Adventures in Kombucha

IMAG3945.jpg

Sometimes I think it is essential to look the part, to play the part. No?

My rad friends got me this, “But First Kombucha” shirt for Christmas. They’re awesome and totally get me.

So when I wanted to learn the ropes of kombucha, I had to wear the shirt.

This post is about human connection and community as much as it is about kombucha.

I remember when I first met my friend Kate at the market. She had on this cool hat, awesome socks, she was pretty much cool. I could tell right away she was like an earthy soul sister and all around good person. I came to her booth and we went to compliment each other at the same time (me on her general look, and her about my baby pink hair). She was there selling cheese for a farmer, but some how we got talking about kombucha. This was a while ago. Fast forward to me joining the market and Kate carrying kombucha at the market. It was sooooo good. Cherry was favorite because that’s my favorite food. But the market let me not only interact with Kate on a regular basis, but I got to try loads of different flavors. There was strawberry mint and one with turmeric and so many more, I can’t think of all the kinds I’ve tried over the years.

I’ll note that this was before kombucha was easy to find at the store.

But Kate stopped doing the market at the end of the summer………………..

And I moved to Champaign……………………

I didn’t want to pay a small fortune for a bottle of kombucha at the store. Plus I am very much one of those self-sufficient types and I have wanted (even before my first encounter with Kate) to make kombucha.

I was intimidated to make it, though, because reading on the internet makes it scary, I feel, and there can be a lot of horror stories.

And I always had Kate, but then I was on my own, and the time was right to learn for myself. Because why not learn from someone who’s been doing it for a long time, with no troubles? So I messaged Kate and scheduled something. I also invited my girl Crystal from church, because we talked about kombucha, farming and more the first time we met. I knew she would love it.

So we set off with our glass jars, ready to learn and see for ourselves.

I cannot even put into words our little adventures. It is more than kombucha. There is a reason I love farmer’s markets. Why I’ve visited farms in the past. Why it’s an integral part of the future I see myself in.

Kate and Jason live on a little slice of heaven. We pull up and they have grass-fed dairy cows chilling in their front yard. You can see all of Jason’s hives in the back yard. Further away their are chickens. And in the woods are hundreds of logs ready to grow mushroom. We drove for miles surrounded by traditional corn and wheat fields to this oasis of life. There are gardens. There are trees. It’s quiet and peaceful and perfect.

Besides this, however, are the people. I love markets because of the connection factor. Not just making a connection to my food (okay this is the person growing, baking, making, etc. my food), but the person behind it. That is something in this society. In a society, where frankly I think we are distracted and numb to our own lives, I think this matters. In a time of technology, where you see sad photos of us stooped over our phones. Of a family or friends sitting in the same room, utterly engrossed in another reality.

So true human connection matters to me. It should matter to us all. Having conversations, real ones with eye contact, interaction, listening, engagement, is beautiful. I get a high leaving the markets in the summer after meeting and interacting with new people all morning. Continue reading “Adventures in Kombucha”

Inside the Great Smoky Mountains

17425027_10101681141406413_7205767337921029150_nMy whole life I have enjoyed travel. I yearn for adventure. For the serenity of a forest. For the peaceful sounds of the woods, and my feet getting swept away on a trail. Taking me somewhere new. Somewhere beautiful. Somewhere fresh. Somewhere where I am likely to stand there staring for a while, lost in awe. Letting nature suck away my worries. There is such a paradox in the forest. Because I feel small, but filled with potential at the same time. Nature’s beauty (especially mountains, for me personally), is humbling. The world is so vast. So breathtaking. So in need of our respect. How can I be sucked up in sadness or depression or worries, when I am surrounded by such perfect creations? It fills me with the: There’s so much more to life than this, mindset.

Surrender. Let go. 

This is why I travel. Why I seek adventure. To breathe. To let peace and serenity calm my body and soul. To let bliss wash over me. To tilt my head back. To look around and really see. For a fresh perspective. To minimize my struggles, and reconnect with my purpose. I feel most like myself in these moments. I don’t feel society and others opinions weighing down on me. I feel light, buoyant.

17308876_10101681141266693_2837190037945190149_nThis is my first travel blog and I am so geeked. National Parks is kind of my husband Zach and I’s thing. Our bedroom walls are covered with National Park maps and one Big US map with traces of our travels (together & separately) For years I traveled by myself. Yosemite and the Northwest being my favorite areas I have ever been. I patiently waited for my travel companion, for my life companion. And Zach fits into my life more than I could have ever dreamed. How in sync we are with our desires and goals. Last year we traveled to over 10 National Parks on a whirlwind 2 week trip, during which he proposed to me under the stars in Arches National Park.  Continue reading “Inside the Great Smoky Mountains”

Who am I to be Happy?

self worthWho am I to be happy?

Who are you not to be?

I have gotten back-lash in the past for being happy or positive. Or written off. Oh Brittany she’s a hippy. She talks about love and is always trying to put a positive spin on something. Going against the grain, can mean being categorized and pushed aside.

But we have created this society. A society where we accept depression and stress. Depression is the norm. We talk more about our problems and struggles than we do our joys. We hate our jobs. We butt heads in our relationships. And we just give up on them and let them disintegrate. How else could divorce rates be so high? It is easier to give up and not deal with something or someone than it is to truly feel something. We would rather drink and do drugs, or whatever vice we may have than feel pain. We avoid it. We cover it. We blame. We accept the suck in our lives. But it is not our circumstances or lives that suck, we do. We suck. We accept the negativity as a norm.

We will wallow in our pain. We love that. To complain. To find faults. We bring depression upon ourselves. Our limited scope of the world, of life beyond a current circumstance, limits us. It’s like looking out of a dusty, dark window. As Thoreau has said, it’s not what you look at, but what you see.

Life is perspective. How you view it. Choice.

I am not happy all the time, but I am a lot better at catching myself. When I find myself having negative thoughts. Feeling stress. Being judgmental. Lacking compassion. Feeling sorry for myself. I catch it. I rebuke it. I go back to gratitude. What I am thankful for. How blessed I am. I cannot be down, when I am so blessed. We have to be self-aware. Call ourselves out. Be willing to change in an instance. You can decide not to be depressed. Not to be suppressed. To say no temptations. Reach for joy, rather than allowing yourself to be pulled down. Continue reading “Who am I to be Happy?”

Exercise & Kettlebells

1779979_10100866517459333_9192196250835438796_nFinally I am adding exercise to this site! It has been in my books for month. For those who may not know me and my personal history, we’ll start there, but my degree is in Exercise Science. Previous to being a gluten-free baker, I was a kettlebell instructor to 10 years. I will be collaborating with my beautiful mother, who is the best kettlebell trainer I have ever met, so look forward to video posts coming soon with her.

Okay, so exercise? For me this can be a slippery slope. I very much feel that we in this country struggle to balance this. Either we do too little or too much. And yes too much exercise has an adverse effect on the body. So how do we balance it? How do we start exercising for us? Not because we ate too much. Or too punish our bodies. Our because we feel obligated too. How can we approach exercise and our bodies with a loving manner?

This is big for me. Check out my blog Monday and you’ll get some insight into my own personal struggle with body image. How can I exercise and eat good to FEEL good? That is more along the lines of my thinking now. How do I feel? Not what does the scale say. I am no longer living for approval or validation based on the numbers on a stupid scale. Those do not reflect me. The beautiful, happy, content, loving person. MORE than the person you see.

Health is important though, but it starts inside. My outlook now is to look at health from a respect perspective. I respect by my body by feeding it certain things. By hiking and walking. By working on sleeping enough, stressing less, and lifting heavy things and remaining flexible so I CAN LIVE. My health helps me accomplish my goals in life. Plus you can not be of service to anyone else if you are not here. We can create and bring on illnesses in our lives. Use health as prevention.

So exercise? I have always  been drawn to the human body and it’s great potential. From drawing sports pictures growing up. To playing sports. I watched my sister lift weights in our garage growing up (she is 7 years older than me). I was intrigued and pleaded with my father to let me lift too. He told me when I was 10 I could. I was hooked right out of the gate. I am very strong naturally, something most wouldn’t suspect as I am so small and smiley. Very assuming, but I have spent my life lifting weights with men, and I have kept up or surpassed many of them.  Continue reading “Exercise & Kettlebells”

Developing Unwavering Faith

16711706_10101630357642483_5612235958607862489_nLast night Zach started telling some stories of what I have always referred to as a phase I went through. But it stuck in my head beyond the conversation. And reading this morning, the message I received ran deep.

This phase I ran through had me jumping out of planes, traveling and camping by myself, hitchhiking, couchsurfing and more. Also did I mention I had given away 75% of my possessions and was living in a shed. To many people I was crazy. Telling the stories now, I receive that a lot. And a lot of disbelief.

Why did I do all of this?

Obedience. For the first time in my life I was really listening and living. And by listening I mean to my calling. I stopped listening to societal pressures and norms. And I started learning to be comfortable with God’s plan for me. He was showing me to stop living in fear. Because that’s what I was. A quiet, shy girl, trying so hard to be good and perfect. To be liked. I cared SO much what others people thought of me. And I let this guide my choices. I made choices out of place of fear, rather than a place of love. I went to college because I was told I had to, I was too smart not to. I was obsessed with losing weight and the perfect body. The numbers on the scale dictated my happiness and self-worth. God was leading me away from fear and into the light and into a space for love.

And then one day, I was sitting in the back of my parents shop in Avon reading, when a voice spoke to me. I was reading a section talking about simplifying and letting go. Of thinking of your things being attached to you like strings. All of a sudden I felt very heavy. And that voice came in loud and clear. It told me to get rid of things. To simplify. So I went home and ACTED. I packed up my stuff and gave away 75% of it. I was starting to plan building a cabin, when I shared my vision with my granny, she told me she had a shed the perfect size to try it out. Everyone thought I was nuts and kept telling me how hard it would be. But I didn’t listen to nay-sayers. I listened to that voice. And I never dwelled or thought it was going to be hard. I just did it.

Getting rid of my stuff allowed me to truly see in my life. Like I had been living with dust covered glasses. I learned quickly that value and wealth in life do not come from accumulation of money and things. I started seeing and loving people as they are. The practice of gratitude became essential to my life.

And I started listening to that voice. And I acted on it, without question. Continue reading “Developing Unwavering Faith”

Relationship Goals

16105973_10101593919414983_6300044595962405942_nRelationship goals.Let’s talk about it, because it’s almost Valentine’s Day and that time when we talk about love.  I see this a lot, this term relationship goals.. Usually referring to some celebrity couple. One in which we see one instance, but know nothing of the actual dynamic. We see the pretty polished package to the world. Such is social media too. A slippery slope into comparison. Relationship goals are good, but how we idolize others and theirs, maybe isn’t as good. Relationship goals should be unique to us. When we embrace our own unique selves, then we don’t have to compare to others. Plus we can be content within our lives and our relationships, instead of wondering why our significant other isn’t like _______  (insert a celebrity or someone you look up to). We meet and love them as they are. We truly open ourselves up to loving that person with an everlasting love.

This picture above, these are my relationship goals, happening now, in real life. My examples of love and marriage are beautiful. My parents are going on 38 years, my grandparents all close to 60 and lots of aunts in uncles in 25+ years of marriage. These relationships are not perfect. They have ups and downs, but they are shining examples of commitment. No matter their fights or the struggles they face, they are extremely loyal and have the others back. Family. Love. This was embedded in my upbringing and it is essential to me. I didn’t want to merely be married, a partner, for the rest of my life. Beyond the wedding, I wanted the raw commitment that comes with it.

For over a decade I patiently waited and prayed for this relationship. For this man. I knew the goals in my head and heart. I wanted someone fully committed to me. Who took and loved me, just as I am. A companion. Someone I enjoyed spending time with, so that spending the rest of our lives together (and eternity), would be a breeze. Someone I could travel the world with. And climb mountains. Someone by my side. I would see couples on trails, a little baby strapped to the front and I wanted that. That outdoor family life. To live in the woods and spend time on the road, exploring this magnificent world.  Continue reading “Relationship Goals”

Let Your Message Be Love

ffed970dab661f3caec63907d94b49f0.jpgIt is the presence of love in our lives, not money that makes us wealthy in life. Do that fiercely.

~Me, Brittany Polifroni January 24, 2017

So I have been winding this piece on purpose and following God’s calling for a couple weeks. All things lead me there. Every sermon each Sunday. Every worship. And it’s coming, but this morning I got a little derailed with a phone call from my father. And this piece weighed heavily on my heart and I had to share. And this little quote came to me on my walk here to write.

Even though I have been thinking a lot on purpose and calling and talents, like I know I have a talent for cooking and that I am supposed to share that with people. Today, though, I can’t help but delve a little deeper. The purpose driving me behind my way of expression. What is my message in this life?

My whole life I have felt this strong relationship with God. Even when I was exploring or reading other religious text, I prayed to God (harder). The mindfulness and meditation that I took away, cleared space for me to truly listen. It gave me the stillness I needed. And he has always spoken and guided me on this journey. For I think I have known for a long time that I (we) are not in control of anything. But I have always been guided by a strong intuition, which I obediently followed, because I was being pulled by something bigger and stronger than me. Because I have done some pretty out-of-the-norm things without really knowing at the time why (although I can see why now). And it’s amazing to look back and see how we are being guided and taken care of. How even our greatest struggles, are leading us to our biggest revelations.

For a decade the words and messages I have been receiving are much like this one I got this morning. Always telling me to:

LET YOUR MESSAGE BE ONE OF LOVE. Continue reading “Let Your Message Be Love”