Our brand, 'Bee & Flow', is a representation of how we try to order our business and busy family life. If we can maintain a focus on our health and wellness then our desired outcomes will follow. Our goal for the farm is to build a sustainable business that can have a diversity of income made in balance with its stunning natural environment. Part of this strategy is the introduction of bees into the farming ecosystem and the integration of Manuka into the landscape (both through retirement of land into Manuka forest and also 'Agro-forestry' with Manuka and pasture co-existing). The product you see and taste, Bee & Flow, is part of this story.
When your goals are connected to the land, the outcomes take time. We are playing an infinite game, progress is driven by values and results are moderated by the vagaries of each season. Shouldn’t this lack of urgency and stress make us lazy? Well we look to the bees for the answer...
We often marvel at how our bees always seem ‘busy’. They move about the hive working for a collective good and this work is rewarded during the 'flow' when such an incredible bounty of Honey is stored in the hive.
We are fascinated by the concept of Flow. I first remember hearing of the concept when watching a clip of Michael Jordan talking about what it feels like to be in complete control of the moment; calm, confident and acting on instinct at the very moment when he is under the most pressure and the world was watching. And later, listening to Andre Agassi reflect on some of the most memorable matches without really being able to recollect what happened. Just a feeling of self-belief in every reaction and a supreme focus on the yellow ball, everything else was a blur.
As part of our interest in this concept we have begun to reach out to people that inspire us and who share similar values to Bee & Flow. We have been asking them ‘How do you find your Flow?’ and look forward to sharing some of these answers with you.
We know that Manuka Honey is a very unique health food. Some of its special properties can only be produced from the honey derived from the nectar that our bees collect from the Manuka plant. A plant that only grows in New Zealand and happens to thrive on some of the hills where we call home. We also know that staying healthy is all about balance and not just about the foods that we consume but also about how we move our bodies, connect with others and respect our mental wellbeing. As part of this project, we look forward to exploring these concepts some more with our network.
With the concept of balance at the very front of our minds, we introduce one of Bee & Flows very special friends, Brooke Neil. Brooke has made a name for herself as a New Zealand Hockey rep, Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist. She has just recently retired from her international hockey career to focus on her passion project, a project that is so inspiring to us at Bee & Flow, it’s called ‘All about Balance’. ‘All about Balance’ is Brooke's way of sharing her experiences and skills that she has learnt while progressing through a high performance sporting career. Her focus is on assisting young sports women to take control of their anxiety, perfectionism and burnout. She offers inspiration, wisdom and simple actionable steps that Brooke herself used to cope with the intense pressure to perform on the international stage.
We caught up with Brooke and asked her a few simple questions. Something Tricky, Something Easy, Something Fun, Something High, Something Low, Something Yum. We think you will enjoy her honest answers.
Something Tricky (What things challenge you and put you out of your comfort zone)
I definitely believe that the best things in life are always outside of your comfort zone. If I’m not doing something that makes me nervous, uncomfortable and pushing myself every week, then I’m not growing. I guess a really simple way that I practise this every day is as simple as turning my shower on cold for the last 60 seconds. Is there a single day where I feel like it? Absolutely not. I never feel like it. But I’m training my body and mind so that when I say go, I go. This then trickles into my day to day life.
Something Easy (What activities do you feel comfortable doing and love to focus on as you achieve mastery)
I absolutely LOVE learning. Self development is the one thing that is so easy to me now - whether its a podcast about mastering a new skill or controlling emotions, a book on how to grow my business, a documentary, you name it - the internet has made it so that you can virtually learn anything that you want for free. At school and university, I had a different relationship with learning because I was forced to learn things that I wasn’t passionate about. Now, I get to choose. It’s amazing how much more enthusiastic you can be when you choose what to learn!
Something Fun (what activities do you do to just relax with no care for the outcome)
I am such a beach person. Growing up in Whangarei (the city of 100 beaches), nothing makes me happier than the ocean, waves, sun and sand. Paddleboarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, beach volleyball = heaven on earth. I also love dancing and yoga, and moving my body in a different way to elite sport.
Something High (What's a Triumphant experience that made you feel great)
It would be easy to take you straight to the podium at the Commonwealth Games where we won Gold in 2018, and yes - that was such an ecstatic experience (smashing the Aussies in front of their home crowd was the icing on the cake). But there are so many more small moments that I am so grateful for, that actually happen way more often that I live for. An example would be when I taught my first yoga class after doing 250 hours of teacher training. Or coming off stage after absolutely smashing a workshop or speech. Or finishing a puzzle during lockdown. Or running pain free for the first time after a back injury.
Something Low (What’s a Disastrous experience that made you feel down)
This is a hard question because I have had such a rocky road that it’s hard to pick one! My life has definitely been filled with extreme lows, which has made me appreciate the highs that much more. My first year in the Black Sticks was the worst year of my life. I lost my best friend Caitlin to cancer - one month after her 21st birthday. Grief is different for everyone, but trying to push into an elite sporting environment at the same time was extremely tough. I was also battling 3 torn ligaments in my ankle, and a pain in my knee that then grew into 4 years of chronic pain. That’s how I began my Black Sticks journey - any of the past 9 years have certainly carried their challenges too! I am very grateful for all of these experiences, because they’ve given me the strength and discipline to get me to where I am now.
Something Yum (What’s a recipe or favourite food you would like to share)
My go to on a saturday morning is banana pancakes (healthy ones!) Recipe is for 2 people.
4T Flour (any type)
Option to add cinnamon
Blend in a blender while heating pan up to super hot, with butter
Be careful flipping pancakes as the mixture is very soft
Add blueberries to the pan once the pancakes are all cooked to get juicy hot blueberries
Serve with greek yoghurt and maple syrup.