Sina Blanco is a Vegan Super Mama

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Sina Blanco is a Vegan Super Mama

I have been so excited to share with you the passion and zest for life that resides within the gorgeous super mama Sina Blanco. If her surname sounds familiar, that's probably because you'd be familiar with her two smashing daughters, Aja and Tia. I was intrigued to learn more about the mother behind these beautiful, energetic bad-ass girls, so I reached out to Sina for an exclusive conversation on raising a vegan family, life, travel and all-round wellness. I know you'll love Sina as much as I do.

Sina and her husband, who stopped eating meat one month into dating this vegan super mama.

Sina and her husband, who stopped eating meat one month into dating this vegan super mama.

Where are you based and how long have you lived in that part of the world?

My husband is in the military so we've lived in several different places including Oregon, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and soon we'll be moving to San Francisco.  We currently live in Oceanside, California.  We also just built another house to use as an Air Bnb for those that are health conscious and would like a nice, clean, peaceful place to stay.  It's equipped with a Ninja Blender for smoothies, along with yoga mats and yoga blocks.

Tell us about your upbringing and when you began your journey into veganism.

In 1964, I was born and raised into a heavy meat eating, Catholic, Filipino family in Palm Springs. Most Filipinos believe eating meat is a great luxury for the rich, so of course every family meal included some kind of dead animal. 

Lucky for me, my uncle Manny who is a chiropractor, holistic health provider, and one of the first pioneers living on a meatless, vegetarian diet, was in my life.  He and my aunt Virginia were always passionate about not killing or eating animals.  That passion inspired my younger sister Cheryl and I to go vegetarian.  At that time, I was in the 7th grade (age 12) and my sister was in the 5th grade (age 10).  Back in those days (40+ years ago) it was UNHEARD OF to be a vegetarian.  People would call us all us all kinds of crazy.

As vegetarians we believed that eating goat cheese (feta) was much healthier than eating cow cheese.  We also did not eat eggs or drink milk (if only we knew what we know today about dairy...).  I remember my aunt and uncle telling us, "thou shall not kill".  That statement was powerful and meant so much to me as a kid.  I remember being afraid that I would go to hell if I killed or ate dead animals, particularly being a quote from the Bible itself. My uncle Manny would also recite Genesis 1:29 from the Bible to us.  It basically said that God gave us seeds to grow that would bare fruit for our food and that's what we should eat!  As kids that made a lot of sense to us.  My sister and I also had books that were basically the Bible broken down into children's books.  These books had pictures.  In one of the pictures it appeared to be Adam in the Garden of Eden with all the animals standing next to him.  I loved that picture!  I would always stare at it and ponder on it.  Today, I don't own a bible nor do I claim a religion, however, I do believe in God and I also believe in love and compassion, and karma.

Looking back 40+ years ago, we didn't have cell phones or the Internet.  We relied on the resources we had and we did the best we could with the information given to us. 

How did you meet your husband and was he also vegetarian when you met?

I met my husband at a wedding in 1990.  He was not vegetarian or vegan when we met but he would always ask me questions and gravitate toward the meatless diet.  He would even order the same exact dishes I would when we'd go out to eat.  I never had to force him not to eat meat.  He pretty much transitioned on his own only after one month of dating. After about a year and fully vegetarian, he decided to join the Coast Guard.  Low and behold he broke the record for the two-mile run which hadn't been broken in several years.

Nurturing a healthy family is at the core of Sina's journey.

Nurturing a healthy family is at the core of Sina's journey.

How many children do you have and what are their ages? 

My husband and I have two daughters.  Aja is our oldest, 23 years old.  When I was pregnant with her, my doctor said if I didn't eat meat her brain wouldn't grow.  23 years ago there wasn't much research backing a vegetarian or vegan diet.  Most people would have listened to their doctor. I, however, did not. 

Proud Mama

Proud Mama

I would love to talk to that doctor today, as Aja grew up to be a beautiful, intelligent young lady.  She was the recipient of the Harvard Book Award, accepted into an Ivy League college and graduated from New York University with Honors. Today she works for AUM Films, the producers of Cowspiracy and What The Health documentaries.  Aja is the Operations Manager, in charge of planning their events, as well as managing all their social media outlets including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  She is such a great asset to our society.  She creates social media posts that inspire lots of people to go vegan on a daily basis.

Sina's youngest daughter, Tia, showcasing the power of plant-based atheltiscm.

Sina's youngest daughter, Tia, showcasing the power of plant-based atheltiscm.

Our youngest daughter is Tia, 20 years old and a professional surfer.  I remember when she was a toddler people used to tell me, "You better feed her meat or she won't grow up to be strong."   Since then, she's become a professional athlete.  She won two Gold Medals in 2015 and 2016 for the Open Women's divisions at the ISA World Games.  She is also an ambassador for Beyond Meat. In addition to that, she has her own vegan nutritional shake called Peaches & Cream by Vegan Smart. She is also featured in the What The Health documentary.   

Tia has an Instagram account dedicated for all her vegan recipes.  Check it out @tiasvegankitchen.  

When did you switch your family to a vegan lifestyle?

Both of our children were conceived and raised as vegetarians up until about five years ago, when our whole family went vegan. Tia, Aja, and I had actually read a couple of books that my aunt Virginia recommended.  One was called The China Study and the other was called Eat To Live.  We also watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives.  After that we were convinced veganism was the way to go.  The first year of going vegan was tough, although Tia didn't seem to have a problem with it, she was hardcore vegan.  The rest of us took it at a little slower pace.  Although we didn't purposely eat, drink, or buy milk, cheese, eggs or butter we did eat Mema's Christmas cookies during the Holidays knowing that they probably contained butter.  Today that is not the case.  Apparently, we've made an impact on our extended faintly as they now include vegan eats during the holidays.

When our kids were in grade school I used to make their lunches.  I would pack sliced apples with cinnamon, carrots and celery with hummus and peanut butter and honey sandwiches on wheat bread (before we learned honey wasn't vegan).  The girls would always end up eating their lunches during the car ride home from school, and They would tell me that the other kids would make fun of their lunches so they were embarrassed to eat them. When I asked them what the other kids ate they said either Lunchables or orange cheese (American cheese) with bologna or ham on white bread.

Ironically a lot of those kids have gone vegan now. We've all come a long way.  It doesn't matter what path someone else is on because they all lead to the same place. 

Can you tell us a bit about your day to day lifestyle?

Every morning when I wake up I drink a huge glass of water.  Then I take the Koa Bear (our dog) out to run around while I drink my cup of coffee.  I add a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda to my coffee to alkalize it.   (Side note: cancer thrives in an acidic body so cut out acidic foods.)  After I have my coffee, I start work.  I'm an IQ SIP Engineer and I work from home programming trunks and doing MAC's for my clients. 

For lunch, I'll usually go to a yoga or piyo class and then eat leftovers from the night before.  Sometimes I like to snack on nuts and fruit or hummus and rice crackers, and banana ice cream.  After work I'll make a vegan dinner, take Koa Bear for a walk and call it a night. 

Overall, I'm just like everyone else.  I try to be a good human by doing good things on the daily in hopes of ridding my karmatic debt (if that's even a thing).  We are all here to learn our life's lesson and I think we are all doing the best we can.

You travel quite a bit with your family…where have you been most recently that sticks to mind as an epic adventure, and how do you sustain your vegan lifestyle when traveling?

I feel really blessed to be able to travel with my family.  I'm also very grateful that Tia still likes to bring me along with her when she travels to compete.  I consider myself her personal videographer and chef.  When we're on trips my job is to video her surfing so she can critique her technique and make adjustments.  I also do all the cooking on these trips.  So before we travel we go shopping for food to buy beans, rice, pasta, spices, etc. When we arrive at the destination we'll go shopping again for the fresh indigenous produce to incorporate into our meals.  I try my best to cook meals according to her needs, so if she's feeling fatigued the night before I'll make her pasta and kale (carbs and iron).  If she is feeling bulky or slow I'll feed her salad and beans.  If she is feeling dehydrated I'll give her lots of water, coconut juice, and fruit.  It's quite amazing how food influences the body and its performance.

Sina and Tia in Japan.

Sina and Tia in Japan.

Our most recent trip together was to Japan.  My favorite part of that trip was visiting a temple.  Talk about spiritual vibes, I was feeling them for sure!  In Japan we rarely ate out.  I did most of the cooking.  We ate a lot of rice, veggies, tofu, seaweed and curry. In my opinion, if you are not in Tokyo, I would recommend cooking yourself because vegan food is hard to find.

What advice do you have for mothers raising a vegan family (especially those with athletic kids)?

Don't be afraid!!! 

Start them as early as you can.  It'll be easier in the long run.  

People will tell you you're wrong for doing it, don't listen them.  

Feed your child as often as possible.  Remember most vegan food is light and very easy to digest so your kids will be hungry more often.  

Let your child eat whenever they're hungry! Think about it, if you look at vegan animals, cows and gorillas for instance, they graze all day long.   

Most importantly, feed your child foods with a lot of good fats like avocado, and coconut oil.  Their brain needs fats to grow. 

Make sure to incorporate things like Braggs Amino Acids and Kals Flake Brewers Yeast in their diets. Sprinkle it on everything!  It's good stuff and you'll be glad you did.

17389084_10212996469486623_2072357579763322175_o.jpg

What is your purpose in life?

My purpose in life first and foremost is to save animals.  They need us to protect them, not eat them.  I'm also trying to spread the word on how harmful factory farming is effecting our environment.  People really need to wake up and start caring about our future generations.   I for one want my future great-grandchildren to have a nice place to live.  And the only way to do this is to inspire people to go vegan.  If they don't, our planet can't survive.

How can we follow your amazing lifestyle? Social Media/Website?

Instagram - @sinablanco

FB - sinablanco

@tiablanco

@tiasvegankitchen

@ajablanco

@cowspiracy

@wthfilm

@simonblanco949


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A conversation with vegan mumma Sara Triglia

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A conversation with vegan mumma Sara Triglia

Beating depression, moving to Maui, and raising a plant-based daughter. Meet this thriving vegan mumma.

Sara's journey into health and wellness all started with a walk along the beach, and a quiet moment with a few "spunky birds." She's since become vegan, overcome depression, sold everything and moved from New Jersey to Maui, and now raises her daughter on a plant-based diet, sharing her journey with over 10K global followers after finding a support network through YouTube when she had no idea what cloth diapers to use.

We caught up for a chat and as I sit down to pen this piece together and publish it to share with all of you, I can't help but sit back with a huge smile on my face, feeling full of inspiration. Meet Sarah Triglia.

The Anicca Way (TAW): Where did your journey on this path to health and wellness begin, and what pushed you to transform your life?

My journey to health and wellness began on a beach in the summer of 2010. I had recently moved into a loft across the street from the ocean (in New Jersey). I wasn't expecting to transform myself that summer. I was expecting to have a care-free summer in the sand. It simply didn't happen as planned.

One morning in May I went for a walk along the shoreline. A half mile north from my loft I came across an 'environmental area'; it was the only part of the beach that still had trees, dune grass, and golden rod. In this area was a fence that roped off a few spunky birds. They were black and white with long orange beaks. The sign read "Endangered Beach Nesting Birds. Do not enter." I was intrigued by these birds. I couldn't stop thinking about them. So naturally I Googled them and came across an opportunity to volunteer as a bird monitor at that very location.

I called the number, met with the organizer, and began volunteering. I watched the birds' parents protect, and sit on, the eggs for over a month. I saw the chicks the day they hatched, and everyday after until they flew off to Florida in August.

During this experience there was one day that impacted me deeply. One of the parents became tangled in a fishing line and hook. I worked with other volunteers to snare the bird and remove the hook. I was holding the bird when I felt the heart beating into my palm. This changed the way I looked at animals.

The evening after this experience I was cooking dinner with my friend. As I was slicing chicken breasts I kept thinking about the birds. In that moment I made the connection that my food had a heart beat...a soul. And, from then on I couldn't eat meat.

It wasn't until years later that I would learn of the health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. The documentary Forks Over Knives changed the way I looked at food. I started eating WFPB (whole foods plant based) when my daughter was six months old, because she motivated us to feel our healthiest. Our whole family now eats WFPB and I can't imagine any other way.

TAW: What kind of healing work did you embark on and how has it affected your journey?

I don't feel that I chose to embark on my healing journey....it feels as if it happened to me...I'm going to say 'choiceless-ly'.

After the incident (with the birds that summer) unexpected experiences happened to me that were both blissful and painful. All of these experiences brought new growth, perspective, and healing into my life.

Living is learning, right?!

TAW: How long have you been a vegan and how did you approach your move to veganism?

I will be vegan seven years this year.

I was vegetarian for a few months (after the experience with the birds) and the day before thanksgiving 2010 I was curious about how they raised millions of turkeys for the holiday. I did another Google search and read about the awful factory farm practices. In the corner of the website I saw a link that said "Why Vegan?" And thought, "Yea, why vegan?" So I clicked it and read on. I decided to go vegan the moment I read that cow's do not produce milk unless they were recently pregnant (just like humans). I had never heard that cow's milk is for cow's babies. That shocked me.

I stopped eating all animal products at once. I started my transition to veganism with eating all of the mock stuff - mock milk, mock meat, mock cheese - until I moved passed my cultural conditioning and addictions to those types of foods.

TAW: Were you vegan through your pregnancy and if so how was that experience? 

I was vegan throughout my pregnancy. However, I wasn't eating a WFPB diet. I was still eating nearly all mock foods. I was eating a lot of wheat products, oils, refined sugar, salts, and processed foods. I wasn't educated yet on WFPB eating.

I was surffering with morning sickness and vomiting until six months pregnant. I didn't have a very positive experience. I am curious to see if I become pregnant again if my new diet would make a difference.

TAW: How have you incorporated your WFPB lifestyle choice with motherhood?

My husband and I decided to raise our daughter vegan once we learned about the health benefits of a WFPB lifestyle. So she has never eaten an animal-based food.

When she was three years old I let her make her own choice. I sat her down and explained the choices she had. It took less that a second for her to make her choice; she didn't want to eat animal products.

I feel that allowing her to choose this for herself gives her power and drive.

If she had chosen to eat animal products I would have allowed her to experiment outside of our home. Such as at parties and social gatherings. I would not have made her animal foods at home simply because I don't feel that they are promoting a healthy body if consumed long-term.

I want her to be her healthiest physically and emotionally. Eating a vegan diet and that being her own choice was also important to me.

TAW: When did you move to Maui and what inspired the move? How was that experience? What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?

We moved to Maui October 2015. We are originally from Pennsylvania but we were living in New Jersey at the time.

I wanted to move to Hawaii for years. It was a dream of ours, one that we felt was too impossible to realize. I was suffering from seasonal depression and I was constantly falling ill. I knew it was because I wasn't living a life true to myself.

People always ask what ultimately made me decide to risk it all and move across the world and the answer is simple: not doing it became scarier than doing it.

It came to a point where it was something I HAD to do. There really was no choice.

Moving 5,000 miles away, leaving my family, and not knowing what was going to happen was scary. It took a ton of faith. There were days we thought we would end up homeless. There were days we thought we couldn't make it here. But our faith kept us going and now we are living the life we dreamed of.

TAW: What about education? What are your plans for your daughter? 

My daughter is 4 years old, and our home schooling journey is just beginning.

I remember the moment I decided to home school. It was in June 2006. The day I graduated high school. I remember walking out of the building in my cap and gown and thinking "if I ever have children I'm not making them go through this."

I hated school ever since I was a young child. Going to school felt like a prison sentence to me. There were even bars on the windows. I couldn't focus on learning. I was teased a lot and had social anxiety. I cried in school.

I enjoyed learning but I hated school. I always felt dumb when I was actually very smart. I don't feel as if I fulfilled my potential.

I have had conversations with Kaia, our daughter, about going to school and she has no desire to go. Hearing that from her confirmed my thoughts on homeschooling.

Homeschool is what works for us. Currently, I have a white board and (a few times a week) we work on letters, numbers, and subjects. Last week we learned about the Big Bang theory. She mostly learns by living. We have a pen pal in Australia. From this experience she has learned where Australia is, what it's like there, how to form words, and how to mail our envelope with the postal service. She also understands money, how to fix a car (thanks to her mechanic dad), how to operate a computer, and so many other things.

She has a grasp on how the world operates and I think that's ultimately what's most important to learn.

TAW: How do you maintain your self-care?

It's so hard to take care of ourselves (especially when we have children). The world demands so much from us, doesn't it? We need to make the money, pay the bills, buy health insurance and then stay healthy so you don't have use it, run our kids to classes or play dates, keep up with the errands, the house, the grocery shopping, school, and on it goes.

Self care takes a back seat almost all of the time in our society doesn't it? I didn't even know what self care was until about three years ago.

What I have come to realize is that if I don't take care of myself I get sick. I become physically ill. I have to take care of myself or I end up with the flu or pneumonia (once in college).

My self-care routine starts in the mornings. I wake up at 7:30am (about an hour before my daughter wakes). I take five deep breaths and say "I'm checking in with myself. How are you? What do you need to today?" And I listen.

Next I do 15 minutes of yoga, hula hoop for 5 minutes, rebound for 50 jumps, and dance and sing to a song that resonates with me.

The last thing I do is take five more deep breaths. I mentally say "I breath in confidence and love" during my inhale and "I breathe out insecurity and fear" during my exhale.

Do I do this everyday? No. Does my day go better when I do this? Yes.

It's not a perfection. It's about doing what makes you feel good inside.

TAW: What interested you in taking your life before a social media and online audience, and what do you hope to achieve by sharing your journey?

My struggle with breast feeding and cloth diapering. If you look back at the very first YouTube videos i made, they are cloth diapers reviews.

I was in tears for months after my daughter was born. I wanted to raise my daughter so very different then from what everyone in my life had done. It's what felt true to me.

But I had no idea how to do it. No one I knew breast fed, cloth diapered, co-slept, healed holistically, birthed at home, etc.  So I took to the internet. Reading blogs, watching videos, and the like, to get advice and tips.

I wanted to pay it forward to the other lost moms that might need my help. That's what originally drove me to get on social media.

TAW: How do you balance social media with self-care and time away from technology?

Good question! This is something I'm currently figuring out. It's a challenge to balance social media work, real life responsibilities, being a stay at home mom, home schooling, and trying to focus on myself and self care.

It's a lot. Right now what I am learning is to "say it and forget it" or another way to put it is to "just keep moving." So, for example, if I post a video on YouTube I will check the comments for a day or two, and then forget about it. I've learned not to dwell. I've also learned to set aside time for social media work. I used to check my phone in the middle of the day and if I read a negative comment it would rattle my day.

Now, I mostly check social media after I get my daughter in bed. I will do some breathing. Remind myself I can love myself no matter what comments I read...get into a safe space. Read, reply and move on.

It never feels good to dwell.

TAW: Do you practice fasting and if so how often and what has been your experience?

I haven't had this experience yet. I have wanted to for a long time, but with my daughter nursing full term I didn't want to detox through my breast milk or accidentally dry up.

I can do this now, but have to find the space in my life. My goal is to do a week long juice cleanse in the future.

TAW: What inspired you to write an E-book and what challenges did you face?

I have always loved writing. When I was 12 years old I wrote an (unpublished) fiction novel. And my long term goal is to be a published fiction novelist.

The ebook started out as personal journals that I wrote while we were moving. I really liked them and decided that I wanted to make them into an ebook.

It turned out to be over 100 pages of journals from the time we first got to Maui until we settled into our home 6 months later.

The most challenging part of the process was getting it edited, figuring out how to sell it on my website, and all of that technical stuff.

Writing the book came easy. Sharing it was a little bit more of a challenge. When you open yourself up the world you never know what response you will get back. The task is to still love who you are and what you do...even if others don't. 


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Briana Cavion on overcoming adversity, NLP healing, Standing Rock and Peru

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Briana Cavion on overcoming adversity, NLP healing, Standing Rock and Peru

I met Briana through her cousin at a dinner party in Venice Beach, LA, and her warmth and vibrant personality drew me in instantly. We talked about her hip hop dance classes, healing botanicals, The Gene Keys, and her Neuro-Linguistic Programing work. Since then she's been giving her heart to the movement at Standing Rock, and more recently working with a non-profit in Cusco, Peru. In her exclusive interview with The Anicca Way, Briana shares the obstacles she overcame to become a NLP professional and talks of her recent visits to Standing Rock and Peru.

The Anicca Way (TAW): You run a NLP business WholeLife NLP based out of Venice Beach in California. How did you get into NLP and what spurred you to launch the business?

Briana: Okay, this is a HUGE question! I began my journey with inner healing work in my early 20's. This took me on the road of meditation, breath-work, traditional talk-therapy, plant medicine, and eventually, I found my NLP mentor. This was the first body of work that I found that could sustain positive life change for long periods of time, felt respectful and loving, and was fun. That was really it for me. It was effective. And fun.

I began my training at NLP Marin (nlpmarin.com) in 2010, and went through their 2 year Master Practitioner Course. I now run a 1x1 work and NLP training classes here in Santa Monica and throughout Southern California.

"When someone tells me to get my head out the clouds... I say - don't worry, I'm waaaay beyond that..." - Briana Cavion. 

"When someone tells me to get my head out the clouds...
I say - don't worry, I'm waaaay beyond that..." - Briana Cavion. 

TAW: What obstacles were you experiencing in life that led you to turn to inner healing work in your 20s?

Briana: First, I was dealing with an addiction that led me to abusing food. With that (as per addiction protocol) came deep patterns of lying, manipulation and exaggeration. I felt worthless. And that fed my need to numb my feelings. Which kept me behaving in ways that felt shameful. Which I felt like I needed to hide, or at least distract people from.

Second was my sexuality.
I was sexually assaulted when I was 18 at a party in Malibu, CA. Up until that time I had had very few sexual experiences. I then became very sexually active with an older boyfriend of mine. And I also explored other non-normative behavior. I did not however, deal with my pain of the assault. I hid it. I masked it. I pretended that I was super sexually charged when what I was... was hurting. This combination led me down a path of deep shadow exploration around food, sex and money.

Down the rabbit hole.
And back again.
I lied.
I cheated.
I stole.
And I denied my need for help.

And I am still forgiving myself for the remnants of these shadows coming up and out.

And that is what led me to my deeper search for wholeness. Healing. Applying loving to the parts of me that feel unlovable.

Which is still my practice today.

TAW: For those who don’t know, can you explain what NLP is and how you work with clients?

Briana: NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programing is a work with the mind that allows for subtle shifts so that you don't have to remember to be different. I work with each client distinctly. So I listen in depth to each potential client to really get a sense of where they are at, where they would like to go, and how we can get there. With my 1x1 clients, I often work with them for 6 months - 1year. I also teach 6 week and 10 week Transformational NLP courses in the LA area.

TAW: Following your social media accounts, you seem to have dedicated recent months to the movement at Standing Rock. What motivated you to not only support the movement, as many of us have been, but to physically go there. What stories can you share from the experience?

Briana: I have led a pretty privileged life. And, knew this from an early age. Around the time I was 15, i had become aware of my heart and how much the quality of my life was effected by the suffering I could feel others going through. I have been a Sacred activist for most of my adult life. The past five years have been more focused on healing and spirituality. Then one day, my inner core just knew that my next piece was to share of I really feel deeply the pain of another to the point where I could not sit idle.

To feel another's experience fully as my own.
To stay centered.
Then act from a place of full resource and compassion.

That's what took me to Standing Rock. To witness. To be there. To feel what was happening. And to stand with the conviction that I can fully accept everything exactly as the way it is. I also deeply honor and accept my desire that it be different.

Sacred Activism is what is really growing from this experience. This is an integration of -
- Social Justice
- Environmental Protection
- Artistic Expression
- Personal & shared spiritual experience

In terms of who I met at Standing Rock and how this entire movement have changed me - I could write a book! I met many amazing sisters and brothers. And I am clear that Standing Rock is be beginning of the of All Human Rights Movement.

TAW: Now I see you are in one of my favorite places on Earth, Cusco, Peru. What has brought you to Peru?

Briana: I was facilitating a journey of nine participants in the Cusco-Sacred Valley region. I work with a non-Profit called Prosperity Homes and we partner to create a Sacred Journey for their volunteer-participants. We began our journey together in in Cusco, spent a few days in a rural home stay, and finally completing our time at the sacred prayer site of Machu Picchu.

TAW: What message(s) are you hoping to spread on your journeys?

Briana:

Connection.
Laughter.
Stories.
The lightness of unity.
Inner peace for world peace.
Learning ancient technologies that can support us in expanding the integrity of modern technologies.

TAW: How is social media helping you on your quest?

Briana: Social media is such a blast! And a beast! Sometimes it feels like it is helping me connect, sometimes it feels like a weight of death! I get sucked in, I wanna see who likes what, I want to comment back!! Ahhh!!!

When most of the time I work best with hugs.
Social media is a tool.
I just have to make sure I don't become one.

I love it.
But it is addictive for me.
So I have to watch it.
When I'm feeling alone especially, I'll check everything once through, and then again. And again. Then my hands have fallen asleep because I am laying in bed commenting on kitten videos and learning ancient Celtic songs.

I have tried to limit myself to three "checks" a day. Meaning I don't leave my apps open. I post something then I am only allowed to check any social media three times a day. I have Facebook, Instagram and twitter, so that is still nine intentional "looking for feedback" moments.

There are times too when I feel alone.
Like the lack of justice is just so sad.
Or the low levels of consciousness just hurts my teeth. Or the lack of respect... ouch.
And then I get in my Facebook. And someone has commented on a photo I have posted of an artist from Peru, or a moment at Standing Rock, or a healing moment from a class and I think... yes. THAT is why I do what I do.
For connection.
For depth.
For healing.
For love.

And sometimes social media can help that.

TAW: What advice do you have for others wanting to help?

Briana: Well, what do you love to do?
 
Like, when you think about it, it feels like your first crush just circled *YES* on your love note.

Do that.
Everyday.
Every moment you can get away with it.
We need more people in our world loving life.
Wildly. Boldly. Beautifully.
That will help all of us.

NLP with Briana: http://wholelifenlp.com

Follow Briana:

Facebook: facebook.com/ThePeaceTree
Instagram: @AllLoveUnited
Twitter: @AllLoveUnited

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Water World - an interview with Angie Davis

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Water World - an interview with Angie Davis

Simon Foster from Screen-Space took the time recently to interview Angie Davis after the release of Double Barrel. 

From her home in the Byron Bay hinterland, Angie Davis has reached across oceans and continents to tell the story of Lobitos and its people. The Peruvian coastal village, its self-sustained emergence from under the shadow of ‘big oil’ and the surfing culture that has helped reform the region’s innate strength are examined in Double Barrel, the journalist-turned-filmmaker’s picturesque and deeply humanistic documentary.

In the US to support the festival rollout of her debut long-form work before returning home for the Australian premiere on February 27, Davis (pictured, above) spoke at length to SCREEN-SPACE about her love for the Lobitos community and how their struggle has inspired her, creatively and intellectually… 

What made the culture and people of Lobitos so alluring to you?

The people of Lobitos live a simplistic lifestyle without the modern comforts that we are accustomed to in the West. The rawness of north Peru’s coastal regions make for a number of complexities, such as a dramatic lack of rain, clean drinking water, and fertile soil. The locals are dependent on the ocean for food sources, yet the oil industry combined with commercial overfishing has significantly affected the fish stocks. Local fishermen have to venture further out to sea, in small boats or handmade balsa rafts at night, to hook a decent catch, which translates to greater running costs. I respect the local fishing community for enduring such hardships, while living with big smiles on their faces. And now the son’s of fishermen from the area are getting into surfing and living their lives around the tides and swells. It is this ocean-inspired lifestyle with the backdrop of the raw Peruvian desert that drew me to the area. 

An oil platform off the Lobitos coast. Photo: Gary Parker.

An oil platform off the Lobitos coast. Photo: Gary Parker.

How has the emergence of a modern surf culture integrated with the traditions of the township?

It hasn’t been so seamless. Lobitos was created as an oil town 100 years ago by BP, became one of the richest towns in Peru, and then fell to ruins when the lefts took power in the 60s, expelling all foreign oil companies from the country. In the 90s, the beaches attracted the affluent surfers from Lima who built hostels and surf lodges straight onto the shoreline, which wasn’t exactly welcomed by the existing community who lived back off the ocean a few blocks inland. Surfing has definitely put Lobitos on the map, both domestically and internationally, but the rate of development is alarming. A combination of profit-driven objectives and an ignorant lack of knowledge about how delicate sand-bottom surf breaks are to the movements of sand, tides and wind (means) overdevelopment on the beachfront can lead to the complete destruction of the town’s primary profitable resource - the waves (pictured below, right; Davis with environmental advocate and big wave surfer Harold Koechlin and an Andean local). 

Photo: Gary Parker.

Photo: Gary Parker.

Double Barrel balances a human-interest story, environmental/social issues and sports travelogue elements. How did you reconcile your objectivity of a journalist and empathy of a social commentator?

This story was close to my heart. I started writing humanitarian journals for Amnesty International and throwing fundraisers for Surfrider Foundation from when I was 18. I was a surfer with a burning desire to travel and soon recognized a link between great waves being located in underprivileged regions and wanted to explore that more. I was working on a luxurious surf travel piece when I found myself in Peru, but abandoned that story when I saw first-hand that Lobitos was not ready for an influx of wealthy surf tourists. I decided that a film would give Lobitos a chance to move forward more sustainably and challenge audiences to consider their role in the rise and fall of surf communities, or any developing communities, worldwide.

Harold Koechlin paddles over a wave at Lobitos, oil platforms visible on the horizon. Photo: Gary Parker.

Harold Koechlin paddles over a wave at Lobitos, oil platforms visible on the horizon. Photo: Gary Parker.

Which filmmakers inspired you? 

I grew up with Taylor Steele’s surf movies. My interview with him on his film Sipping Jetstreams was my first published magazine piece, and I watched him evolve as a filmmaker from action-packed surf films to more travel-inspiring cinematic ‘journey’ pieces. Taylor (pictured, below) was a great mentor on Double Barrel. In the end I wanted to make a surf film with ‘everyday’ people that everyone could relate to, with inspiring travel cinematography supporting a story that inspires hope. Too often environmental films finish with that feeling of “wow, I have no idea what I can do to help save the world.” Double Barrel highlights marine environment protection initiatives like the Juntos Por Las Playas Del Norte, a project that was inspired by our efforts making the film. 

Filmmaker and Angie's mentor, Taylor Steele.

Filmmaker and Angie's mentor, Taylor Steele.

The impact of industry on a population and their natural habitat is key to Double Barrel. How did your experiences living in Japan at a time of enormous hardship influence the film?

The Japanese disaster in 2011 was devastating. After the earthquake, we were forced to evacuate for what started as one night but eventually turned into about three months of uncertain life on the road. Nothing could prepare you for living through something like that. The aftershocks were constant and powerful, the constant threat of tsunami was exhausting, not to mention the unknown consequences of the Fukushima fallout. As someone who surfed, swam or walked alongside the ocean daily, and with a one-year-old toddler and being pregnant at the time, the entire experience was life changing. When I first visited north Peru and saw the aging refineries and platforms so close to the shore, the thought of what could happen brought up so much pain inside of me. My experience in Japan made me feel there was an urgency to make this film. I couldn’t bare to see another place I love and the people who inhabit it become so devastated by the consequences of building industry right on the coast. Surviving an event like Fukushima stays with you forever, but it has to be taken as an opportunity to grow and evolve from the experience. 

Angie (left) on set with her crew filming Double Barrel in Lobitos.

Angie (left) on set with her crew filming Double Barrel in Lobitos.

What are your thoughts on ‘film’ as a force for change? How would you define the relationship between your artistic vision for Double Barrel and the message you had to impart? 

Until I went to Peru and had the idea to make Double Barrel, I had never desired to be a filmmaker. I loved storytelling through writing and producing. Taylor had done a short film for Charity Water in Ethiopia, and helped raise $1million for fresh water wells. I was blown away by how much documentary film could appeal to a global audience, and actually impact developing communities. I knew I had to have a script and storyboard, so that it had structure and context. I didn’t really know a thing about filmmaking, but I knew I wanted the film to be of the highest quality possible, and placed myself around geniuses in their fields that were also passionate about the project. Dustin Hollick was a surfing ambassador for Patagonia who had made surf films growing up in Tassie, including a film ‘El Gringo’ which had sequences from Peru, so I went to him with the script knowing I could trust him. I could not have made the film without him. Dustin recognized my emotion to the place and knew that had to be included in the film, resulting in a transparency that tells the story as it truly happened. Cinematographer Tim Wreyford had previously shot Mick Fanning’s ‘Missing’ film and we shot the first half of the film together. Then I returned with Alejandro Berger who is one of the world’s best water photographers (pictured, above; Davis, left, whith her key crew members). I wanted to combine the format of surf films with longer music-driven surf and travel montages that would give a real sense of the place. We learnt a lot of lessons the hard way, and threw in a lot of our own money to get this off the ground, but the response so far has been incredible. I am very proud of everyone for sticking with it.

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