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”

Advertisements

An Attitude of Gratitude

8f9c1d7a910343a3c943aba3721d69e6

I once heard that if you only say one prayer a day, let it simply be “thank you”.

I do love me some Thanksgiving. Not because I am a Thanksgiving baby. Or the food. Holidays can get lost in the commercialization.  I love what it represents, THANKS. Gratitude shines bright in my life as an essential practice. So even though this time of year is synonymous with food and large gatherings and football and shopping, I like to go back to the name itself. Thanks. It is our perspective about holidays that matters. What it reminds us to practice daily in our lives.

Gratitude has helped me during my biggest struggles. I have said it many times. Practicing gratitude reminds me of how blessed I am. How much I already have. It allows me to fill blissfully content.

I go back to a conversation I had with a nice wood-worker two weeks ago at the farmer’s market. It is easy nowadays to get lost in monster of MORE. We want more constantly. More stuff. More money. More food. More ‘friends’. More time. We get greedy in our lust for more.We pack our schedules with more.  And then we become slaves to our want of more. We work more. We get lost in the cycle of a job. Chasing money, so we can have or seem like we have more. But then we never actually enjoy our time. Because we waste it at jobs that don’t bring us joy. Or we never take the trips. Or see our families. Or we are tired and grouchy when we do see them. Forget being present, we are ready to numb ourselves out by the time we get home. Have a drink. Get lost in TV. The nice wood-worker was telling me that he retired and started his little business. He also explained how he didn’t have nor did he want a website because he didn’t want it to become a job. It was something he enjoyed doing. And I think about this in my own business, because he is right. Spend time doing what you love. Be more content with what you have than constantly wanting more. Because this also can create a feeling of not having enough. And further of not being enough.  Continue reading “An Attitude of Gratitude”

Be Still & Finding Joy

fb90de51187517cbf6db207d8249751d-1Be Still.

This message keeps popping up in my life. And when something shows up more than once, pay attention.

The first time my mother called me. “What are you doing?” Oh you know, getting wedding band tattoos. And she says, “Your dad wants to see D’wan to get a tattoo.” Firstly, this shocked me a bit, I thought my Dad would never get a tattoo. Secondly, I was curious as to what he wanted……..be still.

Next instance, I was sitting in worship at church. I have been prone on occasion lately to be super emotional due to all the changes and uncertainty going on in my life and just scatteredness. As I sat there the message came so clearly: BE STILL. Very much along the lines of this photo. Be still and know I am God. When we finally stop. When are still and open enough, we will receive guidance and direction.

Thursday I had this crabby, sadness going on. Hike. I need to hike. It is missing from my life. I have built in habits that help me in life. Hiking and baking are my big two. When I am facing uncertainty. When I need clarity. When I need a moment to get back to myself and God and my path, I hit a trail. Or I get in the kitchen and bake. I let my creativity flow. I let go. I let go of all the thoughts (especially negative self-talk) and bullshit. It brings me back to peace. To calm. They are my outlets. They remind me that it is all good. Life is good. I am good. I am blessed. And it fills me with those positive vibes that everyone expects from me. Being in the woods is humbling. It cuts out the bullshit of everyday life. Maybe this is why I love traveling and mountains too. In their perfect creation and grandeur and beauty, they morph me and my problems. How small I am, how unimportant the things worrying me are. I can see resolution rather than focusing on what doesn’t seem to be going ‘right’. It allows me to step back and see the bigger picture. What is going oh-so-right in my life. All those beauty and gifts. Continue reading “Be Still & Finding Joy”

Goal Clarity

img_20160818_124707I am in the process of refining and redesigning my brand and the direction I want to head in the future. This little sketch above is kind of where my thoughts are going, as well as selling and growing. When I trained kettlebells, one of our principles to training was: DO FEWER THINGS BETTER. Sounds easy right? It is easy in life to get overwhelmed and overloaded with dreams and goals and ideas. We can be a little scattered sometimes and all over the place (myself included). Bombarded with options and obligations. That is why I think it is essential to go back to this principle. To narrow it down, dig deep, and get real. What do I really want to do in life? With my life? What brings me the MOST joy? Focus on that. Close the gap between wanting and living it. I have this beautiful Thoreau tattoo on my arm: Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. Make your life so freaking awesome that it is better than your dreams. So that when living moment to moment, you feel this. You feel alive and invigorated.

I have also found out that pulling away and looking at your life so far, it is amazing how set up I have been for where I am now. Connecting all the dots. The journey wasn’t necessarily graceful or even embraced and it hasn’t been without challenges. But it all lines up.Before I was born my dear mother was craving and digging into Italian food while pregnant with me (possibly why I make so many pizzas?). I distinctly remember a week when I was around 10, when I made a pie EVERY day, just for the mere pleasure of making them. When our kettlebell business was fading, I turned to a bake sale to earn funds for a move to Colorado. While in Colorado, while hiking up Pikes Peak Highway through the changing Aspen trees, I was stopped by my vision for my future. A gut feeling that stopped me in my tracks, and I looked up to those snow-capped mountains and cried with the certainty of it all. I wanted my own business. Something authentically me. I wanted to cook. I loved doing cooking classes when we had our business, and clearly all my life I had a knack for baking. When I came back to Indiana I applied for the farmer’s market and started my gluten-free business (granted they turned me down twice, don’t accept NO’s, just realize that maybe the timing was off). My first job in a kitchen was at a pie company, where I made 100’s of pies. Pies just like pizzas, are my thing. I am an artist. Growing up everyone asked me if I was going to be an artist. Now food is my art and pies are one of my favorite ways to express my creativity. Last week I was pumped to make pies for the boys at the fraternity my husband works for. Racking my brain for flavors. Taking my time to braid the edges. Every ounce of my creativity and energy going in to those pies. I was on a high, yet wiped by the end of it all! So as I pull back, my life has led me to today. To this vision of a gluten-free pie and pizza company.

Continue reading “Goal Clarity”

Body Image & Feeling Joy Within

13511042_10101328990240173_9113512781857079739_n“Been thinking for a bit on body image. I once heard that only 4%of women think they’re beautiful, which made me sad because I know so many beautiful, radiant women. I believe then too that even less are happy with their bodies. I believe it is easy for women, especially when we’re younger to be objectified or to identify ourselves by our bodies.
When we had our business, I lived in this physical realm. My validation and happiness centered on my body, weekly weigh-ins, and my body fat percentage. If I lost I was happy. If not I waited for the next week. Does it not seem absurd for a scale to rule my life and level of happiness? Even when I got to a goal (I’ve been 13% with the flattest stomach and abs) it was never enough. So often we feel this way. We compare ourselves to other women (as well as our own former bodies). We are SO hard on ourselves.
I like the line, ‘promote what you love rather than bashing what you hate.’ What if we did the same thing with ourselves? What if instead of dissecting our bodies and seeing ‘flaws’ we celebrated? My body allows me to get up each morning. It is healthy and rarely sick. It is strong and lets me do kettlebells. It is flexible and lets me do yoga. I’ve got powerful legs that let me bike or hike for miles. It can endure. It can climb mountains. It lets me pick up my nephews and throw them in the air, so I am rewarded with this beautiful smile. Next week it’s going to take me zip lining and to see the country. It’s let me jump out of planes and have so many adventures. It can do so much. It lets me LIVE my life. It is pretty awesome. Lately I am learning too that if you feel really good and happy on the inside, it starts to reflect and show on the outside. Stop being so hard on yourself, you are extraordinary

I posted this about a month ago on my Facebook, it was the most I could condense the dynamic topic of body image. I will be real right from the beginning, this really hits home with me. This is a daily thing. Sometimes I am better than others. But it is easy to be tempted back down that slippery slope into dwelling in the physical. I worked in the fitness and weight loss industry, so the struggle to leave it behind is real sometimes.

I believe that men too can deal with body-image, but I really feel as women, we are conditioned from a young age. We are infiltrated with images in the media. There is a massive change I feel taking place, but it seems we often think of beauty to be synonymous with skinny or thin. Also a lot of validation comes with beauty and body image. Our outside appearance can often rule our lives and happiness level (this is true for me in the past). We are objectified for our bodies as well, condensed down to chest, waist and jean size. These numbers seem so relevant for some reason. And worst of all (personal opinion), is comparison. We compare ourselves to other women (skinny bitches). We compare ourselves to how we may have been at a lighter weight. Wrong. Comparison kills. It kills your joy. Your love in yourself. Your beauty. God created you perfectly as you are. You have your own personal beauty. Your own body. Find joy in that. Why waste time in being jealous or wanting something you can’t have? That is their body, you have your own. Be happy in what you got. Continue reading “Body Image & Feeling Joy Within”

Hit a Trail

“The day we stop exploring is the day we commit ourselves to live in a stagnant world, devoid of curiosity, empty of dreams.” ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

To fully appreciate this piece you may check out my post from Monday about my torrid love affair with walking (I’ve walked to work everyday this week). I would like to progress further on the piece. Because walking and movement is great, but one of my greatest passions in life (besides connections, cooking, and writing) is HIKING. I crave it. I get restless. My body aches to be outside. I NEED, I HAVE to hike. Period. Ask anyone who knows me. For the happiest Brittany. For the creative Brittany. For the eternal optimist Brittany. For the inspired Brittany. For the clear-headed, serene Brittany. I MUST HIKE. It saves me, over and over again. The moment I step into the woods I feel peace. I feel calm. Gone are my worries, and left is the potential and possibilities I feel in Nature. As if the trees can somehow filter out the bullshit of everyday life.

Tomorrow morning I have my alarm set early so I can beat the sun and be on a trail to chase its rise. Why? Why should we hike? Why should you hike (besides being moved to awe by my words and photos and banter)? Here are some of the given reasons for hiking, but as I find in life I think it’s important to always find your own reasons. How do you feel when you hike? What are you passionate about? What drives you? What do you yearn for?

Reasons to Hit a Trail

  • 1625603_10100900799447953_3973042893055115963_nHappier! A mood boost. Being outside boosts serotonin, those feel-good neurotransmitters. Plus you have the Japanese derived concept of forest bathing. Get in trees, let them swallow you up. Stand in awe of a mountain. Watch wildlife. Take off your shoes, get in there. Lay down, feel the good energy and vibes. Listen. Listen to the music of Nature. Breathe. Smell. Take in the smell of the trees. When someone told me I smelled like the outdoors, I resounded with an affirmative: thanks. This is also good then for depression. When I was going through one of the toughest times of my life, I was at least grateful and able to remain positive because I was in the mountains, for those mountains saved me.
  • Sensory stimulation. Watch wildlife. Take off your shoes, get in there. Lay down, feel the good energy and vibes. Listen. Listen to the music of Nature. Breathe. Smell. Take in the smell of the trees. When someone told me I smelled like the outdoors, I resounded with an affirmative: thanks. Touch. Touch that tree. Dip your toe in a stream. Get all those senses involved. Let them participate.
  • Concentration. Man I can’t tell you the level of focus I get on a hike. How acute my senses are. How connected I am. How crisp my thoughts are. The awareness of my body in time and space.
  • Creativity. Hiking fuels my creativity. I write blogs in my head as I walk. I envision photo shoots. I conceptualize recipes. Ideas flow one after another after another.
  • They say it can trigger our primal regions of the brain and psyche, which if you think about it, seems about right. We used to walk/run everywhere, of course that is going to connect us to where we came from.
  • Sleep. I am a total research dork, I do it for fun. I can not tell you how much I have read about sleep and light patterns. Basically we want to pick up on circadian rhythms. Rise and fall with the patterns of the suns/light and our neurotransmitters. The sun is rising, serotonin kicks in to wake us up. It’s dark, melotonin kicks in and we get sleepy. So if we spend time in the natural sunlight and less around artificial light, would that then not promote a circadian rhythm? To me this logic makes since. And here I will write a post: Hit a Pillow, about all the beautiful benefits of sleep.
  • An Experience. Whether you are taking a few days to camp and explore the backcountry, or a day to climb a small mountains, or you go out for an afternoon park visit with friends, there is always an experience to be had.
  • Change. I am a restless soul. Stagnancy and routine kind of scares the shit out of me. Life is changing. Our bodies our changing. In a decade, none of the cells in our body will exist. Nature is a constant state of change. I remember a view years ago I read that success was our ability to deal with uncertainty. Because as much ‘control’ as we think we have, we are never truly in control. And so I like hiking because it is always different, Even if I tread the same trail everyday. Just check out my pics from my favorite local park in different seasons. The gym is the same everyday. Get outside, embrace change.

Continue reading “Hit a Trail”

Why Walk?

11695771_10101015304159593_1006781885763692706_nIn Wildness is the preservation of the world.” Henry David Thoreau

I love walking. I walk everywhere. I feel like Where’s Waldo. Who can spot the purple-haired girl first? There she is!!!

I live in a community where commuting is, I feel, in it’s infancy. I am a novelty. What are you doing? Can I give you a ride? Is something wrong with your car? Are you sure I can’t give you a lift? Then when I explain that I have chosen to walk, you can imagine the looks. Gasp. Googly eyes. In those moments, I feel like an alien. Really? Why? Once upon walking with my pack in the country I stumbled across an older gentleman offering to give me a lift. When I explained I was practicing walking, he brushed it aside: You’ll grow out of that. Does this seem like a problem to anyone else?

For a walking, Nature lover like myself, you can imagine my excitement when I run across support for my lifestyle choices. I stood at the grocery store and Organic Life magazine stared me down in the aisle. On the side in beautiful white letters, it said: WAYS THAT WALKING CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE. It was in my hands before I actually had time to register what I was doing. My body, my intuition craved what that article had to say.

For years I have found solace in walking. Over time the relationship between my gait and I has blossomed into a full-blown love affair. Growing up, my father pushed an outdoor lifestyle, but as I have found, discovering (re-discovering) things on your own is the most fulfilling sensation. One summer in high school, I began walking the mining hills behind our home in western Indiana. There was something about it. I ached for more. More time in the woods. More connection. More trees. More air. More hills. More climbing. More views from the top. More of that feeling. That feeling of life. That stitch in my side. The increased heart rate. Feeling my lungs work harder, as I climbed and climbed. My legs burning. Sweat dripping. I had to keep going. For I never want this feeling to go. I live for this invigoration. Then I Continue reading “Why Walk?”