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Archive of ‘Life Crafting’ category

Tiny Home, Big Heart with Jenna and Tim Steep

Jenna and Tim Steep are tiny house builders, yoga instructors and womb embodiment mentors. They felt a soulful calling to build a tiny home (a process which was featured on HGTV’s Tiny House, Big LIving) and upon their marriage in the summer of 2017, moved from 3000 square feet to 300.  Along the way, they built a thriving Kundalini Yoga and Womb Awakening online studio called Womb of Love, and blog about tiny living in their spare time on their tiny house blog, Steep Shack.

Jenna describes herself as a Womb Priestess and Yogini, Soul Doula and Visionary. She is joined in life by her husband Tim, a remodeling contractor who thrives on creating sacred spaces with wood and reclaimed materials. Together they are a power couple who not only managed to build a new home in a record time of 44 days, but they also thrive together as they discover that living with less has brought them a bigger life.

There are so many great take-aways in this episode. I love that they just went on a whim to see if HGTV might be interested in their story, and they were signed on! And then it turned a little more serious with pressure to finish on time, due to filming and honeymoon dates looming. But they totally made it work. And then the curating of meaningful details and artifacts that fill their home, it just makes a sacred space that much more special. My favorite quote of the show was “everything in a tiny house is bigger.” From the “small-ish mess on the counter, to a festering argument; things need to be dealt with sooner and more directly. There’s literally no where to hide!  And a lack of space doesn’t dampen the spirit or love the Steeps are able to put out into the world. If anything, a tiny home has served to be a “powerhouse” of intentional energy cultivation and deep presence that is having a healing effect beyond their four walls.

So thanks again to Jenna and Tim. Many blessings on the life you two are building together.

Listen to our conversation below:

Find out more about Jenna and Tim’s story. If you want to learn more about how you can work with them, visit:
and

Embracing “Round Two” of Life: Solitude & Serenity in the Ozarks with Jody Kay

These days, Jody refers to her life as “Round Two.” Her kids have grown, her parents have passed and her life is more focused on her instead of taking care of others, as was the case for many years prior to now. So she was ready to shift and create a life around what she wanted for herself. She prefers a simple, hands-on lifestyle filled with tasks that provide meaning and satisfaction after completing them. This desire, plus some inheritance money, made it possible for her to pursue this dream of purchasing her own land, building her own home and living debt-free in the woods of the Ozarks in Missouri. She spends her days knitting, sewing, cultivating wild foods, gardening, and helping others to support her way of life.

Some might consider her way of life “extreme” as she lives without running water or electricity and prefers to heat her home with a wood stove. Jody tells us about the joys of labor, how engaging in the simplest of tasks give her meaning and satisfaction on a daily basis. She sees life as a patchwork, with holes to fill, and she is doing her part weaving together beauty, love, community and nature into a magnificent masterpiece she can’t wait to witness.

Listen to our conversation Here:

On Itunes

On Stitcher Radio

I was fascinated with the drive that Jody has for creating her own life on her terms. It’s always so inspirational to see people “not waiting until retirement to live the life you love.” What great advice. I hope Jody’s story is fuel for you to go after your artisan lifestyle. You don’t need to have it all together to make the leap, but a good plan, key resources and a community you can rely on will definitely help!

 

Find out more about Jody Kay

On Facebook

Borrowed Earth Goods

Borrowed Earth Farms

Mushrooming, Reindeer and Community: Modern Homesteading with Sonia Horowitz

It’s a rare person who not only follows their heartfelt childhood interests, but also creates a community to encourage others to learn, grow and share resources related to similar values and interests. Sonia Horowitz is my guest this month and her story will have you itching to get yourself out into nature.

Not only does she grown her own food, find her own mushrooms, raise her own birds, tie dye her own threads, but she’s inspired a movement of homestead dreamers to get out there and make it happen. Sonia has been fascinated with the forest her entire life and followed her heart back to the area where she grew up to start a family as well as a thriving homestead of her own.

In our conversation, she describes the group she founded called Fieldmaidens and how important it is to “return to the land.” She has dreams of owning a Reindeer farm, but for now she is content with teaching her children and other Fieldmaidens foraging skills, and how to create a self-sufficient home.

Connect with Sonia:

On Instagram: @TheHappyHippieHusky

Facebook: The Happy Hippie Husky

Email: TheHappyHippieHusky@gmail.com

 

 

Listen to our conversation below:

On ITunes HERE.

On Stitcher Radio HERE.

 

The Importance of Fairy Gardens, Magic and Fun for Children and Adults with Donni Webber

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you remember when your life felt magical? Remember what it was l like to believe in other worlds and how everyday objects could transform into  into essential props for your land of make believe? I used to spend countless hours in the woods with my siblings, creating a “cabin” complete with multiple rooms, furniture, place settings and food. I would rave on and on about my cabin in the woods to my friends and when they finally saw it, they were confused because they were looking for a physical replica of what they had in their minds. They weren’t seeing my creation through their imagination. Sometimes I would have a friend who “got it” and would play along and contribute to the design, and I knew this friend understood what it was all about.

There is value in the pretend world. This is where we get to practice designing the dreams of our own lives. It also gives a break from the pressures and busy-ness of day to day living. We get a chance to escape, create something beautiful and play for the fun of it.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Donni Webber, a seasoned veteran on this topic. She is an active Fairy Gardener, crafter and Waldorf lifestyle blogger who is helping millions of people around the world reconnect to the importance of magic and fun. Listen to our chat below!

Listen to Episode 20 Below:

Listen on iTunes HERE.

Listen on Stitcher Radio HERE.

Listen via Google Play HERE.

 

Show Notes

Find Donni Online: Donni Webber

The Magic Onions

Fairy Gardens

Pinterest

Facebook

Resources:

Seven Times the Sun


The Artist’s Way

Afterthoughts

Do you feel that cultivating a sense of magic is important for child and adult wellbeing?

What kids of activities have you engaged in that get you lost in the land of make believe?

Note: some of the links contained in this page may be affiliate links where I earn a small commission upon your purchase of an item. This enables me to continue to run the podcast and this website. I appreciate your support!

 

Total Body Transformation: my experience with body art

12483002_10205526998722854_1412238571_oWhen I look at this picture, I first see a work of art, but I also see myself. It’s weird. I’m not used to wearing much make up, and here I am completely covered in colorful body paint. And it’s not just make up for the sake of beauty, but a full body multi-hued canvas with a honey bee theme running through. How did I get this lucky to have such an experience?

I first met the artist Cheryl Ann Lipstreu at an art event in Winston-Salem, NC. She was enamored with my honeybee necklaces and told me how she has beekeeper friends and that her grandfather used to be a beekeeper. She was excited about honeybees as I was! We got to talking and I learned about her artisan story. Her personal artist’s journey started with oil painting at young age, with many years of classical training. However, when she was introduced to the art of body painting, her creative soul was ignited in new ways. She went on to become a multi-award winning body paint artist, including winning the North American Championship. She is also featured on the reality TV show “Skin Wars.” She invited me to do a body painting in her studio, a process she calls painting one’s “soul portrait.” It sounded exciting and fun. It was definitely nothing like anything I’d ever done before and was curious about the experience. I agreed. And it was transformational in a way I never expected.

12471080_10205527000522899_1631888368_o I figured I’d need to document this experience appropriately, so I asked my photographer friend, Allison Hutchins  if she would be available for a photo shoot like this, not sure if it was too much to ask (apparently the painting can take several hours to complete). She was totally down for hanging out all day and agreed to take some shots.

She captured a few candid shots of the process, which was fairly long and tedious but such a novelty, I hadn’t really noticed that several hours had passed  as I stood there watching the color and designs unfold.

My wardrobe consisted of a thong bikini and stick on pasties, which made me think of some weird type of nude colored swimsuit. I guess it helped me feel like I wasn’t totally naked for the process, but it was certainly the least amount of clothing I’d ever had on in my life. I haven’t even worn a bikini swimsuit since I was 11 years old.

The process of standing and being painted was interesting. The “paint” was actually theatrical make-up, so it wasn’t sticky or crackly or uncomfortable at all. The most uncomfortable part was standing in one position for such a long time. Although I consider myself relatively fit and strong, I started to get back aches and sore feet a few hours into it. Combine that with the fact that I wasn’t really allowed to sit down or bend over much to keep the paint from smudging. I’m used to being constantly in motion and am normally quite a fidgeter. My hands and feet got cold, but Cheryl kept a space heater going so the studio stayed warm.

I thought the semi-nudity would be the biggest challenge, but after I had a base coat of color applied, every time I looked in the mirror, it looked like I had some type of colorful skin suit on, some type of leotard or spandex outfit. I “felt” more naked than I looked. In my mind I was thinking “it’s just a body and this is art” in a way that you think “this is just medical” when you are at the doctor’s office.

Th12490071_10205526992642702_1112104482_oe process seemed to be going at a good rate and I thought were going to finish up in 6 hours, but we were really just warming up. Many more levels of detail went into the painting including highlights, shadowing, outlining, glitter and gem application and the wig adornment. The wig design was actually constructed by my step daughter, Katherine, who came with me to the studio. She did an amazing job of arranging the up-do and adding flower and butterfly details.  It was a couple of hours later when we finally said “this is it!” We are ready for the photo shoot. I was pretty exhausted, but it was time for me to put on 6 inch platform heels to finish the look. Um? Really? I haven’t worn anything over 1 inch in 5 years.

What I Learned from Body Art Painting

As a dietitian, I often try to help others achieve a body transformation, usually in the form of weight loss, but also in terms of health improvements. So many of us are constantly looking in the mirror to see improvements in body shape, texture, even color. It’s a difficult process to look at what you have and be totally okay with it. During my painting I spent 8 hours looking at myself in a mirror. Normally in front of the mirror, I’m looking at flaws, fixing skin problems, deciding when I need a hair appointment and if my workouts are getting rid of cellulite. But this time, I was looking at the beauty that unfolded in front of my eyes. I watched my body transform into a canvas of expression of my favorite colors and designs. Suddenly my body in the mirror became my friend instead of my mortal enemy with all of it’s imperfections. I noticed “hmm, I’ve been working out, look how strong my shoulders are…” and “wow, I’ve never noticed I have a flat stomach from this angle, it always seems to pooch out when I look down.”

12465491_10205527112485698_1243684828_oThe icing on the cake of the experience was getting the photos back from Allison, who had fun editing the pictures she took. I saw myself is a completely new way. The artwork and the photography had transformed me into some type of ageless deity. I saw no pores, no wrinkles, no blemishes, no fading hair color, no cellulite or spider veins, or any other visible “flaw.” I didn’t see aging. I didn’t see diet non-compliance. I didn’t see my “bad side” or all those other unfavorable things that we normally see when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a picture.

I think my favorite part was seeing the confidence that showed up in some of these pictures. When I look at each picture, I don’t even remember taking it or looking that way. Even though I was exhausted by the end of the process, I somehow had enough energy to strike a pose or two and capture this experience forever.

I would recommend an experience like this to anyone who is looking for a complete mind-shift in body acceptance or for a completely liberating experience in transforming into art. By the end, I didn’t even feel like myself. It was like I was walking around as a painting, egoless and normal personality on vacation. It was totally awesome!

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So would you do it? Do you think you’d ever try a body painting transformation?

 

You can find more information about the artist Cheryl Ann Lipstreau and photographer Allison Hutchins on their websites. http://www.cherylannlipstreu.com and http://www.allisonhutchinsart.com.

 

 

The Daily Practice: Your Secret Weapon to Achieving Bucket List Goals

What do 30 Day Challenges, Getting to Carnegie Hall and a Successful Weight Loss Program Have in Common?

The answer? “Practice, practice, practice!”

There is a saying that a person becomes a master of their craft after they’ve put in 10,000 hours of work.  I think that’s about 5 or 10 years of time invested. It’s no joke. You can’t fake your way to the finish and suddenly become an expert. There are no short cuts to achieve real, lasting results. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon in my personal life and through the experiences of my clients.

IMG_4773There is beauty and magic that happen when you practice a behavior every day. It becomes a routine, then habit. Eventually, it becomes part of you and your identity. It’s the daily “doing of the work” that transforms you. I’ve seen sedentary people transform into runners, words on a computer screen transform into a published book, scraps of clay transformed into bronze jewelry. In fact, if I hadn’t “practiced” my hobby enough, I wouldn’t have ever attempted to open an online Etsy shop, participate in a craft show, publish a book on my hobby or create an additional income stream from doing an activity that I love. So here I am in my glory, doing the daily practice that helped me take an idea in my mind become a real, live pursuit of happiness.

I firmly believe that it’s my daily practice of consuming whole, nourishing foods that has kept me solidly healthy and illness free for the past 3 years. You can ready about that story here.

Or what about this one? I used to consider myself a “runner.” Meaning that I would run several times a week and occasionally participate in racing events like 5Ks, 10Ks and even longer. One day my friend suggested that I should try running a marathon. I flipped out a little:

 “I can’t even conceive of running a marathon! I’ve barely finished a half marathon and have absolutely nothing left. I could never do twice that distance!”

But look below. In the first picture, there I am at the finish line of my first marathon. How did I make it? The impossible became possible by tackling it one day at a time. It took four months to be ready (even with my running experience) and it wasn’t pretty, I still had to walk a lot during the event, but I crossed the finish line! I got my medal!athlete collage

 

I vowed to train again for a second marathon and finish it without walking, two years later.

The middle picture is me after finishing  a “century” bike ride, a distance of 100 miles. Again, the only reason I finished with a smile on my face is because I’d spent the previous 3-4 years cycling and logging miles on my bike on a regular basis. You can’t pull off 100 miles of cycling without doing the base work.

The picture on the left is me on the day of my first triathlon. I’d not thought of myself as a triathlete, mostly because I don’t enjoy swimming and am not all that great at it. But this particular race combined running, biking and kayaking. So I gave it a try! I had put in years of work with running and cycling and strength training. It was a great experience, a check off the bucket list, but didn’t leave me with a burning desire to be a triathlete. After five minutes of paddling, the burning in my arms was all I could focus on. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough!

Looking back on all that rather athletic period in my life, I realize that the only way I completed these “bucket list” accomplishments is that I did the work for them every day. I had a training plan for each particular event that I followed closely. The marathon training plan lasted four months, but I stuck it out. I did the work and I was able to finish these once seemingly impossible feats.

The same idea applies to long term goals of weight loss or following a healthy lifestyle.

The saying that it takes 21 days to make a habit is encouraging, but in reality, lasting change requires a much longer commitment. Daily repetition practicing a new behavior or an unfamiliar activity can take 3 to 6 months until it feels like normal.

Think about the popular “30 Day Challenges.” Compare someone who is performing a plank daily for 30 days in a row to someone who’s goal is to do more planks for the next month. At the end of the month, who do you think will have been more successful in improving their planking but also maintaining a regular habit of planking? The person in a 30 day challenge follows a modest plan (typically challenges start fairly easy then gradually increase in intensity over the four weeks) but is able to do a little bit EVERY day. The person who is not in a challenge to do something daily has a goal to plank 3 times a week for 5 minutes. Who will receive the more transformative experience? I argue that it’s the person who is getting daily reinforcement to practice their goal. At the end of the month one person will have 30 practice sessions at performing a plank while the other will have only had 12.

The Daily Practice is more powerful for creating new habits because it creates stronger connections in the brain from more frequent repetition compared to goals that are achieved a few days per week.

So what do you think? Is there an achievement, goal or other aspiration lingering out there in the future for you? What “daily work” are you needing to focus on to make this become a reality? Has a 30 Day Challenge helped you pick up a new habit? Do you think daily actions are more powerful than those done a few days per week? Leave a comment below and tell us!

 

 

 

 

My secrets to never getting sick

DeathtoStock_Clementine10I’m sure it seems like quite a bold claim to say that I haven’t ever been sick. That’s not exactly what I’m saying. I have been sick in my life, but not very often. As an adult, I would typically come down with a head cold about once a year, either in the dead of winter or early spring. I’ve met several people who could say the same thing. They don’t get sick often, but usually suffer from one malady that sets them back at least once or twice a year. I was rather proud of this accomplishment. Even when I got sick, it would only last for a few days, nothing dire like the flu or bronchitis.

The Mysterious Trend of Perfect Health?

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Something has changed. I’ve started a new streak of good health. I haven’t been sick at all in three years. No Kleenex, no antibiotics, no cold medicine or sick visits to the doctor. I can hardly believe it myself! I had to double check the calendar to be sure it has actually been three years! So what has changed?

Previously when I was rarely getting sick, I had some really good habits. I would exercise regularly, eat plenty of nutritious foods without a lot of junk, and try to keep good sleep habits. The times I would end up coming down with something it would be after I hadn’t had adequate rest, or had been on a sugar binge, like the type of indulging that happens during the holidays. I may have been having some insomina and then would have to get up early and get ready for work. It was usually a combination of factors, but surprisingly I’ve stayed well while my husband had the flu and other colds.

Not Living in a Bubble

Maybe you’re thinking that I don’t get exposed to many germs. I used to work in an outpatient clinic at the hospital for four years and would get exposed to a variety of nasty germs in that environment. Then afterwards, I worked in onsite health clinics in corporate America, where employees would frequently come by to share their illnesses with our staff. Then, I’m a regular member of my gym, attending group fitness and using the equipment that everyone else is touching, so I know I was getting my fair share of exposure. Also my husband works at the hospital and surely comes home after being exposed to some nasty bugs there. The one thing I can say I don’t have is very young children in daycare, so there’s that. But I seem to be getting my fair share of exposure from other areas.

Had Certain Advantages in my Youth

So I’ve always had a healthy and robust immune system. I supposed I was blessed with a few factors in my favor. I had an excellent start to life that allowed me to develop a solid microbiome (gut flora). From a natural birth and breast feeding as an infant, I then played in the dirt as a kid, had dogs and cats and never had allergies.  As an adult I’ve maintained a healthy diet and exercise routine and don’t slack on sleep as a regular habit. But despite all of these contributing factors, I was still searching for the explainable difference between getting sick one year and not getting sick for three years? Could it be possible to make it 5 years or 10 without a cold?

The Defining Factors

Sleep

Over the past 3 years, I had made the decision to start my own business and leave a job that had lots of time and travel demands. I was able to set my own schedule. I had some commitments that I had to keep, but for the most part, I could decide when I wanted to see clients and I eventually got around to setting up late morning appointment as a habit. This let me sleep in if I needed it as well as get my morning exercise in most days of the week.

Stress

Having to work less hours along with commuting and traveling less and not getting frustrated working for someone else dramatically decreased the stress in my life. I used to have a bad habit of chewing insane amounts of sugar free gum at work (my version of smoking, I suppose) but this habit disappeared once I left my job. Being able to wake up naturally without an alarm starts my day without a jolt of the stress hormone cortisol and my body feels more relaxed and naturally energized. Sure self employment comes with its own set of stressors, but it’s much different than the day to day stress of commuting to work and balancing home life after working all week.

Food Quality

Having more time to spend at home permitted me to be able to prepare balanced meals as well. I’ve always managed to cook even when I was working full time, but occasionally I would grab some processed snacks when I was at work, enjoy the treats coworkers would bring in, settle for the semi-healthy meals when I was traveling out of town, more frequently grab some take out to feed the family like Indian or Vietnamese (which could have been worse). Most of the time, and I mean 90 percent of the time, most of the meals are made and eaten at home with wholesome, natural ingredients.

Happiness

Ultimately, I think the defining factor in the past 3 years comes down to a variable of mind-body connection. After the last time I was sick, it was only a few months later when I decided to make a change in the way I was living my life. I thought it was going to be a gradual shift, but it ended up taking on a life of its own. I set off to start a business and 6 months later I had opened my own practice and left my job 3 months after that. Just to be clear, I don’t think you have to quit your job to be as healthy as possible. For me, it was a way that I could get a few more hours of sleep and less daily stress, but the effect it had on my overall happiness was measurable in booming immunity. I felt so free and independent, to have control over my career, my work and how I spent my time. I felt so inspired, challenged, enterprising, and successful. It made me happy. And the research is strong in this area, that happiness is strongly linked to good health. I may be a statistic of this, but it’s one area of science where I’m proud to provide a contribution.

What’s your longest streak?

Have you experienced anything similar in your health or immunity? What’s the longest you’ve gone without getting sick?

Life Crafting: The dream of living in Nederland, Colorado

IMG_4805 Earlier this spring I wrote a post on Lifecrafting. In it I detailed the plans my husband and I had for moving to the mountains. It wasn’t an exact plan, but more of an outline of a dream we had to move out west to Colorado and live our dream life in the mountains. After I wrote the post, 4 weeks later we were on a plane to go check out the location we had in mind. I was so excited, for 6 months we had been diligently pouring over real estate listings, getting excited over pictures of lots, plots and land. We had our favorites picked out and were ready to go exploring.  We were determined to find our next home on this trip!

The day before we left, we found out that a freak spring snow had dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in our destination area. Lots of snow? No worries, as a native Vermonter, the white stuff doesn’t frighten me, not even in April. But I knew it might likely make it hard to locate real estate signs, roads, boundary marker, or even get around on foot. But when we got to town, we found out the local coffee shop was still offering snow shoe rentals, so we each took a pair and set off to find our future homestead.

The first few lots we looked at were disappointing. The price was right, but the landscape was not all that. Like most lots in this area in a mountain town like Nederland, Colorado, they were quite sloped and surprisingly tiny. But we drove on to check out the one that was slightly beyond our budget. It was over 5 acres and almost totally level. The trees were beautifu and it backed up to National Forestry land, making it super private and quite. In the picture above, you can see my husband trekking across the property in his snowshoes. We were in heaven! It was a wonderland of snow, woods and quiet that was exactly what we were looking for. Everything felt right, we felt as though we found our spot and were meant to set up here. I was convinced that we would be making an offer on this trip to secure our dream.

Overjoyed with snow!

Overjoyed with snow!

After we got back to our hotel room, we ran the numbers and figured we could afford a slightly higher loan, if we were to pay off other things. I was so excited that when my husband got off the phone with the realtor, his words didn’t register

right away. “She said the lot was already under contract. They are closing on it tomorrow.” I was crestfallen. It didn’t seem real. I was already living there in my mind. The hunt was over. Everything was settled. Nothing else compared. We were supposed to be moving onto the next step. Needless to say, the remainder of the trip was lackluster. I had little interest in viewing other properties. The rest of the lots paled in comparison to the one we liked, the one that got away. The realtor said “it had been on the market for years, and now everyone wants it.”

It was such a crushing moment that it was hard to bounce back from. There wasn’t any other direction to turn but to completely stop focusing on it. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt, so I decided to put the dream of moving to Colorado on hold, at least in my mind. I felt like I had no control over the circumstances, so there was little for me to stay engaged with. When we got home, I shifted my sights onto my arts and crafts pursuits. I figured I could take my mind off of things by getting crafty with my hands and trying to participate in more craft shows.

IMG_4807It worked! Over the spring and summer, I had my own adventures in crafting and selling wares at a variety of different fairs, festivals and markets. It felt good to be in the  moment and not try to live for the future or dwell on the past. My husband took a business trip out to Colorado later in the summer and was able to make it back to Nederland to view a couple of new lots that popped up in the real estate world. It was promising! The lots were small, but had potential and were in decent locations. We were on our way to getting pre-approved for financing and still felt aligned with our plans to get out to Colorado in the next year or so.

The one thing that wanted to do most was to build our home ourselves. We planed to build it slowly, without requiring additional financing. We thought we could tent out on our land, build a temporary structure to live in while we built the larger home. But as we did more research, we found out that even in the mountains of Colorado, Home Owner’s Associations and County regulations still dictate much of what you are allowed to do with your own land. My husband felt pretty strongly that he didn’t want to be governed by an association that would restrict how he could build and live, so he started looking elsewhere in the area, outside of Boulder county.

Again, my hopes were dashed to finally settle on a piece of desirable mountain property. The whole process made me feel like my dream was out of reach. But that was only one way of looking at it. In all honesty, taking this process slowly and letting the timing work out for itself is probably the most reasonable and best approach to take in making a major life decision to move across the country from city life to the back country.  How do you stay hopeful but detached when you are waiting for your dream land to appear? How do you trust in the process and not force your exact details into the picture? How do stay open to more options than the original plan that was outlined?

In the past few weeks, it’s been my husband who has stayed steadfast in our dream, diligently researching properties and considering alternative to our original plan. When we considered the option of going outside of Boulder county, we opened up more options for flexibility in building regulations. Initially we were hesitant to consider looking for land “too far away” from town, for fear of isolation or long commutes. Then my husband had the idea to look for lots with a small home or cabin already on it. That changed our search results in the real estate listings and a few interesting options popped up. One in particular, which was only a couple of miles outside of the county line had 26 acres and a tiny cabin built on it.

Our future homestead?!

Our future homestead?!

Overall, the cost was twice the price of what we were looking at, but it was going to save us in the long run. We would end up with 25 times the land and more flexibility on how we could use it. We would have a dwelling we could move into immediately and qualify for a traditional mortgage instead of having to work around a more strict loan for land. We could pay off some of our student loan debt and free up more cash for mortgage payments. Interestingly, we would have never found this property if we had stuck to our original plan of “acceptable” price range, zip code and land only searches. My original dream of moving to Colorado was living in the middle of many acres with plenty of land to make trails, grow food, keep bees and make a complete homestead. I had compromised that dream when I was “settling” for property listings that were as small as one acre in size just so we could live close to town. It seemed like small acreage on sloped land was all there was to choose from. We were missing out on the other options that could be available to us.

So now we travel out in 6 weeks to see with our own eyes, this potential home that we’ve been dreaming about. Could this be the one?? I’m optimistic and hopeful but not so doggedly determined to “force” this to work. My past experience has shown that only intensifies disappointment. Stay tuned! I’ll keep this Life Crafting thread up to date with our latest pioneering adventures as we allow our dream to manifest.

Have you ever given up on a dream? Or have you held on tight? Have you ever had to change your “parameters” to allow in more options and been surprised at the results?

 

Artisanal Eating: a food lover’s approach to health and happiness

IMG_5360One of my favorite ways to enjoy food more is to change my perspective from being a nutrition “expert” to appreciating the artistic qualities of food. Instead of seeing tomatoes as sources of “fiber, antioxidants and vitamins” I see red luscious orbs packed with vital energy that will nourish me and taste delicious because they grew out of my garden. At my house, the gardens are located in the front yard because there is better sun exposure and these tomatoes were actually planted around the mailbox. Maybe the mailman will need a snack one day! We got rid of the bushes under the windows, dug up the hostas and planted tomatoes, greens, sweet potatoes and onions instead.

I am smitten with using the word “artisanal” to describe the relationship I prefer to have with food. It evokes a sense of pride, quality craftsmanship, and hints at a process that takes invested time to complete. It reminds me that there is an important personal connection to one’s food, as though I put my personal touch on something. Artisanal also implies that there is unique variety. There are no mass produced, identically perfect tomatoes in my garden. I love observing the unique beauty in each fruit, even if these tomatoes in my hand were “supposed to be” much larger. Taking an artisanal approach to gardening lets me appreciate the fruits of my labor no matter what they are.

adelyn turnipSometimes you get totally surprised and grow something giant or discover a hybrid of a couple of vegetables planted next to each other. Whatever the outcome, it’s a result of my own (actually, mostly my husband’s) hard word. Check out my niece holding a gigantic turnip! Harvesting your own food is a joy that persists across generations and can be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Thinking of food as an artisanal experience lets us slow down and be in the moment. It reduces stress. We are present with all of our senses and be part of the whole process from food procurement to the preparation to the social gathering to those last few bites on the plate. It becomes less about getting from hungry to full as fast as possible and more about how we choose to experience life as a whole. Are we willing to take the time to peel and chop some cucumbers for a snack? In reality, this step only take 2 minutes. We have the time!

Summer time is a good opportunity to practice adding a few more steps to our meal preparation process. We are bombarded with messages that we “deserve to treat ourselves” or “shouldn’t need to bother with cooking” or “have the fastest ready made dinner,” none of these options satisfies our deepest hunger. As humans, we actually WANT to feel more satisfaction, have more meaning and purpose in our lives, be proud of our work (in the garden & kitchen) and be part of a natural cycle of growth and sustainability that many generations have already experienced. Gardening and preparing our own food, artisanal eating, satisfies that hunger.

Even if you aren’t sure you can tackle starting a garden, there are many other options that can still give you the experience of artisanal eating. You may start with a container garden or potted herb garden to keep the size and time investment manageable. Another reasonable alternative is to source your food as locally as possible. When was the last time you picked up some summer produce from the country farm stand? There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh and locally grown seasonal food. By the way, it’s a bargain! The last time I picked up turnip greens at the farmer’s market, I walked away with 2 overstuffed grocery bags for $3!

IMG_5344Another way to “go artisan” is to experiment with preserving your garden harvest. This year my bumper crop was cucumbers and I probably made at least 5 kinds of pickles and relishes, and I’m not done yet! I have absolutely no experience canning or preserving foods, so I found a few recipes online, and get advice from friends and family. At first glance it seems like “ain’t nobody got time for that!” but in reality, I put together this small batch of pickles in the hour and a half I had between appointments. It didn’t take up my entire afternoon or mess up my whole kitchen. It’s really do-able, I swear! Just don’t hold me to this time frame when you’re trying to pickle 20 pounds of cukes.

At the end of the day, when I’m putting homemade garlic dill relish on my plate, washing the dirt off of the kale to whip up a kale salad, there is a deep satisfaction in me that “I did this myself.”  And not only am I proud of doing the work, but it tastes better. The richness of flavors actually indicates that there are a higher concentration of nutrients in the food. Sorry, you can’t add salt, sugar and fat to food and make this same claim. But it’s true when you taste the rich flavor of a real homegrown tomato, you can be sure it’s way more nourishing than any store bought tomato purchased in the dead of winter, picked green and artificially ripened.

Appreciating the beauty of the harvest, savoring the amazing seasonal flavors, celebrating the fruits of one’s labor, taking time to slow down and enjoy the process from farm to plate….THIS is artisanal eating. And this entire experience is what creates health and happiness. Healthy eating is more than just getting the “right” vitamins or “ideal” diet, folks. It’s a way of living to sustain our entire being.

 

 

Lifecrafting: Deliberate Design of a Dream Life

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current vision board for moving to Colorado

“Living the Dream.” It’s that fantasy that so many of us work for. We strive for the high paying job, achieving optimal health and falling in perfect love in hopes that we will finally wrangle happiness after a long hot pursuit. We want to build the the life of our dreams, but so many of us end up stuck in the dream phase, unable to make the transition to fully realize the vision we have in our minds.

So what is Lifecrafting, exactly?

It’s a deliberate method in designing a lifestyle based on meaning and purpose using a creative approach. The design is intentional. At the end of the road there is no “Hey, how did I get here? Letting the days go by…” You know how the song goes. Even if you get a little side-tracked along the route, the overall objective stays clear when you start with a deliberate approach.

Lifecrafting is creating a purposeful lifestyle based on your values. Not only are you creating something intentional, it goes beyond keeping up with the Joneses. It’s not just about collecting, having more, winning or following the American Dream, per se. It’s based on the personal values and feelings that are important to you. For example, if independence is high on your priority list, you may be drawn towards self employment or travel.

The other key theme that defines lifecrafting is that there is a craft to it. Call it an artistic flair, or artisanal approach to the process. Any life coach or advisor can sit down with you and help you outline your life goals, but the method in how these goals are achieved is part of the concept. Artisans produce quality craftsmanship and lasting work with a personal, human touch. Isn’t this what you want for your dream life? When you put your personal touch into the design of your life, it’s the icing on the cake to make it uniquely yours.

My Lifecrafting Story

It’s all good to theorize about this as an idea but how does it pan out in real life? To start from the beginning, I need to go back several years to the time before I met my husband.  I was at a crossroads. I was ready for change. I was craving a new job. I felt ready to move and start over. I was also yearning for a new relationship, but I was afraid to hope for too much at once.

My girlfriend suggested the idea of making a vision board for helping me get clear about what to do. Although I think of myself as a creative person, the idea seemed to be more fun than practical. I didn’t really see the value in cutting out pictures and words to help shape my future. But it did create a pretty nice piece of artwork though. I was quite pleased with the end result. There was a good balance of seeking my dream job meshed with my desire for a  healthy lifestyle and creative hobbies, a single man in the picture, winding his way through the broccoli stalk forest. There was even a picture of two kids, a girl and a boy, which was added hastily after my friend noticed my vision board seemed heavily work focused and not much detail for family life. Interestingly, over the course of a few years, everything depicted on my vision board came to life. I got my dream job. I met and married the man of my dreams. He had two children, a girl and a boy. I ran a marathon. I got back into making arts and crafts. It was spooky, but also compelling. It got me thinking about the power of suggestion, the power of intention and the creative way my brain and subconscious worked together to help manifest the images on my poster.

My Lifecrafting Story continues…

tiny home sketch

Our tiny timber frame home design

So phase two occurs after getting married and having a partner in the picture. I’m always refining the ultimate vision of my ideal lifestyle, and it seems to get clearer the better I know myself. I realized that I had many interests that demanded my attention, including getting into beekeeping, jewelry making, arts and crafts and spending more time outside. Given that I was working full time, commuting an hour and traveling out of town periodically for work, it didn’t leave much time to spend enjoying the hobbies that enriched my life. I felt like I needed to make a change and shift towards a more balanced lifestyle. I wanted to spend less time in an office and more time creating things. My husband and I wanted to live in an area that energized us. So we made our first vision board together. We focused on mountains, rustic living, active lifestyles and making our life as hand crafted as possible. The board is still in our living room beckoning our subconscious minds to manifest into reality.

I do believe that lifecrafting is a process, not a magical manifestation trick that can be rushed. You still have to do the work and let things play out in the natural course of time. But what happens when they do play out is fascinating. It’s eerie how many of the details align with the original design of the vision board.

Fast forward a few years. My husband and I are still working towards living in the mountains living that rustic, active lifestyle. But now, the process seems to be speeding up. Some of the details have been refined to reflect more of our core values. Instead of taking out a huge loan to buy land in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, we’ve discovered an alternate location just as enchanting in Nederland that costs a fraction of the price. Instead of building a mammoth log home, we are going to start by building a timber frame style “tiny home” under 500 square feet so that we can have a place to live while we take the time to build our dream home without going into debt. The dream and design phase has been fulfilled and now the manifestation phase is starting to come to life. Not only are we saving money but we are doing the work ourselves It’s adding meaning and purpose to our lives. We value the pride and satisfaction that comes from our own labor of love.

So now, if you’d like to follow the rest of the journey stay tuned. There are still several details that need further attention, but I can feel the lifecrafting process come alive. It’s like all of the actions I’ve taken in the past few years to choose the lifestyle that is most meaningful to me are converging to create the dream life I thought was only available on vision boards. It’s like my husband says, “We’re living the dream, baby!” And it’s happening right before our eyes.

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