Interview with Tara Wagner, The Organic Sister

In the past few years, I’ve had the honor of connecting with some amazing women that have really changed the way I relate to the world.  I’ve examined fears, created vision statements about how I want to live, and acted and made decisions from these visions.  Supporting me through this time of intense growth and change has been a network of strong and vibrant women.

Today, I am excited to launch a series of interviews in which I connect with some of these inspiring women.  They are mothers, partners, friends, teachers, homesteaders, business owners, artists, and visionaries.

To kick things off, I am thrilled to share my interview with Tara Wagner, The Organic Sister (who I have blogged about here).  Tara’s blog and coaching practice is about THRIVING and being Organic.  In Tara’s words, “that is to say, organically moving in all you do from that place deep within yourself, that wisdom you inherently have about Who You Are and what you’re about and what that gets to look like for you.” 

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 Welcome Tara!

Can you tell Homestead Honey readers a bit about your life and business?

I’m a mama of a teen son, Zeb, and a partner to Justin. We travel the US in an RV powered by solar and waste veggie oil. We got started a few years back when my husband’s layoff inspired us to take the challenge of being laid off as an opportunity to explore, have fun, and eventually find a new home. Three years later we’re still not sure where that new home might be. 🙂

My son has been learning without school since 2006, which was one of the best decisions of our life and helped us to question things in our life that we took for granted as “shoulds” or “musts” and helped us to make some wonderfully unconventionally choices (like full-time travel) and find the things we now love to do (like my husband’s passion for juggling).

I began coaching shortly after we hit the road to help other women find the same ability to thrive on their own terms, despite the “conventional wisdom” or pressure to settle. I developed my process of Digging Deep, which helps us to overcome any obstacles, create stronger connections and relationships with ourselves,our families, and others, and have been using it to inspire women to recreate their lives according to their own values and own unique dreams.

Now I work with some incredible clients as well as sistahs in the Organic Tribe, and absolutely love what I do (well, when the technology agrees with me – then I bang my head on the desk until my husband comes and insists we take a walk).

Tell us how you create home while traveling on the road full-time.

We purchased our current RV very mindfully. Our first was very small (since this whole “travel thing” wasn’t suppose to last that long anyway!) so when we made the choice to stay on the road we sought out something that we really felt at home in and could see ourselves in for the long-term and then set about to make it feel like ours.

I’ve spent a lot of my life “settling” for less-than-inspiring things out of a sense that it was wasteful or pointless. But as I did a lot of healing of my own spirit, I quite clearly knew that I needed to reflect that inner environment in my external environment.

Most RVs tend to be tan and beige, but we painted our walls, hung art and photos and brought in things that we love to see. For me that’s perched birds, and bright colors, and lots of pillows (I don’t have nearly enough pillows). We hang pretty lights and prayer flags outside our RV, and I’m working on starting a small garden for baby greens (I do miss my garden!).

And we work to create lots of downtime together. Traveling can be stressful and un-grounding without a lot of time to relax or center ourselves. For us that usually looks like games at the table or movie nights together. (For being full-time nomads, we really are home-bodies. 🙂

I love (and totally relate to) this quote from your website: “I’m one part pragmatic, one part woo-woo and I like the balance that strikes.”  I’d love to hear more about how this plays out in your life. 

Ha ha! Sometimes it plays out quite messy. My practical side will tell me I look like a weirdo when I walk into the ocean crying. My inner woo-woo will keep crying about how powerful the pull is. The pragmatic will insist on results and proof, and How-in-the-world-do-you-expect-me-to-sit-here-and-Omm-myself-into-not-thinking, and…well, my inner woo-woo will usually agree with that one.

Sometimes my pragmatic side takes over completely and I’m left feeling very disconnected from Life and Earth and Spirit while I run through To Do lists, and marketing goals. Other times I fall so deeply into that energy that I get funny looks as I try to talk about present moment energy and the inherent perfection hiding behind the collective dream of life. 🙂

But usually it’s a balance of deep breaths and reminders on a tough day when I feel like I’ve fallen back asleep that I am exactly where I’m meant to be. It’s being radically authentic with my values because my spirit can only sing when I allow it to speak out. It’s looking at the piles of clothes and dishes and reminding myself that Life happens FOR us, not to us, and that the experience of that is the very thing I signed up for in this world. It’s putting kindness into action steps and taking big, giant values and principles and theories and breaking them down into the “How do I do this? What does it look like?” process that helps me take it out of the brain cell stage and set it into motion in my choices as a mother, or a partner, or a coach, or a friend.

You have so many “irons in the fire” – The Organic Sister, Sustainable Baby Steps, Conscious Caravan, for instance, in addition to being a wife and mother. How do you balance all of these elements in your life?

Whenever anyone asks how I do it all, I tell them I don’t. I have a system of support around me and I’ve learned how to lean into it. My husband is the biggest part of that. He’s a stay-at-home dad when he’s not juggling, so he does much of the cooking and cleaning and planning our travels. He also keeps me balanced by reminding me to shut things down and go for a walk or realign myself with my values and priorities if I let myself slip into the gotta-do-it-all mentality I used to struggle with constantly.

I also have a Virtual Assistant, Jennie, who is awesome in helping out with The Organic Sister and Sustainable Baby Steps, and even Justin’s juggling website (OddballJuggling.com). She’s a huge supporter of what I do, and helps me keep things rolling along without forgetting any of the small stuff. I love her to pieces.

The Conscious Caravan is a group of families we travel with, and although there was some extra work there initially to coordinate and meet the needs of a group, we let go trying to make it work according to our expectations and we just meet our needs as a family. They’ve also provided us a lot of support in meal sharing, kids for our son to connect with, and friendship around a campfire, which re-energizes us.

And then we prioritize. We ask ourselves what matters most – and it’s always our fulfillment as a family and as individuals. So we do the things we love first, like play games or juggle or do only the work we love, and that gives us the energy to do the rest more effectively and enjoyably.

And we’ve let go of a lot of things that don’t hold value for us – like really, how often do the sheets and towels really need to be washed? And how could we better spend that time

What’s coming up next for you?

Holy moly, sistah. I usually don’t even know where I’ll be next week! Personally, I’m moving through a space of deeper self-care and finding the right nutrition needs of my body. I’m also delving into being the parent of a teenager (equal parts awesome and bewildering) and what that looks like for us as his needs change.

For as far as I can see our family be traveling for a while longer. We’ve talked about settling down within the next year but the question of where is still unanswered. And as we go I intend to continue growing the Tribe, and have several awesome new toolkits I’m creating, including the Organic Parenting e-course coming in September.

For there, we’ll just have to see where the roads take us. 🙂

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Thank you, Tara!

You can learn more about Tara’s coaching practice and philosophy on her website www.theorganicsister.com.  And here is some exciting information: Tara is offering a discounted rate for her Organic Tribe program through August 31st.  The Organic Tribe is an annual membership for women looking to gain the support, coaching and tools to overcome their barriers, and create a thriving home, life, and passion.  I am a member and I love it!

The Organic Sister

* this is an affiliate link, which means that I receive a discount of sales if you click through my blog.

Home again, home again

We’re home.  After three weeks of travel via planes, cars, subways, trains, and swan boats.  Home after visiting family, old friends, and new friends.  Home after swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, watching a thunderstorm roll in, sleeping on the Amtrak, witnessing a marriage ceremony.  Home to a garden that is about to burst, piles of “things to do” and the most gorgeous weather imaginable.

No trip to Boston is complete without a ride on the Swan Boats in the Public Garden!

Ev and Ella with Quack, Pack, Ouack, and Mack.

Four generations of women in my family. Grandma Barbara, Ella, my Nonni Antonetta, and me. This photo was taken on Nonni’s 92nd birthday!

Northeast Missouri has the most incredible skies and breezes that dry cloth diapers in mere hours!

Ella and Bella, a 25 year old Percheron, and the work horse of our dear friends in MO.

And this, my friends, is the site of our future shop/temporary home on our very own piece of land in Northeast Missouri.  Yes, we will soon be leaving our beloved home here in Oregon for new adventures in the Midwest.  I look forward to sharing these adventures with you in the very near future.

Wishing you a beautiful day!

Teri

Naturally Fermented Pickles and Sauerkraut

We have been inspired for years by “fermentation revivalist” Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, and most recently, The Art of Fermentation (shameless bragging here: my husband’s hand-built brick bread oven is pictured in The Art of Fermentation!)  Way back in 2000, my husband came across a small fermentation zine written by Sandor.  That zine launched Brian into full-scale fermentation mode for a number of years.  I can’t even count the number of strange fermented foods that resided in my fridge and on my table for a time. While we have not continued to ferment with such wild abandon, there are a number of fermented foods that continue to play a regular part in our lives: sourdough bread, homemade wine, goat cheeses, salami, sauerkraut, and pickles.

When you grow cabbages as big as this one, what can you possibly do but turn them into delicious and nutritious sauerkraut? 

Naturally fermented, or lacto-fermented sauerkraut is one of the simplest fermented foods you can make.  By packing cabbage and sea salt into a crock and letting it ferment naturally, you can preserve your homegrown vegetables, retaining vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in the process.  Naturally fermented sauerkraut is a living, raw food, laden with probiotics, so it is great for your digestive system.  Plus it tastes amazing. Seriously – it’s the best sauerkraut you will ever eat.

The essence of the recipe is this: slice up some cabbage; for every 5 lbs of sliced cabbage, sprinkle 3 tbsp. of salt over the top.  Mix it up, pack it tightly in a glass jar or ceramic crock, and let the wild fermentation begin!  If you’d like to follow a more detailed plan, the Wild Fermentation website has a great recipe.

After living with my fermentation-obsessed husband for many years, I have picked up some fermenting skills of my own, and I’m proud to say that I am the resident pickle maker in this home.  I love creating new blends of spice and flavor for each batch. This particular blend includes black peppercorns, lots of garlic (about 3 cloves per quart jar), coriander, dried red hot peppers, some fresh dill, and a grape leaf to keep things crisp).

If I have smaller cucumbers, I like to keep them whole in the jars.  But you can also cut them into spears, or bread-and-butter style.  Simply add your garlic and spices to the jar, arrange the cucumbers, and cover completely with brine. The brine is the essential part, so you do need to get this part right: to make one gallon of brine, dissolve 3/4 cup of salt in one gallon of water.

I like to leave my pickles on the counter, with a lid slightly ajar.  Each day I tighten the lid, turn the jar over to make sure all of the cukes are moistened with the salt brine, and then return them back to their original position.  After a few days, you will begin to see small fizzy bubbles form in the jar, as fermentation begins.  After a week or so, I sample a pickle to see if it’s reached my desired level of sour flavor, then pop the jars in the fridge for storage.  They will keep for months, but trust me, they will not last that long!

If you’d like to learn more about lactic-acid fermentation, I highly recommend Sandor’s books Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.  And do listen to him on NPR’s Fresh Air (part one and part two), as he is as articulate and inspiring as someone can possibly be about a pickle.

Now go on and ferment!

My 10 Favorite Parenting Resources

As the mama of two young children, I spend a lot of time reading, talking, and thinking about parenting. I’m always so excited to read a book or a blog that guides me towards new ways of parenting peacefully and unconditionally.  I would love to share a short list of some of my favorite parenting resources.

Websites and Blogs:

Books:

  • Naomi Aldort,  Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
  • Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting
  • Pam Leo, Connection Parenting
  • Lawrence J. Cohen, Playful Parenting
  • Anything by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, etc.)

What are some of your favorite parenting resources?

In the Garden :: 8.2.12

The most amazing cabbage I have ever grown!  I get my cabbage seed from High Mowing Seeds, an organic seed company based in Northeast Vermont.

These raspberries are good enough to just stare at all day! (Thanks DRG, for the fabulous photos!)

The greenhouse is taking off: cukes, carrots, basil, kale, peppers, tomatoes (we ate our first ripe slicers last week!), and check out those huge tomatillo plants in the back right!

One of my new favorite photos, Instagrammed by my fabulous sister-in-law.

Two hoses makes for two happy children.  (And yes, my son is always pant-less.  We practice Elimination Communication around here, and nudity is a big part of our success!)
So, what is growing in your garden these days?