Tag Archives: transformation

Alchemy Fest 2015 [Photos and Video]

photo by Tanya Sharkey

photo by Tanya Sharkey

Thank you so much for making our 10th Annual Alchemy Fest event an amazing celebration of transformation and community. We’re already looking forward to next year.

Thank you to our leadership team and to the rest of the planning committee and all the volunteers. This event would literally NOT be possible without you. Thank you to all of our vendors and sponsors. This event could not happen year after year without your contributions and financial support, and we appreciate you so much.

We saw over 400 attendees over the course of the day, over 90 pre-sold tickets (the most we’ve ever had), 36 completed Green Cards, 3 big raffle winners and 38 satisfied vendors (again, a new record).

I can’t say how happy it makes me to see that this community and family-friendly event continues to grow and stay true to its mission of connecting and showcasing amazing and talented LOCAL people while honoring Earth Day, the arrival of Spring, the spirit of transformation, and so much more.

Thank you, again. I know that next year will be even bigger and better and I know that we will cross paths in the meantime to create more meaningful and transformative events and experiences (though not quite as labor-intensive as this one) for the members of our community.

You have my sincere gratitude.

Looking forward,
Joran

photo by Cassidy Brooks

photo by Cassidy Brooks

Obscure Belly Dance by Caroline Hekate.

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Alchemy Fest 2013 a Huge Success in St. Petersburg

Alchemy Fest 2013

This year, our 8th annual Alchemy Fest event was held at First Unity Spiritual Campus in St. Petersburg and as expected, this year’s event was the biggest and best so far, doubling past records at well over 4oo attendees.

This year’s event committee – Lorrie McMurrian, Jennifer Oppelt, Christa Leonard, Jessica Respondek, and Shanna Gillette – did an amazing job pulling together a much more ambitious event than we’ve done in years past – including live music, dance performances, workshops, a vendor marketplace, and 7 interactive “Transformation Stations” which included everything from guided meditation and chair massage to hula hooping and face painting.

We’re also very grateful to our huge crew of volunteers (Jake Respondek, Dan McMurrian, Tanya Sharkey, Lil Reisman, Sarah Davis, Charlie Forsyth, Ashley Butler, Chelsea Greene, Trina Hill, Dwayne Scheuneman, Joel Conrad, Catherine St. John and Gina Smith), as well as the amazing staff at First Unity (Denise, Neil, and Sharon).

Shanna captured some amazing photographs of the festivities as well as performances by RedFeather, Geri X, Sons of Hippies, The Gita and Rise of Saturn. Check out the gallery below.

This year’s presenting sponsors were Thank You Mama and Number 9 Salon.

If you were there and have stories and/or feedback from the event, please share it in the comments section. I can’t express how thankful I am to everyone that has helped grow this event into such an amazing and meaningful annual gathering for our community. Every one of you have my sincere thanks and profound gratitude.

Joran Oppelt
President, Integral Church

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Video of the Opening Ceremony, featuring Joe Terrana and Raihan Alam


The Seven Day Media Cleanse: How and Why?

“Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

carol-anne

INTRODUCTION

It wasn’t even my idea.

It was my seven-year-old daughter, Alchemy, who suggested it.

“Daddy, let’s go a week without watching TV!”

Her mother, Jennifer, and I had just finished our second juice cleanse of the year, and I think Alchemy was just caught up in all the cleansing and fasting and wanted somehow to be a part of it all. She got no argument from us. In fact, we had just been commenting on her ability to lose herself for hours in the ridiculous time-suck that is the “EZ Bake Oven” app on her iPad.

Recognizing the opportunity to break myself of that nasty texting-and-driving habit, I suggested we also incorporate devices and apps (like Facebook and Twitter) into the mix. Since she didn’t have access to these services, she was totally cool with it.

So, here were the fast and not-so-loose ground rules for our Seven Day Media Cleanse:

1) No TV
2) No apps
3) No internet

This meant no Facebook, Twitter, Netflix or Hulu and (voluntarily) included iTunes and streaming audio services (we have a family plan on Apple Music). For seven days, we would listen to vinyl at home and only have work-related access to e-mail and Google Drive.

DAY ONE – SUNDAY

We decided to start on a Sunday, as it seemed like a day we could easily keep ourselves occupied. However, I had forgotten, this wasn’t any normal Sunday. Jen had class all day, and I had the kids.

My morning routine usually consists of me opening my eyes, hopping out of bed, going to the bathroom, then getting back into bed and lying there for at least another half hour scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Not so this morning. I got up, saw Jen out the door, made a cup of tea, put on a record, and started getting the kids ready for the day. I always find it easier to leave the house altogether when I have them. If we’re on the go, they can’t get bored, and they can’t make a mess. Do other dads do this?

We had plenty of books and records at the house to last us through the week, but we made a preemptive trip to Daddy Kool and Planet Retro to buy some records missing from our collection just in case (Jellyfish, Local Natives, Public Enemy, Tomahawk). This seemed completely justified and even proactive at the time. In hindsight, I guess I just like to shop for records.

Our dinner routine usually consists of sitting at the coffee table and watching TV while we eat. However, when Jen got home, we had dinner at the dining room table. Something we hadn’t done in a while. I said a short blessing before the meal, and we enjoyed all facing each other, talking and laughing.

DAY TWO – MONDAY

Not being able to listen to music while driving kinda took some getting used to. The car is where I usually listen to the music I want to hear. I listen to entire albums at a time, and I listen to them loud. I most likely look like a fool to other drivers in traffic as I drum on the steering wheel and shred wicked air guitar solos. After I dropped the kids off at school, it was just me, my thoughts and the silence. The silence was deafening. My ears rang and my head throbbed. I talked to myself, and at times even noticed myself yelling – not in anger, just talking loud to fill the emptiness.

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The Three-Day Cleanse: One Man’s Juicing Journal

juice-21

PRELUDE

Let me paint the picture of myself before the cleanse.

I’m a 36-year-old father of two — a performing musician for around 10 years, with an energy level that tended to naturally (or so I thought) peak around 8 or 9 p.m.  I love coffee — no cream or sugar, just coffee (Cuban, Tanzanian, the bolder, oilier and more locally-roasted, the better) — and I would pride myself on making the best pot of it. I drink beer occasionally — usually craft-brewed, hoppy IPA’s. I’m around 5’10” and at the time I began the cleanse, weighed 195 lbs. Not obese, just a little flab around the middle (I hadn’t been on the treadmill in a few months). I quit smoking (again) around five months ago and haven’t looked back. I don’t have a desk job, but I don’t do manual labor, either. I cross the bridge from St. Petersburg to Tampa every morning, and my work at a local media company keeps me on my toes and relatively active (climbing stairs, lifting, working at events, etc.)

But I was tired a lot, and I attributed this to being old. I would make excuses to my friends as to why I couldn’t go out at night (smoky bars, the temptation of just one more beer) but the fact was — I was exhausted. And sitting on the couch with my family in front of the television is all I wanted to do. Sure, there was coffee and sugar (read: donuts) to create huge chemical spikes that would carry me through the day, but they would leave me groggy and sluggish in the morning, forcing the cycle to start all over again. For a time, I thought that nodding off at the wheel (even after getting a full night’s sleep) was normal. I thought I was just “tired.”

Now my wife, Jennifer, on the other hand, has always been more intuitive, more healthy and more courageous than myself. She has a background in retail management and was a massage instructor for a time. She’s currently running a corporate wellness company and is enrolled in a nutritional coaching course. So, we watch a lot of food and health documentaries. And we’ve been talking about this juicing thing for a while.

The idea of juicing itself seemed a bit silly to me at first. A bit extreme. I mean, I was making small adjustments already. A year ago, we stopped drinking bottled water — because of the chemical treatment of the water and its impact on the environment — and started eating primarily non-processed foods. I cut out Pepsi, which I’d been addicted to since adolescence, and replaced it with organic cranberry juice — and I exercised portion control when I could. I thought I was making good choices, even though my energy level hadn’t changed and I hadn’t made any effort to lose the added weight. I’d also planned on cutting back on my dairy intake, as I more and more noticed a slight congestion after having milk or cheese — which is so very bittersweet for someone born and raised in Wisconsin. It cuts me deep, actually.

A few months ago, we purchased a juicer of our own, and I would occasionally taste Jen’s concoctions, nodding or grunting approval and partly hoping this was just another of her passing phases. But when a friend of ours made the leap and started her own juicing company, offering personalized blends and delivery service, Jen wanted to give her service a try. In part, to support our friend in her new endeavor, and partly because it would be easier for us if there were no excuses (“it’s too late to shop for vegetables,” “there’s no time to juice”). We would stock the fridge with 3 days of pre-made juice and if we wanted to extend it to 5 days (or longer), we could pick up and carry on with our own juicer.

With only some reluctance, I said yes.

I’d done a 2-day liquid fast for a colonoscopy a few years back, and it wasn’t that bad. 1) I figured I could save some money by not eating out for lunch every day, and 2) I have a hard time saying “no” to my wife. We chose to begin on a Saturday, so there wouldn’t be any work-related temptations (like that endless line of bagels and cookies on the break room counter), but not a Saturday with a big event to work that would require a lot of energy.

I was given only one warning by people who had already done the juice cleanse. Wean off of caffeine BEFORE you begin. I was told there would be sensations within the body as it adjusts to operating on purely raw food, and it would be advantageous to know the difference between a symptom of withdrawal to certain vitamins or minerals as opposed to the full-on rage of a caffeine detox.

DAY ONE – Thursday before the cleanse

I limited myself to one cup of coffee (with one raw sugar), down from the usual 2.5 cups per day. As the day wore on, I sensed a slight headache in the occipital region of my head and neck. I took 400 mg of ibuprofen and my daily 24-hour antihistamine.

DAY TWO

I reduced my morning coffee to half-caffeinated (no sugar), and again had an onset of headache in the late afternoon. I repeated 400 mg ibuprofen and my antihistamine.

DAY THREE

refinery

No caffeine. No sugar. No wheat. Jennifer made me a green tea in the morning (which had a bit of caffeine, but none of the oil or acid found in coffee).

We decided to go out with a bang (and break a couple rules) by getting down at The Refinery in Tampa for our last solid meal. We enjoyed an appetizer of potato and andouille sausage, roasted chicken, and a “Brimley Burger” complete with sharp cheddar pimento cheese, homemade “spam” gravy and Yukon Gold fries. Yes, indeed. Out with a bang.

DAY FOUR – The juice cleanse begins!

Our refrigerator was full of Mason jars, labeled with a numbering system for each of us (Joran 1/1 = Meal one, Day one; Jen 3/2 = Meal three, Day two) and that morning everything looked to be going according to plan.

And then, it happened. Tropical Storm Debby was brewing outside — a consistent horizontal rain with trees creaking and bending — and out of the dark blue, I snapped. I got angry. I have issues with power and control to work through, and all the caffeine in the world can’t help something like that. I yelled at Jennifer and I made her cry. I hadn’t seen her cry in forever. I felt horrible. Over stupid things like the fact that she was watching a food documentary while my stomach rumbled. Over the fact that I needed some quiet time to do some writing, and her food doc wasn’t helping. Over the fact (I claimed) that I didn’t really need to do this and was just playing along.  Me. Me. Me.

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