While lifestyle expert and author Jasmine Brett Stringer was in Croatia on a farm conference trip, Amazon was preparing a delightful surprise.

“Last week my award-winning book, ‘Seize Your Life: How to Carpe Diem Every Day’ hit the Amazon best sellers list,” said the always upbeat Brett Stringer. “It makes my heart smile to know that my words are still empowering, encouraging and inspiring others.”

Brett Stringer’s life is full of pleasant surprises. The WCCO-TV lifestyle contributor and OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) ambassador was with Oprah at one of her birthday parties in January when they engaged in a playful conversation about soil, recorded on cellphone video.

OWN Ambassador Jasmine Brett Stringer & Oprah share a playful conversation at one of her 2018 birthday parties.

It started when Oprah was informed that Jasmine’s husband, a farmer, had read a magazine article that said Oprah, too, is a farmer. Oprah turned to the camera to make her point: “Roger, not only am I a real farmer ...” Then the media titan and star of “A Wrinkle in Time” decided to get competitive. “I mean, first of all, no matter what’s going on in Minnesota, our soil [in Hawaii] is better.”

Brett Stringer interrupted: “Oh, not in Blue Earth.”

“No, no, no, Roger, it’s like rich chocolate earth. But it’s not a competition. It’s all God’s thing. OK? Blessings,” Oprah said with a prayerful gesture.

More of the “Carpe Diem with Jasmine” host can be seen at upcoming events: Her “Vision Board Experience” will be at Workshop in northeast Minneapolis on April 15. She is scheduled to be the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation spokeswoman for this year’s Women’s Golf Day, June 5. In the fall she is teaming up with Meredith Moore Crosby from Leverette Weekes, a St. Paul PR firm, to host the “Conquer and Connect Women’s Empowerment” conference. “I’m blessed to stay busy with projects and engagements that allow me to help others seize the day and seize their lives!” she said. “At my core I’m a speaker and workshop facilitator, available for hire.”

Q: What were you doing in Croatia?

A: I was with my class of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program (MARL) for our two-week study abroad tour. MARL is a two-year leadership development program for rural leaders supported by the University of Minnesota Extension and Southwest Minnesota State University. It was an eye-opening experience in which I learned about agriculture, culture, life in Croatia, leadership and myself. Croatia as we know it today is a relatively young country, since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Croatia recently joined the E.U. and the country is actively working to grow beyond tourism. As an aside, applications for the MARL program are being accepted through April 12.

Q: What did you learn about yourself?

A: The biggest thing : that I am an extrovert introvert. After a while with the group I have to tap out.


Q: I think of you as a jet-setter. You’re headed to the United Arab Emirates next week for the International Government Communication Forum. So how did you get interested in this?

A: As you know, I married a farmer. I applied and was accepted into the MARL Program to learn more about agriculture and rural communities and to look for opportunities to use my skills to add value to the agriculture community in the state.


Q: Did you get into any debates over there about the soil the way you did with Oprah the last time you were with her?

A: No, and I wouldn’t call it a debate with Oprah about soil, more like a fun conversation about farming. She stands firm in her belief that Hawaii has some of the richest, most fertile soil, and I stand with my husband in his belief and statement that Blue Earth has some of the BEST farmland for producing corn. It’s a BIG world and farmers are needed to feed the world so I’m confident God has blessed many different regions with rich farmland.


Q: Do you drive a tractor all by yourself when you are at the farm with your husband?

A: HECK NO, and I wouldn’t want to. Those things cost a lot of money and I don’t want to break one. We have a baby John Deere tractor that I drive in our garden.


C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.