“d...” i nudge my husband across the plane, where he’s reading next to our eleven year-old. “they’re getting punchy.” and they are, the two younger boys, after six hours in the sky, having colored, crafted, poured over their comics and gotten truly intimate with their snack bags. i can feel in my body that it’s time for a nap, at least for me, and if they don’t join in... well, the flight could get really long indeed. d reaches into his own snack bag, the secret stash with all the good stuff we leverage when heading cross-country: the kale chips, the chocolate chip cookies, the relax chocolate. and that’s the stuff I’m talking about. thank goodness he remembered. he always remembers. he signals to me, one? two? one. one is enough to settle my climber. at seven years old, he’s not about to peek at the person behind him. but he is one to wiggle, pull his legs underneath him, shift his feet up to the headrest & accidentally kick the five year old in the head. and one is enough to calm down any upset child. hopefully I’ve timed this correctly and we can all close our eyes for the time is takes to melt down. the chocolate. not the family. It works. in 8 minutes the littlest guy is out. after a second round, so am I while our middle boy goes back-and-forth between spinning wool on his drop spindle & memorizing a lego catalogue.
this chocolate saves us. and the maker...well she’s something special. a sister that glows in the most gentle possible way. the best part of being a legacy architect is getting the big picture behind my beloved clients' products, their promise to humanity and the earth. this is a story i’m obsessed with sharing, because if folks actually realized what’s behind these chocolates...what’s in them...and how easy meditation can be...Well. I think the world would stop. go lucid. pivot.
when i got back from asia, all i wanted to do was share the incredible gift i had been given by having access to masters
of meditation. i looked around, and i knew we needed what they knew and experienced. but when i brought up the idea of meditation, the reaction was almost always a no: i’m too busy, i’m not good at it, i don’t know how to do it.
then one day i realized - when we let chocolate melt in our mouths rather than chew it, we do exactly what i’d want any- one to do who was learning meditation, except that we actually do it better. we rest fully, lovingly in the present moment. and nobody says, “i’m too busy, i’m not good at it, i don’t know how to do it!”
i see chocolate as a permission slip for us to take meaningful breaks in our day that support wellness of body, mind & spirit. all of us here have the intention of coming from a place of love and clarity, of advancing a bigger vision for the world. yet, i know for myself that it’s easy to get distracted, derailed or overwhelmed, everyone i know is either working too hard, or thinking too much. by using the chocolate as a trigger to put it all on pause for 2 minutes, we are able to rebalance body & mind & enjoy the deliciousness of the present moment. taking meaningful breaks honors the natural rhythms of our bodies, allows us to access our insight more regularly and assist us in coming from that place of wisdom & vision that is so needed in the world right now.
how’d you get there?
i grew up in a small town in western new York, in a place with more cows than people. by a fluke, i got a fellowship to teach english in france after graduating from university, and it totally opened my world. i was so happy once
i got to europe that i couldn’t leave after my fellowship had finished, so i moved to paris and took a job as a nanny. it was there that i met some- one from asia who told me about meditation. i had to go see for myself, so i went with him to the
himalayas, where i spent most of the next 11 years - liv- ing at a monastery, studying meditation and doing retreat in a cave.
i quit my job where i was working 15 hours a day on someone else’s dream. i flew to san francisco alone to do some soul-searching and go to a big gourmet food show, where all the chocolatiers meet. i pulled pieces of chocolate out of my purse and asked people to try it. Three weeks later i launched the company.
so you're really sharing...
you know when we were kids, and we used to play on the swings at the park, there’s a moment when you change direction, going up - ahh - going down - whee! that delicious moment of weightlessness that occurs.
the same thing occurs in our minds, in between the thoughts, though it is much more elusive in the beginning. but if we identify it, nurture it, strengthen it just the tiniest bit by giving it our attention, it will grow bigger. and there is so much richness in that space. it’s like all good things hide there - our insight,
our compassion; our spaciousness, perspective and a deep well of love. look for it. you will find your sanity there!
as clear as i was about how chocolate was a path to medi-tation, i was afraid to share it with others. for years i talked about the health benefits and the herbs & spices that we infused into the chocolate, but kept quiet about the bigger picture. i was afraid that people didn’t want to hear it. but it’s hard to pretend you’re a regular chocolate company when you’re not! our chocolate didn’t belong in grocery stores because it’s so much more than a snack.
this year it’s become really clear to me that it’s time to get out of the way and let the real story take center stage. we’re here to shift a paradigm in consciousness, with chocolate as one of the tools, and those who understand that will connect with us.
i knew that chocolate was the perfect way to give people a taste of meditation, but i was worried about the impact on health. one of the things that had amazed me the most when i returned to the u.s. was how unhealthy people were. i had had my share of health challenges, and didn’t want to do anything that would be a detriment to anyone else. chocolate had a reputation of being bad for you - too sugary, makes you fat, bad for your skin - so how could i encourage people to eat chocolate? right around that time, the first studies came out suggesting that chocolate could be good for you. i dove into the research. the more i read, the more relieved i felt: there were fundamental choices we could make that would change everything.
chocolate’s healthy? just kidding.
what i found was that in central america where cacao is indigenous, it was known as a superfood - formerly reserved for royalty and used to give strength to warriors. even today, the kuna people of panama who consume cacao daily have 18 times less heart disease, 12 times less cancer than their own people who switch to western chocolate.
The biggest difference? in order for our bodies to absorb all the health benefits, chocolate must be dairy-free. Until recently, it was rare to find chocolate without dairy. most people interested in health benefits look for dark, or at the percentage, but neither of these is a guarantee. for instance, even a respected brand like green & black’s 85% cacao bar has whole milk powder in it. i decided that every chocolate we make would be not only dairy-free, but vegan, organic, fair trade, soy-free and gluten-free. as a result, all of the barriers to enjoying chocolate have been removed. now it’s guilt-free as well! only 2 grams of carbs, 30 calories in a piece, and good for body, mind and spirit.
so happiness in this life looks like...
being surrounded by hundreds of pounds of chocolate! i’m so lucky to have found a way to do all the things that are important to me: show a path to better health, more happiness, and greater expression of our vast potential as human beings.
i get so much inspiration from my best friend, katie hess. we are on a parallel path of embodying our spiritual practice in our businesses, and i know i couldn’t do this alone. she created a company called lotus wei that makes mists, skin serums & elixirs with flower essences that catalyze transformations and help people be at their best. her flower essences are amazing - they work through the acupuncture meridians to bal- ance body and mind. she hand-collects them, guided by nature and what people need most. we infuse them into our chocolate, too, for the mental, emotional & spiritual benefits.
it’s essential to have a community - whether in person or online - that holds the highest vision of who you are and what you are here to contribute. Then it becomes easier to step into it. katie does that for me, constantly.
so that big picture...
i would like to be in touch with a worldwide community, online and off, that proactively seek ways to up-level their game - in terms of living with more clarity, purpose, better health and more compassion - so that they can return their gifts to their families and their community.
we are on the verge of a major shift in paradigm that calls on every one of us to be at our authentic best, and help others to do the same. we have already created some tools - with the chocolate and flower essences - and soon will begin offering programs with methods for living with more freedom and clarity.
i’d like to be in touch with people who share this vision and want to catalyze those transformations first in themselves, and then others, so that we can play together to uncover our true potential.