2018 was a wild ride. My priorities and goals were challenged – and changed. My sense of self as a woman, a professional, a feminist, and a mom was flipped on its head. It was a struggle. It was a blessing. It was spent in the weeds trying to find my way. Sometimes it felt like I was underwater trying to find the former pieces of myself in the murky depths of a new world. It was full of opportunities and forming stronger relationships with family and moving across the state and then the country and following my instincts and redefining myself.
On January 1st, 2018, I was setting professional goals around publishing my dissertation, doing yoga, and developing my homestead’s plan of action for the year (it was finally the year we were going to get pigs). In 2017, I had started a new job, had a baby, and got my PhD so I knew 2018 was going to be full of firsts and unknowns – but I had no idea how unknown!
Early 2018 – We assumed life would go on like normal. Parent our gorgeous baby boy. Homestead in Central Ohio. Get really good at the working mom life. Work at my fancy new job.
Spring 2018 – Life got really really hard. Being a working mom is HARD. Like hard in a way you can’t help others understand if you aren’t in the weeds of it. I was sleep-deprived because my son wasn’t even pretend sleeping through the night. I cried on my way to work in traffic feeling literally stuck and just so tired.
Oh, we also started a mobile wood-fired pizza business! Yum!
Summer 2018 – My partner has an amazing job and it became obvious that was less and less financially needed for me to work full-time. Considering becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t even on my radar before this and sounded ridiculous at first. I wouldn’t even discuss it for a few weeks. But I was so tired and burnt out. I felt like I was chasing a carrot that was getting further and further away. One of the hardest decisions I’ve made was to step away from my job. I can quite literally say I NEVER considered that I would be a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn’t even use the phrase when I left my job. I told people I worked at home (which was also true). We then moved to a different part of the state to fix up a house that would become a rental in a college town and be closer to my partner’s family.
This summer was truly a time of reflection, struggle, and grappling with my sense of identity. I wasn’t happy working. I wasn’t really happy staying at home full-time (as I was trying to do it then). I truly felt lost. But, interestingly enough, not as a parent. Never as a parent. I try really hard to be the best that I can be for my little guy and I know I’m good at it. While I wasn’t happy just staying at home with my little guy, I also cherished all of the time I had with him to watch him grow and change every day. It was all the other pressures and soul searching that was causing my mental strife.
Somewhere there’s a screenshot of a page of a book that I read (but I don’t know where that screenshot is or what it was from because, well, see above and below) that perfectly defined where I have been at for the summer and fall of 2018. Basically, when your life has been defined by your identity as a professional and then you remove those definitions, where are you left? My decisions, actions, and values were buried deep in my belief that I was a strong, intelligent working woman who was destined to climb corporate ladders and make change in the world. I wrote, presented, pursed a PhD, and interacted with the world from that frame of reference. I made parenting decisions from that lens. I decided that I would eat, what volunteer activities I would pursue, and how I would spend my free time based on that identity.
Picture your identity as the walls to your house. My walls were already shaking and crumbling a bit in early 2018. I wrote about it here…But once I made that decision to leave my professional working identity behind and take on the responsibility of full-time parenting my little guy during the day, I didn’t realize that I had just set a match to those walls. That my sense of self was now floating around without a strong backbone and goals to bounce off of and move forward. By leaving the professional identity I relied so heavily on, I felt lost, helpless, and inconsequential in lack of goals and loss of self.
This all sounds so dramatic. And it is. But I also know I’m not the only person who has lost their sense of identity and then had to rediscover and redefine who they are. It’s almost like meeting yourself all over again. Figuring out who you are without your boss, corporate policy, and norms in your professional field telling you. People who retire face a similar situation.
LP also turned 1. We moved our homestead north (including bees, chickens, and goats!). Helped a bestie with her wedding. Traveled. And made lots of pizza.
To be clear, I don’t regret my decision to leave my job and the full-time working world. It’s been about 6 months and I have come through to the other end of the tunnel to fully embrace this opportunity and privilege. To full-time parent my son. To get to know myself not as a student affairs or health education professional. To explore what makes me curious and truly identify what drives my soul for 2019 (more on that in the next post!).
Let’s also be clear on one more aspect of my life – it is truly a life of privilege. And not privilege like luck or financial comfort. But privilege with a capital P. My economic, racial, and academic status all intersect to make me a “good mom” staying at home to raise my son. My soul-searching problems are nothing like the ones of single moms raising kids and working 1 – 3 jobs. Or couples raising their family and living paycheck-to-paycheck. They are truly #firstworldprobs.
So let’s move on to now…
Fall 2018 – We get the opportunity to move to Florida. We almost say no. But we decided to dive into a new adventure and say yes. And thank goodness for all the work I’ve done on myself this year because it has developed the strength I needed to fully embrace this new life. My anxiety is at an all-time low. My priorities outside of being a mom have shifted, been redefined, and I’ve created an actual plan to track my progress. And I’ve slowed down. Way down. I’m also working real hard to make new friends down here and we all know that feels SO hard as an adult. More on that later as well…
Winter 2018 – We are settling in down in the Sunshine State. I’m working very part-time for an academic coaching and editing firm. I’m writing Realistically Aspirational and a bit of freelance. I also found a part-time daycare so I can have a break once a week and focus on my work and goals. I’m baking. I do yoga. I’m searching for a right fit for a volunteer opportunity. Life is good.
I’ve experienced a couple of truly life-defining hard years in my past. I’ve always had some really hard challenges professionally and personally. I won’t say that this year has been the hardest in terms of life challenges, because, let’s face it, I was able to walk away from a huge stresser in my life (my professional job) at a time I was feeling one traffic jam away from a breakdown, but, this one has been hard in the sense of it’s the first time I’ve truly embraced my emotional journey. I dived into my anxiety, emotions, and struggle and worked through it to find an actual outcome that eases my heart, fulfills my spirit, and makes me brave. I’ve survived those other hard years and challenges by being a rock star with my achievements, fulfilling others’ expectations of me, and focusing on survival. This year, I learned how to thrive. How to sit with my discomfort (even when it makes others uncomfortable which as a people-pleaser is SO HARD).
2018 offered up an opportunity to be bold and brave and to trust myself and the journey. While this post reads more like a journal entry and is vague and filtered, I hope you connect with the message…Trust yourself.
Push yourself to get to know yourself outside of your current parameters. Do something just for you. And be brave for yourself when you need to. Toss off society’s (and your friends’ and your family’s and your professional) expectations of you when you can and run like you are on fire towards your best life at every possible chance. Those may feel limited now but you never know what the future may hold…
From coast to coast, people are getting excited about mezcal, the smokier alternative to tequila. Enjoyed by itself or mixed into a cocktail, this agave-based alcohol has become extremely popular in the past few years. Since tequila is considered to be a type of mezcal, you’ve most likely already experienced this flavorful drink in one way or another. From how it’s made to how it’s served, mezcal is a versatile distilled alcohol that is easy to enjoy. Keep reading to learn more about this unique spirit!
What is Mezcal?
Originally made in Mexico, mezcal is the official name for any agave-based liquor with an alcohol content ranging from 40 to 55 percent. Mezcal is made in only nine specific regions of Mexico, including Oaxaca, Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Michoaca and Zacatecas.
Mezcal vs. Tequila
As the saying goes, “All tequilas are mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequila.” While both share similar qualities, they also have several differences that make them easy to tell them apart! Differences include the type of agave each drink is made with and what region they are produced in.
Tequila is made using only blue agave, a succulent which takes about eight years to mature. Quality tequila has a smooth, subtle taste.
Almost all tequila is produced mostly in Jalisco and in smaller designated areas of four other Mexican states, including Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
Mezcal can be made from a variety of agave plants, including Blue Agave. Espadín is the most common type of agave used in mezcal production. It is known for its signature smokey flavor, and tends to be sweeter than tequila.
Mezcal is primarily produced in Oaxaca, though it is also made in Puebla, Durango, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas and Tamaulipas.
Types of Agave Used in Mezcal
Mezcal can be made using either one type of agave or a combination of different types, as long as the blend is 100% pure agave with no added fillers. The flavor is described as smoky, sweet and earthy depending on the agave used. The varieties of agave that are used the most for mezcal are:
Espadín: This type of agave is used in 90% of mezcal varieties. Since it’s closely related to blue agave, mezcal made with Espadín tastes very similar to tequila.
Tobalá: Due to its small size and long growing period (12-15 years), this agave is considered to be very rare. Mezcal made with Tobalá is known for its light, floral and sweet taste.
Tepeztate: Considered a wild agave, this plant can be found hanging off mountain cliffs and nestled in rocky soil. The taste of mezcal made with Tepeztate is said to be earthy and herbal.
Tobaziche: This agave plant can look and taste very different depending on where it is grown. It’s often harvested wild and is easily recognized by its savory flavor.
Arroqueño: While most agaves used for mezcal are found in Mexico, this plant has started popping up all over the United States. The flavor is described as floral, but can also have a spicy, bitter note.
How to Make Mezcal
It takes time and patience to create the perfect batch of mezcal. The craftsmen who make mezcal are known as Maestro Mezcaleros—a term used as a sign of respect due to the delicate process of making mezcal.
Although the production is similar to making wine, making mezcal takes more time and practice. Grapes can be harvested every year, but many types of agave plants take years to mature.
When it comes to the mezcal process, it’s the simple ingredients that make it so special. The piñas, also known as the heart of the agave plants, are cooked in an in-ground pit, crushed, mixed with water and left to ferment. It’s the process, rarity and age of the plant that make mezcal such a treasure.
How to Enjoy Mezcal
According to experienced mezcal drinkers, the agave drink is made to be sipped. It’s typically served in a small shot glass and slowly enjoyed. It can be served at room-temperature or chilled and garnished with a lime wedge or an orange slice.
In a cocktail
The smoky aroma of mezcal pairs perfectly with a number of flavors, especially those that typically go well with tequila. Use tangy juices such as pineapple or lime to shake up your tastebuds with only a few ingredients, or dress up a simple serving of mezcal with fresh fruit like raspberries.
Mezcal Drink Recipes
Mezcal is a great substitute for tequila and other liquors in a cocktail. Daiquiris and negronis are just a few of the traditional cocktails getting upgraded with mezcal. Here are fun drink recipes to help you find some inspiration before creating your own mezcal cocktail!
Grilled Pineapple Margarita
Amp up the savoriness of your favorite cocktail with a splash of mezcal and a grilled pineapple. This tangy margarita is the perfect combination of fruit and spice!
-1 part mezcal
-2 parts pineapple juice
-Chili lime seasoning
Basil Cranberry Julep
Enjoy a delicious spin on a classic julep by combining some basil, a splash of cranberry juice and mezcal. The tart fruit flavor and smokiness is perfect for sipping and enjoying slowly.
-1 part mezcal
-1 part cranberry juice
-Basil for garnish
Tip: Muddle the basil before adding the other ingredients for added flavor.
Mezcal Mai Tai
Add a unique spin to your favorite tropical drink with the addition of mezcal. Don’t forget to slip in a colorful mini umbrella!
-1 part mezcal
-1 part rum
-2 parts pineapple juice
-1 part cherry juice
Enjoy a twist on this refreshing cocktail by swapping out the vodka for mezcal. Mint, combined with lime and ginger ale, are the perfect additions to this flavorful drink.
-1 part mezcal
-3 parts ginger beer
-Splash of lime juice
The next time you’re in the mood to stray from your usual drink order, ask for a glass of mezcal! This agave-flavored alcohol is perfect to sip from shot glasses during a night in at home with friends or mixed into a refreshing drink on a night on the town. You can find your new favorite type based on whether you prefer smoky or sweet. With over 30 types of agave, there are so many options to see and sip!
See original post here. What is your favorite drink?
healthy meals are my Nemesis Being a mompreneur to three kids while running this little business doesn’t always leave me much time to focus on healthy eating or eating in general LOL. Between the summer hustle of playdates and sports commitments I honestly haven’t had that overabundance of time I thought I’d have to start eating […]