Nourishment for women and men, Raspberry Relief is home to interviews, meditations and unconventional insight that makes your soul say aaaah.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Me & C. outside the shop apartment the day of our first adventure. 

I feel odd being awake while my husband and children rest. I have laid beside them for a few short moments only, listening to the deep and steady draws of their breath. On one level, I feel it a blessing and calling to be with them. On another, thoughts are stacked within my mind like jagged pieces of glass, and I must write to relieve the pain and to realign the energy of my chakras. By writing down anything genuine, my throat chakra opens and becomes attuned so that all communication clears and flows with greater ease. One thing I've learned of late is not to fear being authentic. If I am being authentic, then my actions tend to explain themselves. I am being authentic now--curled in my husband C.'s chair, in the living room of the home he built beside the railroad tracks. I visited our old shop apartment tonight for the first time in almost three years. I originally left it in a flurry after returning from work back when I taught 7th grade at a public middle school. C.had planned this sudden exodus into our new home to be a surprise. He and most of our things were gone. Our friend Mark greeted me and told me that I had to go immediately. I didn't really say goodbye.

I guess moving right across the tracks somewhat dimmed the blow, as did my ongoing connection to the shop. C. still worked there, afterall. It was still the regular destination of daily evening strolls. However, all my focus was on the common areas--not the upstairs bathroom where I sat crouched in the very first contractions of labor with my firstborn child, not the bedroom where my future husband explained that I could not ride a motorcycle in jeans and carefully laid out his leathers for me to wear on our first adventure , not the living room where I'd stay up nights with my stepson when he couldn't sleep but his father could no longer combat the sweet seduction of slumber, nor the spot where I used to cuddle my daughter when she was so tiny and fit right across my chest, her tiny heart beating into mine. That old apartment is where my stepson came to stay for his first legal visit and where my daughter spent her first year on Earth. One night we took her to hospital in Atlanta and held her little hands while she lay across an x-ray table. The doctors told us not to let her lie on her back that night, so we set her up on a couch in the living room and held her and each other. For the first time, I really felt myself to be part of a family, a mother and wife. The old apartment was a place of breakdowns and breakthroughs, most of which I hadn't considered until its current occupants invited me to go up there and have a look around.

One thing I've gleaned from my 20s, along with not fearing authenticity, is that all relationships resemble those between precious prickly porcupines, which will endure minor wounds in order to receive each other's life-sustaining warmth and closeness. Bearing that in mind, the time I've spent in each of my adult homes has been over-whelmingly loving and besieged by fewer stresses than I imagine most families have known during a historic decade of economic depression and war. The raw energy within our loft gave birth to our life within our present house, and our life here has given birth to both our youngest son and our new careers, which have the potential to dramatically re-shape perceptions of both individuals and society. While these are still in the process of being realized fully, my rapid departure from the shop three years ago is evidence that change strikes with speed.

As for the loft itself, my recent tour revealed that it is still a rapidly evolving energy center--an amalgam of fear, confusion, peace, joy, sorrow, sweetness, passion and hope charged by an atmosphere of sweat, smoke, steel and song. Its inhabitants manipulate these frequencies in the manner that a welder makes his art and, alongside my husband and me, continue co-creating a story that will take us to other places when we've mastered the challenges of our present homes and embraced the joy they've contained.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Shaman and Ayahuasca

I read the Shaman and Ayahuasca in a period of 3 days, throughout which I shared some sections with my sleepless one-year-old son. On whole, it clarified questions, dismantled stereotypes and provided a perspective through which anyone interested in healing, culture and plant-based medicine can understand and appreciate the practice of Ayahuasca Shamanism regardless of whether they plan to journey. Translated by Costa Rica-born sacred muscian and healer Alberto Roman, the book reads like a conversation through which Don Jose Campos invites readers to enter a meditation with him. The subject matter is at times grave, bizarre, sad, beautiful and humorous. However, this work of creative non-fiction moves forward with a fluid pace and inviting tone which makes everything palatable and worth consideration regardless of your personal beliefs. For scientists, The Shaman and Ayahuasca will raise far more questions that it answers. However, for the "everyman" it will succeed in making the idea of shamanism a bit less slippery and a lot easier to embrace.

In addition to author Don Jose Campos, translator Alberto Roman, publisher Michael Wiese and Michael's wife Geraldine Overton add their personal voices to the story. This editorial step toward breaking down barriers and creating community is an apt illustration of Ayahuasca's potential to positively impact lives by connecting people to each other, themselves as individuals and the source of all life--whatever one perceives that to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Active Meditation with a Side of Milk

I'm making this post in honor of my original homeschool student Brantley. He has a bright spirit and likes to find his own way to go about discovering meaning in his world. Therefore, it didn't strike me as odd when he told me what he wanted for his 13th birthday was "a new way to meditate that doesn't involve just sitting quietly or picturing something that doesn't take long to do." I've failed this student by not fulfilling his request until now, after he's already spent over a month as a teen. I've also failed to update this blog in around the same amount of time. I apologize to each of you.  Here's to new years and new beginnings. In peace, Kelli

Now, let's meditate, ACTIVELY!

What does this mean, exactly?

Well, meditation is the act of calmly but deliberately clearing and quieting your mind. When you carry a general intention to the meditation (such as how to find the perfect job, building stronger relationships, do well in school, etc.), then the answer will normally just "come" to you after your mind has been cleansed of the clutter. Many people meditate in a traditional way by sitting cross-legged and breathing while visualizing colors associated with chakras, the body's major energy centers. However, other people find this difficult, time-consuming and sometimes just not the most effective way to find a sense of clarity and calm. For those of us who feel that way (and, yes, I include myself here!), there is active meditation. My personal favorite forms of active meditation are cleaning, dancing, walking and drumming. Dancing and drumming give me a great focal point in the form of a musical beat. Cleaning, dancing and walking are also somewhat physically stimulating, so I get a little endorphin rush and a sense of physical fitness and personal accomplishment. Cleaning is also just really great metaphorically. As my student Brantley and I discussed during our last homeschool session of the summer, when you clean and LITERALLY make surfaces clearer and areas less cluttered, your mind follows suit!

That stuff is all "old hat" though. Today I'm busting out a new form of active meditation, which also produces a tasty and healthy (or, at least, healthiER!) birthday treat.

Supply List

3/4 cup olive oil
1.5 cups brown sugar
apple sauce
2 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons water
2.25 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 standard-size bag dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon of honey
lavender essential oil
Ralph Roddenbery's "Nobody Else Can Be Yourself"


1. Fill the basin of your essential oil burner with water and add up to 15 drops of lavender oil. CAREFULLY light a tea light candle and place it under the basin in the appropriate spot. Diffusing the lavender will clear the atmosphere and help you relax.

2. Pre-heat a conventional oven to 375 degrees F. Tell yourself that sometimes life "heats up" so good that creation can take place. Recognize all pressure, tension and "heat" in your life as being necessary for personal growth.

3. Mix together all ingredients EXCEPT apple sauce, chocolate chips and honey. Tell yourself that chaos brings positive change, that all are one and that all things return to peace.

4. Slowly add apple sauce to the mix. Continue adding apple sauce and mixing to give it a smooth, consistency that is easy to stir. Think of all the connections in your life. Remind yourself as you add the applesauce to your mix that everything comes together in the end.

5. Add the bag of chocolate chips and the honey and blend them in. Smile because you are adding sweetness to both the mix and your life.

6. Scoop little balls of the mix onto your cookie sheet. Use wax paper or treat cookie sheet with some spray oil or butter so the cookies won't stick.

7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. While they are baking play "Nobody Else Can Be Yourself." Sing the words aloud and dance.  Be proud of who you are. Keep this song on repeat, or sing and dance to other inspirational music. Here is a link to a live performance of the song!

8. Enjoy your cookies!!!! They will look a little "undercooked" at first but will firm up when they cool. As you are eating the cookies, take a moment to savor them. Pay attention to the way each bite feels inside your mouth. Notice the way the cookies taste and smell. As you enjoy the cookies, think thoughts of gratitude and imagine the chakras lighting up within you: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Imagine a rainbow wraps around you to keep you safe and warm. Remind yourself that you have the power to feel this way and the no one can ever take away your ability to be yourself.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Emergence of the Natural Shaman (Bienvenidos, Alberto!)

photo by my friend Wendy Ritchey of 

I look up to see a gigantic foam structure towering over me. It’s the bust of a female gymnast obtained by my husband C. back when the Olympics came to Altanta and marriage was still something I vaguely thought I’d do when I “grew up” and completed middle school. The gymnast is flanked by weathered Blue Meanies and a Yellow Submarine crafted for a Turner Broadcasting tribute to the Beatles. Since then, these sculptures have been carted back and forth many times to and from Atlanta’s Lake Claire Community Land Trust where they’ve graced the stage at the Peace and Love Fest and other musical gatherings. It was at one of these that C. first introduced me to Candler Park and Little 5 Points, areas that have since become my homes within the city. My other more constant homes are a loft built within the same warehouse where the gymnast balances in the rafters and a wooden house my husband built right across the railroad tracks where trains pass like an industrial river through the night.

C. has been active with Atlanta’s arts underground for almost two decades. However, his recognition as a key element of this scene occurred less frequently within Atlanta than within its far rural outskirts, where the warehouse sits at a crossroads pivotal to the South’s defeat in the Civil War. When he first moved his scenery business here, he was an anomaly with long dreaded hair, tie-dyed shirts and a utility kilt. Now, locals ask him to run for mayor. He’s become a regular part of the landscape around here, like one of the hearty wild flowers that spring up beside the tracks. One of his strengths is to mine the cultural underground for seeds and then plant them in unsuspecting places and people. Communities form around my husband. They gather at the shop, as they have today, for batches of smoked vegetables and chicken. They create artwork and seek inspiration that will help them through bouts of depression, poverty and general transition. They express a spectrum of excitement, disappointment and gratitude. The latest community is stronger than any I’ve encountered to date. They have united over steel—or, more specifically, the way steel can be made to sing.

My daughter beside our "industrial river"

In my mind’s eye, I envision cultural underground communities functioning as webs rather than isolated singularities. A leader emerges who trains, both directly and indirectly, individuals to become potential leaders of their own collectives, which all remain linked in some way to the parent community. The leaders are not at the top of a hierarchy in the traditional sense. Rather, they function like spiders, resting calmly at the center of the web, gracefully weaving and re-weaving connections as needed. If my husband is one of these weavers, then Alberto Roman lives at the center of the web from which C. takes his greatest inspiration. I finally met Alberto for the first time last Tuesday. As seems to so often be the case with me, I was darting out the door. Then I changed my plans. My daughter had an apocalyptic meltdown. My son soiled his diaper. Alberto offered to go, but I insisted he stay and bear witness to the storm of which I am the eye.

According to his Facebook profile, Alberto is a Costa Rica born former substance abuse counselor, probation officer and hospital resource specialist who has also spent decades exploring humanity’s connection to the Divine via his involvement in sacred ceremonies which utilize his experience as an instrumentalist and natural healer. Alberto’s degrees in psychology and philosophy relate to his spiritual work. However, Alberto tells me that his greatest moment of inspiration struck when he was around 9 years old walking to the end of his driveway. He became filled with a pervasive sense of joy that he felt compelled to share. At this point in my blogging journey, I would like to share some of Aberto’s spirit with you. Light a candle & some incense. Prepare a pot of your favorite tea. Then listen to the interview linked below. Motivational speaker and parenting expert Bob Lancer does a fantastic job of helping Alberto articulate his vision for an emerging culture of the natural shaman. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trial and Tribulation: My Take on the Anthony Case

Nancy Grace's propensity for sensational news makes me question her mental stability. As a result, I followed very little of her coverage (and other media coverage) of Casey Anthony's landmark trial. Instead, I checked the highlights after the verdict had been made, and it seems to me that much of America has been swept into a media frenzy and is jumping to major conclusions. Personally, I am caught between A) wishing all discussion of this issue will simply dissipate and B) feeling inspired to provide people with a new perspective on the tragedy. The second tendancy has prevailed, so read on for my personal opinion of the case:

To my understanding, Casey Anthony allowed her daughter Caylee to die in a pool because she wasn't watching her. When Casy found her child, she freaked out, dumped the body in the woods beside her house, made up the story about how Caylee had been kidnapped and then pretty much tried to fake her daughter's kidnapping and murder by going so far as to look up details about creating specific injuries in a frenzy following her daughter's death. She even attempted to place duct tape on her daughter body and then ripped it off in what must have been a moment of clarity, grief and disgust. Casey is most definitely ill. However,a group of jurors deemed that she is not the "party mom" who murdered her child to have more "party time," as much of America has framed her to be, and I believe those jurors are probably correct.

A mother who deliberately harms her children is easily villified. Villifying her can also become fodder for commercialized news & entertainment because people are thinking, "I may not be a great person, but at least I'm not THAT bad. That woman is TERRIBLE." However, if you consider the idea that Caylee did tragically die in a pool while unattended, then this humanizes Casey just a little too much, and makes her seem just a little too relatable to all the moms whose kids have unknowingly slipped out the back door. After wrapping that thought around your mind, think about the familial and social factors that may make a woman actually believe it's better to fake a kidnapping & murder (as Casey did) than to simply report her child's horribly accidental death. The conversation gets very complex, quite sticky, gravely important and not nearly so suitable for info-tainment. The media points to Casey's infamous "party pictures" as evidence that Casey was seeking a party lifestyle. I think they may be just as easily held as evidence that she'd cracked after finding her deceased child and was filling her mind with as much fluff as she could to keep from going more insane with grief. All told, the case really makes for a pretty deep sociological/psychological​ study, but I regret it is just going to go down in history as a sensationalized event.

At a minimum, I think all parents have at least 3 things to learn as a result of this incident:
1. Do not be a person so filled with fear that you turn your life into a nightmare.
2. Pay attention to your children's whereabouts.
3. If you have an above ground pool, remove the ladder after use so that wandering 2-year-olds can't fall in.

That's my stance. Air your thoughts and move on.


Please read my thoughts about education on Kate Fridkis' brilliant blog Skipping School. Please leave comments on the post, and take some time to check out her awesomely original writing about learning outside the box.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Soul Mates, Karmic Partners and Twin Flames

A former student chatted with me this morning about her mother's re-marriage, and I felt inspired to summarize the myth of Soul Mates, Karmic Partners and Twin Flames. Doing so reminded me that this has become one of my "signature myths." I discovered it upon meeting my husband and have since shared it with many of my closest friends. Now, I extend it to you. Here are condensed descriptions of each relationship type. Bear in mind, the myth accepts reincarnation as a reality. As with all myths, you may choose what you believe to resonate with truth and leave the rest. Also, most people apply these descriptions to romantic relationships; however, there is no need to limit them. These terms apply to all close relationships.

Soul Mates: These people are like cosmic classmates. You incarnate together lifetime after lifetime and just seem to "get" each other. This is because you are literally energy vibrating at about the same frequency. You may have greatly different life experiences; however, you approach life with the same basic perspective. You help each other evolve at a steady pace and have few troubles. Everyone has many soul mates. When soul mates unite, they often work closely together to nourish the development of children and/or innovative ideas.

Karmic Partners: These are people with whom you have some specific issue to resolve. Your immediate bond is intense, but the longevity of your relationship is limited. Either you learn from each other, find peace and then go your separate ways OR you realize the issue cannot be resolved at the present time and go your separate ways. You will re-encounter each other, or similar souls, when you are more prepared to learn what needs learning and to heal what needs healing. Relationships with karmic partners can be very rewarding and empowering when past issues are resolved and healed. They become "go to" people in times of need and the kind of "exes" who remain your friends. Alternatively, relationships with karmic partners are prone to becoming abusive and draining. When this occurs, additional negative energy accrues; however, some people fight to stay together out of the mis-guided belief that they have a karmic debt to settle with each other. Allow the relationship to dissipate, knowing that debts will be settled when you are ready and that any premature attempt to "push the river" will only cause greater harm.

Twin Flames: These people originate from the same energy at the same time. Therefore, they represent different aspects of the same person. Twin Flame relationships can be very difficult because you are constantly being forced to face parts of yourself that may make you uncomfortable or ashamed. At the same time, Twin Flame relationships are earth-shakingly loving. Committed Twin Flame partners inspire rapid personal evolution with enough force to significantly change the world.

In the spirit of this post, check out Joan Baez performing her classic "Diamonds and Rust."