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Behind the Brand + How WATER Improves Our Lives

June 03, 2024 7 min read

Behind the Brand + How WATER Improves Our Lives

This piece was written originally for Madison Magazine, June issue. Only a snippet of it made the cut, see what that was below, but I wanted to include it in its entirety here.

How did you become interested in water and how has your relationship with water evolved?

Growing up in a part of Wisconsin surrounded by inland lakes and spending time at my family’s lake cottage in Northern Wisconsin since age 3 sort of ensured that I was held in the energy of water from young on. I later noticed that all of my decisions were inspired by the proximity to water. College at UW-Madison, an isthmus. First move to Ann Arbor, MI — blocks from a river that I walked or ran nearly daily. Next move to the Bay Area of CA — my running route planned around views of the bay and my weekends planned around getting to the water. My move back to Wisconsin was inspired by the way I felt by the water, and I started a chapter living in Milwaukee and basking in the energy of Lake Michigan. Vacations were always to the cottage or to an ocean — if water wasn’t central, I wasn’t present. It’s about this time that I became more intentional with using water as a spiritual and mental/emotional health tool, seeking it for the way it soothed me. And from this realization, I built Lake Effect Co, a brand to celebrate that ethos of beauty, adventure and healing. That business demanded that I live in close connection to the water for inspiration, which opened up an even deeper appreciation for and connection to it. Water is life for me, in the literal and figurative. It’s a spiritual tool that has shaped the way my life looks now.

Please tell us about your work/businesses.

When I left the corporate world, I started business consulting and found myself continually sharing with folks the power of branding and storytelling — reminding them that there really is no “B2B,” people are still the heart of everything. With that said, I wanted to try my hand at building a brand to prove that to be true — Lake Effect Co was born to experiment with translating my love and appreciation for the water into marketable goods and building community. This had me opening a lakeside shop (which closed during/after COVID), touring the Midwest for markets, selling products via wholesale, and through it all, sharing the beauty to a community of engaged lake-lovers via social media. 

The intensity of running a retail business with all its challenges sent me down a path of deepened spiritual study and mindset work, and with that reworking of my psyche, suddenly I found myself unexpectedly writing poetry. More on that later, but my first book, What the Water Taught Me, featuring images of water and the poems that poured through at each scene, comes out later in 2024!

I now spend my time supporting small business owners in building their brands through coaching & consulting, dabble in interior design (and the energetics of curation), and write both personally and professionally.

Why do lakes in particular call to you?

I love water in all its forms, and crave the big energy of oceans quite frequently, but there is a certain element of groundedness and safety to the lake. Perhaps it’s a product of my own lifetime spent knowing them, but they literally have qualities that it seems feel just right to the nervous system: they’re fresh (and you could drink that water if in need during a survival situation) and there are minimal threats in terms of creatures and waves (although the Great Lakes under the right conditions have humbled me as much as any ocean has and I’ve never encountered a sturgeon…). But on a calm day in a clear lake, it’s really the sense of being held, supported, and rocked in an amniotic vibe — that’s true, soul-level safety. 

In astrology, I’m a scorpio sun, and while most people know that to be a “water” sign, one of my mentors and astrologists shared that scorpio is the sign of fresh water — with an energy of depths and stillness. So, perhaps there’s an energy of the lake that has been and will stay with me for this lifetime. 

What does water teach us?

To me, it seems that water is really just a mirror for what we need to learn. There are seemingly countless water metaphors and analogies, and at various points, they’re the perfect OBVIOUS teachers. Water teaches us about power both as gentle and consistent or crashing, rushing, or slamming. Water teaches about cleansing and clarity. We learn about ebbs and flows. We learn about stillness, waves of change, and cycles of water.

Beyond that, water and water activities also teach us courage, resilience, patience, playfulness, joy, etc. It’s a training ground for life!  

What effect does being around water have on us? Why is this important or essential?

When we’re near or in water, our brain chemistry changes and we experience “blue mind,” which is a scientifically backed and tracked change that makes us more creative, connected, calm, healthier, less stressed, etc. (the list really goes on and on.). Dr. Wallace J. Nichols’ book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” reminds us that water is a tool that’s widely accessible and highly valuable.

Most can attest to this. Feeling physically terrible? A swim, shower, or glass of water or tea often cures what ails. Real estate prices, vacation destinations, rooms with views, etc. — the more water or closer proximity to it, the greater the demand and price tag!

Simply put, water improves our quality of life across the board. It is essential, across the board. And the mission of Lake Effect Co., as well as What the Water Taught Me, is really to help us be aware of and to more fully lean into our connection to the water, and as such, we’ll be happier, healthier people who naturally live lives in communion with nature andour inherent and individual nature. 

In terms of slowing down or being more present, how can water inform or inspire us?

Even if you’re not slowing down or being present with the water, you’re still getting some of the benefit, BUT if you are able to slow down and make yourself available to a timeless, present experience with the water, you’ll likely see a lot more than meets the eye. Whether patterns on the water’s surface catalyze a thought, a sensation within the water erases your stress, or the pure beauty, awe, or perspective of witnessing the simplicity of nature helps you view “THE WHOLE OF LIFE” differently, the water will mirror that which is ripe. In that same vein, I’ve had plenty of difficult moments in the water. Forcing swims in rough conditions lead to stressful moments. Sharing the water with others not “treating it” with the same approach I do (either leaving trash or zooming through it in a noisy boat when I wanted a peaceful swim or paddle) brought about judgments and frustration, and all that comes with processing those emotions. I have found time and again, the water won’t let me leave without teaching me something on the spot — and while I like to think the water has an agenda all its own, I feel it’s more likely my own soul or perhaps God’s hand. 


Can you tell us more about cold plunging — how you got into it, where and how you do it and why others should consider it too?

In February of 2020, the importance still unbeknownst to me, I gathered with a group of ladies I love, and we snaked our way over ice at the edge of Lake Michigan to do our first sunrise dip. While slightly painful, it was also euphoric, and the tradition began. I’d always been willing to polar plunge or to dip in early spring or late fall lakes, but suddenly I realized that the energy I loved about those fringe moments was actually something of benefit if done more consistently. I participate in sunrise swims at Lake Michigan, dips after watching full moons rise over the water, spring and fall inland lake paddleboarding and dipping. When fresh water is frozen or too warm, I find either a cold shower or my plunge tank. This year, I even found my cold fix by rolling in the snow in a swimsuit.

Something happens each time—a convergence with nature, space for soul that only happens in total stillness. The clear result of cold exposure is that MIND OVER MATTER is possible for me, something I’ve had a hard time embracing otherwise. The benefits are vast and many are scientifically backed, like resetting dopamine, increasing thermal regulation, improved skin tone and circulation, reducing inflammation, etc., but personally, some of benefits I’ve experienced include:

Incredible/significant emotional release

  • Sensations of euphoria
  • Channeled poetry
  • New & strengthened relationships with friends (at the water’s edge) 
  • Deepened sense of appreciation for nature and life itself
  • Tightened skin & reduction in fat
  • Increased drive & resilience in multiple angles of life
  • Emotional & mental toughness
  • Sense of fearlessness, especially reduction in fear around cold water settings (while previously afraid of falling in for what my stress response would be)
  • WILDLY deep appreciation of water in all its forms and temperature
  • Opened sense of soul & creativity
  • Improved confidence & easier access to joy

Before you jump in, I highly recommend reading up on any risks of cold exposure through Wim Hof or Dr.Susanna Søberg. I’m not a doc and this is definitely not medical advice — talk to your healthcare pro first!

And please tell us about your book! 

Saying yes to a life honoring this element so consistently opened me up to a different version of life, which included intimacy with nature and openness of soul. And while I thought the gift was really just the growing list of awe-filled moments by the water, I soon realized that there was more. Often by the water, I’d roughly jot down a poem into my phone or journal, sort of writing this book without knowing it. Over time, I realized I’d written hundreds of poems. “What the Water Taught Me” features 150+ pages of those images of the water and the words that poured through in relation to the moments documented.

And true to form, the water has continued to teach me to really go with the flow through this process, too! I’ve learned so much in the process of compiling this project, and I am so in love with it. The book will be published July 2024 and can be purchased at WHATTHEWATERTAUGTHME.COM OR RIGHT HERE ON THE SITE— all the pre-orders help fund the project and mean so much to me!

Image via cassierosch.com

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