Joy: A Vitamin That Comes From Within

In a refreshing change of pace just in time for the holidays, I took time to attend MplsSt.Paul Magazine’s Tastemakers event on December 9. #MSPTastemakers, an event held almost quarterly, brings together an unusual concoction of panelists for lively dialogue. You can rest assured at any Tastemakers event you’ll find creative cocktails, fine eats and inspiring off-the-cuff conversations prompted by MSP Magazine’s own Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, emcee and acclaimed food and wine writer.

Tastemakers Panel

Tastemakers Dara, Brenda, Cindy and Pilar

Past Tastemakers events from Finnegan’s to 45th Parallel and Tilia to Lucia’s typically revolve around the palate (the series is billed as lively discussions on juicy topics from our local food and drink community). Their recent event, #VitaminJoy, was about healthy lifestyle and a tasting of sorts — not a specific food or drink, but joy itself. It was a shot of reality offered up by three women who openly shared their insight, research and lifestyles surrounding the joy factor. Hint, it doesn’t come in a box nor from a store.

So many of us feel chronically overwhelmed and stressed. The holidays, meant to be a time of joyous celebration with friends and family, often add more pressure to the equation. So how can we experience joy? It’s not about attaining material things (we all know this, right?), but it’s about slowing down to actually enjoy and experience moments in our lives. Why is this so hard to do?

Panelists Brenda Langton, owner of Spoonriver and Mill City Farmers Market champion; Cindy Joseph, leader in the pro-age revolution and creator of Boom! product line; and Pilar Gerasimo, editor of Experience Life, Lifetime Fitness’ publication; offered us answers by giving the audience simple, attainable ideas for wellness framed in context with the obstacles society presents.

Avoid Toxic Carrots: Drink Agra Culture Juice

Avoid Toxic Carrots: Drink Agraculture Juice

Avoid Toxic Carrots
Pilar cited the toxic environments we’re all subjected to through constant media carrots like six-pack abs and Maserati’s dangling in front of us. Throughout the night, those two items became the tokens for material things we desire. If we can just get those things, we’ll feel better. We might not even care about the journey to get them. We’re just mindlessly doing. Pilar led us in a breathing exercise right then and there to return to mindfulness.

Love Your Veggies
Brenda cited a love affair with vegetables and how simply she’s learned to cook with and for her family. In teaching a three-series class once a year and coaching panicked people faced with forced diet changes due to poor health, she calmly acquaints them with beautiful, tasteful vegetables and gives them the skills to shop and share in the food prep and dining. She then posed the question, “Have we gone completely mad?” and answering with an emphatic, “Yes, you need to know how to cook!”

Recognize the Crazy
Dara jumped in with a statistic that reports 43% of Americans eat while in their car. At those numbers, if you’re not doing that, you’re already ahead of nearly half of the population — congrats! Surprisingly, when it comes to basic, human elements like eating, sleeping and exercise, we are not getting it right. We’re turning to miracle solutions and promises aimed at solving the symptoms, not treating the chronic disease or underlying conditions. If you want to be inspired to action, check out the app named RevoluntaryAct. I downloaded it months ago while reading my latest issue of Experience Life, but hadn’t used it yet. To give it context, I highly recommend reading the Manifesto behind its creation (my copy came in my swag bag) which flat out tells it like it is, “The Way Were Are Living is Crazy.”

Embrace Reality’s Fun Factor
Cindy Joseph then shared her compelling story from 63 years of perspective, 27 of those as a renown make-up artist for high fashion publications. After a job as a flaw-seeker and masker of what she saw as perfect creatures, she liked the reality behind the fantasy much more. At 49, she stopped dyeing and let her silver locks shine. Talk about aging gracefully and beautifully. Dolce & Gabbana even noticed and asked her to model for them. “There should be no fear, only fun,” she says, citing that it just makes sense that the longer we’re on the planet, the more experience and wisdom we have. Like the wisdom to only use one moisturizer for your whole body, which is the impetus for her creation Boom!

Revolutionary Swag Bag

Revolutionary Swag Bag

Collectively, they all talked about joy in many ways: how it’s distinctly different from happiness, which is a state of mind; and how it’s a pleasurable experience you actually need to slow down and enjoy because neurologically-cool things happen. Guilt, by the way, is present-time judging of past actions which you can avoid if you’re truly present in the moment at hand. With definition, context and role models, I can now go forth and enjoy not only the holiday season, but my life long-term. To paraphrase The Grinch who overcame his closed, joyless heart, “Maybe our joy, perhaps, doesn’t come from a store. Our joy, perhaps, mean a little bit more.”

— Wishing you all a joyous holiday season and a life filled with joy.