The Art (and necessity) of Receiving Nourishment

holidays nourishment Dec 22, 2023

I found out as a preteen that my mother hated cooking. I always loved her food, but her creative drive is fueled by mixed media art and handmade gifts, not her chicken tetrazzini. Totally understandable. 

Even before this news rocked my world, I have a core memory of smelling the steamed veggies she would prepare to bring to our grandparent’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. If you don’t know, steamed broccoli smells a lot like, well… farts. At least to me and my siblings as kids. There was no way around that. I always loved my vegetables and there are just some things you have to accept in order to love them.

Taking the time to appreciate the savory things in life really does require a level of acceptance. The instant gratification of something sweet hitting our senses can set the bar pretty high for other sensations and experiences that equally deserve to be appreciated, no matter how unsavory the process is to cook them up.

We are gift-giving, broccoli-steaming, carpool-coordinating, agenda-planning rockstars. We know it’s true. When it all comes to fruition, the sweetness of carrying anything through to completion is so gratifying, the icing on the gingerbread house. But the process of preparation and execution, the heat that steams our veggies if you will, can sometimes make the house smell like your three kids are about to crack several jokes about a dish that’s still cooking on the stove. The process can be downright smelly, wafting self-doubt through the air before it’s finished.

When we take on new challenges and creative pursuits, it is so easy to let that self-doubt shut down or redirect the whole process. Virtuosa Society founder Katie Harman recently interviewed Serial Entrepreneur Monica Hammond of Big Leap Brands, who displays a Shakespeare quote in her feminine inspo space at home: “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” Monica also has this quote as a tattoo, a personal reminder that not only is she capable of succeeding, she can absolutely thrive - especially with the support of her mentors and loved ones.

Her creative spark ignited with visual arts as a child, having drawn inspiration from both her father’s inventions and photography and her mother’s handmade scarves and rugs. Later in life, as an actress and part-time babysitter living in Brooklyn, she found herself heavily weighing the possibility of investing in a stylus pad.

Her initial goal was to create a poster to promote her self-produced web series, but Monica laughed as she recalled, “It turned out like garbage. I hated it!”

Monica recalls standing in Best Buy for an hour debating whether or not to make this $72 investment, which was a lot of money to her at the time. But what began as a failed promotional poster soon turned into creating adult coloring books as a side hustle, which would blossom into its own official LLC.

Monica’s passion for marketing continued even through the pandemic, collaborating with Tony Award winning Broadway Producer Ken Davenport to continue creating theater courses even with the world seemingly at a standstill. This collaboration opened the door for her to hire Broadway actors to lend their voices to her newest endeavor in 2020: a murder mystery game that can be played virtually or in person! Ken himself soon encouraged her to step out of the nest so to speak, and create her own marketing agency to fuel her passion for helping other entertainers in performing arts. Their professional relationship rendered this as a win-win, transitioning from collaborators to affiliates as Monica’s other businesses continued to grow.

Other partnership opportunities soon presented themselves, and some struck Monica as more of a short-term solution than a long-term investment in her mission. She realized that the value of her work meant more than a financial return on investment: a full bank account is one measure of success, but a rewarding partnership fuels her passion and drive to keep creativity alive and well within her businesses in order to continue serving others.

Monica’s acceptance of Ken’s encouragement and mindful navigation of opportunity granted her the grace to accept nourishment for her creative spirit as she took her big leap to seize creative control of her own aspirations. 

Little did she know that hour-long decision to buy a $72 stylus pad would eventually change the course of her career.

Monica now owns three six-figure businesses, including a marketing firm for Entertainment Professionals, and makes it clear that she isn’t in the game solely for profit. 

“Ultimately, I’m not in business to break even… it’s the money that I feed my family with, you know?”

The process can be unsavory, a journey filled with unexpected turns; but at the end of every day, her wife and two sons are waiting with open arms, a safe and loving space to nourish her spirit and make it all worthwhile.

No matter what happens during our creative processes, as women, it is vital that we accept nourishment and love from those around us. We have so much to offer the world, and we must likewise ensure that we are prepared to give those offerings. We must fill our cups in order to keep investing in our businesses, futures, and families.

When I found out my mother hated cooking, my immediate thought was to ask for her recipes. I had no idea how much work it took to feed a family of five, but I was ready to help lighten the load and explore my own creativity in the kitchen as well. Most importantly, I learned the value of a labor of love, and why we work through the smelly and undesirable things in life. No matter how much us kids would joke about the smell of “broccoli farts” filling the house, she would joyously laugh along and remind us to eat our vegetables. 

For the holidays this year, we invite you to join us in starting a new tradition: fully accepting nourishment from those around you. Ask for help when you need it. Be honest when you’re having a difficult time. And accept that loving nudge to embrace your potential from those around you. Because for everything you’re unsure about doing, even when it must be done, there is someone who cares enough to help lighten the load. You are valued for more than what you bring to the table. In fact, you are effortlessly priceless.

Whether you find yourself surrounded by blood relatives, chosen family, or both this year, may you seize every opportunity to be invested in. May your continued traditions fill your cup as you do for others. And may that wafting smell of self-doubt fly out the door as we welcome nourishment into our homes for the holidays. 


With Love and Encouragement,

Caia Claire


P.S. Thank you for reading today. As a little reprieve from the smelly messes we all work through, Katie offers a loving and humorous glimpse into a sweeter mess of gluten-free sugar cookies that ended up tasting a lot better than they looked. Her words, not mine! Check out this recipe featuring the Beauty Blend from our partners at CocoGlow!