Aloha in Waikiki

FOND Group had the honor of helping to produce the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival celebrating Hawaiian Surf and Cultural Heritage which took place in Waikiki this past fall. Alison Berman caught up with visionary pro surfer Rochelle Ballard to learn more about the memorable day and the inspiration behind the event.

All Photos by Kai Markell
In Hawaii, surfing is more than an activity or a pass time. It is more than a sport. Surfing goes deep into the heritage of Hawaii; it is embedded in the roots of Hawaiian culture. And, nodding to that deep significance was the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival, a one-day Hawaiian cultural surfing event that debuted in Kūhio Beach Park in Waikīkī on September 6th, 2014. The dawn-to-dusk festival was a celebration of traditional Hawaiian surfing and also so much more. It was an effort to bring together and nurture the many at-risk and homeless youth of Waikīkī and reconnect them with their Hawaiian heritage through surf sessions, workshops on Hawaiian traditional practices, and also educating youth on resources available within the community. “It was a really amazing shared day of Aloha, and that’s what Aha Kai Aloha is, it’s bringing earth into the ocean or valley into the sea using all of the elements for sustainability, bringing together the wisdom of perpetuating the land and sea through the love of surfing-Aha Kai Aloha. In Hawaiian culture it is called Ahupua’a -from the valley into the sea of Hawaiian cultural sustainability,” said Rochelle Ballard, professional world-class surfer, who first had the vision for the festival.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with 'Uncle' Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Pro surfer Rochelle Ballard (center) leads the opening ceremonies with ‘Uncle’ Bruce Keaulani of the Living Life Source Foundation.

Rochelle moved to Kauai, Hawaii as a child, which is where she later took her first leap onto a surfboard. She is an accomplished professional female surfer and veteran of the Association of Surfing Professional’s (ASP) World Championship Tour, and also starred in the original Blue Crush film. After an inspiring professional career, Rochelle continues to cultivate her love for surfing, one way being through her deep involvement with Living Life Source Foundation (LLSF), the organization behind Aha Kai Aloha Festival. LLSF is a charitable non-profit located in Hawaii’s Manoa Valley and has a beautiful mission, “To restore a system of living by embracing all faiths and modern science; teach concepts vital to creating a life of greater meaning, purpose, and freedom; and, educate the people of Hawaii to become self-sustainable and to perpetuate the life-force spirit of Aloha.” Professor Bruce Keaulani, locally known as Uncle Bruce, is the founder of Living Life Source Foundation and asked Rochelle to create an event that would bring together the organization’s efforts with local youth and the healing aspect of what LLSF stands for. And from this sparked the inspiration for Aha Kai Aloha Festival.

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FOND Founder, Nicole Delma, honored to share a moment with legendary shaper Pohauku Stone.

The festival opened with a prayer chant, Oli. Rochelle recounts the moment, “A shower came through, and everyone was facing the ocean, listening to the water and the waves, as to bless the day with safety and the Aloha spirit.” The festival offered a mix of workshops that taught youth about Hawaiian traditions such as pounding Poi, which is the process of pounding taro root into a dough like consistency. A large focus of the day was also to show youth the connection between surfing and Hawaii’s ecology. Local Tom “Pohaku” Stone brought this to life through a hands-on workshop on papa he’e nalu, showing the kids how traditional Hawaiian wooden surfboards are carved. Through teaching these traditional methods it also continues that important aspect of Hawaiian culture, Rochelle explains, “When you stop doing these practices then the culture dies, and people are no longer fulfilling the Aloha, the spirit of where they came from.”

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Aiding at-risk and homeless youth can be a delicate undertaking. On the streets of Waikīkī, it isn’t always easy to identify which kids are homeless, even more so, each child has their own unique story and circumstances. Knowing this, the festival was designed to be as inviting as possible, acknowledging that whether teaching a surf lesson or introducing to a local charitable resource, a critical first step is to earn trust.

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Local groms prepare for the female longboard competition.

Youth Outreach (YO!), which provides medical and social services to homeless youth through YO! drop-in centers in partnership with Waikiki Health and Hale Kipa, Inc., was one of the resources available to the children, as well as Surfrider Spirit Sessions (SSS), a Hawaiian non-profit that serves at risk youth through ocean-based experiential education and mentoring programs.

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Commentator Kaipo Guerrero (left) lent his voice and surf expertise to the day’s events. Guerrero is a well-known announcer in the sport of surfing and a fan favorite.

Surf lessons and an eight-division surf competition open to the public also took place during the day. Competition entry fee was waved for canned food donations and divisions were bracketed by age, not gender, encouraging participating for the love of the sport, rather than for fierce competition.

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Local youth take turns experiencing outrigger canoe rides through the Waikiki surf.

With over 600 arriving for the festival, 100 participating in the surf competition, and 400 healthy breakfast and lunch meals shared, the impact of the first annual Aha Kai Aloha Festival was inspiring. The festival is committed to continuing to partner with existing organizations to enhance and support their efforts to aid local at-risk youth, both for next year’s event, and also with the possibility of building workshops throughout the year.

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Volunteers teach local youth how to make traditional Poi from locally grown Taro root.

Surfing holds a unique significance within Hawaiian culture, which Aha Kai Aloha Festival gracefully demonstrated by connecting at-risk youth with their heritage, its traditions, and community recourses, all through the shared love of surfing and Aloha.

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Special Thanks to Alison E. Berman for this recap of an amazing event and to the Elkes Foundation for helping to make it possible.

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Alison is a storyteller, marketer, and the founder of digital storytelling platform Anchor & Leap. She has a complex understanding of multi-channel storytelling and gained her roots working at prominent media companies Meredith Corporation as a Marketing Manager and previously at Rodale, Inc.’s in-house content marketing agency. While at Rodale, Alison also facilitated a company-wide social media think tank that was formed by CEO Maria Rodale.

As a consultant, Alison helps companies define and share their own stories through rich content marketing and strategy—all with a focus on aligning messaging with the core values of the organization. Some past clients include Nissan, Applegate, Norton by Symantec, Kraft Foods, and Energizer Holdings.

Alison is passionate about creative cultures, design thinking, and social enterprise. You can follow her on Twitter @DigitAlison

KITCHEN CAM FOR A CAUSE

An intimate look at the culinary creativity of the world’s most famous chefs. 

This week the FOND Group unveiled the JBF Kitchen Cam, a real-time video feed streaming the fast-paced culinary action from the James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The project aims to capture creative cuisine in progress, introducing an intimate, unscripted look at gastronomic excellence.

Stepping into this historic culinary enclave means entering the home of the man who can be regarded as the original Celebrity Chef. James Beard may be the original Celebrity Chef, paving the confit-laden path to cooking-show stardom for accomplished cooks whose careers may have stagnated in restaurant kitchens without his trailblazing appetite. Whether you’re a food freak or just someone who likes to eat well, it’s easy to appreciate the amount of edible history steeped into the walls of the Beard House.

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The menu for the evening.

Until now, an inside look at this illustrious kitchen was reserved for James Beard Foundation members or those lucky enough to grab a sought-after seat at a special dinner. With the launch of the JBF Kitchen Cam, the entire world can view the preparation of over 200 dinners a year, crafted by a rotating cast of innovative chefs.

On Monday night, I attended a cocktail party to celebrate the unveiling of the JBF Kitchen Cam. Daniel Boulud helmed the kitchen as the Cam streamed the sights and sounds across the Internet.

Walking into the House, I was hit with an immediate wave of enticing lemony herb-infused aroma and the clamor of the kitchen clanging through the small lobby area. Conducting his focused team like a maestro, the cool and collected Boulud talked to observers while laying down greens that would nest a Citrus-Cured Fluke with Shiso Bavarois and Ponzu Gelée. Pots of thick stock simmered like liquid gold and uniformly chopped herbs and vegetables stood neatly piled, waiting for plates.

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Boulud at work.

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Boulud shows the Kitchen Cam a recipe from his new book.

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The team poses for a celebratory selfie.

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It was truly impressive to see such controlled chaos in the cramped confines of the historically seasoned kitchen. A dozen of Boulud’s sous chefs toiled feverishly – press and general food fanatics filled the tight space while diners ambled through on their way to the cocktail area to enjoy appetizers and sip champagne.

Servers made rounds with trays of Duck Pâté en Croûte, Wild Mushroom Tarte Flambée and Watercress Velouté with Louisiana Crayfish, all drawn from Boulud’s new book DANIEL: My French Cuisine. The dishes both sparked appetites and fueled conversation about the inaugural night of the JBF Kitchen Cam; Boulud perfectly curated the start of this innovative culinary experience.

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As the cocktail hour wound down and guests were seated, Boulud took the floor. He spoke about the inspiration for his latest book and his deep appreciation for the James Beard Foundation. Then he noticed a diner watching the first-course plating via the JBF Kitchen Cam on her phone; he chuckled with delight. The evening lives on, online.  

 

FOND Founder Keynotes Ecommerce Brazil

FOND Group’s Founder, Nicole Delma, was recently honored to Keynote the Ecommerce Brazil Forum held in sunny Sao Paulo on August 12th. This gathering of over 1000 of Brazil’s top digital marketers and technology leaders was an exciting event for a nation experiencing one the the largest surges of digital growth in the world.

Nicole Delma has previously led email programs for companies including Conde Nast, Getty Images, J.Crew, RCRD LBL and consulted for many major brands and publishers including The Huffington Post, Harper Collins and Barnes and Noble.

Watch the video below of Delma’s presentation as she walks through how and when to move to more advanced email marketing tactics and when to get back to basics. Topics covered include dynamic content, mobile optimization, advanced segmentation and analytics.

Photos of the event are available at Flickr and Facebook as well.

A special thanks to Ecommerce Brazil and Rina Noronha for this amazing opportunity and for their incredible hospitality.

BOOKINGS:
To book Nicole Delma or FOND Group for speaking or consultative engagements, please contact info@fondgroup.com.

YOGA + SCIENCE, DISCOVERING THE ANATOMY OF WELLNESS WITH MICHAELLE EDWARDS

HOW I LEARNED TO RETHINK MY BODY BACK INTO ITS RIGHTFUL POSITION

When I visited Hawaii this past spring, I was told stories about a very special woman living up in the hills of Kauai named Michaelle Edwards who had dedicated her life to helping people get repositioned in their bodies so that they could enjoy them as they were meant to be used. This intrigued me on a personal level as I had often felt as though I wasn’t sitting quite right in my body and had great difficulty doing anything that required me to remain still for any length of time. More than just your average restlessness, my body actually brought me tremendous pain if I was forced to be still and, while this predisposition served me well in sports and running very long distances, it also prevented me from pursuing other activities I was curious about such as yoga or meditation.

Regardless, I had tried Yoga only to be chastised by teachers who insisted it was the restlessness of my mind that was causing my physical pain (viable, I thought) or forcefully tried to ‘straighten me out’ and pressure me in to positions my body wasn’t ready to accept. Strangely, not one teacher had ever suggested the reverse – could it be that the positioning of my body might actually be agitating my mind? What’s more, as a trained massage therapist versed in anatomy and physiology, I found it very disturbing that some of my teachers didn’t even know the various parts of the body or the mechanics of how they were connected yet they were bold enough to sit on me to try and get my body where they thought it should be. There had to be a better way to work with my body, I thought.

The view from Michaelle's property in the hills of Kauai just outside Hanalei.
The view from Michaelle’s property in the hills of Kauai just outside Hanalei.

While reading Michaelle Edward’s book YogAlign, which was gifted to me by one of her former students, Pro Surfer Rochelle Ballard, I read something that quite possibly changed my life. Using detailed attention to anatomy and physiology, Michaelle explained that the Psoas muscles, which connect your spine to your legs, have a direct connection to your emotional state and that connection goes both ways. You see, the Psoas are somewhat of the ‘fight of flight’ muscles that respond directly to stress and are linked to the proactive tightening of the tissues around our torso/major organs that occurs to protect our most vital parts when danger or a threat are imminent (an approaching predator, for instance). The thing is, improper positioning or stress on these muscles and associated nerves can actually cause the agitation in the centers the brain responsible for the ‘fight of flight’ response to stay on well after the perceived threat is present and when there is no threat at all. Hence, a physically rooted cause for a restless mind. Aha! This was a light bulb moment for me and I at once contacted Michaelle and arranged come and study/work with her for a week at her home and studio on Kauai.

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As I got to know her, I learned that Michaelle Edwards has spent the better part of her 60 years studying the human anatomy, the dynamics of movement, the brain/body connection and various disciplines of yoga and bodywork and applying that knowledge to her own unique method. Over time, that method evolved into a specific set of exercises or adapted Yoga poses aimed at freeing that stress on the Psoas and thereby relaxing the mind and just generally shifting us into a more peaceful place at home within our bodies. Her technique, called YogAlign is the embodiment of much of her life’s work coupled with her own personal practice and that of the hundreds of students she has worked with over the years. Understanding the intricacies of human anatomy, its connection to our brain and our spiritual and emotional well being is Michaelle’s passion and, after spending a week with her, I could clearly see was also her calling.

Out front of Michaelle's property, an ample supply of surfboards, snorkels and fresh bananas.

Out front of Michaelle’s property, an ample supply of surfboards, snorkels and fresh bananas.

I arrived at Michaelle’s amazing green property just outside of Hanalei in early July where I was housed with Katrina, one of her advanced students who teaches YogAlign in LA and was there helping her to shoot some informational videos to post on YouTube. The property is nearly completely sustainable and she and her students can subsist on the fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and coconut water naturally provided from her land with little need for anything from the outside. As I came to learn, this is not unique on Kauai and is part of a growing movement to help keep out GMO yet, for Michaelle, it was just a way of living she had acquired nearly 40 years earlier to stay in sync with the natural environment around her. This pure diet is likely one of the reasons she looks substantially younger than she actually is and is literally exploding with energy.

Michaelle at work with a student in her studio.

Michaelle at work with a student in her studio.

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Our days together mainly consisted of an hour of YogAlign group class in the morning, an hour or two of swimming in Hanalei Bay early afternoon (in which she always swam twice as fast as me), running on the beach or on the trails above her home followed by a natural lunch and then 2-3 hours of focused practice working on my own unique ‘posture challenges’ and learning a specific combination of exercises, breathing, bodywork and mental techniques I could use to reset and realign myself to a more natural and dynamic positioning. As Michaelle explained it, our bones are really just ‘strung’ together by our fascia, muscles and ligaments – all of which are soft tissue and can be coaxed back to their optimal positions. When we are aligned, motions and proper posture take far less effort as the natural human form is quite efficient by design- just watch a toddler move sometime and you will see how effortless their motions are before their posture begins to get compromised.

Daily swimming is part of Michaelle's healthful regimen. The waters of Kauai are said to be curative.

Daily swimming is part of Michaelle’s healthful regimen. The waters of Kauai are said to be curative.

Michaelle absolutely blew my mind with her knowledge and I genuinely felt as though I was sharing time with someone who had indeed ‘figured it out’ and was on to something remarkable. After one week, I could see a marked difference in my posture and actually measured a full inch taller in height as a result of the release of the pressure on my spine that was being imposed by a wound up Psoas from years of suboptimal posture and overconditioning. What’s more, I felt so different. I was sleeping better than I had in months, my eyes and sinuses were clear and my energy levels were steady and strong. At 60, Michaelle still ran circles around me in terms of her energy level but I got the sense that she had tapped into some inner knowledge of health and longevity that others had not.

The studio where we practiced daily. Michaelle hosts regular retreats and training on her property: Manayoga.com

The studio where we practiced daily. Michaelle hosts regular retreats and training on her property: Manayoga.com

We took before and after photos, measurements and careful notations on things I would not otherwise have looked at such as the distance and positioning between my toes. Realizing that my little toes being crunched up had a direct connection to pain in my neck was eye opening, literally. There were techniques she showed me which actually changed the way my face looked by altering and releasing the stresses that pulled on my eyes and jaw and positioning of my head to my body. We sat together and went through photos of her previous students who had even more dramatic results after spending weeks with her and even my skeptic’s mind started to change. Perhaps the secret to ‘straightening out’ my body had nothing to do with forcing through painful positions and stretching muscles to the point where I was hot and throbbing in pain. Perhaps the key to evoking lasting change in my posture was actually in these very subtle movements coupled with focused breath and mental techniques. (You can see some before and after photos here on Michaelle’s site Manayoga.com. )

Since leaving, I have kept up with the practice and continue to see added benefits and results. I look and feel taller, lighter. My core is toned and elongated all the way around. My running is better than ever as I now feel as though my legs and hips are moving efficiently in an anatomically correct gait. I would not go so far as to say that I am a Yoga devotee but, when it comes to YogAlign and the techniques and theory I learned from Michaelle, I can say that I have unquestionably received tremendous benefit and that the quality of my life has improved as a result.

Michaelle even taught me how to sit correctly (though she is the first to explain how most of our human health woes seem to have evolved out of our sitting culture). As I sit and write this, I am pain free and thinking of my next run – a 22 miler and considering I might actually bump it up a day as the need to recover from yesterday’s 18 miler just doesn’t seem to be there the way it used to be.

Thank you Michaelle for helping me to find a pain-free way to be within my own body – in stillness and in motion. I can’t promise I will sit still any time soon but, at least it is good to know that I now can 🙂

Mahalo!

Nicole

MICHAELLE IS COMING TO NY! – SEP 21, 2013This Fall, Michaelle is making her way to New York to teach her first ever clinic here: Change Your Posture, Change Your Life. The class will take place on September 21 and I will be sure to be there and will post more information on how to sign up as it becomes available. If you are interested, feel free to email me at nicole@fondgroup.com and I will alert you when I have those details.

The view of the studio from above, nestled in the green hills.

The view of the studio from above, nestled in the green hills.

The GMO controversy came up a lot during my time on Kauai - a heated local and global debate.

The GMO controversy came up a lot during my time on Kauai – a heated local and global debate.

Michaelle cracking open a fresh coconut for me post-class.

Michaelle cracking open a fresh coconut for me post-class.

Her beautiful chickens that provide much of the protein for the property.

Her beautiful chickens that provide much of the protein for the property.

The chicken coup.

The chicken coup.

Daily greens with equally vibrant views were a part of the wellness routine at Manayoga.

Daily greens with equally vibrant views were a part of the wellness routine at Manayoga.

View from a hike above the house.

View from a hike above the house.

The stunning hidden bamboo gardens Michaelle took me to.

The stunning hidden bamboo gardens Michaelle took me to.

Mangoes and papayas fresh from the trees were in constant supply at the house.

Mangoes and papayas fresh from the trees were in constant supply at the house.

An accomplished musician, Michaelle treated us to an impromptu jazz performance after dinner one night.

An accomplished musician, Michaelle treated us to an impromptu jazz performance after dinner one night.

Hanalei Farmer's Market was easily one of the best I've ever experienced. Fruits and veggies you've never seen before and GMO free!

Hanalei Farmer’s Market was easily one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Fruits and veggies you’ve never seen before and GMO free!

The view from the backyard never got old.

The view from the backyard never got old.

Hanalei sunsets were spectacular every night.

Hanalei sunsets were spectacular every night.

Pro-Surfer Rochelle Ballard links up with FOND

What happened on Oahu, why Rochelle Ballard is coming to NY, what exactly is a Surf Into Yoga Crossing and what’s FOND got to do with it?
February was a spectacular month. I finally honed in on what I wanted to do with my skillset (a.k.a. – the rest of my life), and put the wheels in motion to make it official. After registering The FOND Group LLC, I decided my next step should entail a bit of my favorite kind of spiritual rejuvenation: the traveling kind.

First Stop: Hawaii, Of Course…
As a late-blooming surfer and perpetual lover of nature, it was amazing I’d never visited Hawaii before. Ever. I’d heard stories and seen thousands of images but somehow my brain could never quite piece together what it might actually be like there. At one point in college, I’d even tried to transfer to Hawaii, sight unseen, as I wasn’t getting enough beach in Northern California. But the transfer fell through, and 15 years later I’d still never been. (It’s probably for the best it didn’t work out, or I’d likely be degree-less and selling seashells by the seashore to this day.) I decided to get right to the core of the place and targeted that legendary surf Mecca: Oahu’s famed North Shore as my introduction. I was insanely curious to see what the scene, the surfing, the lifestyle was really all about. I couldn’t wait.

IPhone shot of Pipeline just blocks from Rochelle's property on Hawaii's North Shore.

iPhone shot of Pipeline just blocks from Rochelle’s property on Hawaii’s North Shore. Waves got up to 20 feet that week, I’d never seen anything like it.

Good timing landed me on the North Shore during the Volcom Pipe Pro and I got to see the best surfing I'd ever witnessed in person on waves I could hardly wrap my head around.

Good timing landed me on the North Shore during the Volcom Pipe Pro and I got to see the best surfing I’d ever witnessed in person on waves so crazy I could hardly wrap my head around what I was seeing.

Destination North Shore – Rochelle Ballard’s Property
With some luck and opportune timing, I had made arrangements to stay on the property of surfing legend Rochelle Ballard for a 10-day respite at her North Shore Wellness Retreat. Surfing, meditation, bodywork, natural food and the greenest surroundings you could imagine, just steps from some of the best surfing beaches in the world… Truly paradise.

Rochelle Ballard's North Shore Wellness Retreat. Rochelle has since sold the property and returned to her native Kauai with the intention of taking her practice on the road - Surf Into Yoga Crossing is born.

Rochelle Ballard’s North Shore Wellness Retreat. Rochelle has since sold the property and returned to her native Kauai with the intention of taking her practice on the road –           Surf Into Yoga Crossing is born.

Green Paradise…
From the moment I arrived, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My body and soul just kicked into happy gear and I was overcome by a great sense of peace and the notion that my health was mine to reclaim. The past year had been tough, both mentally and physically, and being here at Rochelle’s special green property (even the house is deep green) marked the first solid steps towards my new course. I wasn’t there for any reason but to recharge and, for the first time in a long while (perhaps my life), I’d given myself full permission to check out and relax, nurture myself, and just take in all the good laid out before me. This decision to clear out the old and chuck the clutter of emails, meetings, and “should-haves” from my conscience had left me clear and free and excited for what was next.

The Beautiful Green Property, Rochelle's  home (since sold) on Hawaii's North Shore Where I Stayed for 10 days

The Beautiful Green Property, Rochelle’s home (since sold) on Hawaii’s North Shore Where I Stayed for 10 days

Yoga with Rochelle…
I’m no yogi (I tend to giggle when the Ommms start), but I am a firm believer in the mind-body connection, and my past training as a sports massage therapist is something I apply in daily life: I’m quite certain the pains I experience in my feet, back and neck have as much to do with what is going on mentally as to what is happening physically. Proof of that showed in how beat up I would feel after a tough work day in comparison to the relative pain-free state I would experience after a 20 mile run. There was no doubt I had some serious unwinding to do after the contortions I’d put myself through trying to make an unhealthy and overstressed lifestyle work for me—and yet I did still have serious reservations about Yoga and its cult-like tendencies. A LOT of adoption without a lot of information scares me. My scientific brain had led me here, though, and it was through the study of anatomy and physiology, and its practical application, that I’d reached the personal conclusion that I damn well better learn to connect and take care of my body and mind to have any chance of long term bliss and freedom from stress. My mind was as open as it was ever going to be on this trip and in this place—so I decided to take a yoga class with Rochelle. She calls it Surf into Yoga.
Well, let’s just say Rochelle’s yoga teaching style is unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. She is a firecracker, and anyone who’s ever seen her charging, big-wave style of surfing knows she possesses an immense inner fire and strength that extends far beyond her tiny frame. What surprised me, though, was how gentle and nurturing she also is. She developed this style of yoga when no other style spoke to her as a bodyworker and athlete, and she’s passionate about sharing it, but there’s no dogma, no cult, no pressure, no judgment –just something really beautiful and healing that left me wanting to learn more. As a fellow bodyworker and athlete, the way she taught, I just got it.

Killer massage too…
I was also the grateful recipient of some amazing bodywork from Rochelle. She knows her stuff. I’ve been getting weekly massages since I was 21 to manage a chronic misalignment of my spine. I’ve had massages from gurus, monks, quacks, Rolfers –and in every style: shiatsu, deep tissue, hot stone, Thai, inverted, underwater, just plain bad. I’ve had massages in a dozen countries and from a few hundred practitioners. (Don’t get jealous, you haven’t seen my back.) I’m not the first to say that Hawaiians have their own special energy and approach to life that just makes for a calmer, lighter self, but in Rochelle’s bodywork, I felt it.  In fact, her body and energy work and our resulting conversations were so powerful and positive that I felt compelled to find a way to bring them to a wider audience. I was a believer – this stuff was legit.

And we talked…
Rochelle and I sat down and talked. To my surprise, I learned that I was the last guest ever at this property. Rochelle was making some major changes in her own life path and it turned out we were crossing each other’s at the exact right moment. Me, I needed inspiration and a worthwhile cause to get moving with FOND, and she was ready to move on her dream of bringing Surf Into Yoga and her life’s spiritual lessons to the world… Starting with NY. I could help with this! I’d been craving exactly this sort of collaboration. As soon as we started talking, it felt as if it was meant to be.

We shared our visions. We both believed in truth, in putting messages out into the world that are both positive and practical, in supporting local businesses, in giving back to our communities. We believed in health for body and mind, in good wholesome nutrition and a positive, all-inclusive athletic culture with opportunity for all.

Now, quite magically, several conversations, texts, emails later, and the concept is alive and kicking and will start this September. Rochelle is bringing the inspiration I experienced on the North Shore of Oahu right here to the urban beaches of NYC. And FOND is getting to help.

Surf Into Yoga Crossing is Born!
So, What is a Surf Into Yoga Crossing?
Surf Into Yoga New York Crossing is a personal journey with Rochelle Ballard that willb e documented through blog writing, photography and video. The crossing will feature a series of interactive elements involving Rochelle Ballard and local communities with the goal of sharing its mission. Read more on Surf Into Yoga NY Crossing with Rochelle Ballard.

What FOND has got to do with it and how you can help:
FOND Group is working with local brands, venues, non-profits and community groups to finalize the details of Rochelle’s visit which will include surf and yoga activities for underprivileged youth, a photo presentation and lecture on her travels and life lessons through surfing, private yoga/surf instruction and bodywork with Rochelle and–waves permitting—some epic surfing on our own Northeast swells.

GET INVOLVED! If you are a brand or individual that would like to get involved in the NY Crossing with Rochelle Ballard, please use this form

or email us at
info@fondgroup.com with Surf Into Yoga in the subject.

Read more on what Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Fresher Farm to Table

GETTING THE ROOT OF FRESH AND HOW TO GET IT IN THE CITY

Living in NYC, it is surprisingly hard to find impeccably fresh produce. I’d insert the word ‘local’ here too but recent schooling has taught me that ‘local’ is rapidly becoming the new ‘organic’ when it comes to overuse and lack of meaning in terms of describing the quality of our food. You see, we can call anything ‘local’ but how far does that mean…this block, zipcode, state? To be determined.

When it comes to organic, it can be even trickier. In a recent conversation with Long Island microgreens grower, Brendan Davison,  I was educated on the some of the misnomers surrounding organic and natural food labeling. Davison shocked me when he told me that one of my very favorite ‘organic’ producers actually only operated one single acre of truly chemical-free farmland and for the rest of its thousand or so acres, it was full-fledged pesticide-laden business as usual. And yet, they were legally able to maintain their USDA Certified Organic classification on their packaging. News to me.

So, for now, I’ll settle on ‘fresh’ as the key quality I am looking for in my food and with that, I mean I want it to be picked within the last 10 hours and to have come into contact with as few chemicals as possible in the course of its life. This food not only tastes the best but it offers the highest amount of nutrients and critical enzymes our body needs to nourish itself. I treat my body like a science experiment and I can vouch for the difference I feel in energy, mood, sleep quality with the right supply of fresh wholesome foods.

In my search for fresh in the city, I tried out so many different options in the last year and was painfully disappointed with many of them. The major at-home grocery delivery chain brings its organic bananas wrapped in bubble wrap and then styrofoam and then packaged in an industrial sized cardboard box (carrying cockroaches if you are lucky).  The semi-prepped food services are slow to disclose the source of their food suppliers and fail to provide a good value. Farmers markets do provide good options but are not exactly convenient for someone like me who juices daily and moves through 20lbs of produce in a week (though be sure to still ask questions about the food they are selling because it doesn’t all come from where you think).

After much digging and wishing for a ‘local’ and ‘organic’ (bear with me) service that would bring me products from places that I could go and visit without an airplane that had been cut from the vine only hours before, I finally landed at RusticRootsDelivery.com through the introduction of a friend/grower. What killed me is that I didn’t find them in all my google searching. There must be other people who want this type of service. A few conversations with the delightful couple (Emer and Jeff) who run the operation and  I was committed to helping them get the word out digitally…which is how you now see them listed under the FOND umbrella. The work Emer and Jeff do to get all of this fresh food into the city isn’t easy – a complex  distribution chain with  over 40 local growers and farmers is not something anyone can come in and master. One taste though and you will see why it is well worth the effort.

Mark my words though – THIS IS THE BEST VALUE I have found in healthful, real food anywhere in the city.  The fact that a real live farmer shows up at your door to drop the goods off is just the icing on the cake.  I wasn’t home for my delivery today at the beach and they put the items away in the fridge for me and then sent me a note to tell me where everything was. Items arrive in neat coolers that are reusable, not cardboard boxes. They follow-up with recipes via emails to help those of us along who don’t have a clue what to do with swiss chard or rhubarb. In one month, I’ve made rhubarb preserves, brocolli rabe, wild ramps for god’s sake! These are not items I would have ever bought or considered adding to my diet but I’m so glad I did.

In addition to fruit and juice baskets (my dermatologist asked what I was using on my skin today because its glowing BTW), they offer local farm fresh eggs, milk in the bottle, goats milk, yogurt, micgrogreens, meat, cheese, honeys and syrups and are adding more each day. Minimum order is $50, delivery $10, no subscription and pick and choose what you want and when you want it. For more, see their FAQ’s.

No one paid me to write this. I simply love these guys and think they are doing a good thing and it is improving the quality of life for a lot of people. Check it out and let me know what you think at nicole@fondgroup.com.

Use code FOND and they’ll knock 10% off your first two orders. Delivering to Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
(And thank your farmer when they drop your food off – farmers rock.)

RusticRootsDelivery.com

To your health-

Nicole

Here are some of the highlights from my last several months in farm fresh heaven:

Breakfast Salad - a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves

Breakfast Salad – a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD's juicing basket.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD’s juicing basket. Skin, hair, joints, (my brain!) have never been better.

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