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Welcome to FoodMood blog space. Reflections on my travels, musings, favorite recipes, and the  Bunny Chronicles. Storytelling with joy, sass, self-reflection, and hope.

Iosef & Natasha

Updated: Feb 27

Mini alter, this image of Iosef and Natasha on their wedding day greets me each morning.

A constant reminder of their power, inspiration, and love – a reminder that we are all reflections of each other.

Living and working in Vladivostok Russia I had the incredible pleasure to work with and be mentored by Iosef Shtitleman and Natasha Chekhovskaya. These illuminated souls, life and business partners themselves, opened a door to me that I did not even know existed. Years of hiding my intensity came to an end for the entire time I shared their company, nearly a decade.


Iosef, an unassuming man, with a sometimes-straggly beard and an always open heart was at once the silent partner and a rock star. Natasha seemingly quiet and reserved, in reality, a volcano of channeled power and love. Together they inspired a generation of people to lead with heart and soul and me personally to be my whole self.


Two stories about them to highlight their humanity, mirth, and wisdom.

On an arctic day in January, temperatures well below zero, I arrived at their home for ‘coffee’ one of our shared rituals to connect. Iosef greeted me at the door beaming with warmth and mischief.  “We have something to show you” he said with a giggle in his voice.  Immediately intrigued I took off my snow encrusted boots and said, I am ready. All in its time he commented, and our coffee tradition began. About 2 hours later, their midsized dog began to make clear she needed to go. It seemed now was the moment, literally.


With a flourish, Iosef opened the bathroom door, and the dog went over to the toilet, positioned herself in perfect symmetry and went to the bathroom – in the bowl. Behind me, as it was insisted I be given the best vantage point to view this event, Iosef and Natasha were in peels of laughter and delight. It had been weeks they were training their canine for this moment. No longer must either of them brave the arctic temperatures when pup needed a pee!


Sometime later at a training we were giving together, down over a romantic intrigue I asked Natasha if she might give me a bit of help. With characteristic kindness and precision, she took my hand and said, “I could, and there are some things best experienced fully and firsthand. My friend. I am a powerful instrument and therefore I am careful with this power. I will hold your hand and listen, you will do the rest.”

Perhaps it is the story of how they came to be the powerful inspirational teachers and mentors that they are today which highlights best who Iosef and Natasha are, in general, and to me.


While one may argue the benefits and evils of communism, education in the Soviet Union was unquestionably spectacular and Iosef & Natasha were head of their classes in neurological science. One day towards the end of their studies the question of limitations of scientific understanding of the brain, emotions, and behavior arose. When asked how it was possible to have no answers to such questions, their professors referred them to the growing science of psychology. From that moment they changed the course of their lives, committed to being instruments of change and support from the perspective of spirit and soul.


Nearly 20 years and 9,000 kilometers separate us and every day my heart gives thanks for Iosef and Natasha as human souls who changed the course of my life and continue to do so.

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