Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


What Aliens are Saying About Us:

And our ROOTS…

 The loss of family ties and how to rebuild them.



There is an alien spacecraft, hovering billions of miles above the Earth’s surface. They have discovered us. They are watching down on us with their super high definition telescopes and they report back to their home ship the following:

 We have found intelligent life. We have found the human race. What are they like? They all seem to shop at Wal-Mart, and wear things called Jeans and listen to a band called One Direction.  The humans are proud of what they call Globalization. They have become a unified global entity…. Kind of. Currently many factions of the planet can’t seem to get along. They are killing each other. We can see, even from all the way up here, a billion miles away, the potential implications of the simple fact that the governance of the worlds “leading Democratic” body doesn’t agree on anything but war, and money. 

 The people are either starving, living in extreme poverty, or attached to material goods and glued indefinitely to electronic devices and the Internet. They are destroying the planet, knowingly. They have lost touch with their ancestors and their heritage and instead keep their eyes on the future. There is a desperate need to be unique while at the same time, the same. It seems like they are all looking for something and they don’t know what it is. Bustling around from point to point, all day long.

We have found life yes… But actually…maybe they aren’t so intelligent. 

one direction

Obviously, the aliens see a lot of current/emerging problems. Today I’d like to examine one of these.

The loss of family ties and how to rebuild them.

It is important to not to dwell on the problem, but instead to focus on possible solutions. And the solution to rebuilding connections to your roots is ACTION and LOVE… As always.

Here is a picture of me with two of my little Italian cousins… Vivian and Izzy.


Never before have I been so proud of my family. I am half Norwegian, and half Italian. 50/50. The Italians rein on my fathers side and they are a gregarious bunch. I love them. After this recent trip back to Pennsylvania, only a couple of weeks ago, I love them even more. I admire their willingness to stay connected to each other, a trait that from my limited perception is dwindling in the modern world. Think about it… as it becomes easier and easier to fly around the world and live in x, y, and z… to go outside of the normal 20 kilometer boundary that once inhibited most of the globes population, people are starting to lose their roots. Things have just CHANGED. Big time. To me it is incredibly sad.

My Daddy with Aunt Jo… he misses her when he is away…


I suppose that a part of this comes from the nostalgic, sentimental, softhearted women in me. I find my heritage, my lineage and my blood relatives to be a beautiful part of who I am. We are a unit. Each human is part of a unit. These days however, with technology and the obsession with personal identity, this seems to have faded. CULTURE, CUSTOMES, HERITAGE, TASTE! Where have they gone!? These are the things that once added color, flare, and interest to the world. I am terrified that as gentrification continues to envelope the planted, all this will be lost. Imagine living in a world that is defined by Wal-Mart, Blue jeans, and One Direction. *Not a dis on One Direction! Just on our loss for zest…

I am honored, proud, and LUCKY to be from a family that still holds onto its individual roots, its family bond. I am aware, that many families just don’t care anymore. I am ashamed to say that it has been easy for me, to drift away… Into the things I think are important and to forget my extended family. After this last trip however, I’d like to make a commitment to stay connected, to stay present with the culture, customs, heritage, and tastes of my Italian roots. These are some of the things I took away from my time with my family…


One thing that families consistently pass down from generation to generation, in every culture, is food. As an Italian, I never want lose the eggplant Parmesan, the meatballs and the pasta! In New Castle, PA…the Coney Island hotdogs! While in Pennsylvania, we ate the most incredible foods… for two weeks straight! I’d like to commit to keeping up the recipes and cooking like my ancestors. That being said…. As a yogi, moderation and thoughtfulness are so important! I can’t eat like this forever, no one can. So perhaps it’s a little bit about keeping up with our roots and modifying for modern attitudes about health?



This part of my time here was so wonderful to me. I am NEW to the Catholic Church; I just took my first communion in April. A large part of this is to reconnect to my father in a very special way. He is super Catholic, goes to mass every day, and the sweetest gentlest man I have ever met. Since joining the church and going to mass with him, I have felt so much more connected to my family. While in Pennsylvania, every Sunday the “Pope-mobile” (my cousin Todd) would pick Uncle Ralphie, my dad and myself up from the house and we would go to mass. What a cool experience for me and what a beautiful place to feel a spiritual connection. I used the time in the church to reflect and to meditate. When I was getting ready to leave, and come to Mexico to begin final wedding preparations, my Aunt Joanne gave me something very special. My late Grandmother’s Rosary beads. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to use them but she gave me a card and I have been practicing. 😉  The sensations that are brought up by doing something so ritualistic, following the footpath of my ancestors, are indescribable. I find it sad, again, that it is now so common to let this drift away from us.




My parents have parents, and their parents had parents, and their parents had parents, and on and on it goes. The parent’s of my parent’s parent’s (that’s a mouthful eh?) were born in Italy and Norway over 100 years ago. When thinking about this in comparison to today, I can see how things have changed so fast! They were relatively the same for so long…. They all lived together, shared together, ate together, and when they would grow up they would live near by. It seems in the last one hundred to fifty years, with the astonishing speed of technological advances and transportation our cultural norms have been blown away with a BANG! What is so cool about the Italian side of my family is that they have maintained a sense of this.  Many of the Pauline’s (originally Paolini) live in the same area the immigrated to from Campostoto, Italy 100 years ago. While we were there, we were lucky enough to be there for one of our annual family reunions. It totally rocked my world. I met cousins I had never met before, I befriended many amazing people who are my blood relatives. Isn’t that hard to believe? We ate the most delicious Italian food all day long, listened to LIVE traditional music, and played games with the youngsters.  This time was a very special opportunity that I am so grateful for.







These are the things that originally made people different and interesting. These are the things that bond groups of people together so closely that they are there for each other, no matter what.  I don’t want to lose the ties that I have to such an amazing family; yet, it would be so easy to. Heck… perhaps it is more honest for me to say I HAVE lost the ties and am now working on rebuilding them? Or perhaps I just have to accept the distance, the lack of connection and simply make the efforts to stay as connected as I can with the available resources we have? Maybe Facebook and the Internet can be used to my benefit after all?

All I know is that if we as a species continue to let it all go, and all morph into the same people at the same time, then the thousands and thousands of years of history that come before us will be lost. We will all be, Wal-Mart shopping, One Direction listening, Facebook surfing people. The aliens will continue to be disappointed.

So! To end this on a positive note… What can we do to prevent this from happening? What are some simple Action steps that we can take? Here are some ideas that may help you if you are currently pretty detached from your family and your heritage. I realize that this may only apply to 2nd or 3rd generation Americans but perhaps not?

-Do some research and compile a family tree. Find out what you are. German, Italian, Mexican, Spanish… whatever…

-Start learning how to cook the foods.

-Make a trip to visit your family! Connect.

-Make an honest attempt, enquire as to what your family customs and traditions are and then try to follow them!

-Listen to traditional music…

*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for more on Taozi’s travels, inspiration, and yoga pictures!***



Leah, my father, myself, and the GORGEOUS Campotosto.

Serendipity Indeed.

Angel rays while arriving in Campotosto…

My dad and the favorite lost cousin Francesco laughing about their similar noses….

Do angels work in our lives? Does fairy dust float among us creating magical experiences?  To what extent does serendipity work in the lives of those that deserve it, are open to it, or have faith? It sounds a bit extreme but after the experience we have had last few days, one can’t help but believe it’s true.

My 68-year-old Italian-American father arrived for his first ever trip to Italy, with idealistic hopes of finding some long lost relatives in the town of his father’s birth. It’s my opinion he was both deserving and full of faith. Thus the angels and fairy dust were forcefully at work.

I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, knowing that we were about to head into the hills and take a potentially disappointing leap of faith. Not a particularly risky leap… what was the worst that could happen besides a case of mild heartbreak? It’s not like the financial investment in the trip to Italy would be lost, we would still get to enjoy the pizza, olives and gelato. Our adventure to Campotosto started with literally no plan (perhaps our attempt to thwart high expectations) simply a list of various Paolinis my dad had printed off from Google.

The first obvious indication that angels were joining us on our trip was in our immaculate timing. If anyone knows us Paulines from the Americas, they know we aren’t the most organized bunch. We didn’t take into consideration or heed any warnings in guidebooks about appropriate times to visit Italy, so we went in August.  In the words of my Italian friend Dallas, “August is THE WORST time to go to Rome, it is totally EMPTY and HOT”, which we discovered to be true… this was actually a huge piece of luck for us. There is a small window of time when Romans escape the city in search of cooler temperatures and a breeze. Many of them to Campotosto. Unbeknown to us the town of our grandfather’s birth is now a popular holiday destination in August, but during the rest of the year, a ghost town. We arrived during the holidays, into a bustling small town, totally unplanned, and thus I believe serendipitous.

Visually it was a surreal experience. We arrived at the golden hour, that special time when the sun drapes everything in a blanket of golden light. The greenery, the angel rays coming through the clouds as we drove into town, the sparkle off of the crystal water were all good omens we would find what we were searching for.  I was astounded to find that the place our grandfather came from mirrored that of the Rocky Mountains, our own homeland thousands of miles away.

We arrived, parked the car and got out with little clue of where to begin. I jokingly suggested we stroll into the town center where we saw a gaggle of classic old Italian men gathered around playing card games under a covered tarp, and simply yell out that we were in search of a Paolini. I didn’t suspect that this is what we would end up doing. My mom hunted down some friendly looking women to enquire about where to stay and they in turn connected us to a Canadian/Italian man named Pat who could help us translate. He immediately felt driven to assist us in our quest for fellow Paolinis. Where did he lead us? To the town center of course. To the tarp with all the old men riveted by their card games. We approached meekly, arousing a few upward glances of curiosity and a few Buongiornos… Pat, our newly acquired translator made a public service announcement for all to hear that we were Paolinis from America, in Campotosto in search of our relatives.

A few fingers pointed around and a number of them landed on an old, grumpy looking fellow, with bushy eyebrows and a look of confusion. His name, Francesco Paolini, at first the impression he gave was of frustration that we were interrupting his card game, but he glanced up enough times to prove his curiosity and interest. While seemingly the entire town crowded around us helping us find a place to stay and rounding up as many Paolinis as possible, it became clear we had entered a circus, or perhaps created one. The combination of two young American girls, my blond Norwegian mother, and my precious father, all standing around awkwardly claiming to be long lost Paolinis, got more attention then we ever could have imagined.

Though we weren’t sure whether or not Francesco was family or not, we snapped a few photos noticing similarities in nose and ear shape, it made every one laugh. We headed up the hill to an apartment that they had scouted out for us. My sister and I slept in the same room as my parents, an experience I haven’t had since our camping days more then a decade ago.  The view out the window was spectacular. The lake, the mountains, the town. Wow. So moving to look out the window and know that this is where the Paolini legacy started.

We woke up early the next day to meet Pat our translator at the town municipal building. The village circus had also found us a historian, skilled beyond measure at scouring old death and birth records, to help us search for relatives. We wandered into town and found Francesco, the grumpy guy with bushy eyebrows, waiting for us. Perhaps he was more interested in us then he let on? After we sat with him for a coffee and croissant, his treat, we walked into the town municipal building for hours of searching through century old documents. Who was the amazing man helping us? Adriana… a professor from Rome who happened to be in Campotosto. A man who LOVES looking through the old data… AS A HOBBY. This guy was unbelievable and another example of serendipity.

We started with my grandfather’s birth certificate which my dad had already had. From there we went through book after book, finding his father, and his father’s father, information dating all the way back to 1692. HOLY WOW. This was CRAZY. The books they were flipping through, agonizingly looking at dates, names, spellings, looked like they were out of Harry Potter or the crypts of Egypt. So old with incredibly thick paper, and the smell of the past. Yet they seemed alive. All the pointing to names and expressions of surprise and revelation created an atmosphere of excitement and discovery. A few times my dad teared up as copies were made of birth and death certificates. We made a new family tree and found to our delight that grumpy old Francesco was in fact a cousin.

After a few hours spent in the small municipal building we walked out into the town square to find Francesco and another Paolini, Primo, waiting for us. We showed them what we had discovered, that we were in fact related, in a whir of hand signals and smiles. Linked by the house of the great Andrea Paolini and his brother Angelo Santo, our great great grandfather, my father’s great grandfather…and Francesco’s Great Uncle. A bit of a stretch we all realized but still, we were all so excited to have found that feeling we were searching for. My dad was thrilled, and Francesco delighted. At this point he really began to grow on Leah and I. He got this teary look in his eyes and we were all really moved. By this point we were all officially related. All of the generous helpers began to feel a sense of accomplishment and connectedness to the cause. We were invited to a wedding celebration later that night to enjoy some fresh Carp from the Lake, wine, plates of cookies, antipasti, dancing and best of all…time with our Italian family.

Our Great Grandfather’s birth certificate…

The books all the family history was in, so old!

Leah showing Francesco and Primo our family lineage…