherwise, Cooper disrupts the homogeneous construction of Black slaves as a singular, nameless, one dimensional body, and breathes life into Angélique so that she is represented as a complex individual, who asserted her strength and courage as she resisted racial subjugation. The Hanging of Angélique (2006) offers a form of “pedagogical memory” so that present generations can learn and heal from this painful history, as well as “develop a moral and healthy relationship to the past” (Baum, 2000). In reading this history, we all must consider, not only Cooper's position as a historian and the power she holds in narrating Angélique's life, but also our own social location and relationship to slavery in Canada and how this has influenced the meanings we make about society. Through using “critical viewing practices - that is practices of looking that take into account the authority and power of the historically and culturally situated viewer in the production of meanings” (Sturken & Cartwright, 2003), we can consider the cultural context in which we shape, question and negotiate our identities in relation to society, and which dictates the pedagogical arena through which we have learned about Canadian history. We can also use these practices to think about how we remember (or forget) Canada's role as active participants in the Atlantic slave trade, as well as the ensuing racism that is embedded in Canada's social framework.

Baum, R. (2000). Never to forget: Pedagogical memory and second-generation witness. Between Hope and Despair: Pedagogy and the Remembrance of Historical Trauma. R. Simon, S. Rosenberg, &  C. Eppert (Eds.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 91-115.

Cooper, A. (2006). The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal. Toronto: Harper Collins. Print.

Sturken, M. & Cartwright, L. (2003). Viewers make meaning. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford University Press. 1-44.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

India Journal Snippets (Part 3)

Mother Teresa's Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes a.k.a. Kalighat (not my photo)

(Part 1 begins on October 7th)

Note: This was written after I left Calcutta for 2 weeks to go back to Sri Lanka and visit my friends.

May 1st, 2006

I am leaving in a couple of hours to go the airport. I am really, really hoping that (Anonymous friend) will be there to meet me. If not, I'll figure it out. What other choice do I have? Nilmini has sent me a goodbye message from Bellwood Cultural Centre. I am happy for her. She will be starting university soon. BREAK. Oh thank the Lord (Anonymous friend) was at the airport today. He was a little late, but oh man he was there to meet me. I'm sitting here in my bra and undies, my stuff is all over my bed and I'm so hot. My room is only slightly larger than a single bed. It's dirty, but it's cheap and fine for me. I'm quite surprised at myself actually. I'm taking all of these new experiences quite well. I am a goddess! I am always protected! Haha. Today (Anonymous friend) and I walked and talked about program stuff and Sri Lanka. Tomorrow he is going to introduce me to the nuns at Motherhouse. I am very excited. I know this experience will be great for me.

May 2nd, 2006

I slept a little late last night. Woke up before 6 am. I am tired, but that should pass once I get busy today. I am supposed to be working in Kalighat today. I am very interested. I have never been around dying people before. BREAK. So today I volunteered for a bit. I hung clothes to dry on the roof, rinsed dishes, swept the floor, folded sheets and cut up fruit. I didn't work with the people yet, but I will try tomorrow. I think I will go to mass tomorrow morning. (Anonymous friend) is sick so he has been sleeping all afternoon. He is supposed to be moving into the rooftop room tonight. I have to go wake him up son. I have been talking to some really interesting people this afternoon. BREAK. We went to eat with our 2 new Canadian friends from Vancouver. I think they're pretty cool people. Adam has been travelling for the past 7 1/2 months. His friend Heidi just joined him. She cannot hear, but she is super easy to communicate with. It's been a cool day. Except for when I got lost.

May 3rd, 3006

Today I volunteered again in the morning. I went to mass also. It was interesting, but I'm not sure if I will do the "come and see". I don't feel right singing to Jesus and the Catholic God and everything. I don't feel that's where my God is. This afternoon I went to the volunteer orientation. I am interested to see which new volunteers wik,ll be at Kalighat. I won't be the only newbie anymore. Yay. We went to this really great rooftop patio for drinks and food. I didn't drink alcohol, but I ate like a pig. This evening I talked to this cute guy from Spain for a long time. He is kind of doing the same as me. Volunteering at Mother Teresa's for 2 months and trying to figure out his life. It's almost 1 am now so I should go to sleep.

May 4th, 2006

I am lying in bed naked after I just took a refreshing shower. I missed the field trip to Titagarh this morning. I was puking all last night. I think I ate too much heavy food before going to bed. I feel better now. Tonight we are going to listen to some music at "Somebody Else's Place"? Once again I will not drink. I just bumped my head and how I have a bump.

May 5th, 2006

Last night me, Adam, (Anonymous friend), Anni and Iñigo went to the bar/pub called Someplace Else. When we first got there they were playing good songs from Oasis, Coldplay...umm and others. Then this band came on with one female singer. They did covers for Alanis Morissette, I can't remember. Anyway, it was great. I smoked a clove cigarette. I can't believe it. It's a big secret from my friends right now. I also drank a little beer after quitting in April. I don't really care. I am here. I am being free. I am choosing as I go. After leaving the pub with its air conditioned washrooms we walked outside and stepped back into reality. Outside is a hot, hustling, bustling city with poverty on every corner. There is a great contrast between the two, with so much to show on each side.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The LOFT Sound Studio

Supporting my sister. Supporting the LOFT sound studio. Supporting youth. Supporting the future. Supporting life. Peace.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

India Journal Snippets (Part 2)

New Delhi to Kolkata
(Part 1 begins on October 7th)

April 13th, 2006

I think that's the right date. I can't sleep and I don't know why. Too many things racing through my head. My body is so uncomfortable from being all tight on the plane. I think I got about 2 hours last night It is now 6:30 a.m. The sun is completely out. Maybe if I have some time I will sleep again, but I really should get out of here by 10 a.m. I don't want the sun to be blazing when I am searching for the train station. I think it is about time I made clear my intention for this trip. I, Karuna Sian Sagara, want to obtain life experience, a higher and deeper understanding of myself and I want to learn true compassion. I know I have things to offer this world, things that come from the heart, but I just need to find a skill so I can apply it and manifest it. Reminds me a bit of Sri Lanka here. Different smells, different music and different languages though. I can feel how much bigger it is here too. Haha, I can hear cows mooing in the streets outside my room. It seems pretty quiet outside other than that. BREAK. At the train station, inside the tourist reservation place. I need to get food soon or I will faint. I am so worried that this train will be full I need to get a train right away. I am also upset because the hotel charged me an extra 75 rupees for some luxury fee. Okay whatever, it's not a big deal. I am just really exhausted. I hope I can see a clerk soon. BREAK. So I booked my ticket. I leave here at 4:45 p.m. I think the ride is 18 hrs. I have no idea if I got a sleeper or not. I hope I do. Now I just ate some food from a vegetarian place across from the train station. I wonder what it will do in my stomach. I am afraid of getting sick. My ride will be horrendous if I do. I already feel a little hot. Maybe because it's 38 degrees outside! I think I will sit here for a minute to see how I feel and then walk over to the station and wait til I have to leave. BREAK. I am on the train. God, I almost missed my train. There thankfully just happened to be a young lady sitting next to me on the bench who took a glance at my ticket when I opened it 10 minutes before my train departed. Thank God I checked my ticket and thank the Lord that lady was watching. But all is good now. I am on the train. They have already served a snack, which I thought was dinner, but some guy asked me what I wanted for dinner so I guess I'm eating again. My oh my I'm full already. This is better than being hungry. BREAK. It is quite chilly with the A/C, but I've got this nice heavy blanket to keep me warm. These people that I am bunking with are very friendly, although I'm not surprised considering that every person that I've talk to here has been king and eager to help me. Hmm, I can't help but wonder how Canadians are to foreigners when they need help. How much did I spend on this train? About $50 CAD I think. It's really worth the comfort I think. I am getting a full breakfast as well and I can lie down and lock my bag without worries. Mom I miss you. I think it's going to take a few days to get adjusted into the culture here. Maybe I've just been too tired to deal with people. Sri Lanka wasn't very different from here, but I think I've already readjusted back into Canadian culture. It's funny how that happens so fast.

April 14th, 2006

Finally I got a decent sleep. Happy Good Friday everybody. I'm excited to be meeting Michael and his wife in a few hours. I really hope that there is a strong connection and we teach each other love like it said in my tarot reading. I still have not found a stone that I can meditate with. Maybe I can use the stones I have. They are meant for clearing the mind. So it is not my third day in India. I have spent most of the time I've been here finding ways to travel or traveling. I still haven't seen much. When I look out the window of the train for too long I get dizzy so I try and avoid that. My mom only wants me to stay at her house for a week when I get back so I think I will stay at Cass' house for the month of July until I find a job and a place to live. I guess there's no sense in worrying about that now. I hope that I can learn a lot from this trip and being on my own. I still haven't learned how to fully take care of myself. I rely on my mom and other's help way too much. I'm going to be 21 this year. Yay! Breakfast is being served shortly. This woman in the berth below me is Muslim and has a bunch of books about the Quran. She has some books by this author Harun Yahya. He is  white man who teaches the importance of the Quran. I remember Raul told me to get my hands on one of his books. Now I can't help but wonder what happened to Raul. I also wonder which people are pushed back in my memory. I wonder which people I used to think about all the time that I can't even remember right now. I think being on my own has inspired me to write a lot more. I only have this journal to share my thoughts with. BREAK. Aha! See, I knew that once I had someone to talk to I wouldn't be writing as much. I am at Michael and Himani's home, which is quite beautiful. I had a nice lunch with them, talked with Michael a bit and then took a nice 4 hour nap. Then me and Michael went for a walk to pick up a few things for dinner and some sweets for New Year tomorrow. We ate pasta tonight. When Himani came home from visiting with a friend we all talked about the situation in India and more specifically Kolkata. I learned that there is a communist government here and recently they've banned any campaigning kinds of things. So I don't think I would have known that there was an election happening now if they hadn't told me. I am really learning a lot from talking to Michael and Himani. I am very happy and grateful that I am able to stay here. I think I will read now and go to bed.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

India Journal Snippets (Part 1)

My Journal
April 11th, 2006

Sitting here in the food court at the airport with my mom and a headache. Feeling less nervous, thank God. I am ready to go. I feel bad for making my mom pay for all of my last minute things. She has already done so much. BREAK. Now I am at the gate B11 waiting for my flight. I'm alone, but these two Indian women sat right next to me. They are probably flying to India with me. I do wonder what this woman thinks of me because she keeps looking at me like she's trying to figure out why I'm getting on this plane. Anyway, I can't believe I'm going to India! It's still the first step, I mean I'm still in Toronto, but I am alone and on my way. I feel safe and like this is what I'm meant to do. I just don't know why...yet. BREAK. Okay so I am on the plane. We left about 2 hours late, but I guess that's not so bad. The man next to me told me that the flight is almost 16 hours. I guess we'll see after. I feel sick. I am so fucking hungry! I just want them to serve some dinner. I wonder what it will be. Then I'm brushing my teeth and going to sleep. BREAK. So there is only about 4 more hours until we reach Delhi. I have eaten a few Indian meals on the plane. They were quite good. It will be so late once we arrive in India so I think I will stay in the airport for the night. I am so uncomfortable in this plane. It hurts all over my body. I can't wait to lie down in an actual bed.

April 12th, 2006

I am in my hotel room, lying down finally on a bed. It is almost 1 a.m. here. The man sitting next to me on the plane just so happened to be a God-sent angel. He has been so helpful to me. On the plane he offered to drop me off at an affordable hotel that is very close to the train station. I could never thank him enough for getting me here. He payed for the taxi, which was probably out of his way and made sure I got to my room safe and sound. He gave me his contact number in India in case I ever need anything. He has even offered to allow me to stay at his house if I ever go to California. He is absolutely incredible. I am so blessed and grateful for it. I really need to get some sleep so that I can get my travels to Calcutta in order. Bon soir.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Raw Food Diet

Mixed greens salad with kelp noodles

I don't feel like writing all the details about the diet, but in case you're wondering what I ate in the last two weeks during my raw food diet, here you go. For more awesomely helpful information on eating a vegan raw food diet, I recommend the book Raw Secrets by Frederic Patenaude.

(Keep in mind: no salt, no sugar, no spices, no cooking...everything pretty much as is...and the raw journey continues...)

Day 1
10 am – nectarine
11 am – orange
12 pm – half a large salad: mixed greens, shredded carrot, kelp, pea shoots, celery, tomato, white onion, lemon juice, hemp butter
3:30 pm – other half of salad
8 pm – banana, fig, 1.5 apples
9 pm – broccoli bunch

Day 2
10 am – orange, fruit salad: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, banana
12:30 pm – half a large salad: mixed greens, shredded carrot, kelp, pea shoots, celery, tomato, white onion, lemon juice, hemp butter
4 pm – other half of salad
7 pm – banana
8 pm – fig
9 pm – broccoli bunch
11 pm – date

Day 3
10 am – fruit salad: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, 1.5 bananas
1:30 pm – half a large smoothie: bunch of green chard, 2 bananas, strawberries, lemon juice
4 pm – other half of smoothie
6 pm – apple, almonds
9 pm – broccoli bunch

Day 4
9 am – third of a large smoothie: bunch of green chard, 2 bananas, strawberries, lemon juice, half an orange
10 am – third of smoothie
1:30 pm – fig
3 pm – carrots, green beans
6 pm – almonds
8 pm – celery
11 pm – date

Day 5
10 am – half an apple, half a banana, raspberries, third of yesterday's smoothie
12:30 pm – apple
1:30 – half a large salad: baby spinach, kelp, shredded carrot, celery, avocado, tomato, white onion, hemp butter, lemon juice
4:30 pm – other half of salad
8 pm – fig
9 pm – carrot

Day 6
9 am – 2 thirds of a large smoothie: 2 bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
1 pm – other third of smoothie
3:30 pm – half a large salad: baby spinach, kelp, shredded carrot, celery, avocado, tomato, white onion, hemp butter, lemon juice
6:30 pm – other half of large salad
9:30 pm – fig, apple
11 pm – date

Day 7
8:30 am – 2 thirds of a large smoothie: 2.5 bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
12:30 pm – other third of smoothie
3:30 pm – small fruit and veggie pieces: pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, carrot, cauliflower
8:30 – apple
10:30 – 2 apples
Day 8
11:30 am – 2 oranges, half a cucumber
12 pm – 2 bananas
4 pm – whole large salad: red leaf lettuce, cucumber, red pepper, grape tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, hemp butter
9 pm – 2 peaches
9:30 pm – almonds
10 pm – date

Day 9
9:3o am – 2 oranges, half a cucumber
12:30 pm – 2 bananas
2:30 pm – 2 peaches
5:30 pm – whole large salad: red leaf lettuce, cucumber, red pepper, grape tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, hemp butter
9:30 pm – 2 kiwis

Day 10
11:30 am – 2 oranges
3 pm – large juice: beet, apple
5:30 pm – carrots, green beans
7 pm – avocado
11 pm – date

Day 11
10:30 pm – orange, medium smoothie: 2 bananas, strawberries
2:30 pm – carrots, green beans
5 pm – almonds
8:30 pm – carrots, 2 apples, 2 kiwis

Day 12
11:30 am – orange, 2 apples
1:30 pm – cucumber, tomato
3:30 pm – almonds
7:30 pm – fruit salad: blueberries, raspberries, peach
10:30 pm – date

Day 13
10:30 am – large smoothie: 2 bananas, cantaloupe, pineapple
2 pm – raspberries
6 pm – almonds
6:30 pm – red pepper
8:30 pm – pear, grapefruit

Day 14
9 am – orange, pear
11 am – banana
12:30 pm – medium juice: orange and carrot
3:30 pm – banana
4:30 pm – small smoothie: banana, papaya, strawberries
7:30 pm – large salad: mixed greens, pea shoots, cucumber, carrot, celery, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, hemp butter
8:30 pm – almonds
11 pm – date 

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Hot Fruit Smoothies

Not actually my smoothie

Today I went shopping for my latest food/health adventure which is to begin eating 100% raw foods come tomorrow. I bought massive amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables which I decided to carry home in this crappy little buggy that I have. On my way, some of the raspberries got a bit squished and mushy and I didn't know what to do with them so I just threw them into a little pot. It was an uncommon move for me because normally I'd put them in the blender and make a smoothie, but my old blender died and I'm still waiting for my new one to arrive. I just did it and I had no idea what was coming next. I noticed we had a couple overripe bananas and normally I'd throw those into the freezer to use for a normal smoothie or something, but I threw them into the pot too. Then I added some vanilla soymilk and started heating it up on the stove. I thought to myself "what the hell am I doing? I'm making a hot smoothie", but I just went with it. Since I don't have a blender I had to mash up the bananas with a fork, but with the heat they softened a lot and it was pretty easy. The end result was a warm, sweet and comforting fruit smoothie and although it sounds weird, it's actually pretty good. After I made it, I decided to search the internet to see if hot smoothies actually exist and sure enough they do! They're normally blended in a blender before being heated up on the stove and I can see how that would give the smoothie a much nicer consistency than what I made, but I give myself credit for being so innovative. All in all, although I will not be enjoying more of these hot smoothies on my raw food diet, I think they're a great idea for smoothie lovers that don't want to give them up as soon as the cold weather hits. Be bold, try one!

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, September 02, 2012

My last days in the Azores

Taking in the view
Well here I am, once again, in the last bittersweet days of my most recent adventure. "It's not an end, but a beginning!" as they (and I) would enthusiastically say. This month long trip to the Azores has filled this chapter of my life with wonderful experiences and stories which will allow me to move onto the next chapter with a whole new perspective on life. However subtle or great that shift has been doesn't matter. Every experience, every person, every gentle touch of the summer wind, it all makes a difference in the great plan and I allow it to be so. As I  quickly glance back on the last month of my life, I can say I've had a wonderful time and accomplished what I set out to do: from the ocean shores to the mountain peaks on this little island, I've had the opportunity to explore more of our phenomenal Earth and I am amazed, as always, at how beautiful she is. And humans...oh I know the world is full of huge, terrible social problems, I know this, but when I am able to sit down and look into the eyes of real breathing, loving, welcoming people in countries all around the world, I can see the goodness in their eyes. I see the beauty in humanity and I know that we are One! This is strength to my spirit and I openly share this Love with everyone. So here I am, I'm now ready to go home to Toronto. As much as I am usually itching to embark on a new voyage every time I've returned to my 'normal' routine in the big city, Toronto will always be home to me and the more I travel the world, I realize it's a place to be proud of. My family, my friends, my dog and the streets that raised me are all there waiting and I newly appreciate the life that I have. Well I've already written a sentimental blog about loving Toronto before so I won't get into that again. I am happy here. I am happy in Toronto. I am just happy.

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My dog Nobu

Nobu: 8 weeks old

Well here I am writing to you from the middle of the Atlantic ocean on the beautiful island Santa Maria, Azores. I took a little break from blogging last week as I was quite busy sun-bathing, drinking wine, beer and mojitos, reading, working on a puzzle, and sleeping in late ;) Today I thought I'd write about something quite dear to my heart: my dog Nobu! Now if you haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet, Nobu is my little, black Jack Russell/Chihuahua. I've had him since he was a wee 8 week old puppy and he was the cutest little thing, as you can see in the photo above. I chose the name Nobu because it means 'Truth' and 'Expansion' in Japanese and I thought it was fitting since I knew that the pure Love I received from him was the Truth and certainly an expansion of Joy in my life! He is  now 8 years old, full of life and energy, and continuously expressing unconditional Love to everyone he meets (except for a few dogs here and there). I am so grateful for him. Thankfully I have a very kind ex who is happy to take care of him while I am away exploring the world. I know he is in good hands :)


“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.” - Johnny Depp


Sunday, July 29, 2012

One More Week!

Ferry Ride to Toronto Island

Oh what a summer it has been! And trust me, I know we're only halfway into it, but working 2 jobs and summer school feels like the life is being sucked right out of me! But...ONE MORE WEEK UNTIL PORTUGAL!!! Oh man, I cannot wait to be on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean with my best friend and a good book! That, to me, is paradise :)

Well, I do have to say that even with all my school, work, moving and packing stress, I have still managed to have a lot of fun this summer: seeing all my closest friends, going on a couple trips to Boston and New York, and just keeping it simple like walking along the train tracks at sunset with my little doggy, Nobu. Even just being able to ride around on my bike and be warm in the evenings is a treat.

Toronto is a great city and as much as I love to travel and get away...which is pretty often...I still think Toronto is one of the greatest cities, full of so many hidden gems that there's always something new and exciting to surprise you with. Just a few weeks ago, after having a magical day at the nudie beach with my friends, I walked right into this beautiful little park in the heart of the financial district. There was a man-made waterfall, flowers everywhere and a little greenhouse. I really appreciate these things!

Anyway, it's time to get to work on my final paper for my summer class, which is due Thursday. Ughh... But after that it's just Toronto fun until I head to the Azores! Weeeee!!! :D

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hunter Valentine

This is a heads up, a shout out and a tribute to my girl Kiyomi and her awesome rock band Hunter Valentine!

I've known Kiyomi since I was in the 8th grade. We went to different middle schools, but when we met through a group of mutual friends one day we were pretty much bonded by our shared mixed, Japanese-Canadian heritage. We even found out that our grandparents went to the same Japanese church and we would both go to the annual church bazaar and eat sushi and the Japanese-Canadian version of chow mein. Over the first couple of years we shared a lot and grew closer over the standard (and not so standard) teen drama of our time. We even created a special book that each of us would take turns writing secrets, drawing and gluing pictures in before passing it off to the other one to read and do the same. It was hilarious reading it so many years later, but I realized that we were actually going through a lot of bullshit for our age and I guess that brought us closer.

Anyway, eventually Kiyomi and I grew apart, just due to lifestyle changes and all that stuff that happens when you get older, but over the years I've been watching her from a distance as she has pursued her dreams and become more and more successful as a musician. She is truly inspiring and still one of the coolest people I know! Just a couple of weeks ago I found out that she is now on the reality show The Real L Word and I think it's so awesome because, not only do you get to see my amazingly hot friend chilling with a bunch of other hot lesbians, you get to see some behind the scenes footage of her band life too. You can see the show on Showtime, Thursdays at 10 pm if you're interested. I'm just really proud of my friend and so today I decided to blog about her :)

Here's one of Hunter Valentine's music videos - The Stalker:

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Boston Trip

Some photos from my recent trip to Boston to meet more of my dad's side of the family. Reconnecting with family is great!

My Cousin Patti

Patti's Kids: Emerson (6), Emily (10), Ethan (7), Eli (2)
Me at Harvard University

Emily's Swim Meet

My Uncle Jim (my dad's brother) and The Boys

My Auntie Pat

Daisy and The Boys

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Love Is Letting Go Of Fear

I am sharing this message from a book called Love Is Letting Go Of Fear, because it is powerful. Please take a few moments to meditate on the words of the author, Gerald G. Jampolsky. And remember to breathe deeply, whenever you can remember to...
"What is Real?

Most of us are confused about what is real. Even though we sense there is something more, we attempt to settle for a reality based exclusively on feedback from our physical senses. To reinforce this "reality", we look to what our culture defines as normal, healthy and therefore real.

Yet where does Love fit into this scheme of things? Wouldn't our lives be more meaningful if we looked to what has no beginning and no ending as our reality? Only Love fits this definition of the eternal. Everything else is transitory and therefore meaningless.

Fear always distorts our perception and confuses us as to what is going on. Love is the total absence of fear. Love ask no questions. Its natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement. Love, then, is really everything that is of value, and fear can offer us nothing because it is nothing.

Although Love is always what we really want, we are often afraid of Love without consciously knowing it, and so we may act both blind and deaf to Love's presence. Yet, as we help ourselves and each other let go of fear, we begin to experience a personal transformation.

We start to see beyond our old reality as defined by the physical senses, and we enter a state of clarity in which we discover that all minds are joined, that we share a common Self, and that inner peace and Love are in fact all that are real.

With Love as our only reality, health and wholeness can be viewed as inner peace, and healing can be seen as letting go of fear.

Love, then, is letting go of fear."

Here is a song by Olivia Newton-John - Love is letting go of fear:


@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Coconut Rum Breeze

Coconut Rum Breeze

Beat the heat with a refreshing drink that I just created!

I looked over into the kitchen and saw that we had a bit of coconut rum left over so I decided to get a little creative and came up with this awesome drink. It's very simple and totally refreshing for a hot day like today.


1 cup Almond Breeze almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1 frozen banana
1 shot of coconut rum
1 splash of vanilla
1 shake of cinnamon

Blend it all up with a couple ice cubes and you're good to go! I call it a Coconut Rum Breeze :)

Happy Canada Day! Happy Pride! Congratulations Spain!

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quiet Mind Meditation System

Quieting the Mind

Quiet Mind Meditation System - By Michael Hughes

"To the mind that is still, the whole Universe surrenders.” - Lao Tzu

I want you to find a place where you won’t be disturbed for at least twenty minutes. You’ll need to sit in a chair, one without arms is best. A dining room or an office type chair is fine but don’t use an armchair as it’s too easy to fall asleep. Also don’t do this in bed for the same reason, unless you are physically unable to sit in a chair. In a straight-backed chair if you nod off to sleep, you’ll tend to fall forward and wake yourself up. Make sure that if you do fall asleep, you won’t fall and hurt yourself; for example on the edge of a table. (Yes, it has happened to me!) When you’re more experienced with the meditation you can do it in an armchair or sitting up in bed in the morning. But for now, stick to the chair.

I want you to sit in the chair with your back straight and both feet on the floor. Close your eyes and place both hands on your lap. When you close your eyes what do you see? If you are like most people you will see darkness in which there are occasional flecks of light; this is what I want you to look at.

I want you to look into this darkness but don’t look with your eyes - don’t strain to see the inside of your closed eyelids. Look into the darkness as if you were looking through your forehead. As if your forehead was a window and you were looking through it into the darkness.

At the same time hang your right hand down by your side. I want you to feel your hand. Concentrate on each finger in turn. Concentrate on your thumb for a few seconds until you can feel something, perhaps warmth or tingling. 

Now concentrate on your first finger until you feel something. Do this with each finger in turn until you get to the little finger and start again with the thumb. You are now concentrating on each finger in turn and at the same time concentrating on the middle of your forehead. (When I say “concentrating” I mean feeling – you concentrate on your fingers so that you feel them).

If a thought arises in your mind, I want you to look at it dispassionately. Don’t get involved with the image, stay distant from it. When you concentrate on a part of your body in such a way that you can feel it, you are in the present moment, not lost in thoughts of the past or future.

Continue feeling each finger in turn and, at the same time, looking through your forehead (as if it was a window) into the darkness. If you get lost in a daydream and forget to be aware of your hand or forehead, something will make you realize this and you will instantly be aware of your hand and forehead again.

Carry on with the technique for fifteen to twenty minutes then open your eyes. Don’t stand-up straight away. Raise your arms up and stretch and allow yourself a few moments to reorient yourself before standing up. You may feel different than usual, perhaps a bit distant or lightheaded. Don’t worry this is normal.

Do the technique three times a day if possible, but if not, do it at least twice a day - first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

When you’ve done the technique for seven days with your right hand by your side, I then want you to do it for seven days with your left hand by your side and the other hand on your lap. Eventually you’ll do it with both hands on your lap and be concentrating on both thumbs at once, then both first fingers at once and so on. Don’t be fooled into thinking, “is that all it is?” Although apparently simple, this technique is very powerful and can change your life.

Points to remember:
  • Keep distant from any thoughts that arise. Do not get involved.
  • Don’t get into a conversation with a character in your mind.
  • Do the meditation technique three times a day if possible, but at least twice.
You can find the full free ebook here: or for more information about meditation you can email Micheal Hughes at:

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Today was one of those days of fun in the kitchen and I'm happily sharing my recipe adventures with you all :)

For lunch I made a delicious Spicy Guacamole:
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4  cup minced onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced jalapeño
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin

That is a recipe from a book, but I always do everything to taste. It also says to put everything in a food processor, but I like to do it all by hand. It turned out absolutely great: creamy with a bit of kick from the jalapeños (I added extra). I also served mine with multigrain tortilla chips, just to be healthier, haha!

The next thing I made was a Vegan Chocolate Cake (see above):
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa. In a second bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, vanilla and water. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Pour into the pan and bake at 350 degrees until the cake is firm in the center and begins to pull away from the pan, about 35-40 minutes.

Chocolate Icing:
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 6 tbsp. sifted cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Place the water and oil in a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Blend in the cocoa and sugar. Beat until smooth. After the cake has cooled down for 30 minutes, pour the icing over the cake and spread it to the edges.

Don't be fooled; vegan desserts are not necessarily healthy desserts! I just finished having a piece of the cake and it was fabulous. Of course I took time from all my cooking and baking (and eating) to call my dad. As you can see, it was a happy father's day! 

@LoveKaruna (Twitter)