Month: June 2015

Well, Well, Well: tips & tools

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

NUTRITION

I’ve followed Dietitian Cassie for about 18 months, and I really like her approach. I struggled with which post to start you out with, because she has so much good advice. She’s an advocate of PFC (protein, fat and carbs) at every meal, and she’s not afraid to eat butter!

Cassie bucks the conventional wisdom of the U.S. medical community, but she does it in a respectful way. She wrote a post a few months ago about being open-minded to new things (such as newer research saying that we need fat in our diets!). I’ll share that post with you another time. Today I’m sharing one of her Start Here posts.

Check it out: Simple Starting Steps


FITNESS/EXERCISE

The secret to being a real runner is easy. There is only one thing you have to do. You just have to run.”

.

Last year Erin Henderson, mom of 12 (soon to be 13), was the guest speaker at our Women Run Arkansas 5K pasta party. Erin is a runner who lost about 80 pounds and credits running with a lot of her success.

Erin and her husband have adopted most of their children, and some of them have disabilities. No. 13, whom they’re hoping to bring home from China in December, has a severe physical disability and, although they thought they were finished with 12, they both “knew” she was theirs when they saw her. I love that!

Even though I didn’t get to hear Erin speak last year, I’ve followed her blog since before she visited Arkansas and she inspires me every time.

I hope this post will encourage you if you’ve thought about running or are just beginning, and those who’ve been running for years can take something away from it, too.

Check it out: How to Be a Real Runner


HUMOR

I believe Reader’s Digest’s had it right: “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”

You may think a humor piece doesn’t fit into a wellness-tips category, but laughter is healing and this 2-minute YouTube video made me laugh. Besides, don’t we need a good laugh to pick us up on a Monday morning? (We can’t let coffee do all the work!) I hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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Farm2Home 2015 – Big D Ranch in Center Ridge, Ark.

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Farm2HomeLogoThis is the third in a series on Farm2Home 2015. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

DeSalvoFamilyAtFarm2Home
Meet the DeSalvo family of Big D Ranch in Center Ridge: Phillip, Benjamin, Isabella and Beth. (Photo courtesy of Beth DeSalvo.)

When Beth DeSalvo quit her job at Petit Jean Meats in 2012 and began working on her family’s cattle ranch full time, she soon realized that she needed to go whole hog (whole cow?) in promoting the operation.

Her departure from the “corporate world” left the family with no other income source but cattle and hay, so making sure that folks knew about Big D Ranch – the place her husband’s family has called home for five generations – was going to become a part-time job in itself. (That’s in addition to the other tasks, such as keeping the books and helping out in whatever other ways she’s needed.)

A busy mom of two, she knew that if she wanted to help sustain the family’s income, she would have to take time out of all the things that go into cattle ranching and be available to educate people, show them around and talk up the virtues of locally grown, pastured beef, and of farming and ranching in general.

With all the nitty-gritty of running a cattle ranch, how does she have time for the “marketing and promotion” part of the job?

“You make time,” she said at the recent Farm2Home event at Moss Mountain Farm west of Little Rock. It’s just what local ranchers and growers have to do to raise awareness of their products. No Sam Elliott voice-overs or James Garner promos – she and her family just get out there and talk to people face to face.

And they do a great job: I stood at her table at Farm2Home, chatted with Beth and her daughter, 9-year-old-Isabella, and got a taste of what beef is supposed to taste like.

As Isabella speared a piece of grilled beef on a toothpick for me, Beth and I talked, and the conversation was as delicious as the beef.

BigDTable_Farm2Home2015

Center Ridge, Ark., population 388 (as of 2010 census).
Center Ridge, Ark., population 388 (as of 2010 census).

When you engage with someone who is as passionate as Beth is about her “job,” you lose track of time. This matriarch of the 2012 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year (which also includes Phillip’s dad, Tony) takes her role so seriously that she travels from the ranch in Center Ridge, Ark., to farmers markets and events such as Farm2Home as an evangelist for the virtues of buying locally grown, healthful foods.

“I believe by buying local you are commending your local farmers and ranchers on what they do every day,” she said in answer to my follow-up questions after Farm2Home. “Farmers and ranchers work hard to provide food for consumers, and it is very rewarding to be able share that with our neighbors.”

I asked Beth why she wanted to participate in Farm2Home.

I think it is very important to get out to tell our story. I feel that consumers want to know where their food comes from, and we the farmers and ranchers want the consumers to feel safe about what we provide for their families. The best way to do that is let people know what you are doing and how you do it.”

It’s so important to the DeSalvos that they take their beef outside the local area on weekends to sell and promote. Look for them at the Conway Farmers Market at the Antioch Baptist Church and at the Argenta Farmers Market in downtown North Little Rock. (The Argenta market is where I used to do my “shop local” socializing when Bruce and I lived in North Little Rock. I miss it!)

Ben&IsabellaAtArgenta
Ben and Isabella DeSalvo at the Argenta Farmers Market in downtown North Little Rock, Ark. (Photo courtesy of Beth DeSalvo.)

As Phillip and Beth raise the sixth generation at Big D, they support Ben (age 11) and Isabella’s participation in the Nemo Vista Pioneers 4-H Club, and Beth says the family is “very active” at the county fair. That’s evident by the photos she emailed me (I didn’t use them all). Phillip and Beth are active members in the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and no doubt their children are future members of those organizations.

Both kiddos know how to win prizes at the county fair. Take a look:

Cow&BenWithRibbon
Ben and his heifer Big Momma took Reserve Grand Champion honors last year at the Conway County Fair. (Photo courtesy of Beth DeSalvo.)
Cow&Isabella
Isabella and Betsy took home Pee Wee Showmanship honors at last year’s county fair, and Izzy also won Grand Champion with her turkeys. (Photo courtesy of Beth DeSalvo.)

Arkansas is fortunate to have folks like Tony, Phillip and Beth DeSalvo, who are raising their young’uns to know the value of hard work and the importance of supporting your neighbors as they work hard, too. They’re the ones who feed us, my friends. Or at least they should be.

As often as you can, buy local. You’ll be helping your neighbors and yourself. (And try some beef from the DeSalvos. It’s “The Better Beef to Eat!”)

All right, one last picture. This image makes me think of a photo in one of the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. I bet Beth DeSalvo swoons every time she looks at this picture of her man and her boy walking hand-in-hand on their family’s land.

Ladies, wouldn’t you?

Ben&PhillipFromBehindWithCows
(Photo courtesy of Beth DeSalvo.)

Big D Ranch
173 Miller Ln.
Center Ridge, AR 72027 (northern Conway County)
(501) 208-6120 (Beth’s cell)
Website: Bigdranch.net
Twitter: @bigdranch1
Facebook: Big D Ranch or Beth Rohlman DeSalvo
Instagram: BIG_D_RANCH

Stay tuned for Part 4 next Friday. Meanwhile, I’d like to publish a healthful recipe for Monday’s post. Suggestions?

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Introducing Well, Well, Well

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WellWellWellLogoBruceRGBThis week I’m introducing a new weekly feature: Well, Well, Well (hats off, as usual, to my hubby for coming up with the name). In it, I’ll bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

PRODUCTIVITY

One of my fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers posted a cry for help on Facebook last week:

“I need a way to organize important emails I want to keep, screenshots of important info, etc. Basically, I need a ‘file cabinet’ that is easy to access, easy to use.”

Holy cow — we Evernote lovers jumped all over that. (In fact, folks who’ve been using Evernote for years and know all the ways to harness its superpowers are called “Evernote ninjas.” I am not one of them — yet.)

If you aren’t using Evernote, you’re missing out. It’s probably the most useful productivity tool I’ve ever used, although I’m still learning all its capabilities and I’m not as productive or proficient with it as I know I will be as I keep using it.

Evernote is an electronic filing cabinet but not just for your emails. It uses a notebook and tag system that allows you to sort and find things easily later. But I’m a newbie. A couple of others with more experience can convince you:

In a recap of her AWB conference presentation last year, she says:

“I’m accustomed to the look on someone’s face during an Evernote session at the exact moment where they realize what it is capable of and how it is applicable in their lives.  At the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference, however, I mistook the perplexed looks on the faces of attendees as an indication that I was missing the mark or doing a poor job of representing the complete fabulousness of Evernote.  It turns out all those furrowed brows and the silence in the room were actually indicative of their brains simultaneously exploding.

“And hey, what can I say?  That’s exactly what I’m looking for when I introduce someone to Evernote.”

Check it out: Evernote.com


SPIRITUAL

If you’re like me and would like to read the Bible every day, let me encourage you: It can happen, and there’s never been a better time than now with better tools than ever. I have fallen in love with the Bible App, and this is the second year I’ve done my through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan electronically rather than using my physical Bible (which is a reference Bible, has a ton of footnotes and weighs a gazillion pounds). I carry my “Bible” around with me everywhere, because I can access it just about anywhere: my laptop, my smart phone or my iPad.

You can browse devotional plans as short as three days or as long as several weeks, and they’re searchable by topic (say you want devotions for Lent or Advent or marriage, they’ve got you covered). It’s available in several languages, several translations of the Bible (so you can read a different version each year if you like) and different versions of the one-year plan (I’m doing chronological this year). They added a Bible App for Kids a few months ago, and if I had small kids I’d jump all over that! I use the Bible App now at church and take sermon notes inside the app. There are translations that you can view only online (with an Internet connection) and some you can download for offline reading.

Probably my favorite feature of the Bible App: audio! Yes, some translations (including the one I’m currently using, the New Living Translation) can be read to you out loud. When I’m slogging through the “less interesting” chapters of the Bible (say, most of Leviticus), it’s nice to listen while I get ready for work. Obviously this isn’t for in-depth study, which I would do sitting down with the visual version or a hard copy of the Bible. But it does help for getting to know the culture and commands of the biblical texts. The audio reinforces what I read.

The YouVersion folks just keep adding features, making it better and better. This is another tool that I could go on and on about, but you should just …

Check it out: Bible.com


FINANCIAL

I’ve been following Mary Hunt of Debt Proof Living for more than 20 years, since her little black-and-white newsletter (then called Cheapskate Monthly) was about 12 pages and arrived each month via snail mail.

I love Mary because she’s down to earth, practical and wise.

Here’s an excerpt of a post I wrote about Mary two months ago on my other blog, Suzy & Spice:

“By the time I met Mary, she had gotten her family into $100,000 of unsecured debt … and back out.

“She scratched and clawed (and prayed) her way out of the hole.

“And, because she has been to the bottom of the pit and climbed her way back out, dirt under her fingernails, sweat on her brow, wisdom under her cap, she has built an organization out of helping the rest of us do the same – or, better yet, not digging that pit in the first place.”

And heres a link to a recent post, Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do, in her Everyday Cheapskate column.

Maybe you’re not in debt but need to begin saving and just don’t know how to get started and stay motivated. Mary can help. (I can help, too, as I’m a certified budget coach and volunteer for a financial stewardship ministry; I know some of the tips and tricks of getting and staying on track.)

Or maybe you have a family member or friend who could use the kind of gentle kick in the pants that Mary provides. (That kick in the pants probably shouldn’t come from you — let Mary do it; she has the expertise and the objectivity!)

Mary has written lots of books and has a great website, daily column and newsletter.

Check it out: DebtProofLiving.com

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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Farm2Home 2015 – P. Allen Smith

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Farm2HomeLogoThis is the second in a series on Farm2Home 2015. Read Part 1 here.

When Allen Smith was 10, he earned a blue ribbon for a hen he showed at the county fair. This is not surprising, given his family heritage of farming and livestock and poultry raising.

A few decades later, if you called him “the crazy chicken man,” you might not be far off (sorry, Allen). With his first hen – not the white silkie that won the blue ribbon but a brown Leghorn that young Allen had to chase down on Main Street – he began a love affair with growing and preserving poultry breeds that has only become stronger with time.

Known for his design, cooking and gardening expertise, Allen (better known as P. Allen Smith) has grown a multimedia empire right along with those chickens he’s so fond of. (Eat your heart out, Martha.) He houses his fine-feathered hens in a structure of his own design, dubbed the Poultry Palace.

This “crazy chicken man” is crazy like a fox, though.

His knowledge of poultry breeds rivals that of anyone I’ve ever met. I might be able to find some PhD fellow with a more formal poultry pedigree, but I would have to search far. And I have a feeling that pedigreed poultry professor would be much less endearing, much less engaging, much less in love with the birds, and probably a lot boring.

Allen Smith is not boring.

When you’re passionate about a subject, your enthusiasm is infectious.

At the recent Farm2Home event at Allen’s Moss Mountain Farm outside Little Rock, Ark., I and 29 other bloggers were treated to a tour of his house and the grounds, including Poultryville, where he houses – you guessed it – poultry.

Allen’s love of this particular subject stems from his combined love of history, genetics and conservation. Cases in point:

  • Ask him about any of our country’s founding founders, and he’s sure to have a story for you. His knowledge is not based on “factoids” found by Googling but by a love of history he acquired from his family.
  • He created the Heritage Poultry Conservancy, which exists to preserve and support “all threatened breeds and strains of domestic poultry through the encouragement of education, stewardship and good breeding practices,” according to the website. I could spend hours on this website reading all the “breed profiles” – which include photos and extensive histories of the breeds, complete with bibliographies – and “ask the expert” articles and other information.
  • He designed and built a little village for his birds on Moss Mountain Farm. Listening to him talk about the birds at Poultryville – and watching as he shows them off – well, it’s just … poultry in motion. (I know: Groan. Sorry.)

But seriously, the man knows poultry.

AllenInPoultryPalace
If I had been taking notes instead of worrying about how much juice was left in my phone battery, I would’ve heard Allen tell what kind of chicken this is.

And he wants others to know about it, too. As we tromped along through Poultryville, he offered bits of information, trivial and non. I wish I could remember what Mediterranean princess he referenced in relation to the design of the Poultry Palace. She visited because she was interested in heritage poultry and had heard about Moss Mountain Farm.

I’ve used most of my allotted words here (y’all know I limit my word count, right? 🙂 ) talking about poultry, because, seriously, visiting Poultryville and hearing this man wax poetic about chickens, French geese, swans and all that – and to see them up close and personal – makes me love them, too! If you visited, you would be the same way.

C’mon. Take a gander at these photos from Allen’s blog and tell me you wouldn’t love to hang out with some of these crazy chicks. Seriously.

OK, so.

Besides poultry, horses, dogs (the farm dog and a Scottish terrier that Allen was dog-sitting for friends), sheep and some cute baby goats, we were treated to:

  • A beautiful house. Allen bought the farm (literally) about 10 years ago and built this gorgeously appointed Greek Revival-style house seven years ago. He said he wanted it to look like it belonged on the beautiful farm of 600 or so acres (give or take, with the whims of the Arkansas River, which was flooded when we visited). Y’all, there is no way to show you all the pictures I took, even with dying batteries.
House_PAllenSmith
The Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm is a Greek Revival-style house on about 600 acres along the Arkansas River.
Books_PAllenSmith
The man decorates with books. This is my kinda house.

My friends, there were books EVERYWHERE. I asked Allen whether he’d read all of them. “Every one. Cover to cover,” he deadpanned. It took me a second to be sure he was joking.

KitchenView_PAllenSmith
A view from the kitchen.
HydrangeasInKitchen_PAllenSmith
The all-white kitchen appointed with white hydrangeas (and orange-clad blogger chicks).
  • Gardens: vegetables, flowers, trees, grasses. I had so many photos of flowers and veggies to choose from, I had trouble deciding. I’m giving you but a taste. (And if my camera battery hadn’t died before noon and my phone battery hadn’t died by 3:30 p.m., Lord, have mercy, I would have had even more pics!)
VeggieGarden_PAllenSmith
As we approached the vegetable gardens, Allen offered to let us pull weeds for him. (I’m pretty sure he was joking, although: FREE HELP. But do you see any weeds?)
GardenOutsideHouse_PAllenSmith
I don’t know my flowers as well as I used to, but I think this is some type of sunflower. Anyone?
  • A pond with swans, frogs and at least one snake (viewed after my camera battery died, and it’s too bad because the swans were really cute – one of them talked to me!).

I wasn’t going to post this pic of Duncan (the visiting dog), but, as you know, I’m a dog person and can’t resist a good dog picture, especially when the pooch is doing something cute.

Duncan
Duncan wasn’t playing hard to get; I think he’s just weird, like my doggie who likes to sleep under her bed.
  • Views of the Arkansas River.
ViewFromSleepingPorch_PAllenSmith
A view of the flooded, muddy Arkansas River from Moss Mountain Farm’s sleeping porch. You get a glimpse of one of the gardens, too.
  • Food, glorious food! Everything was delicious and beautiful, and here’s my lunch. (I missed the beautiful watermelon breakfast snack that everyone else had earlier because I was busy talking to farmers outside and didn’t hear the bell; see previous post.)
Lunch_PAllenSmith
If you visit Moss Mountain Farm, they’ll feed you meals from Allen’s latest cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden.
DessertGone_PAllenSmith
As you can see, the dessert (pecan cookie with strawberry-cobbler-type filling) was delicious! (I did leave some of the garnish.) And you may wonder how I managed to get two glasses of iced tea, with endless refills. I’ll never tell!
  • Bloggers. Thirty of us. Here are a few.
Bloggers_PAllenSmith
Wouldn’t you want to hang out with these chicks (and a couple of blogger dudes)?
  • Farmers. This is what Farm2Home was all about, ya’ll. Stay tuned, because I have more farmers for ya, but you’ll have to wait until next week. This is a series, remember?

But Farm2Home is not the only event on Moss Mountain Farm’s calendar. This beautiful place is host to classes, workshops, tours, parties, weddings and other events. Allen also “trials” specimens for seed and plant companies that sell their fare at garden centers around the country. And he shoots his TV shows there.

If you view this video from Allen’s website, you will want to make a reservation right now to visit Moss Mountain Farm. Unless you’re totally crazy.

Next week: Farm2Home 2015 – Big D Ranch in Center Ridge, Ark.

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8 life lessons (for everyone) from yoga

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SageRountreeQuote060815The first time Sage Rountree tried yoga, she was underwhelmed.

Or maybe devastated and humbled would be a more apt description.

As a runner, Rountree – who has since become a respected yogi and a popular speaker, the author of six books on yoga, and an endurance-sports coach – assumed that the yoga class she’d observed through the gym door would be easy.

The first class she attended, though, was “devastatingly hard” and “so humbling,” she said on a recent Runner Academy podcast. After three classes, she gave up and didn’t try again for a few years. But that time, it clicked. Here’s one thing she learned:

“There is such a range of yoga practices available that I really want listeners to know that if they have a negative experience, as I did, in the first class or two, keep looking, because it’s just like running shoes – there’s so many different styles out there. … You have to keep trying until you find a teacher and a style that works for you.”

In other words: Keep an open mind, and don’t give up.

RGY_72dpi_400x500p_strokeThat is great advice for all areas of life, not just for finding the right yoga class. After all, Rountree is a published author, sells DVDs of her classes and gets invited to speak expertly about yoga on runner podcasts. Maybe she would have become a prominent and respected figure without yoga (after all, she has a PhD in English lit), but perseverance was, no doubt, a key ingredient in her success.

Many times I’ve looked back at situations where I’ve given up before seeing success, and I feel regret. This is especially true when the stakes are high – when success might have meant a change in my life for the better. Or maybe it simply would have been an opportunity to build confidence or endurance, or to set a positive example for someone else. Maybe it would have made the difference between kicking a bad habit or establishing a new one.

Interestingly, when Rountree tried yoga again a few years after the initial frustrating attempts, she encountered the same teacher she’d had when she called it quits. But this time she was in a different stage of life, and this was a different type of class. This time she was pregnant and tried a prenatal class, which she loved for its gentleness and camaraderie with the other moms-to-be. She persevered, and she discovered something wonderful.

As a fairly new practitioner, I’ve learned that key concepts in yoga are strength, balance and alignment. Many people associate yoga with flexibility, and that definitely is a component, but my local teacher gives the concept of strength a slight edge over flexibility. (In the podcast, Rountree addresses flexibility in relation to runners, specifically.)

Yoga can be a great complement to running and other endurance sports – not only physically but mentally – as well as living our best lives. Open-mindedness and perseverance are just a couple of the benefits we can gain from yoga. Here are six other ideas I took from the podcast:

It helps develop mental toughness (stepping outside our comfort zone).

Runner Academy’s host, Matt Johnson, asked Rountree how to help men get over the perception that yoga is for women.

As we know, men’s and women’s physiology is different, Rountree said.

“You just have to accept that your body is gonna work really differently … so male bodies are going to look pretty different going into the shapes [poses]. If you can accept that and be open, well, that’s one step toward good mental skill for your racing: accepting the things that you can’t change and instead coping with what’s happening right now in the moment.”

Real husbands try yoga. (Bruce tries some of the poses Marnie Davis showed us at a recent Roadrunners club meeting.)
Real husbands try yoga. (Bruce works on some of the poses Marnie Davis showed us at a recent White River Roadrunners club meeting.)

It underscores the importance of making changes when necessary.

In the interview, Rountree talks about incorporating yoga into a training routine with running. As a coach, she integrates different types of yoga with different stages of a running program, depending on the type of race and the length of the training cycle. (For instance, for a 16-week marathon-training program, the first few weeks might be fairly challenging, the middle moderately so, and the final two to four weeks will be gentle as the runner tapers in preparation for race day.)

In the 21st century, one thing that’s constant is change. Being able to adapt will serve us in many areas.

It reminds us to be gentle with ourselves when we need to.

The second time Rountree tried yoga (when it finally “clicked”) was when she was pregnant and took a prenatal class. It was a totally different experience (except for a part that had previously grossed her out: massaging one another’s feet – this time she loved it!), and the gentle class was what she needed at that time in her life.

We all go through phases, through cycles of life. We all have times when it’s OK (sometimes even necessary) to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and treat ourselves gently.

(And Rountree makes restorative yoga sound amazing and wonderful – “because it’s pretty much a guided nap!”)

It helps us embrace and appreciate our uniqueness.

Runners won’t necessarily need the same type of yoga poses (Rountree calls them shapes) that others do. Most runners will be less flexible on the mat, and that’s a good thing. We want our running muscles to power us through a race or a workout, not to become relaxed noodles. Too much flexibility can actually lead to injury.

Appreciate the ways God made you different. He did it for a reason!

It urges us not to neglect rest/sleep.

Rountree talked about these two ideas separately: rest as it relates to recovery from physical exercise, and sleep as the No. 1 ingredient in restoring all sorts of physical and mental functions.

Studies have been performed for years on the benefits of mental restoration and sleep. Do I really need to say more? 🙂

It encourages us to be mindful.

Mindfulness complements the idea of mental toughness.

Rountree offered “eight steps toward yoga, or union, or connection,” and I won’t list them all here. Listen to the podcast and appreciate the practical wisdom in them, whether you’re a runner or simply someone who’d like to develop a few mental and physical practices to make life better.

Namaste.

(Here’s the link to Runner Academy Episode 69, or you can listen to it in iTunes. It’s 53 minutes long and worth every minute.)

At the end of the podcast, Rountree mentions Yoga Vibes and provides a coupon code for a discount on her workouts there, and she refers to other resources that runners and others may be interested in. Give it a listen.

YOGA IN BATESVILLE

If you live in or near Batesville, Ark., I would love to introduce you to my yoga teacher, Marnie Davis. She’s awesome in so many ways, and you have no need to be embarrassed or intimidated in one of her classes. She welcomes men and women, young and old, of all shapes, sizes and ability levels. (Don’t worry; she will be gentle with you.)

This summer, Marnie is teaching a class at 6 p.m. on Mondays in the Pocket Park on Main Street (unless it rains). If you want more info from Marnie, leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch.

What are some of the benefits you see from yoga?

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Farm2Home 2015: Overview

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Farm2HomeLogoThis is the first in a series on Farm2Home 2015.
ArrivalAtMMF060215_lightened
I’m here!

I pulled up to Moss Mountain Farm on a sunny morning last week practically giddy with anticipation. I was going to get to:

  • Spend the day with 29 other Arkansas bloggers, most of whom I hadn’t seen since a retreat in September.
  • Meet lots of Arkansas growers and producers – the heroes of this event I was arriving for.
  • Spend the day with P. Allen Smith, whom I’ve long admired for his gardening expertise, design skills and reputation for Southern hospitality. He and his staff were the ones who pulled this day together (in conjunction with Arkansas Grown, Arkansas Made, Farm Credit and the Arkansas Agriculture Department) and invited us all to the farm.
  • Spend most of the day outdoors.
  • Wear a cute T-shirt. 🙂
JodiBeingInterviewed
Fellow blogger Jodi Coffee (in hat) being interviewed by P. Allen Smith staff. (They talked to all of us on camera.)

The event? Farm2Home 2015, which brings together bloggers and farmers for a day of networking, fellowshipping, eating (one of the best parts) and brainstorming.

And, boy, did we network, fellowship, eat and brainstorm.

In fact, I was so busy networking, fellowshipping and eating (sampling fermented jalapenos and cabbage, spiced pecans, elk and venison jerky, grass-fed beef, frozen fruit pops, popcorn laced with spice blends, you name it) that I missed the clanging of the bell calling us into the barn, where our host welcomed the bloggers to his farm and laid out the day.

Oops.

It’s not like me to be the one breaking schedule, ignoring protocol and being truant.

I guess I was having a little too much fun talking to the farmers, trying lotions, smelling soaps, chatting about the no-sugar-added jelly (delicious), seeing the twin baby goats, peppering the farmers with questions (“How do you process your sunflower oil?” “What gives the watermelon-scented soap its color?” “Did you design your own packaging?”) and having a generally fantastic morning in the sunshine to be aware of such trivial matters as clanging bells and schedules.

Just a few of the delicious-smelling soaps at Farm2Home 2015. I loaded up (= bought way too many).
Just a few of the delicious-smelling soaps at Farm2Home 2015. I loaded up (= bought way too many).

I came home with a bunch of loot.

Even so, I didn’t make it home with my bag of jellies. 🙁 (I only realized that sad fact as I was writing this.)

At Farm2Home, we chatted and sampled, took a “bio break” (visited the potty, for you city slickers), chatted some more, then went inside for a panel discussion with four of the farmers.

Yes, more chatting. (The panel discussions made up the aforementioned “brainstorming,” although the talk was heavy on education, enlightenment and empathy.)

GrowersPanel
Allen (left) and the bloggers listen to Mark Morgan, Beth DeSalvo, Jeffery Hall and Chuck McCool, aka the event’s Arkansas Grown panel.

What are the challenges of growing/distributing/marketing your crop or livestock? What do you want people to understand about what you do? Where do we go to learn more? How can we teach others?

We all know that, despite modern conveniences, farming still has a bucket-load of challenges, many of which are out of the farmers’ and ranchers’ control. (This season’s extremely wet weather springs to mind.) They have to concern themselves not only with the actual growing, harvesting and processing of their fare (plenty can go wrong there) but with government regulations, distribution, marketing, budgeting, lack of awareness, apathy, consumer education and a host of other areas that we can begin to grasp only by walking a mile in their muck boots.

This is where the bloggers came in: Our objective at Farm2Home was to understand small (as opposed to industrial) farming as best we could without actually driving up to one of their farms on a John Deere.

Not that we wouldn’t be welcomed if we did.

In fact, one of the panelists, Beth DeSalvo of Big D Ranch in Center Ridge, said she welcomes visitors who want to learn about ranching.

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More on Big D Ranch of Center Ridge in a future post.

How does she find time to show people around while also doing the work required to run a cattle ranch?

“You make time,” she said. Beth considers marketing and awareness-raising part of her job description. This is why she was on hand at Farm2Home.

The ranch is her family’s sole source of income, and when someone tells you that, you want to do everything you can to spread the word – to make sure that this fifth generation of ranchers won’t be the last in the family to live and serve and raise cattle on that ranch. To make sure it’s still around for the next five generations.

And you only know – and care this much – by listening to their stories.

As Beth and her daughter, Isabella, offered me samples of their delicious grass-fed beef, Beth told a bit of her family’s story before I had to move on. I’ve never ranched cattle (or anything, actually), so her story is compelling, and I’ll share it with you in a post later this month.

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Each blogger had a one-on-one photo shoot with Allen.

Amid all the chit-chatting, sample-chomping, lotion-rubbing, photo-opping and quote-tweeting, we managed to tour Allen’s house, eat lunch, sit down for a panel discussion with the “makers” (those who handcraft products out of their farms’ bounty) and tour the Moss Mountain Farm gardens (lots of them) and Poultryville. (More on Allen’s house and his interest in poultry in next week’s post).

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon discussion included a couple of women involved with alleviating hunger in Arkansas. I can’t wait to tell you about what I learned from them (also in a future post). As they explained the Arkansas Gleaning Project, I couldn’t help but think of the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz.

Hey, I’m jumping ahead. Be sure to tune in next week for more, but here’s a sneak peek.

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5 reasons to buy local

You’re helping your neighbors. Some farmers have an income outside of their crop or livestock, and some don’t. Either way, farming is a challenge.

You’re helping yourself. When your food dollar stays within your locality, you’re cutting out the middle man. It creates a ripple effect, which helps the bottom line of your city, your county and your state. That translates to savings for you.

It’s fresher and tastes better. There is nothing like having an omelet made with farm-fresh eggs and a little spinach, vine-ripened tomato and cheese from your neighbor’s dairy (or whatever fresh vegetables you can think of!). No Pop-Tarts for this gal!

It fosters a sense of community. The farmers market is full of folks just like you. I love visiting my local farmers market. I get to chat up the growers, sample delicious foods, maybe try something new, and sometimes even watch a demonstration (cooking, cheese making, rug-making, painting). Heck, last Saturday we were serenaded by two little girls singing karaoke. And I love knowing where my food comes from!

It helps cut down on fuel consumption and, thus, air pollution because the food has to travel fewer miles to get to your plate. It reduces our carbon footprint. Less pollution = happier lungs.

What are some reasons you can think of to buy local and/or organic? Leave a comment sharing your ideas.

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Next week: Farm2Home 2015 P. Allen Smith.

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Welcome to ‘To Well With You’!

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SubscribeNote_BlackTypeWelcome to my new website, To Well With You, an oasis on your journey to wellness. I’m so excited to be here!

I’ve talked here and here about what wellness is to me, and what wellness coaching is, and I’ve given you a little info on the start-here page about what to expect, so let me just recap what I envision for this space:

I’m here to come alongside as you travel on your journey to wellness. I’m not your boss – I’m your travel companion, someone who has, perhaps, been where you are now and knows the way to wellness, or at least has a pretty good roadmap.

On the other hand, I’m not perfect, and I don’t claim to have all the answers. My wellness-coaching business is one thing, and this blog is meant to complement that. I want this space, this blog, to be a collaboration. I’d love for it to be a community where we come together to share stories, struggles, successes, information, tips, best practices and encouragement to help one another along the journey.

Even if you never hire me to coach you privately (although I hope you will), that’s OK. I still hope that this blog will be a place you’ll come for answers … or just to be heard. I want it to feel like home.

This space is for you.

I envision To Well With You as a place where we share all sorts of information that will help us be the people God created us to be – to fulfill our mission and purpose on this earth. What gets posted, and discussed, on the site can run the gamut from a great way to tie your running shoes for your arch type to how to be content and spend less at Christmastime to sleep-enhancing technology reviewed by a source I trust.

I’ve created a resource page, but I’m still adding to it and tweaking here and there; feel free to visit, but understand that it’s still under construction (and make suggestions if you know of something important I left off).

Life is short; let’s make the most of it.

And let’s do it together.

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