The Gather House~Interview with Kristyn Pankiw

1. Tell us a little bit about you.
I'm a librarian, writer, homebody, and foodie. I love spending time at home with my husband, reading, cooking and knitting, or in the warm seasons, gardening, taking long walks, and visiting our local farmer's market. I'm passionate about community--not just online, but offline, locally. I believe in loving-kindness, the healing power of plants, and the importance of creative outlets. 

2. What inspired you to start the Gather House?
I'd been running an online jewelry shop for a few years, but something just felt off. Being so passionate about health, I had to look at my own life holistically--was my work promoting health, or not? Was I living and working in a way that supported my beliefs and knowledge? Jewelry fabrication involves exposure to chemicals, and although I was choosing the safest ones I could find, I knew it was damaging to some degree--not just for my body, but for the environment. I decided to shift my creative work in a new direction--focusing on the concept of wellness. 

3. In your "About" section on your website you say, "Our foundation is rooted in holistic wellness." What does that mean?
When it comes to wellness, I take a holistic approach, which simply means I look at the big picture--all aspects of wellness, from what we eat to what we wear and use and do. Although our diets play the largest role in our health, I believe wellness on all levels is beneficial to ourselves and our world. It's about being conscious, aware--choosing clothes that are made with natural materials or are secondhand, thus sparing the environment the impact of new production; nourishing our bodies with natural plant-based foods and skincare; feeding our minds through the act of gathering in community, for knowledge and relationships and selflessness. I think this mindset is vital to our growth as individuals. 

4. Why are you passionate about a person's wellness and how have you been affected by your choice for healthy, wholesome living?
Since I was little, my desires in life have come down to one fundamental idea: helping others. Whether it's writing stories of compassion, infusing beauty into someone's life, being a source of uplifting knowledge or just being there to listen--I believe helping others is one of the most important things we can do in life, and there are so many ways in which to accomplish this. Putting others before yourself is humbling, sacrificial and impactful. My journey in wellness has not only improved my health, but given me a greater sense of how to lead an intentional life, and how to help others do the same. My life is so much more meaningful when rooted in an holistic approach.

5. What are some ways you strive to live well?
On a basic level, it comes down to body, mind and soul. I'm conscious of what I put in and on my body, how I spend my time, and what I use in daily life. I try to find a balance between my focus inward and outward--self-reflection but not self-absorption, in the world communally, but actively working to lessen any negative impact. This means eating well, thinking well, consuming well. In the tiny details, what qualifies as "well" may be slightly different for all of us; but fundamentally, this means lots of plants, positivity, and personability (that's not a word, but I like alliterations). 

6. Can you give our readers some practical tips for living well in their day-to-day?
On an abstract level, start inward, and work outward. It's easier to help others when you're in a good place yourself. Practice awareness through a daily activity--yoga, meditation, breathwork, reading, journaling--anything that requires reflection and pause. Continue this throughout the day in other ways, whether its being conscious of how you prepare your meal, how you're sitting in your office chair, the conversations you entertain with others; just these simple, little actions will lead to greater wellness. The act of focusing inward in such a third-person way, will actually help you focus outward, to become more selfless.
In practical terms, I recommend a few things: consume mostly plants and whole grain foods, get your heart rate going at least thirty minutes a day, choose products that are natural, and engage in activities that promote goodness. Put away technology. Get outside more. Learn where your food comes from. Find community. Laugh a lot. Stretch. Breathe.
Anything that helps lower your stress, and opens your heart and mind to new things is wonderful for your health.

7. What are three things you can't live without?
This is such a hard question, because I never want to be so attached to my things that I would feel lost without them. But I think living without a sense of home, a sense of love, and a sense of self would be unbearable for me. In my past, I have struggled with all of these at different times in some way or another, and it was only when I reached the balance of all three that I truly felt content.
But on a less serious note, I wouldn't want to live without good food, good books, and good cuddles with my sweet husband. 

8. Last question! What is the highlight of your day and why?
I love mornings especially. I love waking up and writing in my gratitude journal, sipping a cup of herbal tea, and watching the sunrise. Spending time in solitude is really important for my wellbeing. I also love the moment right when I wake up, and right before I fall asleep--when the world is not in focus, and everything is hazy and warm and happy, wrapped in my husband's arms--that's heaven, right there. 

P h o t o g r a p h y + Elisa Bricker

B r a n d i n g + Natasshia Neary