Everyone Lost Their Sh*t at Alt Summit

I’m back from my third year at Alt Summit (that’s short for Altitude Summit) – a conference that attracts hundreds (this year it seemed like a thousand) design bloggers and creative entrepreneurs from all over the world. The themes that typically course through the hallways and conference rooms of Alt Summit are as follows: be your most authentic self, make connections, keep it real, say no, say yes, do more, and dream big. They all seem like total cliches unless you’re actually there – then you really do become inspired to do more and dream big.

But in my recap I want to talk about all the things I, and others, lost their shit over at Alt Summit.

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1. A few people lost their shit over the fact that I packed just one small backpack for the entire event. Yup. In an attempt to attain a minimalist lifestyle I decided to pack three outfits and one pair of boots to Alt Summit – all of which would fit in one small backpack.

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2. Everyone lost their shit. Literally. Two days in and I wasn’t feeling well. at all. And the fact that the bathrooms in the super fancy Grand America smelled like Nepal made me think everyone else wasn’t feeling too hot either. My guts were audibly rumbling and tumbling inside my body the whole time. Was it something I ate? Was it the altitude? It was a total mystery until my friend Claire shared this rumor that at conferences they sprinkle this chemical over your food that acts as a laxative. Apparently, they do it to avoid food poisoning in case any of the food they’re serving is bad. I believe it.

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3. Everyone lost their shit over each other. The best part of Alt Summit is seeing all your old online buddies and making new ones. And then hitting up all the photobooths with each other. I met some super amazing and inspiring ladies this year – too many to list but I’ll be sure to share throughout the year.

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4. I lost my shit over The Equals Record (Offline) Magazine. I became smitten with Miya and Elisabeth at Alt Summit last year. Shortly thereafter they turned a big dream into a reality and started an online space for women to really dig in, explore, and share the complex stories of careers, life, relationships, and culture. Well, this year they launched a sneak peek of the Equals Record quarterly print magazine and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I flipped through the pages immediately but decided to savor each and every word on the plane ride home.

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5. We all lost our shit over Stefan Sagmeister. I’ve had a long time design crush on Stefan Sagmeister – so when I saw him appear on the Alt schedule as a key note speaker I became consumed with excitement. I saw him speak years ago at my alma mater and was really looking forward to seeing him speak again. I’m going to write more about everything I learned from his talk (that had EVERYONE captivated) over at the Braid Blog tomorrow. After his keynote I wanted to say hi and maybe get a photo but I chickened out (and my stomach wouldn’t stop flipping over on itself). So when I spotted him at the mini parties that evening I knew it was going to be my only chance. I approached him and said “I saw you speak years ago at OU. I have a huge design crush on you – you’re work means so much to me. I was too shy to get a photo then. Can I get one now?” He obliged but only if he could give me a kiss too. DONE.

Were you at Alt Summit this year? What do you lose your shit over? 

A Wes Anderson Juice Cleanse

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My friend / client / witch-doctor Claire recently hosted a cleansing workshop / 1-day juice cleanse. Now, I tried a 3-day juice fast in the Fall and only made it 1-day before the caffeine withdrawals became too intense and I threw in the towel for a cup of coffee and some sweet potato hash browns.

So Claire promised me if I would try again she would hold my hand through the whole thing by coming over and watching Wes Anderson movies with me all day. My rad ass employee, Kristin, thought that sounded like a good time and came over with her collection of Wes Anderson DVDs. And Jeremy is always along for the ride. So the four of us made an epic fort in my living room (complete with mosquito netting), sipped on juice and watched Wes Anderson movies all day long.

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This was our fort / massive palette and where we hunkered down all day. Amazing, right? 

We carefully paired our juices with the color palettes of the movies. We all began feeling pretty superior in our decision to not eat any solid food for the day. But around 1PM we all started feeling a little antsy and had a hard time watching anyone eat anything at any point in time.

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Around 6PM we took a break to go do a Yin yoga class taught by Claire. It was a beautiful distraction from all the not eating we had been doing that day. Our last “juice” for the evening was a veggie potassium broth that we heated up and ate with a spoon.

If you know me in real life you have probably heard me describe myself as an eater – so the one day cleanse was pretty much all I could tolerate. It was a great way to detox, hydrate and flood all the cells in my body with all the good enzymes juice has to offer. I surprisingly woke up the next morning feeling like I could go another day on juice. But I’m not going to lie – I was beyond happy to break my fast with some good ol’ breakfast.  I was so immensely grateful for every single bite, chew and swallow.

So here’s where I’ve got to give a shout-out to Claire and her Vidya juice cleanse. If you’re local to OKC Claire can provide fresh cold-pressed juices for 1-day, 3-day or 5-day cleanse programs. She also hooks you up with loads of knowledge, supplements, and tea. If you’re not local and have your own juicer you can hire Claire to coach you through a cleanse. She begins with a consultation, either in person or over the phone depending on your location, to discuss your health history, goals, and needs to craft a special juice-based cleansing plan for you. She provides all the steps, recipes, shopping lists, body care practices, and food plans to help you transition in and out of your cleanse. She’s also available the whole time by phone, email and Skype for support, accountability and questions. Her coaching offering is $200.

You can email Claire at claire@vidyacleanse.com for more info. – you can also sign up for her newsletter at www.vidyacleanse.com (which will soon be a full functioning site with a blog, recipes, etc.)

Dislcaimer: while Claire is a client of mine, she did not pay me for a feature here – all of my glowing opinions and recommendations are my own.  All Vidya juice images are by the ever talented Greer Inez

Anatomy of an Outfit: I Wanna Be Sedated

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So apparently you guys are interested in my super limited wardrobe. And with that you’ve inspired me to share what I’m wearing more often.

The Ben Sherman Jacket
I  paid full price for this jacket while my sister and I were on a business trip in Lawrence, Kansas. We had just launched Braid and I just knew this jacket would be the perfect compliment for my new business woman badass self. It was worth every penny.
I donated about three or four nine-to-five business jackets (and matching skirts) from my past life. 

The Ramones T-Shirt
In the seven years I’ve had this shirt I’ve been tempted to get rid of it at least a dozen times. My ex-husband owns a record store and he would get these bizarre shipments of band t-shirts from Kazakhstan. This Ramones t-shirt was in the mix. It’s ill-fitting, a bit too wide in the shoulders and a bit narrow around the hips, but something about it makes the cut every time I go through a closet purge.
I donated all my other band T-shirts. Even the ones that held sentimental value. Even the hand-printed Shins t-shirt I got from a show they played in a basement with an audience of 10 people. I don’t miss them and my memories of those concerts are still just as special and intact. 

The Belt 
I hijacked this belt from Jeremy. It’s the perfect orange-y brown color and goes perfectly with all my black boots.
I donated all my wide waist belts from Forever 21 that I thought were so cute … when I was 21. 

The SkarGorn Jeans 
Yup. These are still the same raw denim jeans I’m wearing for six months straight.
I donated at least 6 pairs of expensive designer denim jeans that I never wear but hung on to because they were so expensive once upon a time. They were worthless in my wardrobe because I never wore them.

The Frye Engineer Boots
They make me feel tough. And like I should own a Triumph motorcycle.
I think I’ll probably keep these boots forever.

The Hair
It makes people curious – which I love. If you guys have questions leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.

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Day 17: Back to Krakow

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There’s something about travel … where when you go back to a place you’ve been before it every so slightly feels a bit like home.

We were scheduled to do just a little bit more trekking on our last day in the High Tatras on the Polish side. Even with a full day of rest the day before, my beat up knees weren’t going to have it. So as we walked out of the Morski Oko area I told our guide that I was going to have to catch a shuttle back to Zakopane, that I would just meet up with the rest of the group there. He was very resistant to let me go (he’s a younger by-the-book kind of guide) – but I knew my knees couldn’t take another step down off a craggily rock. He agreed to let me go only if someone would come with me. I didn’t want to cut Jeremy’s trek short but obviously he stepped up to escort me out of the mountains.

Together we took a bus back to Zakopane. We retrieved our larger backpacks from the hotel we left them at and grabbed a cup of glorious coffee. Together Jeremy and I made a list of everything that hurt.

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Things That Hurt on Kathleen: 
• heel blisters • side of left knee (consistent) • side of right knee (stabbing pain on descents only) • right shoulder (from bearing weight on walking sticks) • left heel bone • right big toe • left hip • chapped lips • bruised ego

Things That Hurt on Jeremy: 
• upper back (from backpack) • knuckle • headache • chapped runny nose • eyes • elbow • right hip • swollen hands and fingers • calves • achy knees • shin splints • achilles tendon (both feet) • side ankle (left foot) • big toes • balls of feet • butt (that thing where you have a hard time “going” on vacation)

We also made a list of gear we need: 
• Rain jacket for Kathleen • New boots for Kathleen • 50L backpack for Kathleen (my backpack is tiny) • Rain gear for backpacks • Walking sticks

Clearly we weren’t entirely prepared, mentally or physically, for how hard this trek would be. I underestimated the physicality of it when I saw that we would be staying at relatively low altitude. I also had no idea how cold it would be for the middle of the summer (the photos online showed people enjoying the sun and trekking in shorts) – we were caught in freezing rain and high winds many a time.  It was then that I told Jeremy we need more oceans and beaches in our lives. As of right now we have three weeks of beachy goodness planned for the first part of our summer in 2013. 

After about two hours of hanging out in a coffee shop the rest of our group caught up with us. We took another shuttle into Krakow and from there a train to our hotel located a couple miles outside of the city center. We showered, Jeremy had a traumatic poop, and we met up with the rest of our group for a guided tour of Krakow and a farewell dinner.

I was happy to be out of the mountains and back in a familiar city that I was growing increasingly fond of.

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Jeremy and I decided to spend a few more days in Krakow before making our journey back home to the middle of the States.

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How (and why) I Quit Coffee

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Spoiler alert: by drinking lots of tea. 

MY HISTORY WITH COFFEE
I’ve been trying to remember when my love affair with coffee began. Neither of my parents were coffee drinkers when I was a kid (we were more Coca-Cola people) – so coffee wasn’t a familiar thing I grew up around. I think it was in highschool. My best friend’s mom was a nurse who worked the night shift and kept a large pot brewing at all hours of the day. But she also kept pints of Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream in the fridge. I knew I liked the smell of coffee but I didn’t like the taste so much until you loaded it up with cream, sugar and transformed it into a desert.

Then I went through a phase in highschool where I would hang out at The Kettle – a 24-hour truck-stop style diner – with all of my brother’s trench-coat-wallet-chain-wearing friends. They would chain smoke clove cigarettes and drink black coffee until 4AM. In order to not be the kid sister falling asleep in the booth I ordered coffee. And of course, I loaded it up with packets of tiny plastic tubs of creamer and sugar.

In college I would frequent a local French bakery after my art history class with a few friends. We would order mocha lattes (with banana syrup) and bagels. I also continued my love affair with coffee ice cream when Starbucks came out with their own line of frozen goodies. I would eat tubs of the stuff while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It wasn’t until I got my first job out of college that I understood the need and delight that a simple Americano, with cream and no sugar, could bring. Jeremy and I eventually got our very own French press and started grinding our own beans. Every morning we would enjoy two cups of coffee with breakfast while we read our RSS feeds and watched the sun wake up. Life was good.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END
About 3 or 4 months ago I was hired by my now friend Claire to do some branding for her brand new juice cleanse company. And because I love supporting my clients, and because I’m somewhat of a masochist, I decided to try a guided 3-day cleanse. So the day before the cleanse I ate as much as possible and had not just two cups of coffee but four.

The morning of the cleanse I was feeling pretty self-righteous about spending the next three days flooding my cells with green juice goodness. And then around 11AM the headache began. At 3PM we went and saw Finding Nemo in 3D with our nephews and I thought I might die. I’ve blocked the rest of the day from my memory.

But I do remember waking up the next morning feeling like I was quite literally dying. I looked at Jeremy and he looked like he was in some pretty serious pain too. Now, I’ve never tried heroine but I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in Basketball Diaries coming down off a serious addiction. I went to the kitchen and made a spinach, avocado and banana smoothie and a large batch of French pressed coffee. We instantly felt better.

Now, Jeremy is usually in charge of making our coffee in the morning. And at that point he decided that we had a problem and that one cup of coffee in the morning was perfectly acceptable. For the first few weeks I was sad and grouchy when I got to the bottom of my first, and only, cup of the morning.

I should also note that at some point within the last year we switched from half-and-half to putting coconut milk (from the can) in our coffee. I think this is a key component to how we quit coffee – as you’ll read later.

THE END OF COFFEE
Claire announced that she would be hosting a one-day juice cleanse and workshop in the New Year just as I was coming down from a holiday binge of caramel popcorn and cookies. I had already committed to my second Whole30 but thought a one-day cleanse would help detoxify my system quite nicely. This time I wasn’t going to make the four-cups-of-coffee the day before mistake. Claire made me promise that I would ween myself off caffeine altogether before she would even allow me to sign up for her cleanse.

I gave myself 5 days to quit caffeine. It looked like this: 
Day 1: One cup of black tea in the morning / green tea in the afternoon
Day 2: One cup of black tea in the morning / herbal tea in the afternoon
Day 3: One cup of black tea in the morning / herbal tea in the afternoon
Day 4: One cup of green tea in the morning / herbal tea in the afternoon
Day 5: Herbal tea only
Day 6: Juice cleanse (herbal tea only)
* I enjoy each cup of tea with coconut milk – it helps satisfy that coffee craving a bit. 

At the beginning of the week I suffered from headaches. They became more mild as the week progressed. The day of the cleanse I was headache-free and it was significantly easier to manage fasting on juice when I wasn’t also having serious caffeine withdrawals. The next morning we had a cup of herbal tea and since then we’ve enjoyed one cup of caffeinated tea (either black which has more caffeine or green which has less) a day.

It wasn’t until the headaches went away that I realized I actually felt better without my morning coffee. And I never imagined being one of those people. But the truth is, I feel more hydrated (which is one of my resolutions), less anxious and more even energy. And the cleaner I eat and the more I deepen my yoga practice, the more sensitive I become to the signals my body is sending me.

I learned that more than anything, I took comfort in the ritual of having a hot mug in my hands every morning – but I still get that with tea. Multiple times a day, even! Leo Babatua (one of my heroes – the author of Zen Habits) is a big proponent of slowing down and staying present with a cup of tea. He even says something along the lines of “nobody is fighting wars when sipping on tea.”

Just typing this is making me mourn my coffee a bit (so I got up and made another cup of tea). I really wasn’t even planning on quitting coffee when I did. And I think I’ll still treat myself to a nice cup of joe every now and then. But for now, tea is where it’s at.

Have you ever quit coffee? How did you feel afterwards?