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Tonya Kay

Tonya Kay photo courtesy Tonya KayTonya Kay is an actress, TV personality, professional dancer and danger artist living in Los Angeles. A vegetarian of 28 years, vegan for 18 of those and raw vegan for the last 11, Tonya Kay pioneers the green health movement with appearances, publications and green media (available at KayosMarket). Watch Tonya Kay's self-produced web series The Eco Tourist on EcoHearth's Eco Tube. You may have also seen her recently on TV's My Ride Rules, The Tonight Show, Criminal Minds, Glee, House MD, Secret Girlfriend and American Idol with Rhianna. She has performed live in STOMP, De La Guarda, with Panic At The Disco, Kenny Rogers and in countless music videos and commercials. Look for Tonya Kay in the new Muppets Movie, starring in MTV Network's Video Game Reunion, playing a lead in the scripted animal-activist feature film, Bold Native, performing the voice of Green Girl in the raw vegan superhero animated film Rawman and Green Girl and performing burlesque live in Hollywood, California, almost any weekend. In 2012, Tonya Kay will star in the films Off World and Within The Darkness. For more on Tonya Kay, visit her website.

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Christmas Is Trying to Kill Me
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Scary Snowman photo by Britta BohlingerWhoa, what has happened to my world in the last three weeks? Just when I thought Los Angeles traffic couldn't get more ridiculous, parking structures more cumbersome, or drivers grumpier and less safe, the holiday season began.

I'm driving to an audition, which is a usual part of my day, and suddenly there are three cars in front of me making dangerously bad moves and screaming out their windows about who is 'right'—like children... like jerks. I wonder if they even realize how miserable their holiday cheer has become?

I wasn't raised to follow any specific religion. In fact, more than preaching or teaching any religious point of view to me as a child, my parents were vocal about not choosing to support "organized" religion. Which I get. I totally get it. So Christmas was literally a family get together in my early years. It was the time when I got to see my cousins-in-law, great-grandmas and special-invite boyfriends all in one living room. My immediate family made ornaments, harmonized our favorite songs in the Astro van, watched the old black and white Scrooge on television. These were the rituals that marked our celebration.

But now, after a near miss in the parking lot, I'm afraid for my life and afraid for humanity… because of Christmas. And I'm afraid for the environment, because what all this traffic tells me is that people want to shop. Some unconscious desire to buy more, more, more is upon us and it doesn't take a huge leap of intellect to realize the result: depleted resources and increased pollution. There's the wrapping paper used once and then thrown away. The plastic packaging that invariably holds our gifts. The gifts themselves—I mean, how many trinkets, accessories and stocking stuffers do we need? Are we just spending money we don't have on things that don't matter, packaged in plastic that doesn't degrade, wrapped in paper that lived a half-used life and calling it Christmas? Is this really our holiday? No wonder that a mom in aisle nine is yelling at her greedy children right now.

And I'm worried for people's health. I know how difficult it is to sit down to a meal with extended family who don't know what an avocado is or how to pick one out at the grocery store. It's difficult to stay on a healthy diet at the holiday table. Especially with co-workers shoving chocolates on your desk, teachers bringing cookies to school, and aunts making fruit cake, buckeyes, peanut brittle, Chex mix and eggnog to send home. With the extra weight she's putting on, and with all that refined sugar, dairy and hydrogenated oil coursing through her arteries, I can see why the postal-service cashier was flat out insulting to me today… because it's Christmas!

But solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah—indeed, this entire holiday season—does not have to be synonymous with candy canes, road rage and unconscious consumerism. It could just as easily be about making your own gifts, regifting an already loved item, or creating an experience instead of giving any object away at all. The holidays could just as easily be about reusing gift boxes and newspaper for wrapping (then using them again after). We could create new food rituals to replace our outdated ones; instead of whipping up the old eggnog, whip up some banana ice cream with cinnamon, vanilla and cacao sauce drizzled on top. The new holiday customs could be about donating to charitable organizations, like I have this year (see list below), and sending gift cards to let friends and family know you donated in their honor. I have given gifts of donation this year and received gifts of donation, too, and being on both ends really feels good. I like that kind of gift. Yea, Christmas! This is my kind of ritual!

As I am sitting here waiting for an unhappy family of four, overburdened with bags and objects—on which they just spent more money than they have—to cross the street, I wonder to myself: Are our holiday rituals so far gone that they need to die altogether before our nation's humanity can progress again? Or can some intentional ritual-creating allow us to reclaim our holiday and our future?

Rituals are important to society. Birth, menstruation, graduation, marriage, death… are all marked by social ritual. It's vital that we remain conscious creators of the rituals we use to celebrate family and the turning of the year.

To celebrate my family, I would like to formulate rituals of health and long life. My extended family is my community and I would like to devise rituals of friendliness and patience. My grandest family is the Earth I walk on and all of its creatures. For them, I'd like to develop rituals of compassion and protection. I'd like to replace all the backwards customs we now use to celebrate the holidays with customs quite their opposite. Are there others out there reclaiming rituals? If so, what are you doing as a pioneer of the ecstatic life?

Organizations to which I've donated in the past:
The Carbon Fund
Elephant Nature Foundation
Performing Animal Welfare Society
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
The Witches’ Voice

[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]

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Comments (21)add
Written by Tonya Kay , December 14, 2010
Definitely drink that sunset, Perkunas! Bringing our own spirits alive is what life is about indeed. And if we enjoy living a life that donates to charities, volunteers our backs to causes and dedicates our minds to compassion, then I say that, too, is worthwhile. So long as we are doing it because it brings us alive. I agree; there is nothing to save. There is only a life to live the way I wish to live it today right now.
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Written by perkunas , December 14, 2010
ice age, global warming, charities, Christmas, banana ice cream, tradition, religion, politics...what a pancake, I think better to write a song with that recipe and find the closer tree to sit under. My gift, drink as many sunsets as I can, really eat them with all my senses. I won’t bother explaining why, deeply in there we all know why.

youuu little greedy hungry spiders, you know it all, you know even that nothing really dies, so why to worry? Even if we try to kill her, our mother always loves us. just a click away


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Written by Pilgrim , June 10, 2010
Wow! these ideas are really great! it seems that giving to charities really captures the idea of giving and generosity that the holiday rituals of gift exchange are meant to embody. i think it is very important to support the work of people, charities, etc that we believe in.
here's a gift idea i am considering. i started a garden this year and i am growing a few herbs. i think i might make my own special tea blend and package it creatively in thrift store containers to give to friends later on this year.
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Written by Tonya Kay , January 29, 2010
Oh, my gosh, what brilliant ideas! I do not have a big family, but even little families can make a difference. And I like the idea of picking up trash or doing some service together. No matter how big, that time together surely is a valued bonding event that would mean so much to me. Thanks for being there, K and BillG.
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Written by BillG , January 29, 2010
k, what a great idea. i come from a big family, too, and your idea gave me one. what if my family joined together on a single project--planting 1,000 trees, picking up trash in a neighborhood or along a highway, lobbying for an important piece of environmental legislation, helping out at a nursing home, hospital, or youth center, etc.
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Written by k. , January 29, 2010
a few years ago my family started my favorite tradition of the holiday season. i come from a very large family with tons of cousins. we decided as a group that instead of doing a cousin's gift exchange, we'd show the power of big families to have a positive effect. now each year we nominate and select as a group one charity to donate to. especially in a time of economic downturn, when charities are hurting as much or moreso than other businesses, gifting a lump sum of our means will hopefully help them help others.
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Written by Tonya Kay , January 05, 2010
Ironically, I've been saying for about two years now how much global warming rocks Los Angeles weather patterns - it's been cleaner and more lovely out here than ever before!

A good sense of humor is essential in the green movement. Heck, in life at all. I mean, knowing we are going to die is a huge sanity responsibility for us human mortals and our success navigating that responsibility as a species is arguable at best.

Thanks for genuinely making me smile this morning. And thanks for reading an entry in by EcoHearth blog.

You know there is another theory besides the popular global warming, which I jive with even better: the new Glacial Period thesis. I just don't buy the short sited global warming thing when there is something far larger I feel happening. I know, I know, I'm a green blasphemer to not be "into" global warming. I'm just ... not into it.
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Written by wmdasco , January 04, 2010

Hi. My name is Stan (not my real name) and I am killing Polar Bears and cannot help myself.

That’s how it started. My first meeting with Global Warmers Anonymous (GWA). It was a miserable failure. They tried to tell me about my higher power but when I called they said he had gone to someplace called Copenhagen in his private jet and he hasn’t returned my call. It’s better he doesn’t know what a monster I’ve become.

So there it is, I am a confirmed and hardened Global Warmer. I have a bumper sticker that says “Put the sizzle in Polar Bear Steaks, Support Global Warming”. I eat beef constantly without a thought of bovine farts filling the air. I just learned that exhaling is a major source of greenhouse gas but rather than hold my breath, I continue to have conversations with people who have nothing to say. I just got another bumper sticker that says “Hyperventilate three times a day. Support Global Warming”.

What a wretched human being I’ve become. Oh well, let’s look at the bright side. Seventeen feet of sea level rise seems a small price to pay for January golf in Minnesota. Flooding Manhattan streets can’t do anything but help traffic snarls and import a few hundred gondolas from Venice and who needs a taxi. If losing the first two stories of high rises leaves us cramped, we can always add two more on top of say the Empire State Building or any other structure that is exceeding its rental capacity.

And my self esteem. I could never afford a fancy expensive car but now I am putting fancy expensive gasoline in my old beater.

Just call me incorrigible but never call me late for a trip to McDonald’s.

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Written by Tonya Kay , January 02, 2010
I know how hard it is socially to try something new, different and daring, if you will. Sometimes, especially where "tradition" is concerned, people are not very supportive of new ideas. And I can only assume that that fear of change lies in some survivalism instinct where too much change too quickly at one point in evolution meant death of the species. Being a mother, you might really see those issues prevalent when raising your children with non "traditional" values. You're challenging survivalism on so many levels! And you go!

Fact is, we humans have survived. Indeed, our ability to thrive at all costs to others and our environment may actually be our threat now. So I believe in your ideas and your values and your tradition changes. This time around, we've got to try something new in order to survive. To thrive. And to stay true to what makes us human. I support you raising your family in the way you've described. And here at EcoHearth - staff and readers - I feel this is your place to find like minds.

I hope you had a nice, quiet holiday season and imbued it with meaning that touched what is important to you in your lives now. May 2010 carry that energy forward!
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Written by Claudia , December 31, 2009
I too often think christmas is totally ridiculous.

I have been told I'm a lousy mom cause i never lied to my kids and told them father christmas was coming. I've always been against consumerism just for the sake of it. And my kids get what they want when they want if I deem it will promote their self development and happiness. Certainly don't need a time of year to buy stuff.

What i really love about christmas is those few days when all the shops, business#s and schools are closed. It gets really quiet and cosy and as a family we spend time talking, dreaming and encouraging each other to make the most of our selves.
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Written by KathrynJeanette Cormier , December 28, 2009
I know Christmas passed, but here's another, outdoor weather permitting, or rent a low cost building-like a high school gymnasium. Everyone spends the day playing forgotten childhood games. If everyone forgot just how these games go,no problem, just ask the kids. Forget about the big dinner and all the headaches, just bring simple snacks, like finger foods.
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Written by Tonya Kay , December 24, 2009
Great practices - keeping it simple seems to be the theme. Probably for many of us reading this, we keep not just our holidays simple, but our lives simple as well. Personally, my favorite way to ritualize the changing of the season and the year (Winter Solstice) is to watch the solstice sun rise. If I can do this with loved one's or a community, even better. This year I watched from my rooftop in LA with a new, raw vegan friend visiting from London. For gifts, mostly I donated to my chosen charities. But I also painted some art pieces, gifted small eco-how-to booklets, and am driving to wine country with a loved one. That's really nice. What important is that it means something special "an it harm none".

More ideas, please! And happy holidays however you celebrate.
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Written by TommyJay , December 24, 2009
Thanks for the thoughtful column. Traditions are there for a reason, but when times change they should be reevaluated and modified as needed.
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Written by KR , December 24, 2009
Great food for thought! We celebrate the Winter Solstice with a community feast and simple ritual that people love.

We also celebrate Christmas, but rather than trying to cram it into a single day (impossible and stressful) we spread it out over the 12 days, making time for relaxed visits with families and friends.

The few gifts we give are small, simple and mostly home made: photo books are a big hit along with treats from our kitchen. The only other presents we buy are experiences like tickets to an event or favorite books of poetry. Happy Holidays!
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Written by BJ , December 24, 2009
Decided not to travel this year. Also, sending e-cards and giving poems as gifts.
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Written by tim , December 24, 2009
My gal and I have decided to buy each other just one gift under $10. Also, we are looking for gifts that we'll each get a lot of use out of--not just some trinket.
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Written by Tonya Kay , December 23, 2009
Is there anyone like us out there trying to keep our holiday soulful? What are others doing to keep it green? Or healthy?
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Written by Lennie Lindsay , December 23, 2009
Its nice to see that not everyone belongs to the Sheeple bracket right now as I feel I am surrounded by materialistically minded zombies right now.
"To many people, spend money they havent earned, to to buy things they dont want to impress people they dont like " ( Will Smith), kinda sums up my feelings on Xmas. I dont believe in the bible- so to me- it would be a family get together just for the joy of that- yes, make healthy treats, buy a thoughtful gift- thoughtful for the receiver as well as the damage it can inflict on the world. Enjoy but be mindful- think for yourself guys and think about the whole world in general- the money we spend on useless trinkets could be saving whole countries from starving right now whilst we stuff our faces silly on crap that will make us more fat and more unhealthy.

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Written by Tonya Kay , December 22, 2009
Cat's pajamas! I like it! And it means the most it could mean to me knowing you've considered a new perspective after reading something I wrote. That's exactly why I write and share. Not to "convince" someone one way or another as if I know what's "right". But to plant a seed that grows when it's found the right soil and is given the right care. You are the place that ideas take action.

KJ, I have been known to save money all year to "pitch in" on a family vacation, rather than giving gifts at all. The experiences my family have had together, like the trip to the Grand Canyon, or goofing off all nite in Vegas, or cruising Napa Valley all stuffed into one vehicle ... these things I will never forget. But I can't remember what I was gifted by anyone three years ago. Experiences matter for a lifetime to me, too.
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Written by Steve the kaleidoscope guy , December 22, 2009
Your wisdom is a blaze once again Tonya, you are the cats pajamas.
I'm for Festivus "the holiday for the rest of us".
But seriously you have me thinking about some paradigm shifts for this New Year..thanks
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Written by KathrynJeanette Cormier , December 22, 2009
What a pleasant inspiring article to wake up to this morning. Have anyone noticed kids play with toys in the stores, finally when someone buys it, takes it home, the kids never look at it? It is the environment that is attractive, and not the actual object. As a child, we opened our presents on Christmas eve at my grandparents house, by Christmas day, I forgot about all my gifts. When I got older, I always thought how fun it would be to put all our money together and purchase a fun vacation, like to the Bahamas or Hawaii.

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