Success from the Heart – The Heart of the Mendocino Coast, Part 1

I’ve visited the Mendocino coast nearly every year; as far back as I can remember.  My dad was passionate about the Northern California

Village of Mendocino, CA

Village of Mendocino, CA

coast and the rugged shores of Mendocino.  We headed there on summer road trips, to brave the bracing winds and stinging-cold water and watch my mom comb the beaches for shells and pretty pieces of glass.   In my early adolescence I became fascinated with the bohemian lifestyle of the village of Mendocino: a grocery store in an old church, charming bookstores in funky water towers, and colorful people and their artwork all over town.

This year I traveled to the Mendocino coast again as I planned and assisted the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce with a press trip for travel writers.  I was meeting and working and getting to know a few people who live and work in Mendocino and Fort Bragg.   As I listened to them I somehow began to sense what it feels like to live there.  I could feel how different and unique it is to dwell on this coastal edge; edging up against the rocky beaches, cold and windy days, forest roads and rural living.

It’s not completely easy to live on the Mendocino coast.  The town of Fort Bragg, the village of Mendocino and a few small hamlets along Hwy 1 are on their own for providing all of the modern conveniences that we, in the 21st century, take for granted.  Cell phone service is limited, having just landed in Mendocino about two years ago; still, most likely, you have to duck around a corner, or go outside on your porch to pick up a signal.   There are not a lot of choices for employment; working and making a living takes creativity and diligence. Keep reading

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Between a geologist and a water witch

View from Stagecoach Vineyards

View from Stagecoach Vineyards

Yesterday I had the greatest pleasure to visit Stagecoach Vineyards; way up the hillside of Soda Canyon Road.  From the office of Krupp Brothers Estate vineyards, you can see across their property to the top of the mountain side, where 500 acres of Stagecoach vineyards are planted.  This is high-elevation, hot, rugged landscape.   Jan Krupp had a marvelous vision…a person that wants to take his vision all the way.  The land he set his sights on had no known source of water, no roads to the area, and what it had most were huge rocks and thin, rocky soil.  It didn’t seem feasible, or even possible.  Why go there?

I have only heard Jan talk of this vision briefly, but I today I am still pondering with fascination the drive and perseverance that he and his partners put forth to realize this vision.   And the water was found…first, a geologist marked out five areas where water might be, but concluded it was too far to drill…concluded it “couldn’t be done”.   Then a water witch was consulted and yes, there was water, in the area of the marks of the geologist and probably 350 feet underground.  The Krupp’s drilled and got their water.  Today we enjoy the remarkable cabernet sauvignon they have produced…and more. The grapes of Stagecoach vineyards have produced award winning wines for over 50 wineries in the Napa Valley.  http://www.stagecoachvineyard.com/

I conclude that from here forward, when I think “it can’t be done” or my faith is waning, I will summon my new mantra:   “somewhere between a geologist and a water witch” and I’ll give it another go.

Please indulge yourself and explore the wines of Krupp Brothers,  http://www.kruppbrothersestates.com/home.htm

What about the “witch”??  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowsing

Intriguing, yes?

Roll and stroll through Hercules, CA

A couple of friends and I have a joke about how you can take San Pablo Avenue all the way to Los Angeles.  Of course in truth it starts at the top of Contra Costa County and runs through all the cities along the San Pablo Bay, ending just a few blocks west of Lake Merritt in Oakland.  That’s two counties anyway, and an impressive stretch of boulevard connecting our historic Bayfront towns. For driving north

Blend of old and new architecture

Blend of old and new architecture

and south, I’m using San Pablo Avenue more often, rather than put up with the massive transit on Interstate 80.  Along the way I’ve discovered how this thoroughfare, which in fact is the historic and scenic Highway 40, is evolving with its well-defined bike lane, offering alternatives to being caged in our cars.

Along San Pablo Avenue in the city of Hercules, there are signs naming the bike lane, the “I-80 Bikeway”.  I love how that label seems to give more credibility to this alternative to commute transportation.  And the bike path through Hercules is safe and scenic; getting to school or work, or running simple errands can be pretty convenient throughout this city.  The Contra Costa Transit Authority has released a draft update of the Contra Costa Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.  Public workshops were held in June to engage the community in expanding the opportunities of bicycle transportation throughout the county.  More information is available on the City of Hercules website:  http://www.ci.hercules.ca.us/index.aspx.  As stated on the site, “If you are interested in the process and would like to read the draft plan or the previous Issues and Options Report, visit the Contra Costa Transit Authority website on the update to the Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan at: http://www.ccta.net/EN/main/bike/cbpp.html.”

I have to say that the urban design of Hercules has made this city very bike and walking friendly; eco-friendly indeed!  When it’s time for a leisurely bike ride or stroll I recommend exploring the up and coming Sycamore Downtown district. At the junction of Sycamore and Railroad Avenues you’ll find a charismatic blend of old and new architecture.  From Railroad Avenue turn onto Santa Fe Avenue where the newer neighborhoods circle around to embrace the historic homes of Bay Avenue, Pinole Street and Talley Way.  Throughout the Sycamore area, the new architecture purposely invokes the feel of “small town America” with the inviting porches and “gingerbread” décor of over a century ago.   The urban design of connecting neighborhoods encourages people to walk about to shops and restaurants and enjoy the wide-open view of the San Pablo Bay.  While exploring on a weekday I saw several people walking their dogs, or on lunch-hour jogs, and kids making their way back home off the big boulevards through paved pathways into their neighborhoods.  Off the concrete sidewalks, you can make your way along the more rustic Railroad Avenue path all the way to neighboring Pinole with a continuous view of the San Pablo Regional Shoreline.

Parks and open space take up about one-third of the terrain in the city of Hercules; a generous portion to consider if the urban sprawl of the Bay Area has one concerned.  In the middle of Hercules is one of the prettiest city parks I’ve had the pleasure to dwell in:  Refugio Valley Park, located at junction of Refugio Valley Road and Sycamore Street.  With over sixty six acres, the park beckons with spacious lawns, unique and captivating sculpture gardens, sparkling water fountains and a calming lake complete with lazy swans a-swimming.  It’s the perfect place to get away on your lunch hour; but beware, I’m sure it’s going to be hard to return to the office!

A Hop and a Skip

I’ve been pretty quiet for the last month or so..blogwise.  There are several tweaks and turns I’ve had to make in my day to day life.  Kind of like our odd Napa Valley weather this summer; not what we expect.  “Should be”  warmer now;  why the cloudy mornings?  Life, weather and our minds…who knows what’s in store for us?

I’ve taken on a fun little summer job; check out  www.NVHoppers.com and my photo..HopperFlyer

Anyway, for your viewing/reading entertainment I thought I’d mention a blog that I am enjoying these days.

www.ZenHabits.com by Leo Babauta.  As mentioned about the tweaking and turning, his wisdom and writing has given me a place to touch down again.

More to come…as the old song sez,  “Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” ;  if that’s what you choose.  =)

Connecting with Butterflies – Carole Peccorini’s Success from the Heart

I interviewed Carole Peccorini in April of 2008.  Since then The Butterfly Project has raised over half of her goal of $60,000 to fund the college education of Uganda girls.  The Butterfly Project works in collaboration with Village Volunteers, a non-profit organization that works in partnership with rural village and capacity-building programs to support the development of sustainable solutions for

Carole Peccorini and Evaline, Uganda

Carole Peccorini and Evaline, Uganda

community survival, education, and growth.  www.VillageVolunteers.org

Carole Peccorini was my first inspiration to create interviews with people that are working and living from their hearts.  Whether making tons of money or not, it is truly Success from the Heart.  www.TheButterflyProject.com

1.         For your first trip to Uganda, how did you “get the nerve” to go to Africa?

Since childhood I have had a longing and connection with Africa.  My heroes are Albert Schweitzer, Jane Goodall with the chimps, Diane Fossey with the gorillas and the Leakeys searching for the oldest human remains in the Oldavi Gorge. I just love all of the wildlife and the new knowledge based on their long-term research and discoveries.  Over a ten to fifteen year period  I probably read every book they published about Africa.  So it was already in me; a sense and longing that got ignited.  It seemed to be my destiny.

The trip to Uganda in 2005 was with MannaRelief, a non profit program of a biotech nutraceutical company called Mannatech.   I have an independent business with Mannatech.  MannaRelief is devoted to children, providing vital nutrients to the orphans in the developing world.  Their first team went to Uganda in 2005.  I’ve been a pediatric nurse, with a passion and commitment for children.  I got the email about the pending trip to Uganda just 5 or 6 weeks before they were scheduled to depart.  I talked it over with my friend Leta, who also had a lifelong dream to go to Africa and we just said, “Should we say yes?” and we took the leap!  I didn’t have a clue how to come up with the money, had to clear my calendar and didn’t know how it would all work.  But I knew in my heart it would work.  I had made a commitment to myself that in my 60’s I would have life-opening experiences.  The decision came from my heart.  The majority of time you just do what is reasonable and keep things working.  But sometimes an inner self just knows when to make a leap. I trusted that inner self to say “Yes” to something that was transformational and life-changing.

2.         It was during that trip that The Butterfly Project evolved.  Do you remember a  specific incident that sparked the idea for  The Butterfly Project?

Probably a handful of things.  While there, we met with, Dr. Nsaba Butero, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, in the Office of the President.  He had a PhD in Social Sciences.  I just loved this man! What he said touched me deeply: “We don’t need charity. We’re not looking for handouts. What we need are partners to solve problems.” This conversation happened early in the trip.  Uganda has amazing bio-rich resources and wonderful people. They need partnerships to develop what they have.  They not only want to solve problems for their people, but to participate in the global economy.

In addition to that experience, we were with the kids, the orphans, teaching them about the nutrients.  I had brought 1200 Blue Morpho butterflies, small replicas, to delight the children.  The butterflies were easy to include in my luggage.  The kids just lit up when they got a butterfly!  It was very joyful.  And then, when I would begin to leave, the kids would always hug us and say, “I love you”. They would also say, “When you go home, please tell everyone I love them.”  They made an extraordinary connection to people everywhere.

And, of course, I met Eveline, a young orphan girl who was very bright and engaging.  I asked about continuing school for her and could she go to the university. I found out from Bob, the orphanage director, that it cost $6000, total, to attend the university.  I said to him, “That’s doable!”  From that point I knew the funds would be there for her to go to college if she chose. And while in Uganda, it was my 62nd birthday. I met Bette, also an orphan since six.  She had been trained to be a masseuse and as a gift I was given a massage from Bette.  From learning her story and knowing about all the other girls, by then I just knew that I’d send 10 Ugandan girls to college. It was done and complete in my heart.   It was another big “Yes!”

3.         What’s the most daunting hurdle you’ve had to conquer to get The Butterfly Project going or keep it going?

At some point, transformational vision has to move back into the realm of reasonable.  It was about four of five weeks after I returned before I had the name, The Butterfly Project. In that transformational arena, connections and solutions come magically, but I had to go back and forth between practical actions and transformational connections.  The story made the connections.  The biggest hurdle was turning my vision into a non-profit organization, in addition to running my regular business!  It is an arduous process.  Three main things are needed to establish a non-profit that involves another country: it has to be a legal non profit; there have to be people on the ground in Uganda to make it happen; and there has to be a fundraising division.  I partnered with Global Partners for Development to establish the non profit status and I’ve been learning what it takes to bring The Butterfly Project into a mature, sustainable program that works.

4.         What keeps your commitment going?

The fact that the decision came from my heart, from that sense of spirit within me.  It actually feels sacred, like a covenant.  With that it takes the will to get it going and the passion for it and then the results. There are policies to develop, strategic plans to be made and funds to be raised.  Whenever I do a presentation, the magic of the story re-ignites my commitment.  More stories will develop as the girls attend the universities and have opportunities in their lives that will benefit their villages and the world.  This keeps the juice and joy

Carole and kids, Uganda

Carole and kids, Uganda

going; people’s lives being changed and saying “yes”.

5.         Do you have a specific joyous result or incident that has come from The Butterfly Project?

My vision and prayer for what would happen in my 60’s is happening. My life opened and I have new amazing people in my life.  On a personal level, this is a very powerful result.  And my heart leaps for joy for Evaline!  For her progress in school and knowing she will be able to go to university if she chooses. I’ve seen friends’ lives open from the story and this has allowed them to say yes to transformational possibilities in their own lives.  These opening often arrive unplanned and they usually are not reasonable. But then to see it in action is joyful, to see the results ripple out to many.

1. For your first trip to Uganda, how did you “get the nerve” to go to Africa?

Since childhood I have had a longing and connection with Africa. My heroes are Albert Schweitzer, Jane Goodall with the chimps, Diane Fossey with the gorillas and the Leakeys searching for the oldest human remains in the Oldavi Gorge. I just love all of the wildlife and the new knowledge based on their long-term research and discoveries. Over a ten to fifteen year period I probably read every book they published about Africa. So it was already in me; a sense and longing that got ignited. It seemed to be my destiny.

The trip to Uganda in 2005 was with MannaRelief, a non profit program of a biotech nutraceutical company called Mannatech. I have an independent business with Mannatech. MannaRelief is devoted to children, providing vital nutrients to the orphans in the developing world. Their first team went to Uganda in 2005. I’ve been a pediatric nurse, with a passion and commitment for children. I got the email about the pending trip to Uganda just 5 or 6 weeks before they were scheduled to depart. I talked it over with my friend Leta, who also had a lifelong dream to go to Africa and we just said, “Should we say yes?” and we took the leap! I didn’t have a clue how to come up with the money, had to clear my calendar and didn’t know how it would all work. But I knew in my heart it would work. I had made a commitment to myself that in my 60’s I would have life-opening experiences. The decision came from my heart. The majority of time you just do what is reasonable and keep things working. But sometimes an inner self just knows when to make a leap. I trusted that inner self to say “Yes” to something that was transformational and life-changing.

2. It was during that trip that The Butterfly Project evolved. Do you remember a specific incident that sparked the idea for The Butterfly Project?

Probably a handful of things. While there, we met with, Dr. Nsaba Butero, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, in the Office of the President. He had a PhD in Social Sciences. I just loved this man! What he said touched me deeply: “We don’t need charity. We’re not looking for handouts. What we need are partners to solve problems.” This conversation happened early in the trip. Uganda has amazing bio-rich resources and wonderful people. They need partnerships to develop what they have. They not only want to solve problems for their people, but to participate in the global economy.

In addition to that experience, we were with the kids, the orphans, teaching them about the nutrients. I had brought 1200 Blue Morpho butterflies, small replicas, to delight the children. The butterflies were easy to include in my luggage. The kids just lit up when they got a butterfly! It was very joyful. And then, when I would begin to leave, the kids would always hug us and say, “I love you”. They would also say, “When you go home, please tell everyone I love them.” They made an extraordinary connection to people everywhere.

And, of course, I met Eveline, a young orphan girl who was very bright and engaging. I asked about continuing school for her and could she go to the university. I found out from Bob, the orphanage director, that it cost $6000, total, to attend the university. I said to him, “That’s doable!” From that point I knew the funds would be there for her to go to college if she chose. And while in Uganda, it was my 62nd birthday. I met Bette, also an orphan since six. She had been trained to be a masseuse and as a gift I was given a massage from Bette. From learning her story and knowing about all the other girls, by then I just knew that I’d send 10 Ugandan girls to college. It was done and complete in my heart. It was another big “Yes!”

3. What’s the most daunting hurdle you’ve had to conquer to get The Butterfly Project going or keep it going?

At some point, transformational vision has to move back into the realm of reasonable. It was about four of five weeks after I returned before I had the name, The Butterfly Project. In that transformational arena, connections and solutions come magically, but I had to go back and forth between practical actions and transformational connections. The story made the connections. The biggest hurdle was turning my vision into a non-profit organization, in addition to running my regular business! It is an arduous process. Three main things are needed to establish a non-profit that involves another country: it has to be a legal non profit; there have to be people on the ground in Uganda to make it happen; and there has to be a fundraising division. I partnered with Global Partners for Development to establish the non profit status and I’ve been learning what it takes to bring The Butterfly Project into a mature, sustainable program that works.

4. What keeps your commitment going?

The fact that the decision came from my heart, from that sense of spirit within me. It actually feels sacred, like a covenant. With that it takes the will to get it going and the passion for it and then the results. There are policies to develop, strategic plans to be made and funds to be raised. Whenever I do a presentation, the magic of the story re-ignites my commitment. More stories will develop as the girls attend the universities and have opportunities in their lives that will benefit their villages and the world. This keeps the juice and joy going; people’s lives being changed and saying “yes”.

5. Do you have a specific joyous result or incident that has come from The Butterfly Project?

My vision and prayer for what would happen in my 60’s is happening. My life opened and I have new amazing people in my life. On a personal level, this is a very powerful result. And my heart leaps for joy for Evaline! For her progress in school and knowing she will be able to go to university if she chooses. I’ve seen friends’ lives open from the story and this has allowed them to say yes to transformational possibilities in their own lives. These opening often arrive unplanned and they usually are not reasonable. But then to see it in action is joyful, to see the results ripple out to many.

Carneros – Wide Open Spaces

2CarnerosEastweb

Carneros, Napa Valley

Sometimes I feel surrounded by traffic and noise.  All the progress and construction going on in Napa!   Maybe it’s good to just get away from it all, alone in wide open spaces to stretch our legs, our minds and perspectives.  I know just the place to do this, out on the edge of the Carneros.

The Carneros is the largest of the Napa Valley wine growing regions and shared, as well, with Sonoma County.  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are its most famous grapes, others include Merlot and Syrah and it was the first region to be designated an appellation in 1983. Continue reading

Before we panic….

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My good friend, Carole Peccorini, RN, MA, sent me this timely information:

With all the news about the Swine Flu swirling around in the media, don’t board the Panic Train. Focus on building a strong immune system.  It is wise to provide all the support we can to our immune systems on a regular basis, but especially at times like these when we could face additional challenges.  I am increasing the amount of products that I use to build my immune support and encouraging my family and friends to do the same.

Some facts to keep in mind for sanity’s sake – from report by Dr. Mercola (http://www.mercola.com/forms/background.htm)

The Swine Flu came around before in 1976.  More people died or were paralyzed from the vaccine than the flu itself.

To put things into perspective, malaria kills 3,000 people EVERY DAY, and it’s only considered “a health problem”. Continue reading