Last week I shared with you an interview I did with The San Francisco Zen Center about the upcoming Well-Fed Woman retreat at Tassajara in June. My hope was to let the Zen Center community know a bit more about me and to let everyone know more about what they can expect at the retreat.
Now I want to let you know more about the amazing woman who I will be co-leading the retreat with me: Dana Velden or Ikushin Dana Velden as she’s known in zen circles (Ikushin means she is a zen priest). In last week’s interview I shared how I met Dana and how the retreat came to be:
…before becoming a coach I worked in the Bay Area sustainable food community. In the summer of 2008 I was awarded a fellowship to attend a food conference in the Napa Valley. As part of the conference a large group of us were shepherded on a bus to a nearby vineyard and on the ride I struck up a conversation with woman seated in front of me. Low and behold it was Ikushin Dana Velden who I knew as the author of the Weekend Meditation column on The Kitchn website. I had been enamored with Dana’s wise writing and was thrilled to meet her in person. We’ve been good friends ever since and when Dana, who has a long-standing relationship with SFZC and Tassajara, approached me about collaborating on a retreat together, the answer was a wholehearted YES!
It goes without saying that to teach the Well-Fed Woman teachings alongside me you must be a pretty well-fed woman. Dana’s participation in this series is both overdue and right on time.
Dana, what are you truly hungry for?
Purpose, a more balanced life (both for me and for the planet) and a culture that is welcoming to diversity. Not just welcoming but excited by diversity, where all people can be celebrated and appreciated for whatever it is that they bring to the table. Also, this pretty corn-flower blue bike and the kind of life where I can ride it as much as possible. And maybe a backyard suitable for a few chickens. And a meyer lemon tree. And kissing. And breakfast. I always want breakfast.
What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now satisfy? How has that impacted you?
I lived for many years in Zen monasteries and training temples where the focus wasn’t really on personal adornment or an overtly feminine expression. I left my residency last year to step into the wider world. It’s been taking me a while to rediscover how to nourish and encourage my feminine spirit but last month I took a big step towards that when I splurged (really splurged!) on a bottle of perfume. It was worth every penny in that it reminds me to open up to a part of me that hasn’t had much attention these last several years. I think that this might be only the beginning as evidenced by my growing obsession for deep red lipstick. (The perfume is called Mythique by Parfums DelRae and it was inspired by Diane de Pointiers, the mistress of Henry II who is described to be a women of learning, compassion, glamour, and guile. Oh yeah.)
What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?
I am very focused on connection and deep friendships and the many people in my life. When I lived at Zen Center, we called it sangha which is the Buddhist name for the group of people you practice with, people who have a shared desire to wake up and engage with their lives in a more compassionate and wholesome way. I also really dig writing about food and the magic that happens in the kitchen.
Favorite bite in recent memory?
I recently wrote a post about the chickpeas stew with roasted egg at Boot & Shoe in Oakland and how it brought me back from the brink of despair. But I would add that the little picnic Rachel and I shared in early April with Il Facchino cheese on Firebrand bread was mighty wonderful, perhaps made more so by sharing it with each other!