Beer savvy… it’s not just for men anymore

Christina was working in a beer bar as a bartender, when she began exploring the finer nuances of each beer she was selling.

“I realized that no one knew about beer and all of its great qualities and how it paired better with food than a lot of wines did,” she said. “I started making it my life and nerded out on beer. I started home brewing, visiting breweries, and tasting beers from all over.”

Christina quit her job with nothing lined up other than her projects and her intention to synthesize the ten years of bartending experience she had with her passion for writing.

“I have a degree in Journalism from Indiana University, and there was something about food and beverage that I really like,” she said. “There was a reason that I was writing all the time, and when I realized my interest in beer it all came together. As soon as I decided what I wanted to do, a flood of opportunities just came my way: book opportunities, writing opportunities, restaurant opportunities.”

Christina noticed a lot of women said they didn’t like beer, or that they would only drink light beer. She was convinced it was because they had a misconception of beer; they didn’t know what beer could taste like. They were never exposed to beers that had wonderful complex flavors like hazelnut, creamy chocolate, or spicey lemongrass.

“I am a believer in responsible drinking and one of the things about people who are paying attention to tasting the nuances of beer is that they are not drinking it as fast; it is not something where you do not care about the flavor. You are pairing it with food, so you are appreciating the flavor, texture, the beginning, the middle, and the end of the beer.”

Christina started feeling like she was an ambassador for beer. She started to love her job and enjoy herself more. When you start doing something you love, a mental transformation takes place. You become more peaceful and healthy.

“Learning about beer for me made me more valuable to my job and also opened up a whole new world for me,” she said. “Truly it was risking something, taking off of the training wheels. Before I would have so much self-doubt. I thought my idea was crazy and didn’t think anyone would be interested in it, but the more I just relied on what I had seen I realized that I really did have a good idea. The difference really is confidence.”

Head on over and quench your thirst on Christina’s beer blog, where she covers cool events, samples new brews and suggests fine beer-entrée pairings.

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From Software to Salsa

Azucena had to choose the right thing, the logical thing, the smart thing when she went to college-study computer science. She was good at being an engineer, just like her father, but after five years in the industry, she realized she didn’t belong there.

“I thought, I’m really good at math, so let’s do that,” she said. “Even though I remember wanting to choose dance as a major for a split second. I thought, ‘That’s crazy. Of course I’m not going to study dance! I’m not going all the way to the United States just to do that!'”

A typical day at Azucena’s engineering job was sitting at her desk with very little interaction with other people. She was a very energetic, outgoing person, so being an engineer was zapping her of her liveliness. The job was not contributing to her health and well being on any level.

Afraid she’d be letting her parents down if she switched to salsa dancing after being a software engineer, she did what every sensible woman does and consulted her hairdresser.

“I remember one time saying, ‘I’m doing it Rosanna, I’m doing it. I’m quitting my job within a month,'” she said. “Because I said it, I had a commitment to myself to do it. I knew that deep inside I wanted to do it, but I was just afraid.”

Months passed, and then Azucena finished in the top six in the World Salsa Championships. Two weeks later she quit her job.

Now that Azucena has become a professional dancer, she lives the life she’s always wanted. The results of loving what she does for a living shows in her health and wellbeing. She literally glows in person.

“I’m not waking up early, which I love,” she said. “I couldn’t ever get to the office early. I would set three alarms, and none of them would work somehow. I do yoga in the mornings to keep my body flexible and healthy. I come into the studio, and I teach from noon until 8 or 9 p.m. Now that I’m a dancer, I feel like there are no limits. The possibilities are endless. I feel creative, I feel free, and I feel younger.”

Can’t get enough Salsa? This spicy dance blog follows salsa dancing trends, events and competitions all over the country.

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A Quick and Dirty Salsa Lesson
Your friends at Bust a Move offer both free and in-depth videos of all the steps you need to know in salsa, hip hop, swing and more!

The Salsa Source
An online magazine devoted to Latin dance and music, complete with class listings, descriptions of the best dance clubs out there and even basic step diagrams to get you started!

More from Azucena
Can’t get enough of Azucena’s salsa style? Check out her Myspace page for more of her dancing clips