Lu Parker, on set with her rescue dog, Monkey.
Not only is Lu Parker a stunning, natural beauty, she is a multi-faceted talent. She is a journalist, author, former Miss USA, animal advocate and a former teacher. As an Emmy and Genesis Award winning journalist, you can find her anchoring and reporting the news in Los Angeles, California on KTLA. Lu has won two Emmys for her work in the television industry. She has also been honored with two Genesis Awards from the Humane Society United States. She was recognized for her outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal protection issues including investigations into Puppy Mills, Elephant Abuse, and Beagle Lab Testing.
In her free time, Lu is an advocate for homeless animals. In 2010, she created Lu Parker Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless animals, and at risk teenagers. We are so honored to include Lu in our “Giving Back Q + A Series.” She is a gorgeous example of a woman radiating beauty from the inside out.
1) Who was your role model and inspiration as a child? Why?
Honestly, I never remember having a role model as a child besides my amazing parents, but looking back now, I was always a little obsessed with President Abraham Lincoln. Chances are I didn’t know why at the time, but likely his words and actions moved and inspired me as a young Southern girl growing up in South Carolina. Today I admire people like Jane Goodall and anyone who steps out of their comfort zone to do good work for others.
2) Why did you create Lu Parker Project?
I started volunteering at the South L.A. shelter in 2009 and realized a lot needed to be done. I saw first-hand that shelters needed serious help. At first, I was helping to clean cages, and walk the dogs, but then I took it to the next step creating Lu Parker Project.
As a former high school teacher, I wanted to include youth so we could help to educate them about being humane to all creatures. Our first project was Project Paint. We remodeled the lobby at the South Los Angeles shelter. Volunteers painted and at-risk youth created murals for the walls. We also photograph dogs and cats and share their photos and information on social media. Project Picture has been a huge success! We also partnered with Found Animals creating a school art project that offered students the opportunity to create art and tell a story why they believe all animals are important. I cried at that event, too. (Get me a tissue!)
3) Of all of the volunteering efforts that you have organized, can you share one experience that is most memorable and lights up your heart?
The time we spent redesigning and repainting the lobby of the South Los Angeles Shelter stands out for me. To watch dozens of Lu Parker Project volunteers come together and spend days of their own time painting, creating, mopping, and more made me realize people do want to help. The morning of the Lobby Grand Opening was one of the highlights of my life. I was so proud of each and every one who had been a part of the process. I truly believe the renovation brought light and encouragement to the shelter employees and volunteers, as well as, those visiting the shelter. For me, I would get goose bumps every time I walked in the door! Our Project Picture also brings me to tears when I see the homeless dogs and cats being photographed by our volunteers. They know we are tying to help.
4) You are so generous with your time and actions. How do you balance this with self-care and time for yourself?
Hey, life is busy. We all have commitments, including family, friends and work. It’s not always so easy to figure out, but I believe if you are doing something you are passionate about, nothing feels like work. If you find a purpose, life makes it easier for you. Another way I balance life is by making lists. It keeps you organized. My Mom taught me that trick. Currently, I am learning to meditate. The practice slows everything down, and makes you realize what’s important, and helps you to feel grateful.
5) Do you have any advice to parents as to how to encourage their children to volunteer and think of others?
Well, I am not a parent so that may seem weird for me to give parental advice, but I would like to suggest to parents or anyone who is caring for a child to show generosity through your actions. As you know, your children watch and often mimic what you do. My parents didn’t necessarily volunteer when I was young, but they did give back like at Christmas we would take presents or a Christmas tree to low income families. They also allowed me to care for injured animals in the neighborhood. They never denied me to chance to love and care for the less-fortunate. That’s where I learned generosity. Actions speak louder than words.
To learn more about Lu, please visit http://www.luparker.com/index
To learn how to volunteer and get involved with her amazing projects, visit http://www.luparkerproject.org
5 Tips for Living an Authentic, Zen Life By Alanna Zabel
I believe that most of us have experienced moments when we feel, act or speak in an inauthentic manner. Sometimes we want others to like us or to think that we are intelligent, cool and “in the know” – so we may go so far as to present a false persona to feel accepted. Or, we do it because we feel unsafe being our true self – or maybe we want something so much that we are willing to diminish our truth to get it. This can result in a feeling of disconnect, and even painful feelings of guilt, insecurity and/or weakness when this happens. Worse still is when we’re inauthentic with ourselves because we’re unable to admit something intimate or difficult to express. If you aspire to experience more authenticity in your life, start by accepting yourself, exactly as you are – and committing to living authentically with who you discover. Below are five tips meant to strengthen one’s practice of living true to who they are:
1) Be Present. On average we have 28,000 days in a human lifespan. That really isn’t a lot, and therefore wise to make clear life goals – just hopefully not at forsaking your lifestyle and experiences. When we are present, we resume a natural flow to our life (or the Dharma Zone, as I call it in my book, As I Am). This flow is what happens when we let go of the limiting tethers of the past and future – where you forget about the outside world and are completely doing what you’re doing, whether that’s writing, drawing, practicing yoga, meditating or any other activity. Synchronicity occurs when we are in this Zone and our lives flow effortlessly. Knowing that our time is limited, it is wise to practice being present, and to embrace each moment as it happens. Even the more difficult phases of your life that challenge you are part of your journey, and learning to be present through them adds a deeper aspect of authenticity to who you are. Being afraid of them can potentially throw you off your personal path. An obvious example is parenthood. I empathize with parents who feel that they have to create a perfect, well-balanced life of education, athletics and art for their children, but hopefully they are not sacrificing the moments of being human and authentically discovering who we are (you know, laying in a puddle of rainwater while pondering the magic of Nature).
2) Be Kind. There is a strong correlation between the wellbeing, happiness and health of people who act with kindness towards others. It is difficult to be angry, resentful, or even fearful when we are showing unselfish love and compassion towards other beings. I really enjoy leading Seva (service) Yoga retreats, and one of the reasons is that I see a massive shift in my retreaters when we begin our service activities. For example, it doesn’t matter if they are cleaning dirty food bowls for elephants or shoveling dirt, they undoubtedly begin to settle into a deeper sense of happiness and presence as expectations and defenses are softened by the acts of giving.
3) Listen to yourself. Taking and following the advice from another person is assuming that: 1) They have lived through exactly the same predicament as you have (meaning that all the factors are exactly the same) and 2) That they have the same wants and needs as you do. Neither of which is probably true. However, taking bits and pieces of advice from others can be helpful, but it is always most wise to meditate alone and make certain that your actions are in line with who you are and what you want for your life. We can really second guess ourselves when we are the only voice trying to weight our options. Adding other voices and opinions often makes the process more confusing. Practice with the small stuff – for example, what movie would you like to see this weekend? Try making a decision not based on popular reviews, ratings or showings. Ask yourself what would inspire you and expand your perspective of awareness. Then go see that movie!
4) Spend time alone in silence. Alone time has a long list of benefits, which include boosting your immune system, strengthening your relationships and improving your outlook on life. Try taking 30 minutes every week where you turn the power off externally and amp it up internally. For example, turn off your phone and email. Spend the day sitting somewhere peaceful, where you can focus on your breathing and being present. The happy contradiction is that alone time like this—in such a pure form—will carry over to your other relationships and endeavors. When you connect to yourself in a deep and true manner, you start feeling more positive and powerfully charged. When you feel more connected and charged, you often connect to others with a greater capacity and joy.
5) Avoid gossip and drama. Judgment is making a “good” or “bad” assessment when we compare (implicit or explicit) how things or people are, and how we think they should be. So, in judgment, there’s an element of dissatisfaction with the way things are and a desire for things to be the way we want them to be. This makes it very limiting to maintaining presence and realistic awareness. We begin to judge other people based on past judgments and our perspective of reality becomes tainted. AZIAM has created a 30-day Non-Judgment Challenge to help us practice this vital virtue in our everyday lives. I offer a two-step formula: Step 1: Witness Your Reality – We are not going to take away your opinions or perceptions. We are simply taking away reactions to them. In every potentially judgmental situation you find yourself in, feel free to say whatever you want in your own mind. Ex: Someone snags a parking spot you were pulling into. In your mind, go for it – you have 5 seconds (only) to assess it and label it. Step 2: LET IT GO. Follow every 5 second assessment with “AND SO IT IS.” That’s it, “AND SO IT IS”. Then move on to the next activity you were planning or involved in. This group event and practice is meant to get us into the habit of not letting life’s imperfections drag us down while refining this highly beneficial practice of non-judgment.
For those of you who know me well, you know that I am very selective with what I eat. I often find myself struggling to find anything truly healthy while in a health food store! Most of the time when foods are packaged preservative agents are added (oftentimes unhealthy chemicals) or excessive sweeteners are added that also make the products less healthy.
When I was asked to try a new Raw Cacao Beverage by Rau, I was skeptical, I will admit. When I looked at the ingredients, however, I was impressed. Zero sugar! OK – but how about the taste and nutritional quality? Not only am I forever searching for pure and healthy, but my body immediately tells me if there is something other than that in anything I eat or drink. Rau Cacao Beverage is the Real Deal. It is so refreshing, so pure, natural and healthy that I have now completely dialed it in as a “must have” in my refrigerator.
What I love about this drink (aside from the nutritional and energy-boosting elements) is that I have the ability to add stevia if I want a healthy sweetener at that time – I get to choose.
Not only is it “the first cold pressed/ raw chocolate beverage that’s full of life and true integrity”, it is the first packaged beverage that has impressed me. Rau cacao beans and the added spices are organically farmed and packed with vital nutrients. It is free of all sugar, dairy, GMO’s, soy, and anything artificial.
Do yourself a favor and try Rau Cacao Beverage today – available in Chocolate or Mint Flavor. Check out the Rau website to see which stores in your area carry Rau, and if they don’t, I would suggest telling your local health food store about this true gem!
We love all the salads in The Dharma Zone 21-day program, and you would never know this was a vegan, heart-healthy “Caesar” Salad!
Vegan “Caesar” (serves 4)
• 3 cups chopped romaine leaves
• 1/4 cup chopped onions
• 1 sliced avocado
• 1 ripe avocado
• 3 tsp lemon juice
• 2 tsp water
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp capers
• 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
• sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
• ¼ cup hemp seeds
Blend the avocado, lemon juice, water, garlic, capers, mustard, salt and pepper in your food processor or blender until smooth. If it needs some thinning (depending on the size of your avocado) you can add a touch more water. The end result will be the consistency of pudding. Keep it this way to maintain ultra creaminess. Spoon dressing into a bowl and stir in hemp seeds.
Place romaine in a large salad bowl. Mix onions and avocados to taste. Drizzle dressing on top and stir until coated to preference.
Aside from the fact that we are all one collective unconscious body, everyone in your life is your mirror. This is the greatest of all relationships secrets. What this means is that you are recognizing aspects of your own consciousness in another person. This gives you an opportunity to truly see what you are focusing on, and ultimately, to grow. The qualities you most admire in others are your own and the same goes for those qualities you dislike. To change anything in your relationships, be the change you want to see.
The beauty of this understanding is that it leaves no room for blame, judgment or to be a victim to another person’s actions or words. There is only room for real love based on understanding, compassion and gratitude. Your relationships with others are your opportunity to experience yourself and grow. They are a perfect mirror of your inner relationship with yourself and the beliefs you have acquired about life and love. In order for you to recognize a certain quality in another, it must be part of your conscious awareness. You could not see it otherwise.
Although The Dharma Zone guidelines minimize interactions with other people, positive and supportive relationships are the treasures of life. The time spent alone during the program will increase appreciation of your relationships when communications do resume. The space will also shed light on whether these relationships are trustworthy and true.
See Yourself In Others
All beings tremble before violence
All fear death
All love life
See Yourself In Others
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
He who seeks happiness
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness
For your brother is like you
He wants to be happy
Never harm him
You Too Will Find Happiness
In this life
And after you leave this life
~ Buddhist Teaching
Alexi Lubomirski is currently one of the most sought-after, accomplished fashion photographers on the planet. He has photographed countless actors, actresses, celebrities, and models for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, GQ, and numerous others magazines. As incredibly impressive as his career is, what stirs an even deeper sense of admiration is his perpetual generosity and kindness toward others, as well as what an inspiring and passionate father and husband that he is.
Alexi recently published a delightful children’s book, titled Notes for a Young Prince. It is filled with heart-warming notes to his son, reminding him to be Chivalrous, Loving and Kind, to name only a few. It is artistic and inspirational. This is a must have for every young boy, and Alexi is donating 100% of profits from his book to CONCERN Worldwide. We are thrilled to include Alexi in our “Giving Back” Q+A Series, to learn more about what inspires such generosity, his extraordinary life and ways that we can teach our children to be royal in their actions and words.
“You do not need money, palaces, land or treasures to define you as a prince. Be a prince in your own heart and you will always be RICH.” ~ Notes for a Young Prince
1) In your book, Notes for a Young Prince, you offer exquisite advice to young boys, encouraging them to be chivalrous, loving and generous. It is such a beautiful book and it shows what a passionate father you are. What inspired you to a) write it and b) share it as a published work?
There were really 2 profound moments that led to the writing of the book. Firstly, I wanted to do something momentous for my eldest son’s (Sole Luka) first birthday. I wanted to give him a gift that would last forever, rather than another teddy bear or engraved cup. Being a father for the first time also made me understand my own father and his desire for me to understand my history and to be proud of it whilst carrying it for the next generation. I also wanted to adapt what my father had taught me and make it more about looking forward with hope and spirituality rather than having a focus on what we may have had a few generations before.
Secondly, my stepfather, who had raised me since I was one, was suddenly given 3 weeks to live. He had been the biggest blessing in my life, being an incredible father figure and also giving me great stability and grounding. Those last 3 weeks taught me so much about how I wanted to live my life and what was truly important. He explained to me that the knowledge of his impending death made him realize with great clarity, what actually mattered in his life. He felt so blessed that he had spent as much time with his children as possible, and had been able to share in love and laughter throughout his life, as well as the importance of being a “good” person. I immediately realized the gravity of this lesson and wanted to write something for my son in case anything happened to me.
Once I started writing it, it came out in 3 very intense days, as if I had flipped the lid off something and they all streamed out. Things that I had learnt along the way came out, be it vocabulary lessons from my uncle, romance lessons from my mother, chivalry lessons from my father or spiritual lessons from my wife. They all came out at once and the final edit is pretty much the order that it came out of my head!
I asked an illustrator friend, Carlos Aponte, if he would do a few drawings for my son’s book and after he read the first 5 pages, he rang me and said, “Alexi, you have to publish this…. This needs to be read by young men.”
A few years later and after a lot of persuading from Carlos and my wife, Giada, I went through with it! Carlos ended up doing the “jewel like” illustrations on each page of the final draft.
2) You give all profits from your book to CONCERN Worldwide. Why did you choose this organization to benefit from your book?
Over the last few years I started to consolidate my charity donations to six main charities, but of all of them, CONCERN was the one that was everywhere, all the time. They implement emergency response programs, saving countless lives, and provide opportunities for a better standard of living for millions of people; as well as working constantly in the countries ranked in the bottom 40 of the United Nations’ Human Development Report. They were also the first charity that I ever gave to, so it felt right to attach it to the book. 3) Being one of the most sought after photographers in the world, you travel quite a bit for your work. How do you maintain a healthy balance of work/family/self while you travel?
It is a constant challenge but with great pay back! Luckily my agent is very understanding of my desire for balance in my life. By working with her closely, I try to make sure that I can look back at the end of every month and see that I have spent as much time with family as possible at the same time as maintaining a career. Really making the most of every moment with my family is key. The children will grow up so quickly and life has a tendency to move so fast, so it is important to slow down and enjoy each moment.
4) What is your favorite page and morsel of advice from your book, Notes of a Young Prince? Why?
Each note holds importance for me as they were written as a love note to my son, so I would not be able to pick one. The poem at the front of the book, however, I hold dear as it is my personal message to my boys.
5) Any advice to the fathers of the world, new and otherwise, as to how to encourage their children to volunteer, give back and think of others?
Very simple! “Lead by example”.
HSH Prince Alexi Lubomirski was born to a Peruvian/English mother and a Polish/French father. He grew up between Botswana, Oxford, and London. At the age of eleven, he was informed of his true ancestral heritage and aristocratic bloodline.
Having not grown up in royal surroundings with all the trappings, he was the first of his family in 500 years to have the title but with none of the material evidence.
Thanks to his displaced upbringing and after much trial and error, he gradually succeeded in marrying his history with his present, managing to fulfill his role as the bearer of this title and at the same time adapt the meaning in his modern day world.
Now, with two sons of his own, he lives a modern day life in New York, a city in the “New World”. His duty being to pass down this title to his sons; and, at the same time, adapt it so that it evolves with the times rather than become irrelevant and therefore extinct. Rather than focus on the past and what his family once had, he teaches his sons to forge ahead in a more spiritually aware manner and focus on what each of them believes the essence of their heritage means.
In his book, the word, “Prince”, is used on one hand because of the family’s title and on the other because the word illustrates the “ideal” of a man that we should all strive to be.
Apart from being primarily a husband and a father, Alexi Lubomirski is a world-renowned fashion photographer.
Our Dharma Zone recipes are all pretty outstanding, but a few stand apart as favorites, for several reasons. The Blueberry Pro is one of these – super tasty and super good for you – full of anti-aging and disease prevention antioxidants to keep you feeling your best! The dark color is from the antioxidant rich blueberries and depending how much greens powder that you add.
Blueberry Pro (serves 1)
- 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1 cup unsweetened almond or hemp milk
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
- 1 scoop royal jelly powder mix (YS Eco Bee Farms Royal Rush)
- 1 scoop greens powder (Vitaminerals Greens or similar)
- 1 scoop vegan protein powder (Sunwarrior or similar)
Mix ingredients in a blender and serve.
The Broccoli Puree Soup is one of my favorite recipes from my 21-day mind-body detox program, The Dharma Zone featured in my book, As I Am. The Dharma Zone program is designed to increase your awareness of who you are (and how to stay true to you), while living in a world telling you who you should be. You can join the group event here.
• ½ large onion, chopped
• 1 large garlic clove, chopped
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 pinch black pepper
• 1 pinch dried thyme
• ½ bunch of broccoli (cleaned, stems removed and broken into smaller florets)
• ½ head of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into large pieces
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1 avocado
Heat a large soup pot with a splash of olive oil, onion, garlic and spices over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes until lightly brown, softened and fragrant, stirring occasionally.
Add the cauliflower and broccoli and cook a few minutes with the onions. Add the hot broth to the soup pot, increase the heat back to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are very soft and you can mash them with a fork.
Remove soup from the stovetop and let it cool a bit. Purée the contents with a blender or food processor until smooth. Add more broth depending upon how thick you want your soup. Garnish with the avocado on top.