The Beautiful Nature We Have Left – Painting of a Neighborhood Forest

It’s been a very cold winter, and while I am glad the winter is finally cold again after so many years of more temperate winters, I am still looking forward to the warmer spring!

This oil painting is of a narrow winding park in my neighborhood, through which a creek runs through.

At certain times of the year, you can observe great blue herons flying along the treetops or wading in the water. The forest is full of the sound of birds singing, all throughout the year. Occasionally you will see ducks enjoying a relaxing float down the creek. Wild blackberry bushes grow at spots along here. I’ve seen wild turkeys here, snakes wiggling their way through the water, and toads hanging out on the forest floor. There are thousands of tadpoles each spring. I’ve also seen many deer, and red foxes. An owl hoots it’s tune, which can be heard from several blocks away, at what seems like random times throughout the day. I’ve seen a cooper’s hawk in the trees, and eagles soaring above.

The value of the diverse beauty of these landscapes is immeasurable and cannot be measured in terms of dollars. Yet, land is often seen in terms of its dollar-generating potential. So forests are clear-cut and wetlands are drained. The landscape around where I live has changed considerably in the past 10 years. Many forests and wild fields have been cut, flattened, and paved over to make way for homogenous energy-draining data centers. A beautiful forest near my neighborhood was recently clear-cut for a mega-church and a data center. Another was cut down for a gas station (of which there was already a gas station a quarter mile away). My heart sinks when I pass by these places and see what has happened. Am I the only one? Does anybody else feel saddened when they see these things? I imagine so, but also know that many call this “progress”. I’m not so sure.

Some recommended books relating to these topics, that I’ve read, include Charles Eisenstein’s “Climate – A New Story”, and “Sacred Economics”, as well as Douglas Tallamy’s “Nature’s Best Hope”.

In spite of the tearing down of nature, of which I am inevitably a part of, since it is baked into the economic system that we inhabit, I am still appreciative of this patch of forest nearby. It provides a wonderful backdrop of imagination and exploration for my kids to play in, throughout all four seasons.

Flying Kites

Last year my kids received kites as a gift and they were super excited to go fly them. One weekend when the weather was right, I took about an hour to untangle all of the lines (it was worth the effort), and we took them out to a nearby open field.

This was the first time I’d flown a kite since I was a kid, that I can remember!

We held the handles, let loose some slack on the line, and the wind whipped the kites right up into the air. This was so fun. The boys took off running and laughing, with their kites flying high behind them.

To be fair, there was a decent amount of to-be-expected little kid tantrums / impatience / frustration tolerance at first, while getting the hang of it. But, it was still really fun, and beautiful to see the diverse colors of the kites flying high in the sky. I’m looking forward to doing it again this year.

Here is a painting of a photo I took of one of the kites flying in the air:

Happy 2021! At Peace with the Unknown and Reconnecting with Your Inner Voice

Like the beautiful ocean, there is a vast unknown in the world.

2020 saw much of humanity retreat into homogenous patterned responses, with authority figures certain that they have a play-book answer to every problem.

I hope we can be more open to the unknown, to not having all of the the answers.

As a Sagittarius Ascendant with Uranus, Jupiter and Neptune in my first house (I’ve studied a lot of astrology the past couple years), this is hard for me to do, as these traits include deep, ahead-of-the-times thinking. But I need to slow down and be at peace in the present.

In 2021, I want to listen more to my inner voice, to creativity, to spirit, to a higher purpose, and connect more with the incredible diversity of life on Earth!

Happy New Year!

Vocal Cord Paralysis

This is the story of losing my voice for 7 months this year.

Technically, I had what was diagnosed as vocal cord paralysis. I am writing this to help anybody else out there who is suffering from vocal cord paralysis. It can be healed naturally and without surgery!

At first, I figured my voice would come back in a few days, but it didn’t. By no voice, what I mean is that I had a quiet, hoarse whisper, and I would lose my breath after trying to say more than a few sentences.

A few days then turned into a month of no voice. I still trusted in my body’s innate ability to heal, but at the urging of my wife (we are now separated, a bit more on this later), I went to an urgent care facility after about a month. This was the first time I’d gone to a medical practitioner in the conventional medical system in about 10 years. My confidence in urgent care facilities was low, and I was reminded why during my visit. With very few questions and no actual testing of anything in my body, the urgent care doctor prescribed me antibiotics. Did you know that anti-biotic means “anti-life”? Against my intuition, I took them anyways. My voice still didn’t come back. I saw our family Chiropractor shortly after and she said that the antibiotics kill all the healthy bacteria in one’s gut, and it takes about 6 months to regenerate a healthy gut ecosystem!

Getting a bit more worried at this point, I decided to visit a Naturopath whom I had known from many years ago, who used to work for another now retired Naturopath that I used to see.

A brief tangent – I credit this now retired Naturopath, Dr. Pat Slusher, with saving my life. Back when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica from 2006-2008, I became infected with tapeworm parasites. This was shortly after receiving more than a dozen vaccine shots during the 3-month training period, which I never thought to even question at the time, but which I now believe severely harmed my body’s innate immune system (I’ve done a very deep dive of research on vaccines in the past 7 years). Let me just say that the corporate media and government narratives about vaccines are very incongruent with the actual history and science (science that is unencumbered by pharmaceutical funding, that is). In any case, I bounced from doctor to doctor for about 3 years, including gastroenterologists. I even had a colonoscopy done, in addition to numerous stool tests. I was very thin and looked pale and sick, yet every doctor told me I didn’t have parasites and instead prescribed me with pharmaceutical products for irritable bowel syndrome, which I’d take and then stop because of the side effects. At the recommendation of my mother-in-law in 2010, I went to see Dr. Slusher. This was the first holistic medical practitioner I’d ever gone to. I knew nothing about Naturopathy. She did a simple non-invasive muscle test of me, and told me the exact species of parasite that I was infected with. She then gave me several herbal remedies to take, and within a few days, I pooped out about 30 tapeworms. That was a life-altering experience for me, and definitely worth the trouble I went through because of the whole new paradigm of health that I was introduced to.

So back to losing my voice!

The new Naturopath that I saw earlier this year did find many deficiencies in my health, including with my adrenals and pituitary gland, among other things that I can’t quite remember. She prescribed several supplements to address these issues, but my voice still didn’t improve.

So I went to a different holistic doctor that we have also seen over the years. She found basically the same issues that the Naturopath found and provided a few additional supplements, but my voice still didn’t improve.

At this point, I was about 3-4 months into my vocal cord paralysis.

At the suggestion of this holistic doctor, I decided to see an Ear Nose and Throat doctor. He was the first to actually diagnose me with vocal cord paralysis by sticking a small microscope into my throat and seeing that my right-side vocal cord was not moving. So what did he do? He prescribed antibiotics. I even told him that I already tried that. He told me to try again! WTF, I thought to myself. I didn’t try them again.

Instead, I went to get a 2nd opinion from another ENT. He also peered down my throat with the microscope and saw the same thing. He then explained my options of 1) waiting and doing nothing, 2) injecting botox into my vocal cor every few months to artificially adjust its position so that it vibrates and makes sound, or 3) getting surgery, which would permanently close my throat by 50%. He said the chance of my voice ever coming back without surgery was probably less than 10%. Doctors get paid a lot for surgery, I do know that. Being someone who loves to play sports, there was no way I was going to get that surgery. And I didn’t believe what he said about my chances being less than 10%. I was still fully confident that my body could heal itself and my voice would come back. He was not so confident. WTF, I thought to myself again.

Another short tangent! 2020 was a crazy year for everyone, and as you can probably imagine, it was not easy to sound like I did in a year like this. I have 3 kids, though that part was actually easy, for them at least. They didn’t miss a beat and just knew that Daddy lost his voice, but it was no big deal to them! I love kids. On the other hand, it was very difficult to communicate with anyone out in public, and the fear response in many people was a bit magnified around me. Talking on the phone was laborious, and I sometimes got the feeling that the person on the other side of the line thought I was mentally disabled. For the first time ever, I felt like I could really identify with people who have disabilities, and how others may falsely perceive them. You know who never feared me? The guys I play basketball with. Even during the craziness of this year, there was a sense of normalcy when going to play ball. They closed the clubhouse in my neighborhood where we usually play, so we played at a court outside instead, every week! No one minded how I sounded. It was the only place I’d go this year where it felt like normal.

Discouraged after the visit with the 2nd ENT, but not without hope, I remembered what our family Chiropractor had told me at a visit earlier in the year. If nothing else worked, she had a referral to another Chiropractor that might be able to help. So I asked her about that and she gave me his name – Dr. Gary Blabey in Vienna, Virginia. I made an appointment right away.

I was so happy after my first appointment, as Dr. Blabey is the real deal! He’s the most brilliant doctor I’ve ever been to in my life. He had me do an extensive blood lab test, in addition to other in-person diagnostic procedures (all non-invasive, no fancy equipment or anything). From that, and from listening to me explain everything, he was able to piece together the whole puzzle of my poor health and how it led to my vocal cord becoming paralyzed.

The root causes of my vocal cord paralysis were complex, and included a poorly functioning thyroid gland, pituitary gland, poor absorption of nutrients, dehydration, and an actually decent diet that still needed a makeover, such as cutting out sugar, a large reduction in wheat, eating almost exclusively organic whole foods, etc. There were other issues as well, I just don’t remember the details. This all makes it sound like I was a really unhealthy person, but I wasn’t, at least on the surface! I was very active (perhaps too active), practicing yoga, and frequently playing competitive basketball, as mentioned above. The real kicker, which pushed everything over the edge, was chronic stress.

Here was the treatment plan: 1) Paleo diet for a month, 2) Exercise every day for at least 20 minutes (I bought a resistance band for strength training and combined that with cardio), 3) Several targeted supplements to address numerous health deficiencies. Lucky for us, we get most of our food from Moutoux Orchard (a whole-diet CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture) out in western Loudoun, so it was easy to do that diet. After about a month of the diet, exercise, and supplements, my body was in better shape to be able to heal itself. So then we started the second phase of treatment – laser therapy and pulsed EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) twice per week, for somewhere around 5-7 weeks. The pulsed EMF’s were to regenerate the nerve tissue around my vocal cord, which is connected to the vagus nerve. Nerves are electrical in nature, after all! After each week, I’d notice more improvement. About mid-August, I had my voice completely back to 100%! THANK YOU DR. BLABEY!!!! Since then, I’ve kept up the diet and exercise, and am in the best shape I’ve been in since I was about 20 years old.

We didn’t discuss the stress very much, other than me telling him that I was very stressed out when I lost my voice. The stress was in my marriage, though, and it had taken a real toll on my body. My wife and I met almost 17 years ago, when I was 19, and we’ve been married for 11 years. We’ve healed a lot together through our relationship, and have learned a lot from each other. We’ve also had more difficulty together than is healthy, and it took its toll on each of us, in different ways. A few months after getting my voice back, we mutually decided to separate and get a divorce, and co-parent our 3 kids. I think each of us sensed deep down for many years that something didn’t feel right, but it’s almost as if we had a karmic connection and had to go through these difficulties together to grow individually. We have 3 kids now and I am forever grateful to her. There is a lot to be said for listening to your inner voice.

If you have vocal cord paralysis, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at I am happy to share any helpful information that I can.

If you’d like to explore more of the world of natural health and your body’s innate ability to heal, here are a few resources that I recommend!

Children’s Health Defense

Eden Energy Medicine

Resources for learning about EMF’s:

Environmental Health Trust

Physicians for Safe Technology

Parents for Safe Technology

Ibrik Coffee Art

The other day I purchased an “ibrik” for brewing Turkish coffee. I’ve seen it in stores a few times before and was always intrigued by the beauty of it, and decided to buy one.

What is an Ibrik? Ibrik is the Turkish word for “pitcher”, but perhaps the more proper word for this is “cezve”. This device has been used for centuries to brew what is known as the Turkish style of coffee.

Here is a photo of a recent brew I made:

Ibrik coffee brew

To brew Turkish coffee requires a very fine ground coffee. In fact, the instructions that came with this say to grind it as “fine as dust”. I also bought a manual stainless steel coffee grinder to go with this, which allows for the grind to be adjusted between coarse and fine. It takes a lot of elbow grease to grind the coffee, but making things by hand is the sort of thing that floats my boat!

So what you do is bring the water to a low boil, mix in the finely ground coffee, wait for the foam to reach the top edge, remove it from the heat for 30 seconds, then place back on the heat until the foam boils up again, then remove again and let the fine grinds settle to the bottom. Voila! Then pour yourself a aromatic cup of strong black Turkish coffee, and add cream/spices/sugar to your liking (I like it black).

After I brewed the coffee in the photo above, I thought I’d take a cool photo of myself with it. Then my cute 1 year old daughter came over to me to climb up on my lap, so I thought “OK, we’ll take the photo together”.

Yeah, that was a bit ambitious. My wiggly worm started wiggling in my lap and I spilled coffee all over my pants. Oops! So I took a picture of us without the coffee.

Lastly, I created this new painting of a copper Ibrik! Available for purchase here –

Copper Ibrik Painting Art Print

Blue Zones

Have you heard of the Blue Zones?

The Blue Zones Kitchen

I’m reading this blue zones recipe book. These are regions of the world where people live much longer and healthier lives than average.

From 2006 to 2008, I lived very close to a “blue zone”, in a small mountainous town in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. While not technically in the radius of Guanacaste that is claimed to be a blue zone, the town I lived in is almost identical to what they describe. A close-knit community, a non-sedentary life lived outdoors, an abundance of nature and wildlife, whole natural organic foods (for the most part), and many healthy, robust, elderly people. At the time, I’d never heard of the term blue zone!

While much of the longevity associated with blue zones can be attributed to diet, a lot can also be attributed to other factors, such as family, community, nature, optimism, and faith. I will also mention a minimal amount of technology as a positive contributing factor. The people I lived with in Costa Rica live in what many of us in the U.S would call “poverty”. But it was not poverty how we think of it. While definitely not perfect, there was a lot of wealth – spiritual, health, community, generosity.

The paradox is that when that kind of wealth is converted into a monetized, measurable commodity, it begins to disappear. I’m thinking of things like:

paid daycare | free support from friends, family and community

community events organized by an HOA to which dues are paid | community events created organically by community members

buying food imported from faraway places | community-grown local food

a 30-year mortgage | a humble house built with the help of friends and family, with no mortgage (for example, I could be mistaken, but I am fairly certain that no one in my town owed a mortgage)

online orders delivered to your doorstep, with no human interaction | walking down the (unpaved) street to a locally owned shop, running into neighbors along the way, and sharing with community members

This is all not to say that where I lived was a heaven on Earth! One of my neighbors was a single mother with 3 kids, and they lived in a one-room shack with a dirt floor. I knew a few other kids in my small town who also had absent fathers, and mothers who worked all day to support them. One of them also had 3 kids, and I grew close with one of her boys. Another single mother had 2 kids, and the father was killed in a machete fight at a bar.

This is also not to say that you have to live in a Blue Zone to live a long, healthy life! I remember going to eat at a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana (where I grew up), when I was a kid, and a man there was celebrating his 100th birthday. I thought “wow, how cool to live to be 100!”. Three of my four grandparents lived to their mid 80’s. I remember seeing my great-grandmother as a kid, who lived to her mid 90’s. Most of us know someone, or several people, who has lived to a very old age.

Lastly, I thought I’d share some photos from my time in La Cruz de Abangares, and the stories behind each photo.

This is my good friend Don German and I, loading up vegetable crates at his farm, which they would sell to the local grocery store (which later got bought out by a subsidiary of Wal-Mart that has become omnipresent in Costa Rica…unfortunately in my opinion). Don German was around his mid 70’s at this time. Every morning (except for Sunday) he’d wake up, eat breakfast, and walk the steep dirt road declines and inclines over to their organic farm to work. During my time there, I worked closely with one of Don German’s sons, Melvin Brenes, to develop their agro-adventure-tourism company La Finca Modelo. If you ever go to the Monteverde region of Costa Rica, check them out! Among other activities, you can rappel down waterfalls, which is super fun.

One morning, I opened the front door of the house I was living in (I lived in 3 different houses over 2.5 years in La Cruz), and was met face to face with a cow. Cows are large animals that could probably do some real harm to humans, but they’re kind of scaredy-cats too. I went “boo” and it ran away. But, that cow belonged to somebody and somehow had escaped. So the picture above is of us trying to catch the cow and move it back to its rightful pasture. Just another day in the campo (countryside) of Costa Rica!

The work I did in Costa Rica wasn’t measured in 40 hours a week, nor was the work of anybody else I knew in La Cruz. I did do work though – I led the creation and initial training of a locally-owned bank, worked closely with La Finca Modelo (mentioned above), worked with helping to market and receive grant funds to support a women-owned food retail business, and taught English to kids and adults, among several other projects. As a matter of fact, here is a photo of the first Board of Directors of the bank, at a founding ceremony:

But, I still had a lot of spare time. The neighborhood youth and I spent a lot of time together, played lots of soccer, and I even taught them to play baseball. I made our baseball bat by cutting it off of a tree (it worked well!). The gloves and balls were donations a visiting group of American students.

This is exactly what it looks like. Watching some TV while eating sugarcane that we are cutting with machetes. This was at the 2nd of 3 houses that I lived in. I miss them. This guy is also named German. He worked at a pig farm and was missing half of one of his fingers, from a knife accident at the farm one time. His wife, Flora, cooked a lot of great meals for me, and was always super cheerful. If I ever wasn’t feeling well, she would go and gather some specific type of leaves to make me an herbal tea.

These are photos of German and Flora’s house, where I lived for several months. We would spent lots of time sitting on that front porch, where I learned to sew bracelets. The second photo is of their kitchen…note the bottle on the left-hand side on top of the stove. That is some yummy Salsa Lizano, a staple in Costa Rican cuisine, and a key ingredient in their gallo pinto (rice and beans) recipe. The third photo is German working at a rodeo, a typical cultural event in the province of Guanacaste. The last photo is of a maldito (damn) scorpion that was hiding underneath my bed and stung me one night. It wasn’t poisonous, but it was pretty painful, and I woke everybody up with my llanto (scream).

This is Don German and Pinocho (that is the Spanish way of saying Pinocchio, which was this guy’s nickname, RIP) playing one of their legendary games of pool. They were both real-deal pool players. I used to play pool with Pinocho almost every day. He’d win over half the time. He was also a little loose with the rules, I would say…in his favor. The pool table was located in the back of the local pulpería (general store). Man that was fun times…some evenings a bunch of us would gather there and play pool for hours. Gerardo, who owned the pulpería at the time, eventually shut down the makeshift pool hall because there was too much drinking and rowdiness.

Lastly, look at those views! All of the exercise from walking up and down steep hills is rewarded with beautiful scenery.

Playa Panama in Costa Rica

This painting was inspired by hiking along the water’s edge at Playa (beach) Panamá, in the northwest Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. I’ve always been a fan of smaller secluded beaches, and Playa Panamá fits the bill. Also, it’s very close to a bit of a larger beach with more people – Playa Hermosa, which is also very nice.

Did you know that Guanacaste is one of the so-called Blue Zones where, in general, people live healthy lives and often live to very old age? I never knew this while I lived there as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but found out years later! People live life outdoors and in community, and in general, have a pretty simple, healthy diet.

This painting is available as an art print here –

and with framing options here –

Where the Horses Roam Wild

Assateague Island National Seashore is on a 37-mile long barrier island with unspoiled beaches and abundant wildlife, located in Maryland, on the Atlantic coast of the Delmarva peninsula. Of all the beaches along the east coast, I would say this one is my favorite.

You can enjoy swimming in the cool ocean or laying in the sand for part of the day, then spend another part of the day hiking through trails and spotting the wild horses that roam the island, as well as other wildlife such as sitka deer, a wide variety of birds (great blue herons, egrets, seagulls, etc.) the Delmarva Fox Squirrel, and more!

This painting is from a photo I took in early September:

Prints of this Assateague horses painting are available here –

and framed prints are available on my Etsy store here –

French Press Coffee Painting with a Bohemian Flair

Most of my coffee paintings for the past year have been black and white. For the next one, I wanted to create it with lots of color and visual impact. I had a loose idea in my head of a Bohemian style, and took inspiration from a few different coffee bag designs.

This is how it turned out!

French Press Painting Art Print Bohemian

This print is available in sizes 8″ x 10″, 11″ x 14″ and 16″ x 20″:

Unframed –

With Frame Options –

Meandering Footprints, Side by Side – Beach Painting of Playa Panama, Costa Rica, Accompanying Poem

This painting shows two paths of footprints in the sand, meandering next to each other along a long expanse of sand on a deserted tropical beach!

The scene in this painting is from Playa Panamá, on the Pacific coast of northwest Costa Rica.

Many of my paintings carry a history with them, a story embedded in the image. Oftentimes I’m not sure how much to share of each, as they are personal, and I can tend to get stuck on words. Additionally, I’d like for them to be universal, in that anyone can enjoy and connect with the art.

I thought I’d share a bit of this one, in the form of a poem.

Meandering, wandering, one next to the other.


but sure.

Where to?

Looking back, how far we’ve come

knowing now, how far we had to go.

Disentangled webs of history.

Creators, we are.

Beach Painting Playa Panama Costa Rica
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