Category Archives: Teaching

On the Soul of Cooking and How to Love Yourself



View from my Lanai, Kaneohe, Hawaii


The availability of fresh food, the results of processed foods, malnutrition, overweight, diabetes, mental health, eating in a hurry and even the state of the planet are all connected and the daily choices we make create the difference.

The other day, while taking a meal that I had cooked, to a friend, I was listening to The Body Show on Hawaii Public Radio. The guest, Dr. David Hunnicutt explained that people who cook less than half an hour daily are much more likely to suffer from overweight, diabetes, etc. than people who cook an hour or more daily, that the key for health is to eat foods as whole as possible. He emphasized that this does not mean that one has to eat raw foods only (see below), that if we eat primarily processed foods we do not get what we need to nourish our body. That’s why we go for snacks not long after we have eaten. Processed food does not deliver what we need.

If ingredients are listed the food is most likely processed too much and the body cannot utilize the ingredients. This is the reason why many of us eat more than our body can handle while we never get what we really need. What we can’t digest turns into toxins and eventually is stored in the body as poor quality fat.

We are constantly more or less in a state of malnutrition while we crave more and more of that which makes us sick. It is a state of disconnection.


Local organic produce at Kokua Coop, Honolulu.

How can we get to a state of connectedness with our self and feel what is good for us? Ideally, growing at least some of your own food is the best, second is to buy whole foods, local, organic, primarily vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts etc. (animal products or not is another discussion). Preparing the produce, washing, cutting, learning what spices are good to use, which ones are better than others for the season or your particular state of health or sickness, gets you in touch with the food as with your self.

To learn more about the produce available empowers you. When you shop at the farmers market you can learn how a particular farm grows their produce, what does the farmer look like, healthy, bright eyed, a ready smile? Why are most carrots orange, but recently we see more purple, yellow or white ones? How is it digestible for me? Do red beets taste different the golden ones? The more you know, the better your choices, and the more you handle the food with your hands the better it gets.

Christy cleaning Olena.jpg

Yoga teacher and massage therapist Christy Dawn Souza cleans Olena (turmeric) we just harvested in my garden

Cooking your food is possibly one of the most soulful activities that is available to us. It is like going to church, making music, dancing or meditating. We all eat, most of us at least. Cooking is a way to develop self-love as well as love for others, to cultivate friendships. In these days of deep-seated self-hatred this is an opportunity that we cannot miss out on.

During the 50’s and 60’s it became chic to avoid or speed up the drudgery of cooking, canned food, TV dinners, fast, fast, fast became de-rigueur. I remember it clearly and our popular consciousness developed a dislike for cooking, a brilliant move by the food industry and the ad agencies. Fortunately, this is, ever so slowly, changing. For the upscale gourmet crowd the trend is to seek sensational foods, unusual combinations and presentations, another form of disconnect. Fortunately too, there is a small trend that an authoritarian and sexist culture in the kitchen does not necessarily produce the best food. Unfortunately this hasn’t spread very widely yet. Having worked my self in restaurants for many years, I know that the food I cook with attention and a peaceful heart has a much greater value than when it comes from a kitchen were underpaid workers and yelling chefs fight and go at each other with meat cleavers, which I have experienced

soup cans.jpg

Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

Why organic? Large-scale industrial agriculture is destroying the soil, bees, etc. Even the UN recognizes that small-scale organic farming is the way to go. Do you really want to put all the pesticides, herbicides into your body?

Organic is so expensive – Medical bills and the destruction of the environment come at a much higher cost.

Studies on happiness and a long life. People who are the happiest and live the longest (Some areas in Okinawa, some people in Sardinia and other places) all have a few things in common, a mostly plant based diet, lots of beans, little meat: they live a vertical lifestyle, get up and down off the floor about 30 times a day (can you get up off the floor without using your hands), climb stairs, live together multigenerational and when they exercise they do something that is fun.

On cravings and intuition. It is important to discern between cravings and intuition. Cravings take you out of balance while intuition gives you truths. Mostly we give in to cravings while we ignore intuition. Be honest and you’ll know.

How to overcome cravings? By eating well, whole foods prepared in the right combinations, with the proper spices eaten in peace and regularly. If your body gets what it needs, cravings and addictions eventually fall by the wayside and you can easily walk by the chips, the extra piece of cake, the food that is just fat, salt and sugar, and you feel better and better and stop violating your vibrant self.

       Oh, you can’t cook? Can you read? You can also come to one of my cooking classes or get some private instruction. I even re-organize your kitchen for the most enjoyable cooking experience.

Cooking for your self does call for a little planning, but most of all it can be one of the best things you can do for your self, your family, friends or even strangers.

Since January 2009 I have studied Yoga and Ayurveda with Myra Lewin and have cooked for her yoga teacher trainings and retreats.

My next small cooking class will be on November 5th, 2016


Freedom in Your Relationship with Food: An Everyday Guide, Myra Lewin,
This book is a great entry to ayurvedic cooking and how to establish new habits.
Simple Ayurvedic Recipes, Myra Lewin,
Myra’s second book on Ayurvedic cooking is full of recipes, divided by grains, legumes, vegetables, side dishes and illness recovery foods, with a preface for each section on how to specifically approach cooking beans, etc.
Raw Foods: An Ayurvedic Perspective, Valencia Porter, M.D., M.P.H., FACN
This article includes how different doshas can or can’t handle raw foods:
Ayurveda Life: Raw Food vs. Ayurveda, Cate Stillman




Making Art with Mr. Dieter

Mr D.72dpi

Scratchboard print – unknown artist – the interesting experience of using words in relief printing  is that on the board, the words have to be carved or scratched backwards.

Can art be taught? We can certainly help someone with technique, perspective, materials, focus and more than anything, encouragement to unfurl the artist within. I believe that anyone can be an artist. Unfortunately many of us are told, ” what are you doing? You don’t have any talent, blah blah, woof woof…..” At a young age, we often take these comments for the truth and internalize them. As result, we cut ourselves off from any further development of our creativity. All children love art and the enthusiasm at the kinder-garden or pre-school age is often boundless, then by the fourth to sixth grade a tightening up or disinterest has sadly set in already. Some students though remain connected to their drive to create. These students run with the suggestions given, expand on their own creativity and produce amazing pieces of art. My philosophy is to offer kids, interesting projects, provide them with and help to handle materials, point out a few things and otherwise stay out of the way of their imagination. If they didn’t dig deep enough I try to encourage them to go further and if they are ready, I  nudge them towards developing a critical eye for their surroundings and their own work.

Three Mountains

K-1st Gr

There are several levels of trust that help in the approach to making art. The relationship between student and teacher and the trust within ourselves that we can create. Some kids are confident in their abilities while others can be greatly helped by the teacher’s attention, kindness and encouragement. Teaching kids for a year has shown me how the trust the student develops in the teacher builds confidence in the young artist. Taking away the fear of failure, learning that not every project has to be great and that even mistakes can lead to new turns and discoveries are other elements that I emphasize in the art making process.


Save the Rays – poster contest – Henry 5th Gr

When I first started teaching at the elementary school, I used some exercises that are commonly taught in the college level, like color wheel, color bars, gradation, color theory and mixing. I adjusted it to the different grade levels. Generally the students took to it very well. I kept referring to it throughout the year, reinforcing what they learned. Kids often like to do simple things, especially when it leads to new discoveries. I also noticed that the tendency to rely on the computer versus their own imagination increases which each grade. Of course the computer had a valid and useful place in art making, but in 6th grade the answer to the question as how to learn to draw a tree was: “On the internet.” I kept encouraging the students to look outside to see if trees were really drawn with a straight edge. I did take the students onto the field to look at and draw trees and mountains. This activity can be increased.

color bar. Lena B.72dpi

Color bar practice. Lena Baker 3rd Gr


Elsa print.72dpi

Scratchboard print on paper, Elsa Vasquez 4th Gr. I was especially impressed by this print, since the scratchboard does not lend itself to fine lines.

All kids were excited by the technique of printmaking and some of the work blew my mind. Scratchboards is great for this purpose. No knifes involved.

prints gr1

1st Gr print making

During grades K-2, most kids relish to make art, then with every grade the enthusiasm wanes for some kids. By 5th and 6th grade the fear of experimentation and failure has settled in and this is sad. By the 5th grade some attitudes have hardened so much that the student has partially shut down to new experiences. This is sad, but with individual attention, a sensitive approach, a surprise turn,  some of these students can be reached, and can open up again.


Poster for the Sight is Beautiful poster contest. Malia Abreux, Gr 4

During the year I taught at the Elementary School level we participated in three poster contests, two local, and one national. I am proud to say the we cleaned up in one of the local contests and and won 14 awards during the “Save the Rays” national contest. Of course art isn’t really a contest, but kids also do like to compete (not all) and an art contest can energize them tremendously. Here is a link to the Ka’elepulu Elementary School website art page, which has several slides shows of some great art work.

Ka’elepulu Elementary School Art Class Site

Many students of course, thrive in the arts and it is a pleasure for the teacher to introduce new views or techniques and see the student reach for new heights.


Save the Rays – poster contest – Malia Mierzwa Gr 4

My teaching experiences range from teaching senior citizens,  guest teaching printmaking at Horace Mann School in NYC, the AHAA School For The Arts in Telluride CO and other workshops. I co-taught a 300 level course at the University of Hawaii Manoa Psychology Department called Art and Consciousness. Friend’s kids of all ages visiting my studio are happy to be provided with crayons, pencil, paint and paper and let their imagination fly. Several teenagers and young adults have stayed at my house/studio working along with me or on their own, drawing, painting or printmaking. As a former president and current board member of the Honolulu Printmakers I have participated in many outreach activities involving kids. The year of teaching at the Elementary School level has deepened my knowledge of how kids make art, what they can’t and what they can do.


Collage – Henry 5th Gr

Every student of art loves to learn about other artists and even some history or big moments in art. Some of my students loved DADA.  Was it the wildness, or just the word?

And…… just in case you didn’t know, even if you’re bad at art, making art can reduce stress.

“Embrace mistakes” is something I tell the students. You never know where it might lead you.

Dieter has BA’s in PSY and ART and an MFA in painting.

Shit is

Wisdom of a 1st grader

If due credit is not given on some of the pieces, let me know and I’ll change it. If you think that you daughter’s or son’s art should not be presented here, let me know and I’ll take it off.


Even If You’re Bad at It, Making Art Can Reduce Stress


……and never forget:

Water is God.fin

more elementary school wisdom


What Goes On


original mini. is it worth to restore?

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be cleaning you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from the beyond.

My friend Lucie Lynch posted this Rumi poem on her facebook page this morning and since it is exactly what I like to express here, I just pass it on.


this thrush visits me every time I take out the compost


oh yeah, those rainbows. view from my lanai

Success, failure, health and illness, accidents, bad or good economy; it is all part of our existence as human beings and has all been part of my life this year. Early in the year I went through a 3 week class to  be able to work as a substitute teacher in Oahu’s public education system and for the private schools as well. I thought that I would be working by March, but it didn’t happen until the beginning of the new school year in August. Still, I have worked only one single week full time, some 2 or 3 days some even less. It is probably ok this way, since I am not sure if I could have handled more days. I have worked with 2nd graders all the way to high school seniors in Waimanalo, Kailua and Kaneohe. Right now the 2nd graders are my favorites. I have worked in art, English, math, science and PE (physical education) and also Special Ed. As a substitute teacher I experience the public education system from the underbelly, so to speak. I have met kids from heartbreaking backgrounds, a family with 10 kids, who live on the beach, I have met teenagers who read and write like 4th graders, and have no motivation whatsoever in school, but dream that they will become professional body boarders, and I have spend the last day of school with 6 special ed kids that ranged from completely non verbal, with severest bodily and mental malfunctions to a kid that knew all large and medium cities in Europe and their location in relation to the next boarder and when they were bombed during WWII. I have also met well adjusted students who are a pleasure to talk to and who seem to move with ease through a system that seems beyond repair. I try not to judge what I experience, which is sometimes very difficult, especially when faced with a bratty kid, who’s only intend seems to be to make my life miserable.


if the classroom looks this good, the substituting usually goes smoothly


if the teacher’s desk looks like this, trouble might loom ahead


yes, sometimes there is love

It had been my intention to get back into painting, and to collaborate with others as much as possible. I invited Mike Nice to create a large Ganesh woodcut together and we did. My band Alice Neel played a few gigs culminating in a fun show last Saturday and we are in the middle of recording 3 songs. I also created a wood cut series of the Sri Yantra, and a second edition with the great help of my assistant Jenny, who is visiting from Hamburg, which was part of a flurry of art happenings at the end of the year. Like last year, when I had the opportunity to teach printmaking in New York city, the end of the year brought home some  fruits of my labor. I sold 17 prints of the second yantra edition, my track racers print won a price in a show in Boulder, CO, I was invited to print 60 postcards for the Hawaii Arts Alliance, I taught a yoga workshop at Yoga Hawaii and finally my biggest painting sold.  Alas, I never got really into painting. I did create a couple of small paintings, but I never could establish the daily practice of painting again.

Ganesh on Kauai

Ganesh wood cut traveled to Kauai


Sri Yantra, 16 x


studies in oil of the lanai view


wood cut print taro leaf postcard for Hawaii Arts Alliance, Mane’o = itchy


“water’ oil on linen by dieter runge at Cedar Street Gallery with Michael Schnack

Sitting in the dark and practicing pranayama and meditation and doing asanas, the physical part of the 8 limbs of yoga, that, I did do on a daily basis. It is what keeps me together and allows me to continually evolve, at least that’s what I believe. You’ll be the judge. I also went through some depressing days and weeks, a few month of emotional turmoil culminating in a serious shoulder injury and fortunately a period of healing and realignment. I wouldn’t be here now without the help of some of my amazing friends. You know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I continuously ask my self: Who am I? And: Who is asking the question?


Kayo Iwaki practicing warrior II at my house


seen on Kaneohe Bay Drive, is it a Christo?

Am I an artist, a teacher, a musician, a yogi, an anarchist, bohemian Buddhist monk? The eminent Herbie Hancock, who practices Nichiren Buddhism, like Wayne Shorter and other jazz musicians of his generation since the early 1970’s, puts it this way: ” I realized that if I perceive myself as a musician, somehow there’s an invisible barrier between myself and people who aren’t musicians. But if I define myself as a human being, all the barriers disappear.”


Jaimey Hamilton-Faris grooving with the drums. Thanksgiving


Jenny Wuebbe and unidentified enjoy Thanksgiving

Now, what does it exactly mean to be a human being? This is the task of our lives to find out and to present the result that we come up with as truthfully as possible at any moment.


what else can be said?

A few years ago a friend asked me for some words of wisdom for the new year. Here is this years expanded version. I am responsible for my experiences (stop blaming everything and everybody else including myself). Everything that happens to me has several dimensions, among them emotional as well as spiritual ones. If I want change I have to work on all the different levels. Without clearing up my stuck emotions, I am doomed to repeat my negative patterns. Ultimately, all the solutions are on the spiritual realm. I wish everybody great holidays, the best 2014 and much Aloha!

AN Winter Solstice 2013.72

Andrew’s winter solstice party